18 March 2008

Expectations of Pardon and Understanding

Much will be made of the Senator Obama speech given today. Folks with more political savvy than I have will dissect it along a number of lines, racial and religious being two. I have just one thing that I want to set apart for the reader. Sen. Obama asks that we, the electorate, excuse Jeremiah Wright’s “occasionally fierce [critiquing] of American domestic and foreign policy” because, on the whole, Mr. Wright’s only real crime – if it can be called that – is to have “the contradictions…of the community that he has served”. So in the end, it’s really not his fault that he spouts anti-American, racist rants to his (former) flock, or that DVDs of such things are provided by his (former) church. Mr. Wright must be forgiven and understood because, after all, he is a mirror of his community and his people.

I don’t buy that for a second. The reason is this: if the electorate accepts Sen. Obama’s call to allow for Mr. Wright’s comments, to show tolerance, then the electorate can reasonably suppose that the senator will have the same expectations when he is president. There has already been evidence of this, Sen. Obama’s musings on invading Pakistan and sitting down to unconditional talks with enemies in particular. How much noise has the electorate heard about those in the past three months? Sen. Obama has been absolved of those verbal missteps because…well, they don’t reflect the “real” Obama. It’s not the totality of him. It’s not what he’s about. Neither is his close relationship with Mr. Wright.

The worry, and it is a very real worry for me, is that once we find out who Sen. Obama is, all we may be able to do is grin and “understand” his reality.

Post Script: It's a good idea, I think, that folks read the speech rather than watch it. It's important to review and revisit what Sen. Obama says as he goes along.

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