Hate to sing along with the Conventional Wisdom Chorus, which for years was the backing group for Spiro Agnew and the Instant Analysts, but it’s hard to see how even McCain at his best, which he was last night, can change much at this point.
I do look forward to the post-election Newsweek Special that will explain small mysteries like this: Assuming that Obama’s past associations matter much–and before the economic meltdown, they might have–why did McCain choose to natter on about Bill Ayres while dismissing the Rev. Wright? A few points:
1. Whether he should have been or not, the unrepentant Ayres was long ago forgiven by some pretty mainstream figures–Chicago mayors, big-bucks philanthropists, university heads–so McCain looks way out on the right-wing limb when he picks at the Ayres scab.
2. I’m not sure what percentage of the American electorate was born after the Vietnam War ended, but it’s a big chunk. For many of them, Khe Sanh and Tet seem about as far away as Gettysburg and Second Manassas, and Bill Ayres is nothing but a dusty footnote.
3. Obama’s associations with Wright, on the other hand–and I say this as one who voted Obama in the Texas Primary–raise more serious questions. If I may quote myself from March, 2007, here are some of them:
If the question is to what extent Obama bought into Wright’s rants, and by extension how much influence if any Wright has/had on Obama, why would we settle the matter with a Sunday Morning Scorecard showing that O missed this one, attended that one, missed this one, and so on? If I belong to an Elks Lodge at which the Exalted Stag stands up on Thursday nights and talks about the good ol’ days of white supremacy, am I excused because I happened to miss the more inflammatory talks? Is it plausible that I would be utterly ignorant of the Stag’s rants? No fellow Elk ever mentioned them to me?
Assume for discussion that Obama missed half of Wright’s sermons, or two-thirds if you like. Does anyone believe that Obama never got a report, a fragment, a “shoulda heard the Rev on Sunday” from any of his pewmates? That’s silly. Especially as he became a public figure in the state Senate and U. S. Senate, he’d want to be aware of such things even if he wasn’t there in person.
To set up this last question, let’s issue a King’s X to Rev. Wright on the Uncle Sam-bashing. Let’s assume for a moment that because of slavery and discrimination, the U. S. deserves Jehovah’s wrath just as the Rev. says we do. Guilty as charged.
That still leaves his far-out statements that the government A) sold drugs in minority neighborhoods and B) concocted the AIDS virus in order to decimate the black population. This stuff is skimmed from the cess-pool of paranoia. How frequent were such charges by Wright? What was the general reaction of the congregation to such lunacy? Does anyone recall Obama’s reaction to this idiocy?
if Obama gets the nomination, all these questions and more are coming back like Jason in Friday the 13th XVIII. I wonder if he’s ready.
Okay, I was wrong about that last part, thanks to McCain’s strange decision. But while Obama has many obvious strengths, the Wright links do not cover him in glory. Not that any of this matters in the Bonfire of the 401Ks.