Obama-Wright Flap Illustrates What's Wrong With American Politics

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I happen to
be a casual contributor to the Washington Examiner op-ed
page, but I have to respectfully disagree with regular columnist
Meghan Cox Gurdon, who claims in this
that pastor Jeremiah Wright’s “hate-America” rhetoric
is Barack Obama’s problem.

To the contrary,
if anything this is America’s problem. Only in an environment where
we expect individuals to bear responsibility for the actions of
others could a political candidate ever have to apologize for the
comments of his pastor, or anyone else for that matter (and you
wonder why we have so many welfare programs).

I’m hardly
an Obama fan, but expecting politicians to pretend they have some
unctuous duty to supervise the rest of us is the very attitude that
leads to all the phoniness and self-righteousness exuded by most
of our politicians in the first place. After all, discerning anyone’s
true outlook on the issues becomes a pretty arduous task when candidates
essentially are forced by the electorate to issue endless statements
of conformance in order to placate the howlers.

Here’s the
excerpt of Gurdon’s piece
that is most interesting to me:

In Obama's
big speech Tuesday [ed. note: here],
he reminded us that he has "already condemned, in unequivocal
terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such

That's nice,
but that it took him a year since declaring his candidacy to distance
himself from Wright's appalling beliefs gives us ground to wonder
whether, absent the YouTube fracas, he would ever have bothered
– or even noticed.

Even though
Obama has already offered his appeasement speech to his critics,
it’s apparently still not good enough because it “took him a year”
to do it. Ms. Gurdon isn’t alleging that Obama necessarily shares
his pastor’s views; she’s implying that his participation in Wright’s
church has “blunted” his ability to recognize his pastor’s “vicious

I don’t buy
that argument, and I don’t necessarily believe Jeremiah Wright is
anti-American. Sure, he obviously has to be a little loopy to suggest
that the U.S. government invented AIDS to kill the black man, but
he nevertheless made plenty of valid points, especially in condemning
America’s hegemony abroad, as Justin
explained recently.

What I do believe
is that most conservatives find it very difficult, if not impossible,
to find fault with the United States. I think most of them are well-intentioned
but nonetheless nave when it comes to recognizing that our politicians
have bred contempt around the world for decades in the attempt to
impose the will of the U.S. on lesser powers.

If people have
a problem with Obama’s association with his pastor, they have every
right not to vote for the man. But I don’t believe I’m responsible
for anything other than my own personal actions, and the same should
go for anyone running for public office. Perhaps the most ironic
aspect of all of this is the insistence by conservatives that they’re
the preeminent promoters of actual “tolerance”; are we now all supposed
to associate only with those who share identical views?

What this really
all boils down to is the war party’s opportunity to smear a candidate
who at least entertains the idea of pulling the U.S. out of a worthless
war that is extremely costly, in both lives and money. Ashamedly,
I myself once fell
for the double-talk and propaganda, but what separates regular people
from most politicians is this: those of us who don’t have a vested
interest in publicly saving face or profiting personally and politically
from war are usually willing to admit when we’re wrong. It’s a bitch,
but it’s life.

On the other
hand, fanatically perpetuating
the killing
of American
and innocent
despite current knowledge that your entire
justification for doing so has been built
on lies and deception
only further enrages your enemies and
creates more. Even if some pastors have the audacity to call you
on your bullshit.

21, 2008

Trevor Bothwell
[send him mail] maintains
the web log, Who's
Your Nanny?

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