Pretty much everyone is linking to this loony Andy McCarthy post at The Corner, in which he complains about John McCain’s decision not to play the “Obama is a secret terrorist” card in last night’s debate. Here’s the key graf:

Memo to McCain Campaign:  Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn’t; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he’s qualified for public office.  You helped portray Obama as a clealy [sic] qualified presidential candidate who would fight terrorists.

Uhh … dude? That’s because that’s what Obama pretty “clealy” is: a man thoroughly qualified to be president who will have no qualms about fighting terrorists, especially if your definition of the latter commitment centers on a willingness to spy on American citizens, expand the military, and attack small Middle Eastern countries at a moment’s notice (yay!). Obama doesn’t “come from the radical Left”, unless by that you mean that he’s associated himself at various times with people who do: and as anyone who does identify as far-Left on either domestic or foreign matters will be happy to tell you, from that perspective the Obama campaign has consisted largely of a blow-by-blow repudiation of everything that such “radicals” stand for. Crucially, though, such repudiation is never explicit or aggressive, and – most importantly – is always peddled as the necessary outgrowth of Obama’s establishmentarianism “bipartisanship”: if the man is a radical, it is a well-kept secret indeed.

Hence Conor quotes Ryan Lizza’s ought-to-be-definitive New Yorker profile:

Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them.

Or as Larison puts it:

… Obama is an aspiring member of the establishment, and Lizza’s story is filled with the accounts of the once-upon-a-time patrons and backers of Obama whom he left behind (at least as they see it) as he ascended ever higher. … This is the real reason why trying to portray him as the terrorist’s pal or as a raging anti-American black nationalist (and, again, I have to stress that it is the anti-Americanism of Ayers and Wright that agitates the people who obsess about them) is so profoundly stupid.

Could it be an act? Could the real, radical, terrorist-sympathizing Obama be hidden under this outwardly compromising and never-say-partisan demeanor? Sure – but conspiracy theories are a dime a dozen, and while it similarly could be the case that it’s all a dream, we don’t take that to be a reason to run into walls hoping that the laws of our imagination will suddenly change. It’s fine, of course, to argue – as I would – that Obama’s perfectly “centrist” and establishment-appeasing left-liberalism makes him an unacceptable presidential candidate, but quite another to stoke the fires of people’s irrational fears and hatreds by pretending he’s something more than that.

P.S. And see Conor and Peter.

UPDATE: You ought to read Eric Martin, too.