Monday, March 24, 2008

The Wright Scandal For The Right

I mock the walking caricatures at the National Review all the time, and maybe that's unfair, so allow me to single out a post for praise because of its unabashed honesty.

The National Review gang, like Fox News and talk radio, have been foaming at the mouth about the Obama/Wright controversy-- and talking about little else-- and pretending that they actually care about this story (Sean Hannity was totally gonna vote for Obama until he saw those clips!). Responding to reader complaints about this obsession, John Derbyshire writes the most honest post written on this subject at that magazine-
"I don't get the sensitivity and slack-cutting towards Obama that Charles Murray's post typified. Obama's the enemy — a far-left Democrat. We should be attacking him at every weak point. That's politics.

A pro-Obama emailer whines to me that the Pastor Wright business is 'a Swift Boating of Obama.' Well, duh!"

Yes, after months of trying to throw attacks at Obama (flag pin! Muslim! his mean ol' wife!), the right-wing noise machine finally found something that sticks... and they're certainly not going to give it up just because their attacks are over the top and divisive. That's the whole point! Anyone expecting intellectual honesty or integrity from this 'debate' was always going to go home disappointed.

But just how damaging is this 'Swift-boating' to Obama in the long term? If polling data is to believed (is it?), not very. Gallup poll results show that the week the Wright story hit, Obama's lead over Clinton dropped to a point where she was leading him by 7 points. The newest results-- those coming after his speech on the matter last Tuesday-- show him now back ahead of Clinton by 3 points. How this affects his general election fight with McCain depends on a number of factors we can't know right now.

Part of the Obama resurgence in the polls is likely due to the pushback by his camp... not just the speech, but also the fight to put the shocking words of Rev. Wright in their proper context. Andrew Sullivan looks at the sermon (in full) from which the infamous clips/sound bites were culled. I'm not sure seeing them as part of a larger narrative will make anyone offended by them feel reassured, but at least doing so would be, yes, honest.

[PS- And if this silliness is really the worst thing they have on Obama, he must be a saint.]


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