Juan Williams has this excellent analysis in the Wall Street Journal today. I know, I know... Juan is a right-winger from way back, so his words won't be heeded by the rookie Senator from the corrupt state of Illinois and the corrupt city of Chicago.
But, still good analysis. Here's an excerpt:
It's Time for Another Obama Race SpeechThis is exactly the point that the GOP (and the Clintons?) have been raising about Obama's candidacy. Since his record is a blank slate - except for a speech in 2002
By JUAN WILLIAMS
June 6, 2008; Page A15
Now what? How does Barack Obama, fresh from claiming the Democratic nomination, put Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger behind him, before they ignite yet again and blow up his general election campaign?
How does he pre-empt advertising images, sure to be circulated by his opponents, that link him to outrageous racial rhetoric and fears that he is open to the most radical left-wing ideas – including using the power of the White House to exact racial vengeance?
Well, [his Philadelphia speech] didn't end the controversy, either – because Mr. Obama never spoke honestly about Rev. Wright's sermons as destructive and racist. Instead he offered soaring talk about the nation, as a matter of faith in God and one another, needing to "move beyond old racial wounds." His only criticism of Rev. Wright was to chide him for a "profound mistake," of speaking "as if no progress had been made" on race.
And his poor judgment in remaining a member of Rev. Wright's church? Mr. Obama skated by with appeals for other people to have serious conversations about race. Instead of turning his fire on racial pandering in his own church, he criticized those who would "make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with [Rev. Wright's] most offensive words."
He has to do more.
The heart of Mr. Obama's problem is that he risks being defined by Rev. Wright and Father Pfleger. Most American voters know him only as a fresh face with an Ivy League education, an outstanding credential – editor of the Harvard Law Review – an exciting speaker, and a man who stands for much-desired change. Beyond that he is a political mystery with a thin legislative record. But when voters look at his past for clues to the core of his character, they find religious leaders calling for God to damn America and concluding that America is the greatest sin against God.
and his presidential stump speech (which he originally delivered at the Democrat convention in 2004) - his relationships and the character of the people he chose to surround himself with become of primary importance.
If we cannot judge how he would govern through his record, we can get some insight to his judgment by who he associates with.
That the Dems decided to be swept away by empty rhetoric and an empty legislative record is their downfall.
But wait! Juan provides the following recommendations to Sen. Barry to overcome the Tinity United problem:
To deal with this controversy effectively, Mr. Obama needs to give another speech. This time he has to admit to sins of using race for political expediency – by knowingly buying into divisive, mean messages being delivered from the pulpit. He has to say that, as a biracial young man with no community roots, attaching himself to Rev. Wright and the Trinity congregation was a shortcut to move up the ladder in the Chicago political scene. He has to call race-baiting what it is, whether it comes from a pulpit or calls itself progressive politics. And he has to challenge his supporters, especially his black base, to be honest about real problems at the heart of today's racial divide – including out-of-wedlock births, crime, drugs and a culture that devalues education while glorifying the gangster life.Ummmm... this isn't going to happen, Juan.
Why? Because statements from his wife provide an even clearer insight into Obama's beliefs - beliefs about how cruel and wicked they think this country truly is.
Mr. Obama also has to raise the bar for how political criticism is handled in his camp. Step one is to acknowledge that not every critic is a racist. His very liberal record and his limited experience, like his association with Rev. Wright, is a fact, not the work of white racists. Just as he calls for the GOP not to engage in the politics of fear over terrorism, Mr. Obama needs to declare that he will refrain from playing the racial victim, because he understands such tactics will paralyze political debate and damage race relations.Ummmm... this isn't going to happen either.
Any and all criticism of Obama will be portrayed by the campaign and by the media as either being outright racist or simply having a tinge of racism - even when the campaign and the media (are they distinct groups still?) talks about any criticism as not being racist, the discussion itself will be primarily about the possibility of racism underlying the charge.
I'm so confident that Obama won't do either of these things that if he does, I'll eat my shorts or (even worse) vote for the neophyte.
ARC: St Wendeler