Saturday, March 15, 2008

Race for the White House- 3/15/08

This week saw the Presidential horse race overshadowed by some very interesting stories and disputes. Disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer of course dominated the news. The jokes could write themselves but I will refrain at this moment. It was a fairly quiet week for Republican nominee John McCain, who raised money and is preparing for an overseas trip, which should be very politically beneficial while the two Democrat candidates are still battling it out among themselves. McCain, who this weekend is celebrating the 35th anniversary of his freedom as a Prisoner of War did gain some notice this week with complimentary comments about former Presidential rival Mitt Romney that led many to believe that the two could possibly wind up running together this fall. Earlier in the week, Romney gave his first television interview since ending his Presidential campaign and made it clear that he would very much like to be McCain's running mate.

But the far more discussed news of the week involved the Democrat candidates. While Hillary Clinton feuded with comedian Sinbad (well sort of), much of the week was dominated by a dispute between the Obama campaign and 1984 Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, who made statements regarding how she believes Obama's race has benefitted him in the current Presidential campaign, that many Democrats considered racist on behalf of their former trailblazing VP candidate. Ferraro vehemently insists she said nothing wrong and refuses to apologize. Nonetheless, she relinquished here role on Clinton's finance committee. The whole brouhaha even overshadowed Obama's expected big win in Mississippi, which was another state that saw a racial divide in support between Clinton and Obama. The win helped push up Obama's lead in pledged delegates, but most are still looking ahead to April's Pennsylvania primary, where polls currently show Clinton holding a solid lead.

The last couple news cycles have not been good one for the Obama campaign, related in part to admissions about his relationship with indicted Chicago businessman Tony Rezko, but what could be far more damaging, perhaps even politically fatal to his Presidential campaign, is Obama's relationship with his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Since Obama first entered the race last year, there has been talk in some circles and attention paid to the relationship between Obama and the controversial minister, who many accused of preaching a form of racial seperatism and how that was in contrast to the message of the Obama campaign in regards to bringing people together and the whole "One America" deal.

This week though saw the release of video footage of Wright sermons which were extremely harsh in regards to the Clintons, while praising parishioner Obama, but also sermons in which Wright made unbelievably derogatory and inflammatory statements about the United States of America, such as inferring that the attacks of 9/11/01 were somehow deserved.

For the remainder of this blog post, I am not even going to attempt to be remotely analytical, but I am instead going to give my opinion, in pretty direct terms, about this whole controversy:

Conservatives like me have had ample reason to distrust or maybe even dislike the Clintons on a personal level over many years. When it came to Barack Obama though, who is also one of my United States Senators, I have always felt that while I agreed on very little with him, he came across as a pretty nice guy and a fundamentally decent person who was deserving of respect on that level. Maybe he really is. But this whole episode has raised a tremendous number of questions about him and his personal character in my mind.

How in the world could Obama, who has known Jeremiah Wright for over 20 years, and has called him an "inspiration" and considered him his "spiritual advisor" and who placed on on a Presidential campaign committee, can speak of "unity" and "hope" while maintaining these ties to a man I believe he must have realized was hateful, divisive, racist, and anti-American, is absolutely beyond me.

I have absolutely no problem at all with Obama's religious beliefs, his practice of Christianity, or where or how he chooses to worship. The pastor is the problem and Obama should have known far better, a very long time ago. I have an extremely hard time believing that the Jeremiah Wright which has been exposed on television and the internet is the person that has taken Obama by so much surprise. How naive does Obama think people are? He says he was never in the congregation when Wright said these horrible things and that he never heard of most of them later on. If it ever turns out that he is lying about being in the audience, his Presidential campaign is cooked, but even if he was not, he likely knew far more than he is letting on. Wright is now off Obama's religious leadership committee, but only after this story reached critical mass. Now, Obama claims that had he been there when these things were said, he would have left the church. Yet he still chooses to belong to a particular congregation where many parishioners gave the pastor a standing ovation for saying "G-d damn America."

I could go on and on but the bottom line is that this story is very likely to hurt Obama. Just how much it will remains to be seen. Hillary Clinton could certainly benefit from this, particularly if she makes a private appeal to superdelegates about what Republicans and 527 committees might do if Obama is the nominee. Of course, she would be absolutely right and the damage for Obama in Middle America could be enormous.

So, speaking as a partisan Republican, I wish I could find more joy and excitement into the prospect of Obama perhaps going down if he cannot snuff out the flames of this latest story. Yet, it's just dissapointing to me on a personal level that Obama has so much to be ashamed for. To be fair, he has indeed now disassociated himself with specific things Wright has said, and I do not for a second believe that Barack Obama shares those abhorrent beliefs. But as someone who wants to lead America, and who puts himself out there as the ultimate paragon of virtue and unity, it is far too little too late. This all speaks very poorly on Obama's honesty and judgment.

This week saw the downfall of one pious pol, who held himself out as being so much better than anyone else, before getting caught in actual (alleged) criminal conduct. Since he was so disliked by so many people before the scandal broke, few feel sorry for Eliot Spitzer however.

Barack Obama has legions of supporters and fans who view him as more of a cause than a candidate. The die-hards among them will excuse any fault that Obama might have in order to continue to hold them in such an elevated state.

Obama's relationship with Wright was real though. He has far more to answer about it that has yet to be done. He has not even begun to explain how he could have either been so blind to these problems or so willing to overlook them for so long. In my view, this is the week that Barack Obama has been exposed as a fraud. A complete and total fraud.