No matter how much I want to see the man succeed, no matter how many times I find myself gravitating to his well-chosen words, I know that The Pastor and The Photo matter.
I want to say that Reverend Wright does not speak for Barack Obama, just as the photo of him wearing a turban was merely an effort to connect with ethnic voters. And if I shout long and loud enough, it’s an argument I know I can win. After all, I feel that I am on the side of the righteous.
Except that I know otherwise.
I can chalk up Obama’s staggeringly poor decisions to naivety, which has concerned me about Obama almost from the beginning. He seems so fragile, speaking in glowing terms of hope when his counterparts are trying so hard to sound tough. My God, what would Cheney do to him? What will McCain do to him?
But I like the man anyway. Good God, I’m tired of the gloom the Bush Administration has drenched this country in, like gray wash water drained from a laundry bucket. His ancient cronies plot and plan in dim rooms, practicing Dark Age, Richard Nixon politics in a world that screams for our leadership. But leaders have vision and optimism, especially in desperate times. Bush gave us the Axis of Evil and a vice president that shoots people in the face.
Yes, I like Obama’s message, as thin on actual policy as it is. What’s wrong with hope?
The Photo was a cheap shot, really: Karl Rovian in its conception and execution. At first glance, I thought it was a fake. But it was no fake. Here was a politician, sporting a name like “Barack Obama,” a man who 11% of Americans would one day believe that he took an oath of office with his hand on a Qu’ran – this was a man who had somebody talk him into wearing a turban in front of a guy with a camera.
Hope and naivety, yes. But no evidence of sagacity.
What public gaffs, what inopportune errors in judgment, what embarrassing displays of naivety will Obama make once he is in the Oval Office?
The Photo has momentarily vanished, but I know where it resides: right in John McCain’s back pocket. On the eve of an essential debate, or after a critical dip in the polls, you can count on Turban Obama making its nut-punching return to the Internet.
The Pastor has received more airtime, possibly because it doesn’t feel so slimy on the surface. Reverend Wright earns the indignation his caustic words generate. He’s the Bad Guy no one feels sorry for. And while Obama supporters are quick to say that Wright is not Obama, they either fail to see or refuse to acknowledge the much larger point.
Bush’s biggest failing is not his lack of curiosity or his knuckle-headed stubbornness, but the people whom he elected to serve as his council.
Rumsfield. Rove. Cheney. Libby. Brown. Cooney. Harriet Meirs.
Remember her? Of all Bush’s narrow minded cronies, Meirs was the most insulting. Not because she wasn’t a nice old lady, but because she was a nice old lady who was sweet to George and it won her a nomination to the Supreme Court. Her qualifications? She was a lawyer. She headed the state bar of Texas. That’s about it.
Harriet Meirs was part of George Bush’s circle. He respected her opinions. She represented George Bush.
Like it or not, Reverend Jeremiah Wright represents Barack Obama. He attended his church. He listened to his words. Reverend Jeremiah Wright officiated Obama’s marriage to Michelle, and later he baptised Obama’s children. Not once, as far as I know, did Barack Obama stand up from his pew and leave.
And if this is whom Barack Obama picks to be his pastor, whom will he select to serve in his Cabinet?
You have my vote, Barack Obama. But man, you do not have my confidence. You’d better grow up, and grow up fast, because if you think Hillary Clinton is tough, wait until you go toe-to-toe with a man who sneered down more than five years of Vietnamese torture.
Yeah, The Photo and The Pastor matter.