Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why Rev. Wright matters

"So ... American politics gets to be about a man's Church now?"

At the main writer's site where I hang out on the Internet, Absolute Write, is a thread where the above quote was made, one minor quote among many others. The opinions in the thread were somewhat evenly mixed, with many thinking it wrong to consider Wright's behavior and believes as they consider Obama. But the above quote frosted me, and proved to me that these people don't have a clue as to why the Wright issue is a big deal. I wrote the following in response, which I reprise here.

You know, it's not really all about Sen. Obama's pastor and what he believes. It's not about the black church culture and how they behave. It is about the meteoric rise of a freshman senator from the obscurity of the Illinois legislature to be a viable candidate for the most important elected office in the land. Who is this guy? What kind of president would he make? What is his character all about? What are his core beliefs? How is an Obama administration likely to comport itself? Is he a good father and husband? Is he a good citizen? What will his foreign policy be like? Is there anything about the man that might be a negative in how he will perform in office? What kind of company does he keep, how much do they influence him, and, in my opinion, is that company likely to be a positive or negative or neutral factor in his performance in office? It's not enough to go to his website and see what he says about his official stands on relevant issues (I've done that, by the way). It's not enough to look at the soundbites from scripted campaign speeches, or watch the slightly less-scripted debates to see if he stays on or goes off message. It's about seeing what kind of man he is in those unscripted, unguarded moments, where the real man comes to light.

All of these are valid questions. If Obama had been in the senate for 8, 12, or 20 years, we would already have answers to most of these questions. But we don't. I'm not voting for him. I have already made that decision. But I am interested in him because he will likely receive his party's nomination, and I will have a second decision to make: Is he so bad that I should financially support his opponent? Or volunteer to work for his opponent? Or go out of my way to talk with people to vote against him.

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