Just when the low-rent McCain-Palin tactics against Obama have disgusted me to the point of helping decide my vote, Obama's supporters are hammering McCain over an absolutely harmless comment he made during last night's debate.

In discussing an energy bill backed by Bush-Cheney which McCain opposed, McCain smiled and, pointing to Obama, said:

You know who voted for it? Might Never Know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me.

One Wall Street Journal writer wrote:

Barack Obama’s campaign did not like it when rival John McCain referred to the Illinois senator as “that one” during tonight’s presidential debate.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton sent a one-line message to reporters after McCain made the comment that said, “Did John McCain just refer to Obama as ‘that one’?” And again at the conclusion of the debate, the Obama campaign emailed reporters, “Did John McCain refer to Obama as ‘that one’?”

According to Huffington Post:

"That One" has associations with unrepentant terrorists, etc...

Huffington Post writer Leah McElrath Renna, whose comments on Biden I praised in this blog a couple days ago, was perhaps the worst, writing:

When McCain uses dehumanizing phrases like "that one" to refer to Barack Obama, he is implementing long-standing military techniques for dehumanizing one's opponent during wartime. But this is NOT a war, and McCain's behavior in this context is beyond irresponsible and amounts to hate speech.

Another Huffington Post writer said:

In tonight's presidential debate, Senator McCain failed big time in that most basic principle of bipartisan leadership: attributing inherent worth to his equal from the opposite side of the political spectrum...Senator McCain, tonight you referred to Senator Obama as "...that one."

Not "Senator Obama", "my opponent", or "he does" (which would have fit the context of the rhetorical question Senator McCain asked the audience in his previous sentence).

Not even "that man."

But "that one."

Who speaks that way about another person? Who calls a person "that one"?

Certainly not a future president... especially one who claims he knows how to work across party lines...

Watch the video clip of it here. Just one more example of how a public figure can't say anything these days without some partisan trying to distort it to use as a propaganda tool against the other side. And as usual, what is lost is whether Obama and McCain voted correctly on the bill or not, and what their votes say about their energy policy proposals.

Author's Bio: 

Glenn Sacks is a men's and fathers' issues newspaper columnist, radio commentator, and blogger. His radio commentaries appear daily on KLAA AM 830 in Los Angeles.