Sunday, March 16, 2008

If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Wright

Slowly but surely, the halo is starting to getting knocked askew from Rock Star Barack. He's backpedaling more than a Vikings defensive back. Now Jeremiah Wright, who has been Obama's pastor for 20 years, is his "former pastor," and not just because Wright is retiring from the Chicago church that Obama has attended for 20 years. Apparently his friend and mentor, the man who Sen. Obama said brought him to Jesus, is a non-factor. Obama is also claiming that he never heard the incendiary comments that have been widely attribued to Wright. That should be easy enough to fact-check and I don't doubt that the Chicago media are already on the case. It's not clear who Obama's pastor is yet, but it appears the job is open. I'd like to nominate Uncle Ben for the job.

According to the reports, Sen. Obama is also re-evaluating his relationship with Tony Rezko, even as the evidence mounts that he is much more beholden to Rezko than he's let on. Apparently the total haul that Rezko provided to Obama is about $250,000, enough to pay Eliott Spitzer's personal services tab for at least a week.

It will be interesting if these two issues will blow over in the next few weeks or not. Those of us who noted that Obama came up in Chicago sensed that he would have a few stories he'd have a hard time explaining once scrutiny finally arrived. As Obama casually tosses longtime friends and associates overboard, he is starting to be revealed as less a transformational figure than a conventional politician. There's no particular shame in that. It also means that Obama has finally lost control of the narrative he has controlled throughout the primary season. He still has an excellent chance of winning the nomination. But now he will be judged on the merits, not on the narrative.


Right Hook said...

You make it sound like some politicians view friends more like image accessories or photo-op scenery than the traditional concepts of fellowship and human interaction. The concept of "re-evaluation" seems coldly distant from those of "loyalty" or "dedication".

Unfortunately you are absolutely right when it comes to many people, especially those in the public limelight. A sad, but accurate, observation of the current zeitgeist.

Uncle Ben said...

I might have to read a little about the tossing of the Reverend Wright. It doesn't say much good about Obama that he was associated with him in the first place, but boy does he look like a fair weather friend to toss him aside now.

And on the side note, I'd be happy to talk with Senator Obama about Jesus Christ. Of course, I'm happy to talk to anyone about my redeemer!

Gino said...

but he knows all about Christ. the good rev told him all about it. (eye roll)

it is true, in politics associations are accessories.
O came from an inner city political background. these kinds of associations are helpful among that crowd.

Gino said...

oh, and the rev understands this as well.
he's not offended at being dumped.
and he knows he is still on the rolodex.

Anonymous said...

did you actually read Obama's alleged repudiation of Wright? You state that Obama is "casually tossing longtime friends and associates overboard." But Obama's statement on Wright was specifically not a repudiation of the man: “I strongly condemn” Wright’s statements, but “I would not repudiate the man. He’s been preaching for 30 years. He’s a man who was a former Marine, a biblical scholar, someone who’s spoken at theological schools all over the country. That’s the man I know. That’s the man who was the pastor of this church.”
Obama is clearly not denouncing the man, despite strong pressure to do so. Personally, I think it's a classy move which you mischaracterized, since Obama did not take the politically expedient low road.

If you want to see an example of pure political expediency at the cross roads of religion and politics, you would be well served by McCain’s recent embrace of Rev. Hagee. That was cynical political opportunism, but in spite of my disdain for Hagge's beliefs, I don’t think McCain's relationship with Hagee make's McCain anti-Catholic.

Regarding Obama's relationship with Wright, I don't really expect this statement to end the debate, and I think it is perfectly reasonable to call on Obama to clarify what he actually thinks. Moreover, it would be wise for him to do that anyway, and soon.

BTW, I think Bill Kristol may have given Obama his get out of jail free card on the Wright issue. If you haven't heard, Kristol made an incredibly bad journalistic faux pas this morning by basing an entire attack article directed at Obama/Wright on an unvetted and verifiably untrue Newsmax story. Given Kristol's prominence in right-wing circles, it will be very easy for Obama and his supporters to now portray the Wright story as a right-wing witch hunt. And man, you gotta wonder what Kristol was thinking too. I think Yuri Geller has more credibility than Newsmax.


Mark said...


I based what I wrote on the linked reporting from WLS-TV and my own impressions. I suppose that I could have mischaracterized it, but I think that's open to interpretation.

The Hagee thing is apples to oranges, of course. He isn't McCain's pastor and they don't have a 20+ year relationship as far I know. I would stipulate that taking endorsements from anti-Catholic ministers is a bad practice.

I sincerely doubt that Bill Kristol's use of a NewsMax report will stop the story. We had a case up here where a liberal news outlet used the Colbert Report as a source for their coverage of an issue. While I wouldn't rely on NewsMax either, there are a lot of other news organizations that might have a smidge more credibility reporting on the issue. Like WLS –TV and the two major Chicago dailies, for example.

One last thing -- Sen. Obama made a tactical error in saying that he wasn't present when any of the sermons in question. He is now at the mercy of anyone who happened to have a cell phone with a camera who might have been at one of those services. If someone can demonstrate that he was there, he's in a lot of trouble.

Anonymous said...

Points well taken. I agree that the Hagee/McCain issue is apples and oranges. In my defense I was using McCain's recent public and very literal embrace of Hagee as an example of a crass politically expedient act, in contrast to Obama's non-refutation of his spiritual mentor at a time when it would have been politically expeditious thing for Obama to do. I was really taken aback by McCain's actions. I understand shoring up your base, but one of McCain's most appealing strengths is his probity. I am still planning to vote for him if it ends up being him and HRC, but if he keeps doing stuff like that, I will end up having to write in Eugene Debs again.

As for the impact of the Kristol story, whether Conservatives like it or not, the Times is the paper of record, and carries a lot more weight than a regional newspaper, especially in the middle of a very heated presidential race. Only time will tell, but I think having as prominent a Conservative as Kristol issue an attack predicated on a fabrication made up on a right-wing Internet propaganda vehicle is going to have legs. Unless of course, as you noted, someone has a smoking gun picture of Obama at one of the sermons in question.


Mark said...

Fair enough, Rich. I just went to the NYT site and pulled up Kristol's column. My guess is that all this does is diminish Kristol. He would simply join a long list of Timesmen and women who have been similarly diminished, in a long arc all the way back to Walter Duranty. Somehow I don't think Kristol's mistake will stop the ongoing investigations going on elsewhere.

You're in Chicago - what's your take on the Rezko angle?

Right Hook said...

It's a bit of a stretch to classify Bill Kristol as a "Conservative" in the mold of Reagan or Goldwater.

He is more of a neo-con, a philosophy that is not unsympathetic to big government. It's just what they want the government getting involved in that differs from some moderate-to-liberal thinking.

This sort of political thought in many ways has gotten the current Bush Administration into some of the political problems it finds itself mired in.