Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Matt Yglesias on Obama and the Wright affair

We don't always agree with Matt, but we do agree that he's one of the more savvy and intellectually honest liberals in the press. He's not one to blow smoke up your skirt, and he'll actually admit when he's wrong. We honestly think he's spot on today in his post at The Atlantic. HT to Glenn Reynolds.

In short, we generally assume that a politician's stated political views express his or her position on political topics, and that affiliating with a religious congregation does not constitute an endorsement of everything the leaders of that congregation have ever said.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that I see this as a basically trumped-up issue. Obama's enemies have put this Wright stuff out there in bad faith, not because they're genuinely uncertain as to what Obama thinks, but merely because they think it can hurt him electorally.

But of course they're right that it'll hurt him electorally because Obama's going to have a hard time explaining that I take to be the truth, namely that his relationship with Trinity has been a bit cynical from the beginning. After all, before Obama was a half-black guy running in a mostly white country he was a half-white guy running in a mostly black neighborhood. At that time, associating with a very large, influential, local church with black nationalist overtones was a clear political asset (it's also clear in his book that it made him, personally, feel "blacker" to belong to a slightly kitschy black church). Since emerging onto a larger stage, it's been the reverse and Obama's consistently sought to distance himself from Wright, disinviting him from his campaign's launch, analogizing him to a crazy uncle who you love but don't listen to, etc. The closest analogy would probably be to Hillary Clinton's inconsistent accounting of where she's from (bragging about midwestern roots when trying to win in Iowa, promptly forgetting those roots when explaining away a loss in Illinois, developing a sporadic affection for New York sports teams) -- banal, mildly cynical shifts of association as context changes.

This is why I don't, as an American citizen, worry that President Obama would be objectionable. But Americans take their religion seriously and aren't going to want to hear this story. So Obama's going to have to do some awkward further distancing.

First, as to why this story was even put out there, of course it was chosen to hurt him electorally. Rev. Wright goes beyond the idea of controversial, and sounds much more like a bigot. Obama's statement that he "never heard anything" like the diatribe played all day on talk radio Thursday doesn't wash. Too many people, given that the church sells DVDs of his sermons, are asking that if he didn't hear anything like that, how often did he really attend the church. Given this and this from Ace yesterday, we already know he's fibbing about whether he heard any sort of controversial sermons.

Other than that, Matt's spot on. He's as disingenuous now as he was before. He's looking out for numero uno, and that has zero to do with the American people. He wants the presidency, and not because he thinks he can change a damn thing. He wants it for the power and the prestige. He wants it because he fancies himself a president when we honestly wouldn't even vote for him for student body president. His lack of experience is beyond dangerous. And his pandering to voters is no different than any other politician.

It's about time his supporters stopped being so damned enthralled with the man, and actually started doing some questioning here. What has he done? With what he promises, who will pay? Can he truly accomplish anything he has promised? Given the legal troubles his "friends" have, can he be trusted? What experience does he bring to the office that would be unique and helpful? See, these are just a few questions that should be asked, and that we have asked of his supporters here in Arizona. Needless to say, they're sputtering and eventual namecalling doesn't bode well for him in November. What's worse, questions like that tend to sow the seeds of doubt in even the most ardent of supporters.

Publius II


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