There is a classic Twilight Zone episode called “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.”

In it neighbors on Maple St. witness the crashing of an object from outer space, a meteor, or more ominously, a flying saucer. The power goes out, leading to a belief “monsters,” aliens from another world, were about to invade their neighborhood. As they try to figure out what is happening, power is restored to selective homes, directing suspicion at those neighbors and accusations that perhaps they were in cahoots with these monsters. Eventually paranoia runs so deep rioting and murder ensue, destroying the neighborhood and its inhabitants. At the end we see that aliens are simply manipulating the electricity to induce this paranoia, with the lessen being that it is easier to destroy a society from within, by getting neighbor to turn on neighbor, rather than through an attack from without.

I was reminded of this episode last week when the “story” on Barack Obama’s alleged Muslim training at a Madrassa in Indonesia broke. And the “revelation” that it was the Clinton campaign that had investigated and exposed this fact to the world. The story was posted on Insightmag.com, the online arm of the Washington Times, owned by the Unification Church of Sung Myung Moon, was picked up by Fox News, Drudge, and the other usual sources of right wing propaganda. None of this was surprising.

What did surprise me, and what got me thinking about the Twilight Zone episode, was the ease with which some in the liberal blogosphere picked up on this story and believed it on its face, immediately castigating the Clinton campaign for the leak. The fact that it had been published by a source known not only for its inaccurate and biased reporting, but for its hostility to progressives and the Democratic Party, did not seem to phase those pushing it…even after it had been thoroughly debunked.
And then again this week, Drudge published a story about the size of John Edwards new house in North Carolina, implying that Edwards was a hypocrite advocating for the elimination of poverty on one hand while building himself a palatial house on the other.

Again, this led to heated arguments among some on the left. And again, it didn’t seem to phase those pushing it that the source was Drudge, or that John Edwards had earned the money he used to build the home.

In both of these cases we have a right wing news source planting a bogus or misleading story about one or more contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008, which for a few days at least, got Democrats attacking each other.

I wonder if this is going to be the primary mode of Republican attack this year. Rather than the in your face confrontation that we have grown used too, will they use more subtle methods, plant stories which will set Democrat against Democrat, and try to get us to destroy ourselves, while they just sit back and chuckle…