Monday, March 17, 2008

Troubling Words from Barack Obama re His Pastor

Read. To quote:

The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign.

Note how Barack Obama qualifyies his denial. Mr. Obama is taking care to avoid denying that he was aware of Reverend Wright’s what I will call militant views while not explicitly admitting to being aware of them either. Note also that he refers throughout to the reverend’s “statements”.

That’s a narrow, lawyerly way of framing his defense. It makes sense legally, but it invites the inference that he was in fact aware of the reverend’s views and gives an incentive to people in the Clinton camp and (more importantly) Republican operatives to go there to throw mud and dig around. I think that he should have made a full accounting of his understanding of the reverend’s views and how and why he had brought him on board for his campaign, and dealt with the fallout once and for all.

Now the question: Will the media come after him on this? John Podhoretz can be pretty zany sometimes, but I think that he has a point here.

Reading the outcome of any political game is difficult; professionals routinely mess up. This incident doesn’t look at all devastating on its own - John McCain, and Republican candidates in general, have their shares of support from foolish religious figures who purport to lend their Godly caches to views that have no place in public discourse. However, the incident runs counter to the Obama persona. More important, this is the first time that he has sought refuge in legal circumlocutions, or so I remember. If this response is part of a pattern and such incidents recur over the course of the campaign, then Mr. Obama’s candidacy will not stand a chance.

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