Since last year, I’ve been telling folks that the 2012 campaign for president would be an ugly affair. That the racist fringe that attached itself to the Tea Party movement would be unbridled in its passion to defeat President Obama. The proposed ad campaign that would be financed by a super PAC bankrolled by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts is the first-known example of how far the right will go.

According to a front-page story in the New York Times, the $10 million campaign is just one of many that Ricketts is pondering. The story also makes clear that the proposal is just in the planning stages. What makes this a blockbuster revelation is that, if the proposal is approved, Ricketts would do what Sen. John McCain wouldn’t in the 2008 race: Hang the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary sermon around Obama’s neck. And it would be done in a manner that only a grassy knoller could love. Conspiracy theories and outright lies would be used to paint a portrait of a president who slipped into the White House under false pretenses.

And if that’s not bad enough, the Times reports that the super PAC folks are so mindful that they’re playing with fire that the “group suggested hiring as a spokesman an ‘extremely literate conservative African-American’ who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a ‘metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.’ ” Literate? What happened to “articulate”? Or did they consider that word too condescending even for them?

“The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama,” as the noxious ad campaign is called, is no better than what the hateful National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was secretly planning  this campaign season. In a batch of documents unearthed by the Human Rights Campaign, NOM’s divide-and-conquer strategy involved pitting white gays against black Democrats.

From “National Organization for Marriage Board Update 2008-2009”
C.)  Not a Civil Right Project
The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the cost of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement’s allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on the issue. Consider pushing a marriage amendment in Washington, D.C.; find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.

To its credit, the Romney campaign put out a statement denouncing the garbage being considered by Ricketts. Nevermind that the candidate himself wallowed in the Wright comments back in February, as Greg Sargent dutifully points out. The gold standard for how to handle this touchy topic was set in 2008 by McCain. “Obviously, those words and those statements are statements that none of us would associate ourselves with. I don’t believe that Senator Obama would support any of those as well.” Romney’s response doesn’t come close to rising to that level.