Black Vote + Rage Over Max Cleland = Saxby Chambliss Loss?

The Times is still spreading the myth of Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss's 2002 ad against Democratic hero Sen. Max Cleland, and looking toward a Chambliss loss in Georgia next week.

The Times once again is very interested in a state race where a Democrat might knock off the Republican. And this time there's a racial element thrown in: Congressional reporter Carl Hulse's Thursday story,"Registrations Give Georgia Blacks More Power at the Polls." The online headline is more stark: "Heavy Black Turnout Threatens Georgia Senator."

That would be Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, unpopular among Democrats and the Times sincehis 2002 race, when heallegedly smeared his opponent, former Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam Veteran and paraplegic, in a campaign ad.

Hulse wrote:

Just a few blocks off Max Cleland Boulevard, named for the Democrat defeated by Senator Saxby Chambliss in a bitter Congressional race six years ago, a line has formed that could be problematic for Mr. Chambliss's own re-election this year.

The face-off in Georgia pits Chambliss against a long-time state legislator, Democrat Jim Martin.

Mr. Martin has, with the help of national Democrats, hammered Mr. Chambliss for his support of Bush administration economic policies, most recently with highly visible television commercials attributing Georgia job losses and economic pain to "Saxby economics."

Democrats would revel in defeating Mr. Chambliss. In 2002, they accused him of libeling Mr. Cleland, a badly wounded and decorated Vietnam veteran, with an advertisement that questioned his commitment to fighting terrorism. They now view Mr. Martin as the potential key to a 60-vote Senate, a distinction with which Mr. Martin seems slightly uncomfortable.

Hulse didn't try to clear up the false Democratic accusation against Chambliss. In a way, the Times has long been accusing Chambliss of libeling Cleland. Here's just one example. During the 2004 campaign, the Times' David Halbfinger got the infamous-among-liberals campaignad totally wrong:

And there was Max Cleland, the triple amputee and former Democratic senator from Georgia whose defeat in 2002-by an opponent who ran commercials linking him to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden-has become a rallying point for Democrats determined not to let Republicans who avoided combat bludgeon them with patriotic symbols.

But the Chambliss commercial did no such thing. (You can watch the actual ad here.) Over montage of four photographs, one each of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, two others of the U.S. military, a narrator reads: "As America faces terrorists and extremist dictators, Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead." That's hardly "linking him to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden."