Ross Douthat writes:
Obama’s obfuscation regarding Ayers is, in a sense, the homage that vice pays to virtue – a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that the political culture of Chicago, and especially of Hyde Park, is more accommodating than perhaps it should be to a morally dubious figure like Ayers, and that having accommodated himself to those accommodations Obama now recognizes the need to behave as if he didn’t.
But this is true of Obama’s entire circle of comrades and associates, of course. He didn’t know who they were, or wasn’t all that close to them, or never happened to be there when their life-long habit of excoriating evil America was demonstrated. It is all of a piece.
But more than hypocrisy is at work here. It is not just far Left, American-hating radicals he now disowns. You get the sense that he believes everyone can be played. Rashid Khalidi can believe that Obama finds no one suffers more than the Palestinians. Jews can buy that he was moved by the Holocaust from a summer camp experience. Voters in his Congressional race in 1990 can be told that there is no difference ideologically between him and 100% ADA-rated Bobby Rush, but the rest of the state in 2004 (and eventually the country) can buy that he’s a post-partisan reformer. Terrorists come to believe he shares their scorn for America, but Iowa voters hear him talk about his appreciation that only in America could his story have happened. Primary voters in Ohio are coddled with protectionist promises – and then privately scorned while he is talking to San Fransciso liberal donors.
There is no end to it — everyone gets the version of Obama that perfectly fits his own world view. It is not hypocrisy. It’s fraud. Whatever he told or shared with Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, or Pfleger counts for no more that what he told or shared with other now inconvenient groups and individuals. He’s sold the same piece of political real estate to multiple buyers for multiple, conflicting uses.
But one thing has been consistent. He has never, ever attacked political corruption, whether in Chicago or Washington. To the contrary, at the Woods Fund, the Annenberg Challenge and the U.S. Senate he’s laddled out earmarks and goodies to a long list of friends and associates — Wright, Pfleger, Will County ( home of FBI target Larry Walsh), Allison S. Davis, ACORN, etc. The one consistency has been his fidelity to political supporters. Everyone else and every political position were disposable.
Now is precisely the time for firm convictions, strict ethical propriety and the firmness to turn away those who put private interests above the public good. We may be on the verge of electing a candidate who lacks all of these traits.