The Damage Has Been Done

Judging by the hits on the blog of my fellow reporter, Bob Mayo, the alleged ATM attack in Bloomfield has become part of the national discourse. As of Friday afternoon, Bob’s blog has well over 17,000 hits. It’s because Bob has been following this truly developing story which reached its conclusion today.

Ashley Todd, the 20-year-old volunteer for the McCain campaign, has admitted to police that she did indeed make up the entire attack on her at a Bloomfield ATM. An attack that included her being mugged by a “black man” and then having the letter “B” carved into her face by the man after she said he saw the McCain sticker on her car.

While this hoax won’t go down in the annals of history like the Susan Smith drowning of her two kids in her car or Charles Stuart killing his pregnant wife ( both blamed on “black men” by the way ), it has done some damage. First of all, both campaigns had to address it without the facts being complete. Then, there is the battle going on in the blogosphere; the fiery web debate between Obama and McCain people.

Ashley Todd: Police say she has a history of mental problems. However, she was smart enough to turn up the heat in an already volitile election with her hoax.

The battle continued on this Friday night on CNN … as I watched Larry King use the topic as a launching pad to discuss race and this election. Look, I think what this hoax does is just play into the stereotypes that each side has about the other. For those who want Obama, it leads them to believe that the McCain people are “that desperate” to make sure Obama never becomes President. For McCain backers, it shows them just how unstable Obama’s supporters are … and how, even if their candidate, Obama folk may react with violence.

Ashley Todd was exposed as a fake of the worse kind: a person who not only lied, but also puts the blame on others that feeds to the worse kind of stereotyping. However, Todd’s hoax has accomplished its goal … and that is to plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of the undecided and the fuel the misguided beliefs one side has about the other.

Let me brutally honest.

My biggest fear on election day is not who winds up winning and losing, but our national reaction to the results. I have heard from several people that if their candidate loses, they will move to Canada. I’m sure part of this is just joking, but I am quite sure they will also be upset about the outcome. I also believe some of the more fervent will be so angry that they may never join in the typical post-election unity that takes place.

Whoever wins, it seems to me their greatest challenge won’t be rescuing us from a faltering economy, saving us from terrorism or coming up with a resolution in Iraq. It will be uniting a country that is sure to be fractured what maybe the most devise election in our lifetime.

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