Let's imagine that it turns out that one of the GOP presidential candidates, let's say it was Fred Thompson, turns out to attend a Eurocentric church in which the Pastor has praised a political leader (think, maybe, David Duke) who is profoundly anti-semitic and has said things like "blacks are potential humans - they haven't evolved yet." Thompson praises the pastor as his spiritual mentor and as someone who has had a profound influence on his life, but says that they don't "agree on everything."
Wouldn't this be an issue? If its important that Ronald Reagan began his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi and that George W. Bush spoke at Bob Jones University - if Mitt Romney must bear the weight of his church's racial past - you'd think that this connection would require some exploration.
Of course, Fred Thompson doesn't have such a pastor and spiritual mentor.
But Barack Obama does (the praise being for Louis Farrakhan who made the quoted statement about whites). David Bernstein has more at the Volokh Conspiracy.
As Bernstein points out, it's not that Obama may believe the stuff that Farrakhan does, it's in his claim to be a "uniter" who wants to move past the politics of the past. Unless Obama can somehow make the very real differences we have go away by, I don't know, changing the laws of physics, the real question behind that is "what are boundaries of unity he proposes." On what terms are we to come together?
It has always been a goal of the left to bring whites and blacks together on the common ground of white guilt and black grievance. It hasn't worked yet and it never will. Is that what Obama proposes behind his softer and gentler language?
This is going to be an issue (did Clinton plant this?) and its not an unfair one or a racially charged "smear." We'd ask these questions of my hypothetical Fred Thompson and we ought to ask them of Obama as well.