Following up on my post yesterday about the ongoing Rev. Wright flap, which will come back like a bad check to haunt Obama in the fall, here’s more proof that Obama is wading in quicksand when he plays the “I wasn’t there that particular Sunday” card. Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post article:
Wright said “some objectionable things when I wasn’t in church on those particular days, and I have condemned them outright,” Obama told the crowd, according to NBC News.
Interviewed on March 14 on Fox News, Obama also noted he had not been in church for Wright’s controversial remarks, saying “none of these statements were ones I had heard myself personally in the pews.”
“Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes,” Obama said.
See how unsatisfactory this is, and how it misses the essential point of the Wright-bashers? As I explained yesterday, O’s most dogged critics–and keep in mind, we haven’t even heard from the GOP attack machine on this issue–will not be satisfied if he hopscotches through his schedule and tries to claim he wasn’t there that day, or that day, or that day when The Spewings took place.
And (I say this as an Obama supporter, at least temporarily) they shouldn’t be, because it’s simply disingenuous of Obama to act as if he was hermetically sealed off from knowledge of Wright’s mind-set and ideology except for the days he personally visited the church. It sounds squishily Clintonian, evasive. If you’ve been a member of a church for 20 years, it stretches credulity to think that you never hear gossip or “shoulda been there” tales about the church.
And that’s not even the central point, which is: As I asked yesterday, if I belong to a social club in which the officers routinely use racial and ethic slurs, but I happen to miss a few of the more blatant attacks, does that absolve me of any guilt by association with the club? “Uh, wait, I wasn’t there the night they told all the N—- jokes. And all the stuff about Jews? We were out of town.”
Also, Obama is setting himself up for the Gotcha Patrol on this. If some no-longer-adoring reporter bestirs himself to check further into Wright’s fulminations–assuming for the moment that they were frequent–he may find that Obama was indeed in the pews on a Spew-Day. Maybe that’s why Obama seems to be wriggling toward a memory alteration in the excerpt above.
Rather than playing “If I Heard It,” Obama needs to repeat and deepen the themes of his fine speech on race, elevating the conversation above Gotcha politics. As it is, he’s handing the GOP some excellent ammo for the fall.