March 20, 2008

Why Is Clinton Soft-Pedalling On Jeremiah Wright?

Why have we heard next to nothing from Hillary Clinton -- who is obviously desperate to find some way to regain momentum against Barack Obama -- about this whole Jeremiah Wright thing?

Because, as it turns out, she's vulnerable on the Jeremiah Wright front, too. During the high point of the pre-impeachment Monica Lewinsky scandal, President Bill received spiritual guidance from Rev. Wright. Here's the Rev of Hate shaking hands with Bill at an official White House luncheon in an unretouched, unphotoshopped photograph from 1998:

So I don't think it's really in Senator Clinton's best interests to hit this issue hard. Or at all. One of the big stories under the radar here has been that Clinton has maintained pretty good discipline with her machine on this point. Right now, it's only people who likely were never going to vote for Obama anyway who continue to hammer on this issue.

This picture also illustrates something else to take into account here. This man had juice. Barack Obama would not be the first President he was close to. An association with Wright carried a political advantage. Does this excuse what Wright said? Of course not. But it does enlighten us as to why Obama might have heard something edgy and decided that his best move was to let it go.

Ron Paul repudiated Lew Rockwell -- and that was for writing absolutely indefensible stuff under Ron Paul's name and Paul put money in his pocket as a result of what Rockwell wrote. But after Rep. Paul repudiated Rockwell's writings, people moved on. John McCain made clear that while he wants to build bridges with evangelical Christians for their political support, and when controversial pastor John Hagee endorsed him and McCain welcomed the endorsement and this caused barely a blip on the radar screen.

Yes, both the Rockwell fiasco and the Hagee flap are distinguishable from the Wright situation, each in their own ways. But they are also similar in that a candidate got associated with someone who has said some pretty edgy and ultimately indefensible things. And ultimately we have to make a judgment on the politician, not on the people around the politician. So if we're judging people by the company they keep, I doubt we'll find anyone of either party who is acceptable. These are politicians, folks. Politicians are like testicles: they're almost never all that nice to look at, they're very sensitive to pressure, and they spend most of their lives in close proximity to pricks and assholes.


Pamela said...

TPL the first article was emailed to me today from one of my professors. I found the second article by clicking on Frank Schaeffer's name (underneath the bio). Some of the biblical examples that he uses are taken out of context, but overall, his viewpoints are strong. Both articles definitely grab the readers attention. I'm curious to find out your opinion after checking them out.
P.S. Hope you and your beautiful wife are well, and that your toe feels better :)

Burt Likko said...

Thanks, Pam! We're doing great and we hope the same for you and your charming husband. My toe only hurts when I stand on it or wear shoes.

Schaeffer is a very interesting character, something of an apostate figure for the RR. I don't think he's abandoned all of his beliefs, though; he's just decided that the manner of their delivery was and is poisonous and ultimately not very Christian. There is an endless amount of commentary about the role of religion in society and politics, but little of it is particularly thoughtful and Schaeffer adds a worthwhile perspective to the mix of ideas that are out there, so thanks for bringing him to my (and other readers) attention.