Is this the Willie Horton issue of 2008? This little subtext, and how it will be used and interpreted across the partisan spectrum, is disturbing on several levels for both sides. It could blow up in everyone’s face.
UPDATE/ELABORATION: I knew some commentors would want elaboration, but the spectrum of comments I think makes my point, as I fully expected. First, the Willie Horton ad in 1988 was wholly legitimate, but liberals still cry foul/racism. If this present item about Obama’s half-brother gets traction, the same thing will be said forever, though it raises some legitimate issues (as one comment noted, liberals always want to give away someone else’s money, and seldom their own). But the ad also raises in a delicate way Obama’s "exotic" (as it is called) background. While his intellectual and political background is certainly fair game, his family background, though unusual, is a different matter. We’ve always tended to keep family members off limits to some extent. Democrats never really went after Donald Nixon as they might have, or Ronald Reagan’s troubled kids. As usual, it may be the Clinton experience (Roger Clinton, Hugh Rodham, etc) that broke down some of this prior restraint. It may well be an effective tactic to try to arouse our "comfort factor" with this unusual man, but it would be another step removed from campaigning on large issues. At least Willie Horton was connected to a real issue and a question of executive judgment. This case is more ambiguous.