Ah Said, the Sheriff is a Ni-[DING!]


Guh. You don't need to be an Barack Obama partisan to find this Jonathan Martin enterprise story in The Politico sort of disturbing. The basics: Republican consultants are hopeful that the Jeremiah Wright episode will hammer home the meme that Obama is a black radical who hates his country.

If Michelle Obama's gaffe caused some ripples in the right-wing pond, the Wright videos have detonated the equivalent of a daisy cutter on the conservative landscape, awakening an otherwise dispirited party base.

"I usually get three or four emails a week on Obama," said Michigan Republican chairman Saul Anuzis Monday. "Today I received more than 10 – all of them on his minister."

Among the e-mails Anuzis received was a link to a mash-up video splicing together Wright's most extreme comments, Michelle Obama's statement, footage of Obama not putting his hand over his heart during the anthem at a political event and images of Malcolm X and the two black Olympians in 1968 who raised their fists in the "black power" salute set to the iconic rap song by Public Enemy "Fight the Power."

Very subtle. I've heard grumbling about Obama not saluting the flag for a while on the campaign trail. The day of the New Hampshire primary, some Republican activists (assuming Obama would win) said McCain would clobber him over that issue alone. The evolution of that meme into this one has been fascinating to watch.

"It's harder for people to say it's taken out of context because these are Wright's own words," noted Chris LaCivita, the Republican strategist who helped craft the Swift Boat commercials against Kerry that employed the use of their target's own language when he returned from Vietnam and returned his medals. "You let people draw their own conclusions."

"You don't have to say that he's unpatriotic, you don't question his patriotism," he added. "Because I guaran-damn-tee you that with that footage you don't have to say it."

I don't know. I'm uncomfortable with this. Obama's own "anti-America" moments in this chain have been limited to not wearing a flag pin and not putting his hand on his heart while singing the the national anthem. (The photos that circulate over e-mail claim this was actually during the Pledge, which isn't true.) The dynamite evidence in United States v. Obama (2008) is the rhetoric of Obama's wife and his pastor. We've had presidential candidates' wives attacked before (1992 comes to mind), but his pastor? This is new territory for a presidential campaign, I think. Left playing Mr. Nice Guy on this Mike Huckabee, who said this on Joe Scarborough's morning show.

Obama made the point, and I think it's a valid one, that you can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do. You just can't. Whether it's me, whether it's Obama…anybody else. But he did distance himself from the very vitriolic statements.

Now, the second story. It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Reverend Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say "Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that."

And Huckabee has, you know, given some sermons. Has the left been playing dirty pool by pulling statements out of Jerry Falwell sermons, though? Sometimes, maybe, although the most controversial thing Falwell said in his final decade (blaming the ACLU and abortionists for 9/11) was actually during a CNN appearence. The implication of the Wright-Obama attack, though, is not that Wright is crazy, but that Obama is a secret racist and America-hater, and that the truth of this is only revealed by the statements of his wife and his pastor.

Headline explained here.