On Obama and Wright

In response to Pete Abel’s post this morning concerning Senator Obama, I wrote the following response:

While I wouldn’t say it as brash as RickMoran did, I have to agree somewhat with his statements. It does seem a bit elitist to say that Obama is being brought down by “simple-minded” folks. For one thing, it’s too early to say his campaign is toast. Politics can change and he still could turn this whole Wright affair around. Also, you seem to be implying when you say there is too much fear and bias, that this has to do with the fact the Obama is black. I’m not going to pretend that race and racism isn’t present, but again, I think it’s wrong to assume that any criticism of Obama or Wright for that matter, means one is a bigot.

As for not holding Obama to the same standard, I would say that there has also been an argument that the press and others have given Obama a pass and have not been really being as critical as they should be concerning a potential presidential candidate. (Witness the ABC staffers who wrote a letter to Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolos for their questioning of Obama.)

Part of me sees another thing happening here: sometimes people have withheld judgment of a black person because of fear of being labeled a racist when sometimes judgment is necessary. There is a difference between being a bigot and asking some tough questions.

Finally, I think there is a case to be made about the associations of political candidates. While knowing someone doesn’t mean you agree with them, it could provide a window into how this person will operate as a president. If this were John McCain and it was about some association with a known homophobic pastor, we would be asking questions and rightly so. Just because Obama and his pastor are black doesn’t mean they get a pass.

I have to add that there is something worrisome about stating the public might not be ready for the junior Senator from Illinois.

It seems to say that if Americans aren’t warming to his message, then it must be because of his race. I’m not going to pretend that it might be a factor, but people could be against him for other reasons that are valid. Just because people don’t like Hillary Clinton doesn’t make them sexist, they might not want her to be president for valid reasons. If we can treat Hillary like a normal human being, than we can do the same for Obama.

One more thing about Rev. Wright: since his campaign began, Obama has highlighted his faith in the campaign. Like the GOP has done, Obama has made sure that his religion is up front and center. When you do that, you are going to invite questions because you made something about your life public. The problem with politicians of all stripes is that they think they can have it both ways: to talk about their faith and make it a hallmark of their campaign, but yet keep it from public scrutiny. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

         

Author: DENNIS SANDERS

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10 Comments

  1. “I have to add that there is something worrisome about stating the public might not be ready for the junior Senator from Illinois. It seems to say that if Americans aren’t warming to his message, then it must be because of his race.”

    The truth is, age, along with perceived lack of experienced. Clinton versus Lazio.

    Age applies, too, to McCain — some think he's too old (and they believe Clinton's time is now or never — she'll be too old and perceived to be Past History if she loses this year). In both cases, age is exploited as baggage against candidates.

    Race has nothing to do with it among nearly all Americans. Consider how many of us would gladly have had a President Powell in 1992, 1996, 2000, even 2004.

  2. Dennis, while I agree with the post I wish that people would be more precise about using the term elitist. Elitist implies class association, and I don't think Pete meant “simple-minded” as in “those dumb backwater hicks” I think he was just referring to people that chase their own tails. A bunch of the most elite people in the world do that. “Elitist” has become a bit of an ad hominem, but do you disagree and think he was referring to the lower class? I guess I could ask Pete the same thing?

  3. I have to add that there is something worrisome about stating the public might not be ready for the junior Senator from Illinois.

    …as opposed to a Junior Senator from NY? Let's not even go into her ride-along as First Lady.
    As far as I know the requirements to run for President are age, citizenship and lack of criminal record.

  4. I think this post misses absolutely and completely what Obama's candidacy was about. This analysis brings the discussion back down to one of race, gender, and elitism (the most misused word in the dictionary of late) – right where Obama was NOT.

    Obama ipresented the nation with an invitation to transcend traditional political thinking. I'm sure he realized (I think he even said so) that he couldn't compelte the job alone. His candidacy was an opportunity for the nation to take the first steps in that direction.
    It isn't about what Obama could do or who he is or waht Rev. Writght said. It
    is about what we could do and who we are.

    The nation is turning that invitation down in favor of nitpicking political scabs and by using traditional political calcualtions. I don't care whether that is due to elitism, stupidity or clinging to outworn symbols, but the nation is not living up to iits potnetial. as a result.
    It's not even singing from the same page of the hymnal., according to this post.

    We will get the government we deserve.

  5. Like the GOP has done, Obama has made sure that his religion is up front and center.

    Well duh! Unlike the GOP Obama has had to try to refute a very strong rumor that he's a secret muslim.

    As for not holding Obama to the same standard, I would say that there has also been an argument that the press and others have given Obama a pass and have not been really being as critical as they should be concerning a potential presidential candidate.

    Again, do you watch CNN, Fox or MSNBC?

    For days now they've all been literally a Reverend Wright loop.

    If that consitutes them “giving him a pass” I'd really hate to see them turn on him.

  6. By the way, which “point” made in Rick's little hissy fit do you agree with?

    That Obama never reached across partisan lines to get something accomplished?

    Or the “point” that his supporters see him as the Messiah?

    Or the “point” that peat is “blinded” by Obama?

    Or the “point” that politicians from Chicago should be excluded from national office?

    Or finally, the “point” that “Those who can't see that hypocrisy drips from every word this guy utters deserve his presidency.”

    Come to think of it, the only real “point” Rick made was a question he asked that displayed his own lack of knowledge about Obama's legislative history.

    So if you're saying you agree with Rick that Rick doesn't really know much about Obama other than his alleged hypocrasy in every word he says, then I'll get on board with you.

    Otherwise, not so much.

  7. And this is just too silly to pass up.

    If this were John McCain and it was about some association with a known homophobic pastor, we would be asking questions and rightly so.

    Really? How many known homophobic pastors has McCain got to hug on stage or address at their churches before that rule of yours kicks in?

    5? 10? 20?

  8. Remember November: Hillary Clinton, never, never “represented” New York. The Senate Seat from the start, at all times, has been nothing but a springboard for her to seek the Presidency. (Normal springboard posts are governorships, US Senate seats, and the Vice Presidency.)

  9. Davebo: Nice try, but Obama didn't just make his Christianity a theme of his campaign in response to GOP attacks. He talked about it extensively in his autobiography and he was the one who included the theme about it in his speech at the '04 Dem convention (which was his intro to national politics) by talking about the awesome God that is worshipped in the Blue States.

  10. runasim,

    No I don't think you realize that the reason Republicans are focusing on Wright and Ayers connection at the same time they bring up comments by Obama on small town people, is they're trying to question whether he really is a centrist and is capable of forging a post-partisan coalition.

    As it turns out, they feel, he excuses people with extreme left points of view, while patronizing people with moderate right points of view.

    I know and understand what Obama meant when he was talking about small town people, he didn't mean that their religion was because of hard times, but that voting based on social issues was because of hard times. Its completely patronizing and demeaning of Republican and conservative voters. A lot of people just happen to disagree with the social agenda of the left, and the best way to attract these voters is to moderate your social agenda. But Obama does not promote moderate views on social issues.

    Its reminiscent of Howard Dean in 2004, who talked about the evil Republicans 'dividing America', while not realizing he was being divisive by blaming all the problems in politics on Republicans. Its reminiscent of people who think George Bush did the whole job dividing the country, and some of the blame doesn't go to his most rabid, unreasonable detractors.

    Is that what Obama wasn't saying when he made his “One America” speech, that he thought Republicans were the ones preventing it from being “One America” (It's One America, and oh, by the way, Vote Democrat!)

    The Republicans are trying to prove that Obama is one of those people on the left who thinks they're moderate and that even moderate conservatives are extreme rightists. And that nobody who supports staying in Iraq is a moderate, and that all moderates want to withdraw as soon as possible.

    That is, someone who would fit very well with contributors to this blog.

    And as such, completely incapable of bring a post-partisan dialogue to politics. For example, they point to Obama's comments about John McCain “wanting to be at war for 100 years” which is a dishonest spin on what McCain said. If Obama believes that we can't have a base stationed there then he should argue that, instead of spinning the comment.

    If Obama wants to prove this isn't true about him, he has to start reaching out to Republicans and not attacking them.

    That's a hard thing to do when you're pandering for money in a Democratic primary. If Obama moved towards the center, his money would dry up.

    As an independent centrist, who doesn't like one party more than the other, I don't think we'll have a true post-partisan candidate until a viable independent or third party candidate runs for office again like Perot did in 1992.

    Obama doesn't get that you can't fix politics while running in one of the two major parties.

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