Commentary Magazine


Topic: Jeremiah Wright

Klein’s Mad Again

Joe Klein is upset yet again–this time at Senator Joseph Lieberman. The source of his consternation is an interview Lieberman gave to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. When asked about a Hamas spokesman’s endorsement of Obama, Lieberman said that

John McCain obviously knows and has said that Senator Obama clearly doesn’t support any of the values or goals of Hamas. But the fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question “Why?” and it suggests the difference between these two candidates.

According to Klein, Lieberman is

smearing Barack Obama re Hamas. He is entitled to his views about the Middle East, but for the past five years he has taken those Likudnik views a step beyond propriety–saying that those who disagree with him (i.e.–the Democratic Party, which nominated him for the Vice Presidency in 2000) are counseling “defeat” and “surrender.” And now this.  I wish Blitzer had been a bit more dogged and asked: “What could you possibly mean by that, Senator Lieberman–and please be specific. Why do you think Hamas “favors” Obama over McCain? What are you implying here, Senator?

Now one might believe Lieberman is wrong in what he said, but it is hardly a smear. In fact, Lieberman goes out of his way to stress that Obama does not share the values or goals of Hamas. His argument is a completely legitimate one: Obama would pursue policies that would (unintentionally) advance the aims of Hamas. It’s the flipside of an argument I presume Klein endorses: Bush’s policies–from Iraq to Guantanamo Bay to water-boarding–have helped the jihadists cause rather than hurt it.

It’s not a smear to make the argument that the policies of a President will have real-world consequences–in some instances making life easier for our enemies, and in some instances making life harder for our enemies. Is it unreasonable to conclude that the leaders of the Soviet Union were rooting for Carter in 1980 and Mondale in 1984?

Likewise, it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that the policy Barack Obama embraces would lead to an American surrender and defeat in Iraq–just as it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that McCain’s policies would harm American interests. Political campaigns are supposed to be about such matters.

This is all part of what is becoming an increasingly tiresome reflex within the media and which Klein embodies as well as anyone. When Lanny Davis said that Obama’s relationship to Jeremiah Wright was a legitimate, troubling issue, Klein accused Davis of “spreading the poison.” Now Lieberman’s argument that it’s worth asking why Hamas would rather see Obama than McCain as President is a “smear.” And next week if Lindsey Graham criticizes Obama’s willingness to meet with President Ahmadinejad without preconditions, I suppose we can expect Klein to charge Graham with “character assassination.”

For a fellow who likes to rip the hide off of his critics, Klein has developed some fairly thin skin. Years ago Bob Dole asked, “Where’s the outrage?” The answer, is appears, can be found in the writing of Joe Klein. Outrage seems to be a perennial state for him these days.

Joe Klein is upset yet again–this time at Senator Joseph Lieberman. The source of his consternation is an interview Lieberman gave to Wolf Blitzer on CNN. When asked about a Hamas spokesman’s endorsement of Obama, Lieberman said that

John McCain obviously knows and has said that Senator Obama clearly doesn’t support any of the values or goals of Hamas. But the fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question “Why?” and it suggests the difference between these two candidates.

According to Klein, Lieberman is

smearing Barack Obama re Hamas. He is entitled to his views about the Middle East, but for the past five years he has taken those Likudnik views a step beyond propriety–saying that those who disagree with him (i.e.–the Democratic Party, which nominated him for the Vice Presidency in 2000) are counseling “defeat” and “surrender.” And now this.  I wish Blitzer had been a bit more dogged and asked: “What could you possibly mean by that, Senator Lieberman–and please be specific. Why do you think Hamas “favors” Obama over McCain? What are you implying here, Senator?

Now one might believe Lieberman is wrong in what he said, but it is hardly a smear. In fact, Lieberman goes out of his way to stress that Obama does not share the values or goals of Hamas. His argument is a completely legitimate one: Obama would pursue policies that would (unintentionally) advance the aims of Hamas. It’s the flipside of an argument I presume Klein endorses: Bush’s policies–from Iraq to Guantanamo Bay to water-boarding–have helped the jihadists cause rather than hurt it.

It’s not a smear to make the argument that the policies of a President will have real-world consequences–in some instances making life easier for our enemies, and in some instances making life harder for our enemies. Is it unreasonable to conclude that the leaders of the Soviet Union were rooting for Carter in 1980 and Mondale in 1984?

Likewise, it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that the policy Barack Obama embraces would lead to an American surrender and defeat in Iraq–just as it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that McCain’s policies would harm American interests. Political campaigns are supposed to be about such matters.

This is all part of what is becoming an increasingly tiresome reflex within the media and which Klein embodies as well as anyone. When Lanny Davis said that Obama’s relationship to Jeremiah Wright was a legitimate, troubling issue, Klein accused Davis of “spreading the poison.” Now Lieberman’s argument that it’s worth asking why Hamas would rather see Obama than McCain as President is a “smear.” And next week if Lindsey Graham criticizes Obama’s willingness to meet with President Ahmadinejad without preconditions, I suppose we can expect Klein to charge Graham with “character assassination.”

For a fellow who likes to rip the hide off of his critics, Klein has developed some fairly thin skin. Years ago Bob Dole asked, “Where’s the outrage?” The answer, is appears, can be found in the writing of Joe Klein. Outrage seems to be a perennial state for him these days.

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The Obama Campaign Goes Completely Insane

If you look a few posts below, you will find the text of President Bush’s powerful and moving speech to the Knesset today. In the course of it, he says something very general:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Bush here is arguing in very broad brush against a generally meliorist view of foreign policy — one, moreover, that is held by many people who work inside his own government. For some reason, people who work for the almost-certain nominee of the Democratic party have decided that Bush was attacking him. As Kate Phillips writes on the New York Times website:

In a telephone interview on CNN just a few minutes ago, Robert Gibbs, the communications director for Senator Barack Obama, called Mr. Bush’s remarks “astonishing” and an “unprecendented political attack on foreign soil.”

An “unprecedented attack on foreign soil”? That is completely deranged. Not only did Bush not mention Obama by name, it is doubtful he or his people were thinking about Obama. The argument that negotiating with terrorists is appeasement akin to Europe’s appeasement of Hitler is a standard view among hawks on the Right — decades old, dating back even before Barry Obama found the audacity to hope in the pews of Jeremiah Wright’s church. It is exactly the sort of thing a man with Bush’s politics would say in a speech before the Knesset, whether Obama had run for president or not.

The Obama campaign has even issued a statement on the matter in Obama’s name:

It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power – including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy – to pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.

I’m not sure what this all says about Obama. Is this smart politics, getting his base riled up on his behalf? Is he trying to use Bush as a wedge to make the case to the Jewish community in the United States that the bad man in the White House is mischaracterizing him and therefore Jews should like him more? Is he trying, for the millionth time, to rule any criticism of himself out of reasonable bounds by complaining about something that isn’t even criticism of him?

Or is this just another example of Obama’s thin-skinned-ness?

If you look a few posts below, you will find the text of President Bush’s powerful and moving speech to the Knesset today. In the course of it, he says something very general:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Bush here is arguing in very broad brush against a generally meliorist view of foreign policy — one, moreover, that is held by many people who work inside his own government. For some reason, people who work for the almost-certain nominee of the Democratic party have decided that Bush was attacking him. As Kate Phillips writes on the New York Times website:

In a telephone interview on CNN just a few minutes ago, Robert Gibbs, the communications director for Senator Barack Obama, called Mr. Bush’s remarks “astonishing” and an “unprecendented political attack on foreign soil.”

An “unprecedented attack on foreign soil”? That is completely deranged. Not only did Bush not mention Obama by name, it is doubtful he or his people were thinking about Obama. The argument that negotiating with terrorists is appeasement akin to Europe’s appeasement of Hitler is a standard view among hawks on the Right — decades old, dating back even before Barry Obama found the audacity to hope in the pews of Jeremiah Wright’s church. It is exactly the sort of thing a man with Bush’s politics would say in a speech before the Knesset, whether Obama had run for president or not.

The Obama campaign has even issued a statement on the matter in Obama’s name:

It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power – including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy – to pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.

I’m not sure what this all says about Obama. Is this smart politics, getting his base riled up on his behalf? Is he trying to use Bush as a wedge to make the case to the Jewish community in the United States that the bad man in the White House is mischaracterizing him and therefore Jews should like him more? Is he trying, for the millionth time, to rule any criticism of himself out of reasonable bounds by complaining about something that isn’t even criticism of him?

Or is this just another example of Obama’s thin-skinned-ness?

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About That 10 Percent . . .

Cinque Henderson has a piece at the New Republic that’s well worth a read. Henderson explains why, as a black American, he doesn’t support Barack Obama for President:

I disliked Obama almost instantly. I never believed the central premises of his autobiography or his campaign. He is fueled by precisely the same brand of personal ambition as Bill Clinton. But, where Clinton is damned as “Slick Willie,” Obama is hailed as a post-racial Messiah.

But Henderson’s (somewhat confused) argument runs deeper than this reactive distaste. His case against Obama amounts to an indictment of white America for its cluelessness and black America for its protective impulses:

We have arrived at the crux of the matter. So much of the educated white people’s love for Barack depends on educated white people’s complete ignorance of and distance from the rest of us. Barack is the black person they want the rest of us to be–half-white and loving, or “racially transcendent,” as the press loves to call him.

I suspect this is just right. Indeed such adoration for Barack Obama is based not only on fantastic assumptions about blacks, but on larger delusions about America and the world beyond. Blacks are not that black, whites are not that white: it’s the economic and political machinery of America that continues to create this polarity. Once Obama’s elected, that machinery will be broken. But the truth is that differences in skin color are rendered meaningless by a commitment to the guiding principles of our nation–not by the political rise of a single ethnically-mixed candidate.

Here’s Henderson on Obama’s black supporters:

It’s worth remembering that the majority of blacks still think O.J. Simpson is innocent. And, in times like these, when a black man is out front in the public eye, black people feel both proud and vulnerable and, as a result, scour the earth for evidence of racists plotting to bring him down, like an advance team ready to sound an alarm. Barack needed only a gesture, a quick sneer or nod in the direction of the Clintons’ hidden racism to avail himself of the twisted love that rescued O.J. and others like him and to smooth his path to victory, and, therefore, to salvage his candidacy. . . [H]e gave speeches across South Carolina that warned against being “hoodwinked” and “bamboozled” by the Clintons. His use of the phrase is resonant. It comes from a scene in Malcolm X, where Denzel Washington warns black people about the hidden evils of “the White Man” masquerading as a smiling politician: “Every election year, these politicians are sent up here to pacify us,” he says. “You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.”

[…]

As soon as I heard that Obama had quoted from Malcolm X like this, I knew that Obama would win South Carolina by a massive margin.

That minorities look out for their own isn’t news. And Henderson really trips himself up is in trying to maintain that most American blacks are both tribally motivated to fall for Obama’s use of Malcom X code words and nothing like the fringy anti-Americans of Jeremiah Wright’s church. Henderson writes:

As the son of a Baptist minister, I can attest that Wright is and was an extreme aberration from how the overwhelming majority of black Christians worship. In church, black people hear about Peter, Paul, Mary, and how to get into heaven. How to forgive. How to love. Not how to vote.

I have no reason to doubt that, but his Malcolm X argument seems overstated. Blacks don’t need cues from Spike Lee movies to feel protective of someone from their community.

Still and all, this is one of the most interesting discussions of race in America to come out of Barack Obama’s much-praised speech. But somehow I don’t think it’s quite what the Senator had in mind.

Cinque Henderson has a piece at the New Republic that’s well worth a read. Henderson explains why, as a black American, he doesn’t support Barack Obama for President:

I disliked Obama almost instantly. I never believed the central premises of his autobiography or his campaign. He is fueled by precisely the same brand of personal ambition as Bill Clinton. But, where Clinton is damned as “Slick Willie,” Obama is hailed as a post-racial Messiah.

But Henderson’s (somewhat confused) argument runs deeper than this reactive distaste. His case against Obama amounts to an indictment of white America for its cluelessness and black America for its protective impulses:

We have arrived at the crux of the matter. So much of the educated white people’s love for Barack depends on educated white people’s complete ignorance of and distance from the rest of us. Barack is the black person they want the rest of us to be–half-white and loving, or “racially transcendent,” as the press loves to call him.

I suspect this is just right. Indeed such adoration for Barack Obama is based not only on fantastic assumptions about blacks, but on larger delusions about America and the world beyond. Blacks are not that black, whites are not that white: it’s the economic and political machinery of America that continues to create this polarity. Once Obama’s elected, that machinery will be broken. But the truth is that differences in skin color are rendered meaningless by a commitment to the guiding principles of our nation–not by the political rise of a single ethnically-mixed candidate.

Here’s Henderson on Obama’s black supporters:

It’s worth remembering that the majority of blacks still think O.J. Simpson is innocent. And, in times like these, when a black man is out front in the public eye, black people feel both proud and vulnerable and, as a result, scour the earth for evidence of racists plotting to bring him down, like an advance team ready to sound an alarm. Barack needed only a gesture, a quick sneer or nod in the direction of the Clintons’ hidden racism to avail himself of the twisted love that rescued O.J. and others like him and to smooth his path to victory, and, therefore, to salvage his candidacy. . . [H]e gave speeches across South Carolina that warned against being “hoodwinked” and “bamboozled” by the Clintons. His use of the phrase is resonant. It comes from a scene in Malcolm X, where Denzel Washington warns black people about the hidden evils of “the White Man” masquerading as a smiling politician: “Every election year, these politicians are sent up here to pacify us,” he says. “You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled.”

[…]

As soon as I heard that Obama had quoted from Malcolm X like this, I knew that Obama would win South Carolina by a massive margin.

That minorities look out for their own isn’t news. And Henderson really trips himself up is in trying to maintain that most American blacks are both tribally motivated to fall for Obama’s use of Malcom X code words and nothing like the fringy anti-Americans of Jeremiah Wright’s church. Henderson writes:

As the son of a Baptist minister, I can attest that Wright is and was an extreme aberration from how the overwhelming majority of black Christians worship. In church, black people hear about Peter, Paul, Mary, and how to get into heaven. How to forgive. How to love. Not how to vote.

I have no reason to doubt that, but his Malcolm X argument seems overstated. Blacks don’t need cues from Spike Lee movies to feel protective of someone from their community.

Still and all, this is one of the most interesting discussions of race in America to come out of Barack Obama’s much-praised speech. But somehow I don’t think it’s quite what the Senator had in mind.

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Why Don’t They Like Him?

Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed amazement that Jewish voters have concerns about his candidacy. He has suggested, in essence, that they are irrational–seizing on his name or the remarks of other African-Americans or buying into internet chatter claiming he is a closet Muslim. And his defenders have insisted he doesn’t have a Jewish problem at all. But the available evidence suggests that he does, and there are a number of compelling reasons why Jews have not supported him to the degree that they’ve supported past Democratic nominees.

Stephen Herbits, recently retired as Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress and an advisor to the Secretaries of Defense in four administrations, has provided an exhaustive analysis of the situation, must-reading for anyone serious about exploring this issue.

First, there is little doubt that Obama has a problem with Jewish voters, even Democratic primary voters who would be natural supporters insofar as many are high-income, high-education voters. Herbits explains:

In Pennsylvania, exit polls show that Senator Clinton beat Senator Obama by 24 percentage points amongst Pennsylvanian Jews, outpacing the general population by 13 points, and even outpacing the Protestant population which favored Senator Clinton by a ten point margin. With Jews comprising 8 % of the Pennsylvania primary electorate, these percentages are large enough to be determinative in a close general election race. Senator Clinton won amongst Jews by similarly large margins in states like New York and New Jersey. In Florida where Jews accounted for 9% of primary voters, the margin exceeded 30 points. In Nevada where Jews accounted for some 5%, the margin exceeded 40 points.

So why are Jewish voters wary of him? Herbits contends that the issue is one of “credibilty.” He writes:

Senator Obama makes statements of solidarity with the Jewish community. Yet, his determination to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad runs counter to his professed sensitivity to Jewish concerns. His relationships with unabashed anti-Semitic and anti-Israel individuals calls into question his sincerity. His 20-year comfort with Jeremiah Wright, and his previous tolerance and defense of his pastor who preaches “Zionism equals Racism” reveals his ability to tolerate, defend and find comfort with others who share such views.

Although Obama professes concern for Israel, his willingness to meet directly with Ahmadinejad goes to the nub of the matter, Herbits contends:

Since the Holocaust, few individuals advancing dangerous anti-Semitic views have risen to lead nations. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, calls for the State of Israel to be wiped off the map and defies the international community by continuing to pursue nuclear capability. Iran is also the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism – arming, training and directing groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. . . .

Such a meeting would be devastating to the psyche of entire Jewish world. Since 2005, Jewish communities around the world have been fighting to marginalize and contain Ahmadinejad. Jewish communities condemn Hugo Chavez and other radical leaders for welcoming Ahmadinejad. They condemn the Russian government for their relationship with the Iranian regime. Recently, the United States, Israel and Jewish communities around the world condemned the Swiss for an economic agreement with the Iranian regime.

Throughout Europe there is a multinational effort to designate Ahmadinejad persona non grata throughout European capitals and at the EU. For years, the United States has worked with begrudging allies to isolate and contain the Iranian regime. And yet, Senator Obama has pledged that as President of the United States he will be featured on the front page of newspapers around the world shaking hands with a rabid anti-Semite who supports terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies, is pursing a nuclear capability, and denies the Holocaust. Such an image would be a victory for terrorism, a victory for extremists, and a defeat for peace and international security. The Jewish community will sooner vote for Senator McCain than be party to facilitating that meeting with Ahmadinejad.

Herbits goes on to detail Obama’s troubling associations with Reverend Wright, as well as with anti-Israel figures like Edward Said, Ali Abunimah, and Rashid Khalidi–all of whom raise red flags for Jews.

In short, the problem is real and the reasons for Jewish antipathy are based on facts about Obama’s stated policies and long-term relationships. But to recognize that would require Obama to address central concerns about his candidacy, concerns which might set off alarm bells for many non-Jewish voters, e.g. his outlook on the Middle East, his views on terrorism, and his proclivity to travel with radicals who spout anti-American and anti-Israel gibberish. Far better to deny the problem exists. Or to attribute it to those pesky, irrational American Jews.

Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed amazement that Jewish voters have concerns about his candidacy. He has suggested, in essence, that they are irrational–seizing on his name or the remarks of other African-Americans or buying into internet chatter claiming he is a closet Muslim. And his defenders have insisted he doesn’t have a Jewish problem at all. But the available evidence suggests that he does, and there are a number of compelling reasons why Jews have not supported him to the degree that they’ve supported past Democratic nominees.

Stephen Herbits, recently retired as Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress and an advisor to the Secretaries of Defense in four administrations, has provided an exhaustive analysis of the situation, must-reading for anyone serious about exploring this issue.

First, there is little doubt that Obama has a problem with Jewish voters, even Democratic primary voters who would be natural supporters insofar as many are high-income, high-education voters. Herbits explains:

In Pennsylvania, exit polls show that Senator Clinton beat Senator Obama by 24 percentage points amongst Pennsylvanian Jews, outpacing the general population by 13 points, and even outpacing the Protestant population which favored Senator Clinton by a ten point margin. With Jews comprising 8 % of the Pennsylvania primary electorate, these percentages are large enough to be determinative in a close general election race. Senator Clinton won amongst Jews by similarly large margins in states like New York and New Jersey. In Florida where Jews accounted for 9% of primary voters, the margin exceeded 30 points. In Nevada where Jews accounted for some 5%, the margin exceeded 40 points.

So why are Jewish voters wary of him? Herbits contends that the issue is one of “credibilty.” He writes:

Senator Obama makes statements of solidarity with the Jewish community. Yet, his determination to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad runs counter to his professed sensitivity to Jewish concerns. His relationships with unabashed anti-Semitic and anti-Israel individuals calls into question his sincerity. His 20-year comfort with Jeremiah Wright, and his previous tolerance and defense of his pastor who preaches “Zionism equals Racism” reveals his ability to tolerate, defend and find comfort with others who share such views.

Although Obama professes concern for Israel, his willingness to meet directly with Ahmadinejad goes to the nub of the matter, Herbits contends:

Since the Holocaust, few individuals advancing dangerous anti-Semitic views have risen to lead nations. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, calls for the State of Israel to be wiped off the map and defies the international community by continuing to pursue nuclear capability. Iran is also the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism – arming, training and directing groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. . . .

Such a meeting would be devastating to the psyche of entire Jewish world. Since 2005, Jewish communities around the world have been fighting to marginalize and contain Ahmadinejad. Jewish communities condemn Hugo Chavez and other radical leaders for welcoming Ahmadinejad. They condemn the Russian government for their relationship with the Iranian regime. Recently, the United States, Israel and Jewish communities around the world condemned the Swiss for an economic agreement with the Iranian regime.

Throughout Europe there is a multinational effort to designate Ahmadinejad persona non grata throughout European capitals and at the EU. For years, the United States has worked with begrudging allies to isolate and contain the Iranian regime. And yet, Senator Obama has pledged that as President of the United States he will be featured on the front page of newspapers around the world shaking hands with a rabid anti-Semite who supports terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies, is pursing a nuclear capability, and denies the Holocaust. Such an image would be a victory for terrorism, a victory for extremists, and a defeat for peace and international security. The Jewish community will sooner vote for Senator McCain than be party to facilitating that meeting with Ahmadinejad.

Herbits goes on to detail Obama’s troubling associations with Reverend Wright, as well as with anti-Israel figures like Edward Said, Ali Abunimah, and Rashid Khalidi–all of whom raise red flags for Jews.

In short, the problem is real and the reasons for Jewish antipathy are based on facts about Obama’s stated policies and long-term relationships. But to recognize that would require Obama to address central concerns about his candidacy, concerns which might set off alarm bells for many non-Jewish voters, e.g. his outlook on the Middle East, his views on terrorism, and his proclivity to travel with radicals who spout anti-American and anti-Israel gibberish. Far better to deny the problem exists. Or to attribute it to those pesky, irrational American Jews.

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Taking His Sweet Time

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” When it comes to following Don Corleone’s sage advice, Barack Obama is a natural. Sure, he’s tight with Ted Kennedy and Bill Richardson, but they didn’t baptize his kids (like Jeremiah Wright), or advise him on foreign policy (like Robert Malley). Obama’s talent for cleaving to his political enemies is definitely a “change” from politics as usual. But is it change we can believe in?

The exit of Malley from Obama’s campaign is yet another instance in which the candidate who speaks of “the fierce urgency of now” addresses an immediate and obvious problem with the galling indifference of whenever. For at least six months, we’ve known that Robert Malley’s associates and his record of anti-Israel revisionism have no place in an American presidential campaign. But Obama, being Obama, could no sooner denounce his Arafat-embracing Middle East advisor than, say, not sell out his grandmother. Instead, the campaign shrugged the issue off by claiming Malley was not a “day-to-day” advisor.

Just as in the case of Jeremiah Wright, Obama tried to wish the whole thing away until the very source of the problem addressed him directly. Rev. Wright picked a fight with Obama, and Robert Malley called Obama up to cut ties. I’m not sure why Malley said that his own dealings with Hamas would be a “distraction,” when it’s doubtful Obama would have noticed.

Setting aside the ideological implications of Obama’s friendly enemies, why is no one alarmed by a Presidential nominee who, to quote another mob movie, has a habit of being late to his own funeral. Is Obama slow in analyzing crises because he’s carefully considering all the angles? Or because he can’t be bothered with any issue that distracts him from his historic destiny? He’ll answer the phone at 3 AM–only it’ll have been ringing since 3 in the afternoon.

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” When it comes to following Don Corleone’s sage advice, Barack Obama is a natural. Sure, he’s tight with Ted Kennedy and Bill Richardson, but they didn’t baptize his kids (like Jeremiah Wright), or advise him on foreign policy (like Robert Malley). Obama’s talent for cleaving to his political enemies is definitely a “change” from politics as usual. But is it change we can believe in?

The exit of Malley from Obama’s campaign is yet another instance in which the candidate who speaks of “the fierce urgency of now” addresses an immediate and obvious problem with the galling indifference of whenever. For at least six months, we’ve known that Robert Malley’s associates and his record of anti-Israel revisionism have no place in an American presidential campaign. But Obama, being Obama, could no sooner denounce his Arafat-embracing Middle East advisor than, say, not sell out his grandmother. Instead, the campaign shrugged the issue off by claiming Malley was not a “day-to-day” advisor.

Just as in the case of Jeremiah Wright, Obama tried to wish the whole thing away until the very source of the problem addressed him directly. Rev. Wright picked a fight with Obama, and Robert Malley called Obama up to cut ties. I’m not sure why Malley said that his own dealings with Hamas would be a “distraction,” when it’s doubtful Obama would have noticed.

Setting aside the ideological implications of Obama’s friendly enemies, why is no one alarmed by a Presidential nominee who, to quote another mob movie, has a habit of being late to his own funeral. Is Obama slow in analyzing crises because he’s carefully considering all the angles? Or because he can’t be bothered with any issue that distracts him from his historic destiny? He’ll answer the phone at 3 AM–only it’ll have been ringing since 3 in the afternoon.

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What’s He Been Watching?

In today’s Washington Post, Eugene Robinson has an op-ed on Hillary’s recent boast about getting white voters and what it says about her:

As a statement of fact, that’s debatable at best. As a rationale for why Democratic Party superdelegates should pick her over Obama, it’s a slap in the face to the party’s most loyal constituency — African Americans — and a repudiation of principles the party claims to stand for. Here’s what she’s really saying to party leaders: There’s no way that white people are going to vote for the black guy. Come November, you’ll be sorry.

How silly of me. I thought the Democratic Party believed in a colorblind America.

He did? Perhaps someone can pull Eugene Robinson aside and lend him some footage from the past year. From the Clintons’ race strategy to Obama’s racial justification of Jeremiah Wright to John Kerry’s political faith in Obama’s melanin count, the one thing we know Democrats believe in is color visibility. To be part of the Democratic electorate is to receive your Crayola label, stand in the box, and hope to be used.

Robinson goes on:

From the beginning, Hillary Clinton has campaigned as if the Democratic nomination were hers by divine right. That’s why she is falling short — and that’s why she should be persuaded to quit now, rather than later, before her majestic sense of entitlement splits the party along racial lines.

By this logic, Obama is sure to destroy the Dems. Since February, he’s done everything but don robes and walk on water. Without a shred of irony, Robinson writes: “Clinton’s sin isn’t racism, it’s arrogance.” And the sin of Democratic supporters is unstinting gullibility.

In today’s Washington Post, Eugene Robinson has an op-ed on Hillary’s recent boast about getting white voters and what it says about her:

As a statement of fact, that’s debatable at best. As a rationale for why Democratic Party superdelegates should pick her over Obama, it’s a slap in the face to the party’s most loyal constituency — African Americans — and a repudiation of principles the party claims to stand for. Here’s what she’s really saying to party leaders: There’s no way that white people are going to vote for the black guy. Come November, you’ll be sorry.

How silly of me. I thought the Democratic Party believed in a colorblind America.

He did? Perhaps someone can pull Eugene Robinson aside and lend him some footage from the past year. From the Clintons’ race strategy to Obama’s racial justification of Jeremiah Wright to John Kerry’s political faith in Obama’s melanin count, the one thing we know Democrats believe in is color visibility. To be part of the Democratic electorate is to receive your Crayola label, stand in the box, and hope to be used.

Robinson goes on:

From the beginning, Hillary Clinton has campaigned as if the Democratic nomination were hers by divine right. That’s why she is falling short — and that’s why she should be persuaded to quit now, rather than later, before her majestic sense of entitlement splits the party along racial lines.

By this logic, Obama is sure to destroy the Dems. Since February, he’s done everything but don robes and walk on water. Without a shred of irony, Robinson writes: “Clinton’s sin isn’t racism, it’s arrogance.” And the sin of Democratic supporters is unstinting gullibility.

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Some Thoughts on Last Night

1. Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for President. That was clear before yesterday; absent a complete and unforeseen disaster, it’s a certainty now. Democratic superdelegates will soon begin to break in large numbers for Obama. They have been wanting to do so for some time now; what they needed was a plausible trigger to justify publicly supporting Obama. Last night they got it. Yesterday in the voting booths of North Carolina, the last dog died.

The Clintons have done a lot of damage to our politics over the years, something which Obama tapped into with great skill. They have destroyed a lot of folks who they viewed as obstacles to their power, and so it’s good, very good, that they will not be returning to the White House.

2. Whether Hillary Clinton withdraws or not is a far less important question than it was 48 hours ago. She may formally continue in the race, but as last night’s speeches made clear, the rhetorical swords will be sheathed. And there will be a lot of energy spent in the next several days negotiating a graceful exit for Hillary and Bill Clinton. That may not be easy. Many adjectives apply to the Clintons. Graceful is not one of them.

3. Democrats will begin to rally around Obama and, once Hillarydrops out of the race, he will take a large, perhaps even a commanding, lead over John McCain. In the last month there has been some talk among Republicans that Obama will be an exceptionally weak candidate, on the order of a Dukakis (loser of 40 states), Mondale (loser of 49 states), and McGovern (loser of 49 states). That won’t be the case. Obama is far
more talented and appealing than Dukakis, Mondale, or McGovern ever were.

He also has in place one of the finest political operation the Democrats have ever put together. And beyond that, this year — unlike 1972, 1984, and 1988 — virtually every metric favors Democrats, whether we’re talking about fundraising, party identification, the public’s views on an array of issues, and the energy and excitement among base voters. In addition, it’s hard for an incumbent party to win a third term, particularly in an environment in which voters are longing for change, where the President’s popularity is extremely low, and where 80 percent of the country believes the nation is on the wrong track.

A disturbing sign was that last weekend the GOP lost its second House seat in a special election in two months – this time in Louisiana, in a seat that had been Republican for 34 years and one which Bush carried by 20 points in 2004. It’s true that most congressional races are local rather than national in nature and Woody Jenkins was a particularly weak candidate. Nevertheless, the results in Louisiana could be an ominous sign, especially for down-ballot Republicans.

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1. Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for President. That was clear before yesterday; absent a complete and unforeseen disaster, it’s a certainty now. Democratic superdelegates will soon begin to break in large numbers for Obama. They have been wanting to do so for some time now; what they needed was a plausible trigger to justify publicly supporting Obama. Last night they got it. Yesterday in the voting booths of North Carolina, the last dog died.

The Clintons have done a lot of damage to our politics over the years, something which Obama tapped into with great skill. They have destroyed a lot of folks who they viewed as obstacles to their power, and so it’s good, very good, that they will not be returning to the White House.

2. Whether Hillary Clinton withdraws or not is a far less important question than it was 48 hours ago. She may formally continue in the race, but as last night’s speeches made clear, the rhetorical swords will be sheathed. And there will be a lot of energy spent in the next several days negotiating a graceful exit for Hillary and Bill Clinton. That may not be easy. Many adjectives apply to the Clintons. Graceful is not one of them.

3. Democrats will begin to rally around Obama and, once Hillarydrops out of the race, he will take a large, perhaps even a commanding, lead over John McCain. In the last month there has been some talk among Republicans that Obama will be an exceptionally weak candidate, on the order of a Dukakis (loser of 40 states), Mondale (loser of 49 states), and McGovern (loser of 49 states). That won’t be the case. Obama is far
more talented and appealing than Dukakis, Mondale, or McGovern ever were.

He also has in place one of the finest political operation the Democrats have ever put together. And beyond that, this year — unlike 1972, 1984, and 1988 — virtually every metric favors Democrats, whether we’re talking about fundraising, party identification, the public’s views on an array of issues, and the energy and excitement among base voters. In addition, it’s hard for an incumbent party to win a third term, particularly in an environment in which voters are longing for change, where the President’s popularity is extremely low, and where 80 percent of the country believes the nation is on the wrong track.

A disturbing sign was that last weekend the GOP lost its second House seat in a special election in two months – this time in Louisiana, in a seat that had been Republican for 34 years and one which Bush carried by 20 points in 2004. It’s true that most congressional races are local rather than national in nature and Woody Jenkins was a particularly weak candidate. Nevertheless, the results in Louisiana could be an ominous sign, especially for down-ballot Republicans.

4. What Senator McCain has working in his favor is that he has the greatest potential of any Republican on the national stage to reach beyond his base. That’s especially important in a year when voters are down on the GOP. The challenge for McCain remains his capacity to energize the Republican base while appealing beyond it. That is always the task of a nominee; this year, given McCain’s history with conservatives, it will be harder than most.

Also working in McCain’s favor is that Obama is a completely orthodox liberal in a nation that remains, for the most part, center-right. And Obama’s associations with Reverend Wright, William Ayers, and Tony Rezko have raised questions about his judgment and character. It remains to be seen if, in a general election, these concerns metastasize. One more troubling revelation about Obama’s associations, it could be quite
damaging to him. Hairline fractures can easily turn into complete breaks. And of course if Jeremiah Wright decides to re-emerge and hold forth on the virtues of “black liberation theology” and the vices of America, it could have a shattering effect on the Obama campaign.

5. The other thing McCain has working in his favor is that Obama has shown a limited appeal among rural and blue-collar voters, seniors, Catholics, and Latinos. Hillary Clinton has also done much better than Obama among conservative white Democrats. These demographic groups, and hence states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, are ones McCain has a chance to win. And a state like Florida is one where Hillary Clinton would have been a far more formidable opponent than Obama.

Obama’s strength has been with African Americans; in North Carolina, for example, he won more than 90 percent of the black vote amidst record turnout. He also runs extremely strong among young voters (18-29 years old), highly educated voters, in urban areas, and among elites — voters with high incomes and graduate degrees. Obama also has a realistic chance to carry Rocky Mountain States like Colorado and Nevada.

David Brooks has said that “demography is king” in this election. That has proven mostly true, and when it comes to the general election Obama has shown some worrisome (for Democrats) signs. That doesn’t mean he can’t surmount them, especially in a year that ought to favor Democrats. But it does mean that he is not without vulnerabilities.

6. Obama’s speech last night was a revealing roadmap to what he perceives as his own weaknesses. He ridiculed the notion of using “labels” to describe himself; it is, he has insisted in the past, part of the “old politics” that Obama alone can transcend. But let’s be specific: the label Obama has in mind is “liberal,” and in this instance it fits quite nicely. As I’ve argued elsewhere, Obama is an utterly conventional liberal – arguably the most liberal person running for president since McGovern. Obama has shown no willingness to challenge liberal orthodoxy. What he does not understand, or what he will not admit, is that a person’s political ideology reveals important things not only about his stance on individual issues, but also about his worldview, his assumptions and the beliefs that animate his political activism. In the past, the “liberal” label has been politically lethal for those running for President. Obama understands this – and since he can’t alter his record, he is going to do everything he can to smash the categories.

The man who last October proudly declared that he decided he wouldn’t wear an American flag pin shortly after 9/11 because it “became a substitute for I think true patriotism” last night spoke movingly about the “flag draped over my grandfather’s coffin” and what that flag stands for.

The man whose pastor, close friend and confidant referred to the United States as the “U.S. of K.K.K.” and whose wife declared our country to be “downright mean” and who has for the first time in her adult life found reason to be proud of America spoke glowingly about “the America I know.” Obama added this: “That’s why I’m in this race. I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted at this moment in history. I believe in our ability to perfect this union because it’s the only reason I’m standing here today. And I know the promise of America because I have lived it.”

The man who in San Francisco talked about the bitterness of small-town Americans who “cling” to their religion and guns and xenophobia, told us about the “simple truth I learned all those years ago when I worked in the shadows of a shuttered steel mill on the South Side of Chicago.”

The man who believes the Iraq war is irredeemably lost and wants to withdraw all major combat troops within 16 months — which would lead to a devastating American defeat, mass death and possibly genocide, a resurgent al Qaeda and a strengthened Iran – said, “I trust the American people to recognize that it’s not surrender to end the war in Iraq so that we can rebuild our military and go after al Qaeda’s leaders.”

The man who in the first year of his presidency wants to meet individually and without preconditions with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea declared last night, “I trust the American people to understand that it’s not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but our enemies – like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.” (The notion that Obama is in the same foreign policy tradition as FDR, JFK, and Truman is not a serious one; he is far closer to McGovern’s appeal to “Come Home, America.”)

Obama’s speech, then, was an effort to pivot to the general election and reposition himself as a post-partisan, post-ideological, mainstream, and unifying figure. That effort was fairly effective for a while. But the Obama magic is fading fast. As he showed last night, he remains an appealing figure. He is still able to make high-minded (if largely empty) appeals. Yet many of us, having watched him closely over the last few months, hear him differently than we once did. The words are largely the same; it’s the man delivering them who somehow seems different.

Barack Obama is still the favorite to be the next President. But he’s a good deal weaker than he was, and a long and withering campaign lies ahead.

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The Wright Effect

So what if the whole Jeremiah Wright scandal has actually helped Obama among Democrats because, to them, it makes him seem more like a victim?

So what if the whole Jeremiah Wright scandal has actually helped Obama among Democrats because, to them, it makes him seem more like a victim?

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Oprah for President

Newsweek reveals the history of Oprah Winfrey and the Trinity United Church of Christ, a story that demonstrates the talk show host’s superior judgment relative to the man she endorsed for president.

In the early 1980’s, Oprah, like Obama, was an ambitious Chicago professional “eager to bond with the movers and shakers in her new hometown’s black community.” She joined Trinity in 1984. But she didn’t last long. Winfrey was a member of the Church for just two years, then began attending services “off and on into the early to the mid-1990s. But then she stopped.” Newsweek reports that it was Wright’s sermonizing which dissuaded her.

That Oprah is a savvy operator isn’t news: she has made herself into one of the most successful and powerful women in the world. What it more importantly tells us is that at least one prominent Church member had a problem with Wright as early as the mid-1980’s, right at around the time Obama’s relationship with Wright was forming. What did Winfrey see in Wright that so disturbed her but that Obama somehow missed or wasn’t bothered by?

“According to two sources, Winfrey was never comfortable with the tone of Wright’s more incendiary sermons, which she knew had the power to damage her standing as America’s favorite daytime talk-show host,” Newsweek reports. This explanation makes Winfrey’s discomfort with Wright sound purely cynical, motivated by a brutal calculation that determined an affiliation with the preacher wasn’t worth the potential cost to her image as a daytime diva.

Maybe so. Yet from my (admittedly limited) knowledge of Oprah, there isn’t much in common with her feel-good, non-sectarian, multicultural positivism and the angry, racist, conspiratorial rantings of Wright. Yes, it was in her interest to dissociate herself from Wright. But, judging by her own stated philosophy, they have very different views of the world. Indeed, Winfrey’s self-transformation into the most popular woman in America (especially with the sort of middle-class, white housewives Obama is having so much trouble attracting) puts a rather large dent into the Jeremiah Wright History of the United States.

Given his thin legislative record, Barack Obama is running on his reputed judgment and personal story. Oprah Winfrey has a personal story to match (not to mention peerless skill in private-sector management, something Obama lacks entirely). Plus, she abandoned Jeremiah Wright long before it was fashionable. If there’s a case for Obama, I don’t see why there isn’t one for Oprah as well. Oprah for President!

Newsweek reveals the history of Oprah Winfrey and the Trinity United Church of Christ, a story that demonstrates the talk show host’s superior judgment relative to the man she endorsed for president.

In the early 1980’s, Oprah, like Obama, was an ambitious Chicago professional “eager to bond with the movers and shakers in her new hometown’s black community.” She joined Trinity in 1984. But she didn’t last long. Winfrey was a member of the Church for just two years, then began attending services “off and on into the early to the mid-1990s. But then she stopped.” Newsweek reports that it was Wright’s sermonizing which dissuaded her.

That Oprah is a savvy operator isn’t news: she has made herself into one of the most successful and powerful women in the world. What it more importantly tells us is that at least one prominent Church member had a problem with Wright as early as the mid-1980’s, right at around the time Obama’s relationship with Wright was forming. What did Winfrey see in Wright that so disturbed her but that Obama somehow missed or wasn’t bothered by?

“According to two sources, Winfrey was never comfortable with the tone of Wright’s more incendiary sermons, which she knew had the power to damage her standing as America’s favorite daytime talk-show host,” Newsweek reports. This explanation makes Winfrey’s discomfort with Wright sound purely cynical, motivated by a brutal calculation that determined an affiliation with the preacher wasn’t worth the potential cost to her image as a daytime diva.

Maybe so. Yet from my (admittedly limited) knowledge of Oprah, there isn’t much in common with her feel-good, non-sectarian, multicultural positivism and the angry, racist, conspiratorial rantings of Wright. Yes, it was in her interest to dissociate herself from Wright. But, judging by her own stated philosophy, they have very different views of the world. Indeed, Winfrey’s self-transformation into the most popular woman in America (especially with the sort of middle-class, white housewives Obama is having so much trouble attracting) puts a rather large dent into the Jeremiah Wright History of the United States.

Given his thin legislative record, Barack Obama is running on his reputed judgment and personal story. Oprah Winfrey has a personal story to match (not to mention peerless skill in private-sector management, something Obama lacks entirely). Plus, she abandoned Jeremiah Wright long before it was fashionable. If there’s a case for Obama, I don’t see why there isn’t one for Oprah as well. Oprah for President!

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Where Is Tim Russert?

Ten minutes into Barack Obama’s appearance on Meet the Press, one has to wonder who replaced Tim Russert with this pained, quiet-voiced, candy-dispositioned fanboy. “Could you have handled this better,” Russert asks Obama about Jeremiah Wright, “and what have you learned from this?” I think, maybe, it’s Barbara Walters in a wig. The interesting thing is that even with these softballs being thrown at him, Obama sounds uncertain and uncomfortable.

Ten minutes into Barack Obama’s appearance on Meet the Press, one has to wonder who replaced Tim Russert with this pained, quiet-voiced, candy-dispositioned fanboy. “Could you have handled this better,” Russert asks Obama about Jeremiah Wright, “and what have you learned from this?” I think, maybe, it’s Barbara Walters in a wig. The interesting thing is that even with these softballs being thrown at him, Obama sounds uncertain and uncomfortable.

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Bigot Bowl

In the aftermath of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s stunning reemergence as an obstacle to Barack Obama’s presidential prospects, left-wing pundits have settled on a new strategy for dealing with the fallout. It goes something like this: every time Wright’s name is mentioned, remind the public that the Republicans also have their bigots. In this vein, Ann Friedman of American Prospect has implored liberal bloggers to match every reference to Rev. Wright with a mention of Reverend John Hagee, the controversial evangelical pastor who has endorsed John McCain. Meanwhile, the “progressive” watch-dog group Media Matters lamented the greater coverage that Wright has received over Hagee, while the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post ran opinion pieces prominently highlighting Hagee’s endorsement of McCain in an apparent bid to neutralize the damage that Wright has caused Obama’s campaign.

But if these opinion-makers believe that they’ve found their escape route in calling attention to Hagee, they are sorely mistaken. For starters, the empirics don’t work in their favor, as Hagee’s relationship with McCain isn’t remotely analogous to Wright’s relationship with Obama. Indeed, despite Hagee’s disturbing bigotry–he has said that the planning of a gay pride parade in New Orleans prompted Hurricane Katrina as a divine response–he is merely one of McCain’s many endorsers. But Rev. Wright is, after all, Obama’s spiritual guide of two decades–a man that Obama respected so much that he refused to distance himself from Wright for months after the pastor’s anti-American vitriol first hit YouTube.

In turn, the sheer imprecision of the Hagee-is-McCain’s-Wright argument will ultimately keep liberal opinion-makers on the defensive. After all, when Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson make their quadrennial pilgrimages to the Democratic National Convention, the Democrats will look downright hypocritical for having declared their outrage over the lesser-known Hagee. Voters will thus be reminded that, when it comes to relying on notorious bigots to mobilize key electoral cleavages, the Democrats are no better than Republicans. The difference, however, is that only the front-running Democratic candidate has compared one of these bigots to his grandmother.

In the aftermath of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s stunning reemergence as an obstacle to Barack Obama’s presidential prospects, left-wing pundits have settled on a new strategy for dealing with the fallout. It goes something like this: every time Wright’s name is mentioned, remind the public that the Republicans also have their bigots. In this vein, Ann Friedman of American Prospect has implored liberal bloggers to match every reference to Rev. Wright with a mention of Reverend John Hagee, the controversial evangelical pastor who has endorsed John McCain. Meanwhile, the “progressive” watch-dog group Media Matters lamented the greater coverage that Wright has received over Hagee, while the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post ran opinion pieces prominently highlighting Hagee’s endorsement of McCain in an apparent bid to neutralize the damage that Wright has caused Obama’s campaign.

But if these opinion-makers believe that they’ve found their escape route in calling attention to Hagee, they are sorely mistaken. For starters, the empirics don’t work in their favor, as Hagee’s relationship with McCain isn’t remotely analogous to Wright’s relationship with Obama. Indeed, despite Hagee’s disturbing bigotry–he has said that the planning of a gay pride parade in New Orleans prompted Hurricane Katrina as a divine response–he is merely one of McCain’s many endorsers. But Rev. Wright is, after all, Obama’s spiritual guide of two decades–a man that Obama respected so much that he refused to distance himself from Wright for months after the pastor’s anti-American vitriol first hit YouTube.

In turn, the sheer imprecision of the Hagee-is-McCain’s-Wright argument will ultimately keep liberal opinion-makers on the defensive. After all, when Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson make their quadrennial pilgrimages to the Democratic National Convention, the Democrats will look downright hypocritical for having declared their outrage over the lesser-known Hagee. Voters will thus be reminded that, when it comes to relying on notorious bigots to mobilize key electoral cleavages, the Democrats are no better than Republicans. The difference, however, is that only the front-running Democratic candidate has compared one of these bigots to his grandmother.

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Barack Obama And The Case of the Misused Subjective Pronoun!

On the “Today Show” this morning, Barack Obama — who is, judging from his own memoir and the speeches he seems to have written himself, one of the more literate men in Washington — made a grammatical blunder. When Meredith Vieira asked him whether he should have denounced Jeremiah Wright sooner, he said:  “I think the sequence of events was the right one, because this was somebody who had married Michele and I….”

That should have been “Michelle and me.” Not “Michelle and I.” It’s hard to believe Barack Obama, the man with the silver tongue and the two Ivy degrees, would make such a mistake. The fact that he did suggests the kind of strain he’s under and gives one the sense he knows he has gotten himself into some very serious trouble.

On the “Today Show” this morning, Barack Obama — who is, judging from his own memoir and the speeches he seems to have written himself, one of the more literate men in Washington — made a grammatical blunder. When Meredith Vieira asked him whether he should have denounced Jeremiah Wright sooner, he said:  “I think the sequence of events was the right one, because this was somebody who had married Michele and I….”

That should have been “Michelle and me.” Not “Michelle and I.” It’s hard to believe Barack Obama, the man with the silver tongue and the two Ivy degrees, would make such a mistake. The fact that he did suggests the kind of strain he’s under and gives one the sense he knows he has gotten himself into some very serious trouble.

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She Finally Gets It

Hillary Clinton is in uncharted territory. For the first time in this primary, Barack Obama has taken successive hits without Hillary somehow spoiling her own good luck.

Every previous Obama gaffe was quickly followed by a counterbalancing embarrassment from the Clinton camp that effectively reset the primary at a tie. If Obama’s wife said something offensive, Hillary’s husband popped up a day later to do the same. If Obama made a naïve statement about diplomacy, Hillary made an entitled statement about being treated unfairly. The tit-for-tat unfolded with relentless parity, so that the first thunderclap of Jeremiah Wright’s outrageous sermons was drowned out by the sniper fire of Hillary’s outrageous Bosnia tale.

But starting with her opponent’s ungenerous assessment of blue-collar Americans, Hillary has enjoyed the first string of Obama blunders not broken by her own reciprocal slips. Obama managed to insult the working class, give an abysmal debate performance, take a heavy loss in Pennsylvania, and fall back into the mud with Jeremiah Wright, all without any Clinton self-destruction to ease his pain. Hillary, by getting out of the way of her own good fortune, is now experiencing momentum by default.

And with Obama’s breakdown doing all the work, Hillary has at last grasped the concept of moderation. According to the Trail:

In recent days, Clinton’s jabs at Obama have been gentle and often unnamed, far from her “meet me in Ohio” and “shame on you, Barack Obama” blasts on the eve of the vote in Ohio. She spent the weekend challenging him to debates, but even dropped that this week to criticize Obama for not supporting a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax.”

If she can continue to resist the urge to scold or crow, and if she can keep her husband’s seemingly inevitable tantrums to a minimum, Obama’s campaign just might implode completely. At U.S. News & World Report, Bonnie Erbe suggests it’s time for Obama to consider dropping out. That’s not going to happen. But if the purpose of superdelegates is to have Democratic leadership steer the party out of trouble, their moment is now. While all the drama unfolds among them, Hillary should just cool her heels.

Hillary Clinton is in uncharted territory. For the first time in this primary, Barack Obama has taken successive hits without Hillary somehow spoiling her own good luck.

Every previous Obama gaffe was quickly followed by a counterbalancing embarrassment from the Clinton camp that effectively reset the primary at a tie. If Obama’s wife said something offensive, Hillary’s husband popped up a day later to do the same. If Obama made a naïve statement about diplomacy, Hillary made an entitled statement about being treated unfairly. The tit-for-tat unfolded with relentless parity, so that the first thunderclap of Jeremiah Wright’s outrageous sermons was drowned out by the sniper fire of Hillary’s outrageous Bosnia tale.

But starting with her opponent’s ungenerous assessment of blue-collar Americans, Hillary has enjoyed the first string of Obama blunders not broken by her own reciprocal slips. Obama managed to insult the working class, give an abysmal debate performance, take a heavy loss in Pennsylvania, and fall back into the mud with Jeremiah Wright, all without any Clinton self-destruction to ease his pain. Hillary, by getting out of the way of her own good fortune, is now experiencing momentum by default.

And with Obama’s breakdown doing all the work, Hillary has at last grasped the concept of moderation. According to the Trail:

In recent days, Clinton’s jabs at Obama have been gentle and often unnamed, far from her “meet me in Ohio” and “shame on you, Barack Obama” blasts on the eve of the vote in Ohio. She spent the weekend challenging him to debates, but even dropped that this week to criticize Obama for not supporting a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax.”

If she can continue to resist the urge to scold or crow, and if she can keep her husband’s seemingly inevitable tantrums to a minimum, Obama’s campaign just might implode completely. At U.S. News & World Report, Bonnie Erbe suggests it’s time for Obama to consider dropping out. That’s not going to happen. But if the purpose of superdelegates is to have Democratic leadership steer the party out of trouble, their moment is now. While all the drama unfolds among them, Hillary should just cool her heels.

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The Friends of Jeremiah Wright

The Nation magazine claims 181,070 subscribers, a substantially high number for a political publication, a number that might actually make it the most popular publication of its kind in the United States. (National Review claims 166,000.) In comparison, the center-left New Republic (by which I am employed), has around 60,000 subscribers. Whatever its views, The Nation is not some obscure, fringe journal.

Why does this matter? Well, let’s take a look at the controversy surrounding Jeremiah Wright. By Monday afternoon, most liberal pundits and prominent Obama supporters who had yet to denounce Wright finally came out and did so, if not because they disagree vehemently with what he has to say, then at least because they understand the damage he could potentially inflict on their man’s chances of becoming president.

Most, but not all. John McCormack of The Weekly Standard was at the National Press Club Monday morning when Wright delivered the speech that history will judge to be the death knell of Barack Obama’s political fortunes. He reported the following tidbit, which I’m surprised hasn’t received more attention:

Again and again, Wright was not held to account for his own disputed claims, such as his contention that in his post 9/11 sermon he was merely quoting the ambassador from Iraq that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” To be fair, most of those in the press gallery didn’t openly applaud Wright during his speech–as did Christopher Hayes of the Nation and Nadia Charters of Al-Arabiya TV, who were both sitting (appropriately) to the left of me.

What did the Washington bureau chief of The Nation find in Wright’s tirade that merited applause? The spirited defense of Louis Farrakhan? The reiteration of the dangerous canard that the American government invented HIV to kill black people? Perhaps it was the selfish and historically illiterate conflation of the African-American religious tradition with paranoid and conspiratorial racism? Mr. Hayes is joined in his praise of Rev. Wright by his colleague John Nichols, who compares Wright to Thomas Jefferson.

With conventional wisdom now firmly in the anti-Wright camp, a charitable observer might acknowledge that The Nation’s enthusiasm for this paranoid hate-monger demonstrates a bit of political cojones. But that’s the most, I think, that can be said in its defense.

The Nation magazine claims 181,070 subscribers, a substantially high number for a political publication, a number that might actually make it the most popular publication of its kind in the United States. (National Review claims 166,000.) In comparison, the center-left New Republic (by which I am employed), has around 60,000 subscribers. Whatever its views, The Nation is not some obscure, fringe journal.

Why does this matter? Well, let’s take a look at the controversy surrounding Jeremiah Wright. By Monday afternoon, most liberal pundits and prominent Obama supporters who had yet to denounce Wright finally came out and did so, if not because they disagree vehemently with what he has to say, then at least because they understand the damage he could potentially inflict on their man’s chances of becoming president.

Most, but not all. John McCormack of The Weekly Standard was at the National Press Club Monday morning when Wright delivered the speech that history will judge to be the death knell of Barack Obama’s political fortunes. He reported the following tidbit, which I’m surprised hasn’t received more attention:

Again and again, Wright was not held to account for his own disputed claims, such as his contention that in his post 9/11 sermon he was merely quoting the ambassador from Iraq that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” To be fair, most of those in the press gallery didn’t openly applaud Wright during his speech–as did Christopher Hayes of the Nation and Nadia Charters of Al-Arabiya TV, who were both sitting (appropriately) to the left of me.

What did the Washington bureau chief of The Nation find in Wright’s tirade that merited applause? The spirited defense of Louis Farrakhan? The reiteration of the dangerous canard that the American government invented HIV to kill black people? Perhaps it was the selfish and historically illiterate conflation of the African-American religious tradition with paranoid and conspiratorial racism? Mr. Hayes is joined in his praise of Rev. Wright by his colleague John Nichols, who compares Wright to Thomas Jefferson.

With conventional wisdom now firmly in the anti-Wright camp, a charitable observer might acknowledge that The Nation’s enthusiasm for this paranoid hate-monger demonstrates a bit of political cojones. But that’s the most, I think, that can be said in its defense.

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Obama’s Instincts

One of the things we’re learning about Barack Obama is that while he is brilliantly skilled in many ways, he is not especially adept. He bought himself weeks of trouble he didn’t need by refusing to repudiate Jeremiah Wright before today, and there are reasons to think he repudiated him in the worst possible way. It seems like a crass political move, a desperation play, rather than what it might have seemed like when the Wright problem first surfaced for real, as the principled act by someone deeply pained to be forced into renouncing someone who had meant so much to him.

It may be that Obama came to believe he could talk his way out of anything, and he did not want to disavow Wright — not, it would be my guess, because he loves him so dearly but because he understands that the kind of energy generated by Wright and the Wrights of this country has done him a great deal of good over the past few months and he didn’t want to jeopardize it. Which would be another mark of his political short-sightedness. As the Democratic frontrunner, Obama should have begun to pivot to the center, and the perfect moment for doing that would have been to kick Wright to the curb weeks before the Pennsylvania primary. Instead, he has allowed Hillary Clinton to become the candidate of the Democratic center.

I still suspect it’s just too late for Hillary, and I think the Wright crisis has broken too early for it to play an important role in November. But Obama is demonstrating he has problematic political instincts, and that is a liability that John McCain (whose own political instincts aren’t the greatest either) can exploit.

One of the things we’re learning about Barack Obama is that while he is brilliantly skilled in many ways, he is not especially adept. He bought himself weeks of trouble he didn’t need by refusing to repudiate Jeremiah Wright before today, and there are reasons to think he repudiated him in the worst possible way. It seems like a crass political move, a desperation play, rather than what it might have seemed like when the Wright problem first surfaced for real, as the principled act by someone deeply pained to be forced into renouncing someone who had meant so much to him.

It may be that Obama came to believe he could talk his way out of anything, and he did not want to disavow Wright — not, it would be my guess, because he loves him so dearly but because he understands that the kind of energy generated by Wright and the Wrights of this country has done him a great deal of good over the past few months and he didn’t want to jeopardize it. Which would be another mark of his political short-sightedness. As the Democratic frontrunner, Obama should have begun to pivot to the center, and the perfect moment for doing that would have been to kick Wright to the curb weeks before the Pennsylvania primary. Instead, he has allowed Hillary Clinton to become the candidate of the Democratic center.

I still suspect it’s just too late for Hillary, and I think the Wright crisis has broken too early for it to play an important role in November. But Obama is demonstrating he has problematic political instincts, and that is a liability that John McCain (whose own political instincts aren’t the greatest either) can exploit.

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The Reverend Archie Bunker

We’ve all been overreacting to Jeremiah Wright. He’s not a dangerously influential peddler of paranoia and hate. He’s just a goofy TV character. At least that’s how Alessandra Stanley describes him in today’s New York Times:

. . . Mr. Wright’s monomania over the last three days has helped prove the point Mr. Obama made about his former pastor last month in his speech on race, in which he described Mr. Wright as “imperfect” but having also been “like family to me.” Mr. Wright revealed himself to be the compelling but slightly wacky uncle who unsettles strangers but really just craves attention.

Yeah! He’s just like that slightly wacky uncle of yours! You know:  the one who flew with Louis Farrakhan to meet Moammar Khaddafi? The one who thinks Zionism is a “gutter religion”? That’s the lovable old goof we’re talking about here. Not anyone of consequence. Stanley thinks it’s time to reassess the entertaining old fellow:

Now it turns out that Mr. Wright doesn’t hate America, he loves the sound of his own voice.

Yep, those two qualities sure are mutually exclusive. People who hate America never, ever speak out about it. There’s no tradition of anti-American celebrity culture whatsoever.

Stanley also manages to make the fast-talking Chicagoan sound like a character out of Saul Bellow. Wright is

a voluble, vain and erudite entertainer, a born televangelist who quotes Ralph Ellison as well as the Bible and mixes highfalutin academic trope with salty street talk.

And also a Warholian phenomenon:

He is not out of touch with the American culture, he is the avatar of the American celebrity principle: he grabbed his 30-second spots of infamy and turned them into 15 minutes of fame.

Never mind his decades of influence on his church and on a man who may well be the next President.

We’ve all been overreacting to Jeremiah Wright. He’s not a dangerously influential peddler of paranoia and hate. He’s just a goofy TV character. At least that’s how Alessandra Stanley describes him in today’s New York Times:

. . . Mr. Wright’s monomania over the last three days has helped prove the point Mr. Obama made about his former pastor last month in his speech on race, in which he described Mr. Wright as “imperfect” but having also been “like family to me.” Mr. Wright revealed himself to be the compelling but slightly wacky uncle who unsettles strangers but really just craves attention.

Yeah! He’s just like that slightly wacky uncle of yours! You know:  the one who flew with Louis Farrakhan to meet Moammar Khaddafi? The one who thinks Zionism is a “gutter religion”? That’s the lovable old goof we’re talking about here. Not anyone of consequence. Stanley thinks it’s time to reassess the entertaining old fellow:

Now it turns out that Mr. Wright doesn’t hate America, he loves the sound of his own voice.

Yep, those two qualities sure are mutually exclusive. People who hate America never, ever speak out about it. There’s no tradition of anti-American celebrity culture whatsoever.

Stanley also manages to make the fast-talking Chicagoan sound like a character out of Saul Bellow. Wright is

a voluble, vain and erudite entertainer, a born televangelist who quotes Ralph Ellison as well as the Bible and mixes highfalutin academic trope with salty street talk.

And also a Warholian phenomenon:

He is not out of touch with the American culture, he is the avatar of the American celebrity principle: he grabbed his 30-second spots of infamy and turned them into 15 minutes of fame.

Never mind his decades of influence on his church and on a man who may well be the next President.

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Obama’s Interpersonal Diplomacy Crisis

You have to give Barack Obama credit for one thing. He practices what he preaches. He has said he wants America to engage in unqualified talks with her enemies. Can there now be any doubt that Jeremiah Wright, the man Barack Obama has been talking to for twenty years, is his enemy?

At yesterday’s National Press Club event, the spiritual mentor whom Obama refused to renounce unleashed a stream of ugly paranoia that could only do damage to Obama’s bid for the presidency. What we’re seeing play out are the disastrous results of Obama’s group-hug diplomacy when applied to the realm of the interpersonal.

In February, Obama said, “If we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time.” But friendship is a privilege and does have to be earned. Obama’s very problem is that, because he’s extended his unqualified friendship to a vitriolic kook like Wright, people are finding it hard to see how he “stands above” his ex-pastor. If Obama is truly such a fan of equivalence, he should be thrilled to learn that he’s increasingly seen as being no better than Jeremiah Wright. Parity achieved!

A modern liberal can renounce no one, because everyone’s grievance deserves equal sympathy and every viewpoint is valid. If this is how it works out when Obama has to deal with the self-serving motives of one unhinged man, consider the implications when this policy is applied globally. Obama sits down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as he’s already said he hopes to do. He listens to the Iranian president’s “valid” points: Israel has the bomb, Iran just wants nuclear energy, the U.S. is killing Shiites in a neighboring country, etc. Obama flies back to the U.S. and makes a beautiful and exhaustive speech about the long and troubled history of U.S.-Iran relations. He disagrees with many things the Iranian president has said, but he can no sooner sever ties with him than he could refuse to engage with the Israeli government that continues to allow the building of settlements in occupied Palestine.

The speech is an international hit, a landmark moment in geopolitical candor. Emboldened and under the protective umbrella of world sympathy, Ahmadinejad and the mullahs ratchet up the hegemonic machinery and the Armageddon talk. Within a year they brazenly test their first nuke. Obama makes a shorter, slightly less beautiful speech about the hurdles of diplomacy, Iran is off the hook, and the next proto-nuclear state gets to work.

In the Wright affair we see a microcosmic portrayal of America’s president in the role of world dupe. The most worrisome thing about the whole episode is not that Obama may share Wright’s bizarre convictions. It’s that the code of modern liberalism has allowed someone a calendar page away from being the Democratic presidential nominee to be thoroughly manipulated by a third-rate huckster.

You have to give Barack Obama credit for one thing. He practices what he preaches. He has said he wants America to engage in unqualified talks with her enemies. Can there now be any doubt that Jeremiah Wright, the man Barack Obama has been talking to for twenty years, is his enemy?

At yesterday’s National Press Club event, the spiritual mentor whom Obama refused to renounce unleashed a stream of ugly paranoia that could only do damage to Obama’s bid for the presidency. What we’re seeing play out are the disastrous results of Obama’s group-hug diplomacy when applied to the realm of the interpersonal.

In February, Obama said, “If we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time.” But friendship is a privilege and does have to be earned. Obama’s very problem is that, because he’s extended his unqualified friendship to a vitriolic kook like Wright, people are finding it hard to see how he “stands above” his ex-pastor. If Obama is truly such a fan of equivalence, he should be thrilled to learn that he’s increasingly seen as being no better than Jeremiah Wright. Parity achieved!

A modern liberal can renounce no one, because everyone’s grievance deserves equal sympathy and every viewpoint is valid. If this is how it works out when Obama has to deal with the self-serving motives of one unhinged man, consider the implications when this policy is applied globally. Obama sits down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as he’s already said he hopes to do. He listens to the Iranian president’s “valid” points: Israel has the bomb, Iran just wants nuclear energy, the U.S. is killing Shiites in a neighboring country, etc. Obama flies back to the U.S. and makes a beautiful and exhaustive speech about the long and troubled history of U.S.-Iran relations. He disagrees with many things the Iranian president has said, but he can no sooner sever ties with him than he could refuse to engage with the Israeli government that continues to allow the building of settlements in occupied Palestine.

The speech is an international hit, a landmark moment in geopolitical candor. Emboldened and under the protective umbrella of world sympathy, Ahmadinejad and the mullahs ratchet up the hegemonic machinery and the Armageddon talk. Within a year they brazenly test their first nuke. Obama makes a shorter, slightly less beautiful speech about the hurdles of diplomacy, Iran is off the hook, and the next proto-nuclear state gets to work.

In the Wright affair we see a microcosmic portrayal of America’s president in the role of world dupe. The most worrisome thing about the whole episode is not that Obama may share Wright’s bizarre convictions. It’s that the code of modern liberalism has allowed someone a calendar page away from being the Democratic presidential nominee to be thoroughly manipulated by a third-rate huckster.

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The Virtue of Obama’s Trials

The consensus is that Barack Obama’s candidacy has been wounded over the past six weeks. His partisans are enraged that he is taking heat for things said by his pastor (even as some Obama Kool-aid drinkers actually waste words trying to defend said pastor), and that he is asked questions of a non-substantive nature (as though there is anything remotely substantive in his own cotton-candy-and-brimstone speeches). Those who feared him now fear him less. Those who want Hillary to win are building strength for their case that she should be the nominee because he can’t make it to November.

Yes, these are bad days for Barack Obama, but the fact is, he’s lucky to have had them now. If he had knocked Hillary out of the race early and simply walked into the nomination, the media love affair with him would have been so profoundly deep that it would have taken months for the infatuation to dissipate even a little bit. At which point Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers and all of Obama’s baggage would have been hauled out of storage and become fodder not for a Democratic debate that angered liberals, but for a presidential debate in September or October with an audience of 100 million or more.

If Wright and Ayers had come to dominate the news in October, that would have spelled the end to Obama’s presidential hopes. The fact that they have dominated the news in April will, I suspect, prove to have been something of a lucky break. He was never going to get away without having to deal with his leftist and black-nationalist baggage, and if he had dealt with it three weeks before the election in the same manner he did in the weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, he would have collapsed faster than a left-brained person in a right-brained school system.

He’s not the Messiah any longer, but he can still win.

The consensus is that Barack Obama’s candidacy has been wounded over the past six weeks. His partisans are enraged that he is taking heat for things said by his pastor (even as some Obama Kool-aid drinkers actually waste words trying to defend said pastor), and that he is asked questions of a non-substantive nature (as though there is anything remotely substantive in his own cotton-candy-and-brimstone speeches). Those who feared him now fear him less. Those who want Hillary to win are building strength for their case that she should be the nominee because he can’t make it to November.

Yes, these are bad days for Barack Obama, but the fact is, he’s lucky to have had them now. If he had knocked Hillary out of the race early and simply walked into the nomination, the media love affair with him would have been so profoundly deep that it would have taken months for the infatuation to dissipate even a little bit. At which point Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers and all of Obama’s baggage would have been hauled out of storage and become fodder not for a Democratic debate that angered liberals, but for a presidential debate in September or October with an audience of 100 million or more.

If Wright and Ayers had come to dominate the news in October, that would have spelled the end to Obama’s presidential hopes. The fact that they have dominated the news in April will, I suspect, prove to have been something of a lucky break. He was never going to get away without having to deal with his leftist and black-nationalist baggage, and if he had dealt with it three weeks before the election in the same manner he did in the weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, he would have collapsed faster than a left-brained person in a right-brained school system.

He’s not the Messiah any longer, but he can still win.

Read Less

They All Have Baggage, But His Tips The Scales

Until recently it was thought Hillary Clinton toted the heaviest human baggage in the Democratic campaign. Bill Clinton is a walking, talking psychology study in narcissism, spouting unhelpful explanations for his wife’s gaffes, tangling with the press, and always off message. (Imagine the poor communications aide tasked with trying to corral him.)

Enter Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright seems to be on a speaking tour designed to test the endurance of Democratic primary voters for deeply offensive rhetoric about America, whites, Israel, Italians, and numerous other topics. Yesterday, on This Week, Donna Brazile postulated that he was on some mission to clear the good name of black churches. But Barack Obama’s good name is of greater interest to the voting public. And this isn’t going to burnish it.

Wright is now on a veritable insult tour which continues with no let up in sight. Others have commented that there simply is no positive message that can come out of this. Every day that goes by is another where voters stare in slack-jawed amazement that this is the man considered “brilliant” and a “mentor” by the potential presidential nominee. Obama’s association with Wright and continued refusal to make a clean break with him, do raise issues of character and judgment. And it appears we will have plenty more Wright quotes to ponder.

So Bill–although he won’t like slipping to second place in anything–will now have to take second prize in the “most harmful to someone you should be helping” category. But then Bill and Wright’s principal concern, we learn from their actions, is for themselves.

Until recently it was thought Hillary Clinton toted the heaviest human baggage in the Democratic campaign. Bill Clinton is a walking, talking psychology study in narcissism, spouting unhelpful explanations for his wife’s gaffes, tangling with the press, and always off message. (Imagine the poor communications aide tasked with trying to corral him.)

Enter Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright seems to be on a speaking tour designed to test the endurance of Democratic primary voters for deeply offensive rhetoric about America, whites, Israel, Italians, and numerous other topics. Yesterday, on This Week, Donna Brazile postulated that he was on some mission to clear the good name of black churches. But Barack Obama’s good name is of greater interest to the voting public. And this isn’t going to burnish it.

Wright is now on a veritable insult tour which continues with no let up in sight. Others have commented that there simply is no positive message that can come out of this. Every day that goes by is another where voters stare in slack-jawed amazement that this is the man considered “brilliant” and a “mentor” by the potential presidential nominee. Obama’s association with Wright and continued refusal to make a clean break with him, do raise issues of character and judgment. And it appears we will have plenty more Wright quotes to ponder.

So Bill–although he won’t like slipping to second place in anything–will now have to take second prize in the “most harmful to someone you should be helping” category. But then Bill and Wright’s principal concern, we learn from their actions, is for themselves.

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A Moment Of Clarity

Morton Kondracke stands apart from the media hysteria to explain Barack Obama’s fall to earth from Olympian heights:

He’s also now revealed as the most liberal Member of the U.S. Senate — and one who has never, ever departed from party orthodoxy to form the kind of bipartisan coalition he says — correctly — that it will take to solve America’s problems. It’s all about “vetting.” When somebody has been in national life for only three years and is running for the highest office in the land, it’s only natural that voters — and journalists — find out what the candidate is made of, what his character is. Which is why it was perfectly appropriate for ABC News interrogators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to ask questions about Obama’s remark that small-town Pennsylvanians “cling” to their guns and religion because they are “bitter,” about his refusal to wear a flag pin and about his association with radicals such as former Weatherman Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

That seems all perfectly rational (Stuart Taylor has similar thoughts), but there is something more at work here. The promise that Obama would offer a post-racial and post-partisan vision of America has been revealed to be hokum. (Well, some of us from the start may have doubted that post-partisan anything is possible in a vigorous democracy.) It took a while, but now it is painfully obvious that Obama and his campaign don’t seem to believe their own “no division, no Red and Blue America” routine.

It’s getting harder and harder to recognize the Obama who said this after his victory in Iowa:

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and instead make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation. . . .That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we can now carry to New Hampshire and beyond; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down; the one that can change this country brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand – that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

Moving beyond the “bitterness” we surely have not done. Somewhere along the way we recognized the gap between a speech–a very uplifting one, but just a speech–and what Obama and his campaign operatives believe. That, I think, is why the Left blogosphere, in part, is so depressed: Obama, it turns out, is just like all the rest. (Only with less of a résumé.)

Morton Kondracke stands apart from the media hysteria to explain Barack Obama’s fall to earth from Olympian heights:

He’s also now revealed as the most liberal Member of the U.S. Senate — and one who has never, ever departed from party orthodoxy to form the kind of bipartisan coalition he says — correctly — that it will take to solve America’s problems. It’s all about “vetting.” When somebody has been in national life for only three years and is running for the highest office in the land, it’s only natural that voters — and journalists — find out what the candidate is made of, what his character is. Which is why it was perfectly appropriate for ABC News interrogators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to ask questions about Obama’s remark that small-town Pennsylvanians “cling” to their guns and religion because they are “bitter,” about his refusal to wear a flag pin and about his association with radicals such as former Weatherman Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

That seems all perfectly rational (Stuart Taylor has similar thoughts), but there is something more at work here. The promise that Obama would offer a post-racial and post-partisan vision of America has been revealed to be hokum. (Well, some of us from the start may have doubted that post-partisan anything is possible in a vigorous democracy.) It took a while, but now it is painfully obvious that Obama and his campaign don’t seem to believe their own “no division, no Red and Blue America” routine.

It’s getting harder and harder to recognize the Obama who said this after his victory in Iowa:

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and instead make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation. . . .That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we can now carry to New Hampshire and beyond; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down; the one that can change this country brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand – that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

Moving beyond the “bitterness” we surely have not done. Somewhere along the way we recognized the gap between a speech–a very uplifting one, but just a speech–and what Obama and his campaign operatives believe. That, I think, is why the Left blogosphere, in part, is so depressed: Obama, it turns out, is just like all the rest. (Only with less of a résumé.)

Read Less




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