Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fair is fair: looking at both major party candidates with equal consideration

Sometimes I need someone to cut through the fog. Charles Krauthammer often seems to do that for me.

In his October 10th column, reprinted Sunday in our local paper, he cut through quite a bit of fog. This paragraph particularly caught my attention. I have highlighted what jumped out at me:
Obama's political career was launched with [unrepentant terrorist Bill] Ayers giving him a fundraiser in his living room. If a Republican candidate had launched his political career at the home of an abortion-clinic bomber -- even a repentant one -- he would not have been able to run for dogcatcher in Podunk. And Ayers shows no remorse. His only regret is that he "didn't do enough." . . .

It's kind of like I forget these kinds of--I think legitimate--"parallels" or "contrasts."

Similarly here (and again I highlight what jumped out at me):
[B]ack in April . . . the North Carolina Republican Party ran a gubernatorial campaign ad that included the linking of Obama with Jeremiah Wright. The ad was duly denounced by the New York Times and other[s] . . . as racist.

This was patently absurd. Racism is treating people differently and invidiously on the basis of race. Had any white presidential candidate had a close 20-year association with a white preacher overtly spreading race hatred from the pulpit, that candidate would have been not just universally denounced and deemed unfit for office but written out of polite society entirely.
Again: Hmmmm. . . .

What is that famous line from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech (a speech that is so dear to me that it was one of the first recordings I ever purchased when I was 12:
I dream of a day when a man will be judged on the content of his character and not the color of his skin.
Is Krauthammer noting a means by which Obama is being judged (way too lightly . . . about things that matter) not on the basis of his character, but on the basis of the color of his skin?

Krauthammer continues:
Do I think Obama is as corrupt as [convicted felon Tony] Rezko? Or shares [the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah] Wright's angry racism or Ayers's unreconstructed 1960s radicalism?

No. But that does not make these associations irrelevant. They tell us two important things about Obama.

First, his cynicism and ruthlessness. He found these men useful, and use them he did. Would you attend a church whose pastor was spreading racial animosity from the pulpit? Would you even shake hands with -- let alone serve on two boards with -- an unrepentant terrorist, whether he bombed U.S. military installations or abortion clinics?

Most Americans would not, on the grounds of sheer indecency. Yet Obama did, if not out of conviction then out of expediency. He was a young man on the make, an unknown outsider working his way into Chicago politics. He played the game with everyone, without qualms and with obvious success.

Obama is not the first politician to rise through a corrupt political machine. But he is one of the rare few to then have the audacity to present himself as a transcendent healer, hovering above and bringing redemption to the "old politics" -- of the kind he had enthusiastically embraced in Chicago in the service of his own ambition.

Second, and even more disturbing than the cynicism, is the window these associations give on Obama's core beliefs. He doesn't share the Rev. Wright's poisonous views of race nor Ayers's views, past and present, about the evil that is American society. But Obama clearly did not consider these views beyond the pale. For many years he swam easily and without protest in that fetid pond.

Until now. Today, on the threshold of the presidency, Obama concedes the odiousness of these associations, which is why he has severed them. But for the years in which he sat in Wright's pews and shared common purpose on boards with Ayers, Obama considered them a legitimate, indeed unremarkable, part of social discourse.

Do you?

Obama is a man of first-class intellect and first-class temperament. But his character remains highly suspect. There is a difference between temperament and character.

Equanimity is a virtue. Tolerance of the obscene is not.
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