For several weeks, the Clinton campaign has been distributing literature and disseminating incendiary notions -- which figured significantly in Pennsylvania, and are now central to the candidate's message in Indiana and North Carolina -- assailing Barack Obama for his association with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, the radical, violent organization responsible for bombing several government buildings in the early 1970s.
In their debate in Philadelphia, after moderator George Stephanoplous had raised the question of Obama's relationship with Ayers, Hillary Clinton elaborated on the subject, seeking to add to its significance:
SEN. CLINTON: ...I also believe that Senator Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers for a period of time, the Woods Foundation, which was a paid directorship position. And if I'm not mistaken, that relationship with Mr. Ayers on this board continued after 9/11 and after his reported comments, which were deeply hurtful to people in New York, and I would hope to every American, because they were published on 9/11 and he said that he was just sorry they hadn't done more. And what they did was set bombs and in some instances people died. So it is -- you know, I think it is, again, an issue that people will be asking about.
Whether this is 21st century McCarthyism--as argued by several important commentators not publicly allied with Obama -- among them Stanley Fish in the New York Times (who has written several admiring columns about her candidacy) and Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker -- is a matter readers will have to decide.