Speaking to a townhall in Venice, California this morning, Iago made his sharpest attacks yet on Cassio’s integrity and truthfulness. Iago also continued to call into question his rival’s experience and preparation to lead during these troubled times. And for the third day in a row, Iago cast doubt on Cassio’s description of his associations with a former radical, Roderigo, who belonged to the violent Cypriot Liberation Army three decades ago. At the same time Emilia told the audience once again that Cassio was “palling around with Muslim extremists”.
Roderigo has never renounced his youthful activities, though friends insist his image has been rehabilitated since that time by his civic and charitable work in his parish, which neighbors Cassio’s parish. This spring Desdemona also tried to make an issue of Cassio’s earlier associations with Roderigo, but with limited success.
Cassio for his part spoke today at an import-export trade meeting in Corinth, Mississippi. He repeated once again what he has said several times, that Roderigo was little more than an acquaintance when they worked together on the board of a charitable hospital for orphans of lost seafarers. In April, Cassio described Roderigo’s past actions as “detestable”.
The townhall in Venice today was in an angry mood, with several people interupting Iago to shout that Cassio is a “traitor” and a “liar”. Finally in response to a direct question about Roderigo, Iago said “We don’t care about an old washed-up pirate and his wife. That’s not the point. The point is Cassio said he was just a guy in the sestiere. We need to know that’s not true. We need to know the full extent of the relationship because of whether Cassio is telling the truth to the people or not. That’s the question.”
The townhall audience pressed Iago over and over to take a harder line in public against what they called Cassio’s dishonesty and astounding ability to evade scrutiny for his past actions and “associations”. Iago replied to one man:
“It is not honesty in me to speak
What I have seen and known. You shall observe him,
And his own courses will denote him so
That I may save my speech.”
Later he added that “guiltiness will speak, though tongues were out of use.” The townhall audience clearly was not satisfied. Several demanded to know when Iago would confront Cassio directly with their charges of “terrorism”. Said one impassioned supporter to loud applause, “Honest Iago, it’s absolutely vital that you take it to Cassio, that you hit him where it hurts,” adding “we have all of these shady characters that have surrounded him.” Iago promised that he would do so, implying that he planned to confront Cassio at the final debate in Athens, Georgia.
“For I will make him tell the tale anew,
Where, how, how oft, how long ago and when
He hath and is again to cope [Roderigo].”
“Cope”, meaning to “meet with”, is an archaic word little used by politicians these days other than Iago.
Today Iago also released another attack ad calling Cassio “too risky” and intoning that “the issue is Cassio’s judgment and candor”. But somewhat incongruously, the ad also returns to Iago’s claim that Cassio is skilled at rhetoric but lacks sufficient real-world experience to lead the war against Islamic extremism, whereas Iago has many years of service in the military.
Cassio’s spokesman Gratiano described Iago’s attacks on his integrity as a mark of desperation as Iago slips in popularity. “Iago’s behavior this summer has been increasingly erratic. Even though the military situation has improved recently, we remain mired in an expensive war that is also contributing to severe economic problems at home. The people are not going to be distracted by these baseless attacks on Cassio’s character. They realize that we need to restore our finances, protect our currency, and expand our markets overseas – on which our continued prosperity depends. This election is going to be decided on the issues that voters care about, and meanwhile Iago is dragging his campaign down into the canals.”