John McCain called his tactics "worse than disgraceful, it's reprehensible." Republican Chuck Hagel characterized them as "beyond offensive to me."
Who were they talking about? Osama bin Laden? Bill Ayers? Barack Obama? No, they were referring to Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss ran for the Senate in 2002 against incumbent Democrat Max Cleland, and his campaign featured television ads that paired images of Cleland with those of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and questioned Cleland's commitment to national security. Cleland, a triple amputee and decorated Vietnam veteran, had opposed the passage of the homeland security bill because of a provision that would have allowed labor unions to organize the Department of Homeland Security.
Chambliss won the election 53 to 46%.
During a November 19, 2001 meeting with emergency responders in Valdosta, Georgia, Chambliss said that they should "turn the sheriff loose and arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line." In 2006, Chambliss was among several congressmen who had to return monetary gifts to convicted fraudster Jack Abramoff.
Now Chambliss is running for re-election in a tough race against Democratic challenger Jim Martin. Poll numbers show him with a lead, but his numbers are slipping (as are McCain's in this once heavily Republican state).
But the reason I'm posting is to call your attention to an excellent essay by Max Cleland over on the Huffington Post. It's written with character, dignity, and grace - traits his former opponent never showed.