by Ray Fleming

The upcoming presidential election in the United States promises to be one the dirtiest in recent memory. The opinion polls show that the public sentiment could swing strongly either way, depending on the campaign manipulation of issues that may have little or no long-term substance. From the Republicans there are already signs of tactics reminiscent of the McCarthy era. Last week Representative Michelle Bachmann, the Tea Party leader who briefly stood in the party's primaries earlier this year, called for an investigation into the loyalty and influence of a longtime member of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's staff -- Huma Abedin, a Muslim woman, whose position Mrs Bachman and her supporters believed might have influenced US policy favourably towards the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East. Fortunately, in this instance, Senator John McCain was on hand to dismiss his fellow Republican's accusations as “sinister, specious and degrading... an unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.” But, unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruling in favour of political campaign funding by companies, organisations and individuals over and above the official party funding limits means that almost anyone with money can start accusations with a freedom and resources that Senator McCarthy could only dream of during his attacks on public servants for Communist connections in the 1950s. Full marks to Senator McCain, but this is only the beginning.

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