I think I like the general response: Fight the SmearsTime
has some interesting analysis:
As long as there have been rumors in politics, there has been one widely accepted way for a candidate to deal with them. Basically, it's not to. Otherwise, according to prevailing wisdom, all a candidate achieves is to elevate the rumors to a legitimate story for the media to feast on. That don't-go-there approach was Barack Obama's plan for months until, on the candidate's first full day of campaigning as his party's presumed presidential nominee, a reporter from McClatchy Newspapers who was traveling aboard his plane asked him about a particularly toxic bit of hearsay that was zooming around the Internet about his wife Michelle. Obama lost his cool. "We have seen this before. There is dirt and lies that are circulated in e-mails, and they pump them out long enough until finally you, a mainstream reporter, asks me about it," Obama said, bristling. "That gives legs to the story. If somebody has evidence that myself or Michelle or anybody has said something inappropriate, let them do it."
That night, in a conference call, Obama told his top aides it was time for a more aggressive solution to the rumors that have been popping up on the Internet about him and his family for months.
In the past, I've had to debunk some of the more interesting right-wing email fear/smear campaigns (not necessarily against Obama) that my uncle would receive that were tanatamount to calling for religious warfare against all muslims, though cached in patriotic jingoism, and I'm glad Obama is taking this head on. I don't know if it will work, but I think in the internet age it is necessary.