Monday, April 21, 2008

Obama doesn't want to play?

During my stint on WMCS' Backstory segment, I was intrigued by the reaction to the manufactured controversy over the questions asked at Wednesday's debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. My co-panelists - and the fiercely pro-Obama listeners - thought it outrageous that people would still focus on Jeremiah Wright, the statement about "clinging to God and guns," Bill Ayers, etc. Obama's petulant complaints about the debates seem to reflect that. It's as if he is annoyed that someone would interrupt his speech-making.

My point was that no presidential candidate gets to control was is said about, or asked of, the candidate. Obama wants to portray himself as some type of post-ideological harbringer of unity and change that everyone will (or ought to) want, but we don't have to accept that. If we are constantly finding data points that suggest that he is an unreconstructed man of the left, we can point that out.

Part of the reaction by the WMCS panel and audience is to shrug their shoulders at that. They know its true and think its fine. They just don't want to talk about it because they perceive - probably correctly - that it won't help the cause. Thus, Eric Von says that Reverend Wright was "all right" (although Eric doesn't buy into the AIDS accusations) and Dave Berkman argues that small town white people are racists.

On a national level, Nora Ephron reminds us why these controversies matter with this post, suggesting that the Pennsylvania primary will be decided by "racist white men", all but apologizing for what she seems to regard as the redundancy of that description.

One reaction to a post like Ephron's will be to point to a double standard and ask whether "we can imagine" what would happen if she made such statements about, say, blacks or gays. That's fair, but it has gotten a bit like pointing out that cable news go crazy over missing blonde girls. Tell me something that I don't know.

What Ephron does is remind us of the catechism of the American Left. What Obama's association with Reverend Wright, refusal to wear a flag pin, condescending remarks toward rural Pennsylvanians, association with Bill Ayers, Senate voting record, oppostion to protecting infants who survive an abortion, etc. raise is the extent to which he shares that catechism.

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