A video is floating round in which a woman at a McCain rally worries that Obama is…. well, on the video it sounds like she says Obama is an Arab. But there have been reports that she said “Arab terrorist” and that the mic did not pick up the last word. (And in an interview with the woman made after the event, she does say she thinks Obaman is an Arab terrorist.)

McCain took the mic from the woman and said “”I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States”. Now, McCain has taken flak on the assumption that the woman said only “Arab” since in that case, his answer a) is a non-sequitur; and b) insultingly implies that Arabs cannot be decent people.

However, if the woman had said “Arab terrorist,” McCain’s answer would have been a propos and not insulting, since it might have been addressed solely to the “terrorist” part of the complaint. I suggest, therefore, that McCain’s answer is itself evidence that the woman did say “Arab terrorist” and not simply “Arab.”

Let me say, though, that I still think McCain is a lying, hate-mongering old bastard. His campaign is clearly fostering the impression that Obama is some kind of terrorist or terrorist sympathizer. Correcting the woman’s mistake while continuing to run the campaign that led to that mistake is no evidence at all of a return to (what I believe never in fact existed in the first place) a mavericky, honest, straight-talking McCain.