Ann Althouse takes apart Barack Obama's response to the question in Tuesday night's debate about Louis Farrakhan. Obama was playing politics, trying to distance himself from Farrakhan while trying to hang on to whatever Farrakhan's support might bring him. He makes clear that he rejects Farrakhan's anti-semitism while dancing away from the idea that he ought to explicity reject his support.
I can understand why he wants to do this. Farrakhan has some support within the African American community and Obama wants to avoid getting cross-wise with anybody over that issue. He would have preferred to avoid the question altogether but tried to minimize the damage from Russert's question, even calling this virulent racist "Minister" as in "I have been very clear in my denunciation of Grand Dragon Duke's racist remarks.) (If you don't think that how he treats Farrakhan is an issue, listen to WMCS sometime.)
Hillary tried to push him on it but gave up too soon. What she should have done is ask a follow-up: "Will Louis Farrakhan have a place at the table in the Obama administration? He will be persona non grata in mine."
Maybe she felt that, the Democrat coaliton being what it is, that would be going too far. That's hard to believe (I think she just blew it), but McCain won't hesitate to draw that line.
How would Obama answer? I don't see how he could do anything other than say that Farrakhan won't be invited to the White House. But, if David Duke endorsed McCain (he has, in fact, said he sees no difference between McCain, Clinton and Obama; they are all equally terrible in his view), you'd see no hesitation or equivocation about rejecting him, his support and his statements. His very existence would be regretted and McCain might even allow as he wishes that Duke had never uttered - or even heard - his name.
Is there a difference?
I understand that some people think that there is, but, politically, Farrakhan is poison. If it came to it, I suspect that Obama would not hestitate to throw him under the bus, but there is a lot of hard left stuff in Obama's background and record that will not be so easily jettisoned. We don't hear it from Hillary because it can't much help her in a Democrat primary. But we will hear plenty in the fall and, until we do, the Democrats should hold off on ordering the champagne.