June 2, 2008


The GOP strategy of silence (Jonathan Martin, 6/01/08, Politico)

There is an odd disconnect between the issue looming over Barack Obama's soon-to-be general election candidacy and the campaign John McCain and the RNC are waging against him. [...]

Sure, many Americans will base their votes on such policy matters. But many will also make their decision by assessing Obama the man and, even in the Democratic primary, some voters have already turned away from him because of his connection to Jeremiah Wright (whether Wright is a fig leaf of self-reassurance for voters who just didn't want to vote for a black guy named Barack Obama is a fair question).

Altogether it suggests we are in for a two-track campaign: One, above the surface and waged by McCain and RNC, will consist of the usual rhetorical fare common to any presidential contest (experience, ideology, judgement). The other, just underground and perhaps picked up by surrogates or not at all, will center on Obama's other personal vulnerabilities.

This has been, to say the least, a unique campaign so perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise. But it's striking to see the vaunted Republican message machine ignore a candidate's most glaring weakness. Perhaps they don't have to, but I can't recall another presidential campaign where one side didn't raise, at least in euphemism or code, the chief vulnerability of the other side.

To this end, should Obama stake out a large lead and establish himself as the clear frontrunner heading into the fall, there may be no larger question hanging over the race than whether, when and how McCain and the GOP use the Wright issue.

It's been amusing reading Friend Perlstein's insistence that you can see we still live in Nixonland because of the racial meme's in the presidential campaign, yet “the America where two separate and irreconcilable sets of apocalyptic fears co-exist in the minds of two separate and irreconcilable groups of Americans” is entirely within his own party.

No Liberation: Obama may have left Trinity, but he’s still on the Left. (Stanley Kurtz, 6/02/08, National Review)

Although it’s been discussed before (because it confirms that Obama attended Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March), a 1995 background piece on Obama from the Chicago Reader has received far too little attention. Careful consideration of this important profile makes it clear that Obama’s long-standing ties to Chicago’s most rabidly radical preachers call into question far more than Obama’s judgment and character (although they certainly do that, as well). Obama’s two-decades at Trinity open a critically important window onto his radical-left political leanings. No mere change of church membership can erase that truth. [...]

The threads of this political network are pulled tighter as Obama turns to a “favorite topic,” “the lack of collective action among black churches.” Obama is sharply critical of churches that try to help their communities merely through “food pantries and community service programs.” Today, Obama rationalizes his ties to Wright’s Trinity Church by citing its community service programs. Yet in 1995, Obama was highly critical of churches that focused exclusively on such services, while neglecting the sort of politically visionary sermons, local king-making, and political alliance-building favored by Pfleger and Wright. Obama rejects the strictly community-service approach of apolitical churches as part of America’s unfortunate “bias” toward “individual action.” Obama believes that what he derogates as “John Wayne” thinking and the old, “right wing...individualistic bootstrap myth” needs to be replaced: “We must unite in collective action, build collective institutions and organizations.”

Obama sees the black church as the key to his plan for collective social and political action: “Obama . . . spoke of the need to mobilize and organize the economic power and moral fervor of black churches. He also argued that as a state senator he might help bring this about faster than as a community organizer or civil rights lawyer.” Says Obama, “We have some wonderful preachers in town — preachers who continue to inspire me — preachers who are magnificent at articulating a vision of the world as it should be.” Obama continues, “But as soon as church lets out, the energy dissipates. We must find ways to channel all this energy into community building.” Obama seems to be holding up people like Wright, Pfleger, and James Meeks (who he has listed as his key religious allies) as positive models for the wider black church — in both their rhetoric, and in their willingness to play a direct political role. If anything, Obama would like to see the political visions of Wright and Pfleger given greater weight and substance by connecting them to secular leftist political networks like Acorn.

By the end of De Zutter’s piece, Obama’s distinctive vision comes clear. While in his years as a Chicago organizer and attorney, Obama took care to maintain friendly ties to the Daley administration, in Obama’s campaign for state senate, he specifically avoided asking the mayor or the mayor’s closest allies for support. Obama’s plan was to make an end-run around Chicago’s governing Democratic political network, by building a coalition of left-leaning black churches and radical secular organizations like Acorn (perhaps with de facto help from liberal foundation money as well). This coalition would provide Obama with the flexibility to play out a political career some distance to the left of conventional Illinois democratic politics. And sure enough, Obama’s extremely liberal record in Illinois vindicated his strategy.

It's the proverbial target-rich environment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 2, 2008 7:23 AM

Stupidly, the right has already lost "the Wright issue", as any attempt to raise it will appear similar to whining about "Chappaquidick."


While we all know that Obama's leaving his church is a sham, the idiocracy under which we live will repudiate anyone who brings up Wright.

Posted by: Bruno at June 2, 2008 10:10 AM

All the racial talk has been from Democrats, about Democrats, and for Democrats.

The GOP base would probably rise up and shout hallelujah if McCain chose Michael Steele or JC Watts as V-P.

The only people fixated on race are the tribal Democrats. And it didn't just spring to life with Obama - all the blackface ads we've seen in recent years (Steele, Lieberman, Clinton) were made by Democrats.

The GOP should find a catchy slogan to highlight this obsession. Something like: "The Democrats - Keeping Race in Your Face". Or, "The Democratic Party - But Only One Race Gets Invited". Or, "The Democrats - We Check Your Face Before You Sit Down".

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 2, 2008 10:12 AM

Announcer in McCain campaign commercial: "John McCain: The American president Americans have been waiting for."

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at June 2, 2008 11:57 AM

So Americans means white Americans to you? It means non-secular to the rest of us.

Posted by: oj at June 2, 2008 12:35 PM

The Democratic Party, 150 years of dividing Americans along racial lines....

Posted by: oj at June 2, 2008 12:38 PM

Ask President Kennedy whether Chappaquiddick worked.

Posted by: oj at June 2, 2008 12:39 PM

Sen. Obama spent 20 years associated with a church that hates the United States and the bulk of its population. He has had as friends, mentors, and spiritual guides people (Wright, Pfleger, Ayers, Dohrn) people who hate the United States and the bulk of its population.

Could someone please tell me why I should elect as president of the United States of America a man with those associations?

Posted by: Mikey at June 2, 2008 1:15 PM

As I pointed out previously, your friend Rick & his pals insist that Nixonian race pandering led to recent GOP presidential dominance to avoid the implications of accepting that Roe is the reason.

Posted by: b at June 2, 2008 1:19 PM

Come Nov., every American is a racist.

Those who voted for Obama voted for him because he's black since he had even less experience and more gaffe-prone than Dan Quyale to hold the presidency of the 58 states.

Those who didn't vote for him didn't vote because he's black since every reason was "a fig leaf of self-reassurance for voters who just didn't want to vote for a black guy".

Thus, an incompetent post-racial candidate makes a racist of us all.

Posted by: ic at June 2, 2008 1:19 PM

The Progressives should just print up and distribute bumperstickers with the slogan "Bigots and Racists for McCain", 'cause that's what their campaign is going to degenerate into by October.

And I think they're going to be shocked to discover that a lot of people don't care what people like Perlstein think of them.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 2, 2008 2:23 PM

ic's got it right.... as Pat B. recently noted


Also see Pat's new (Brojudd inspired?) book about WW2 being an unnecessary war....

Posted by: RC at June 2, 2008 3:45 PM

Perhaps there is a bright side to this fiasco, and perhaps ic has discovered it for us.

Effendi Obama is exposing the unhinged, hate-driven side of organized African-American thought--the crazy uncle in the attic. to use the Effendi's own expression. Now are the rest of us-- whites, Lations, Asians--"racists" because we do not accept, embrace, ratify or enable this madness?

We may be sure, many of us will now be asking this question, and we shall be a better country for having faced it, for having rectified the names.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 2, 2008 4:45 PM