Commentary Magazine


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What Juan Williams Said

Juan Williams hit the nail on the head during his appearance on Fox News Sunday. He explained the importance of the Reverend Wright issue . (It is worth watching just for the reaction shots of the other Fox commentators, who can only observe in awe and stifle the urge to interrupt while Williams is on his roll). This goes to “character and judgment,” Williams explains, because we now can see that Obama was playing games on the race question. He exploited, in other words, his connection to Reverend Wright when it was to his advantage in the past, but is now playing to the public’s yearning for racial unity, since it better serves his presidential ambitions. For bonus points, Willaims explains how the brand of noxious black nationalism and paranoia exemplified in Wright’s sermons leads to statements like Michelle Obama’s.

Now, will average Americans be as insightful as Williams? Maybe not. But ordinary voters, I think, will sense that Obama has not been straight with them. Since his entire campaign is focused on him–his authenticity, his judgment, his blinding redemptive power to bring us all together– this is not just a bump in the road. This is the “ah ha!” moment Hillary Clinton has been hoping for, when voters do a gut check about Obama and perhaps decide there’s less there (or something altogether different) than meets the eye. Whether it will be enough to dislodge him from the lead in the race remains to be seen. After all, to do that, Democrats would have to decide that the Clinton they know is better than the Obama they’ve come to doubt.