Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Obama & Friends: Judge Not?

The following was in my local paper this morning, and I wanted to share:

Obama & Friends: Judge Not?, By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, October 10, 2008; A19

Convicted felon Tony Rezko. Unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. And the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It is hard to think of any presidential candidate before Barack Obama sporting associations with three more execrable characters. Yet let the McCain campaign raise the issue, and the mainstream media begin fulminating about dirty campaigning tinged with racism and McCarthyite guilt by association.

But associations are important. They provide a significant insight into character. They are particularly relevant in relation to a potential president as new, unknown, opaque and self-contained as Obama. With the economy overshadowing everything, it may be too late politically to be raising this issue. But that does not make it, as conventional wisdom holds, in any way illegitimate.

McCain has only himself to blame for the bad timing. He should months ago have begun challenging Obama's associations, before the economic meltdown allowed the Obama campaign (and the mainstream media, which is to say the same thing) to dismiss the charges as an act of desperation by the trailing candidate.

McCain had his chance back in April when the North Carolina Republican Party ran a gubernatorial campaign ad that included the linking of Obama with Jeremiah Wright. The ad was duly denounced by the New York Times and other deep thinkers as racist.

This was patently absurd. Racism is treating people differently and invidiously on the basis of race. Had any white presidential candidate had a close 20-year association with a white preacher overtly spreading race hatred from the pulpit, that candidate would have been not just universally denounced and deemed unfit for office but written out of polite society entirely.

Nonetheless, John McCain in his infinite wisdom, and with his overflowing sense of personal rectitude, joined the braying mob in denouncing that perfectly legitimate ad, saying it had no place in any campaign. In doing so, McCain unilaterally disarmed himself, rendering off-limits Obama's associations, an issue that even Hillary Clinton addressed more than once.

Obama's political career was launched with Ayers giving him a fundraiser in his living room. If a Republican candidate had launched his political career at the home of an abortion-clinic bomber -- even a repentant one -- he would not have been able to run for dogcatcher in Podunk. And Ayers shows no remorse. His only regret is that he "didn't do enough."

Why are these associations important? Do I think Obama is as corrupt as Rezko? Or shares Wright's angry racism or Ayers's unreconstructed 1960s radicalism?

No. But that does not make these associations irrelevant. They tell us two important things about Obama.

First, his cynicism and ruthlessness. He found these men useful, and use them he did. Would you attend a church whose pastor was spreading racial animosity from the pulpit? Would you even shake hands with -- let alone serve on two boards with -- an unrepentant terrorist, whether he bombed U.S. military installations or abortion clinics?

Most Americans would not, on the grounds of sheer indecency. Yet Obama did, if not out of conviction then out of expediency. He was a young man on the make, an unknown outsider working his way into Chicago politics. He played the game with everyone, without qualms and with obvious success.

Obama is not the first politician to rise through a corrupt political machine. But he is one of the rare few to then have the audacity to present himself as a transcendent healer, hovering above and bringing redemption to the "old politics" -- of the kind he had enthusiastically embraced in Chicago in the service of his own ambition.

Second, and even more disturbing than the cynicism, is the window these associations give on Obama's core beliefs. He doesn't share the Rev. Wright's poisonous views of race nor Ayers's views, past and present, about the evil that is American society. But Obama clearly did not consider these views beyond the pale. For many years he swam easily and without protest in that fetid pond.

Until now. Today, on the threshold of the presidency, Obama concedes the odiousness of these associations, which is why he has severed them. But for the years in which he sat in Wright's pews and shared common purpose on boards with Ayers, Obama considered them a legitimate, indeed unremarkable, part of social discourse.

Do you? Obama is a man of first-class intellect and first-class temperament. But his character remains highly suspect. There is a difference between temperament and character. Equanimity is a virtue. Tolerance of the obscene is not.

Big surprise, but I just do not GET this claim that Obama has a "First-Class temperament." I have written about this before - the NY Times claimed he was "even-keeled." Even Bill Hemmer made that claim the other day on Fox News. Have they not been WATCHING him? Have they not seen how FAST he rises to anger?? They are always harping on McCain's "famous" temper, of which I have seen blessed little, while Obama throws temper tantrums whenever something doesn't go his way. Whatever. Besides that crapola, this article says what MANY of us have been saying: IT IS ALL ABOUT CHARACTER, and who Obama's close friends are says a LOT about his, and none of it good. It's a shame no one bothered to look at him during the Primaries...Oh, wait - whenever they did, they were called "Racists," just like Rep. John "BACKSTABBER" Lewis did to John McCain yesterday, equating him to George Wallace. That is way, way beyond the pale. And simply unacceptable.

Anywho - better late than never, I reckon. I hope people will actually pay attention. We've been saying this for MONTHS - but 3 weeks before the election works, too...


Mike J. said...

Obama reminds me of Gen. Maurice Gamelin, the French commander in chief during the 1940 debacle. He was frequently described as having an "inscrutable expression", in the sense that nobody could ever tell what he was thinking. His detractors (probably rightfully) referred to it as "the blank mask of stupidity".

I think Obama falls in the same category. He is not even-keeled. He simply does not know what to do and his indecision is somehow explained away as evidence of calm temperament in the face of catastrophe. But even Bush's most ardent supporters did not cite Bush's "my pet goat" moment as evidence of his "even keel" and "unflappability".

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

That "My Pet Goat" moment was EXACTLY of what I was thinking when I was reading your comment, Mike j! How sad is it that people take his "inscrutable expression" to be so positive? I don't get it.

Excellent analogy, mike j - thanks!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

What are you going to do when your worst nightmare happens on election day? Will you whine and stamp your feet for the next four years after Sen. Obama is declared the winner?

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Oh, golly gee - Dr. Monkey is back!

Unlike Obamabot supporters, those of us opposed to the presidency of a dangerous radical with unsavory associates are mature individuals. A foreign concept, I know...

But "declared" is probably the right word - Obama hasn't won anything fair and square yet, so why would this election be any different??

Mike J. said...

Well, if Obama wins it will be no big deal. After 8 years of Bush we are well conditioned to deal with power-hungry cynical opportunists whose life revolves around their pursuit of power, who do not shrink from calling those who do not wish to jump on their bandwagon "traitors/racists", and whose vast shortcomings are eagerly covered up by the fawning media. So it's not like Obama and his followers represent something we haven't seen before, you know.

So, I think if Obama wins my reaction will be a big yawn. I will, however, greatly enjoy posting on Obot sights to tweak his current supporters when Obama begins to show his true colors (no pun intended).

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, Mike j -

Just saw this - sorry! I do like the idea of tweaking the Obots' sites should, heaven forbid, he steal the WH...

But I hear ya. I realize we have made it (more or less) through 8 yrs of Bush, but holy cow, I was so looking forward to having a great prez again (that would be Hillary, though John seems like an honorable man, at least...). It could still happen, right? Like when they have to admit Obama was born in Kenya after all?