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


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 article 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 controversy."

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 anti-Americanism.”

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 Raimondo 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 troops and innocent foreigners 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.

March 21, 2008