Bill Hobbs, the Tennessee Republican Party communications director whose flirtations with notoriety have more than once gained him national attention, is on the hot seat again once more because of a sally against someone named Obama.
Back in February, Hobbs put out one of his patented incendiary press releases, this one referring to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee by his whole name, Barack Hussein Obama, showing a photograph of the Illinois senator wearing native Kenyan clothes (misidentified as Muslim garb) on a visit to his fathers ancestral African homeland, and, as some read the release, imputing to Obama anti-Semitism or at least lackluster support for the State of Israel.
That release was roundly denounced in political and media circles and was explicitly repudiated by Tennessees two Republican senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker; by 7th District congressman Marsha Blackburn; by Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan; and by presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain.
At the time, there was speculation that Hobbs might lose his job, but the annual meeting of the state Republican Partys executive committee came and went with Hobbs still in the saddle.
So at length Hobbs evidently decided to launch another Obama shot at Michelle Obama this time, the candidates wife, who stopped over in Nashville last week. Coinciding with her visit was a new Tennessee Republican Party press release with an embedded video showing various Nashvillians finding fault with a stump statement by Michelle Obama; For the first time in my adult lifetime I'm really proud of my country."
The cameos in the video were devoted more to generalized patriotic fustian than to attacks on Michelle Obama per se, but by mid-week Senators Alexander and Corker announced through spokespersons that they were once again displeased. Corkers chief of staff, Todd Womack, said Alexander had strongly encouraged the national party and state parties to absolutely refrain from getting involved in negative personal campaigning.
Meanwhile, Hobbs had succeeded in getting a rise out of Barack Obama himself. Appearing Monday with his wife on the ABC-TV show, Good Morning America, the candidate blasted the Tennessee GOP press release as low class and detestable, and said, "These folks should lay off my wife. All right? Just in case they're watching. If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful - because that I find unacceptable.
To which, Hobbs said candidate Obama had been hypocritical, condescending, and scary, and insisted on his right to be critical of Michelle Obama as a campaign surrogate for her husband.