Getting back to the high road

Rush Limbaugh drives me nuts, because he’s sometimes at least a little bit right about some things. Of course he’s a shameless partisan hack — yet with just enough humor and warmth that you can’t help but stay tuned.

Anyway, here’s a transcript of Rush’s show yesterday. It’s one in which he’s feeding on Rev. Wright’s exposed flesh, no less than — as Dave correctly points out here — the rest of Washington’s shark tank. Stories like this (with character and struggle out the wazoo) are too juicy to ignore.

Of course Rush’s teeth are all over Obama as well. Though mostly he’s working to submerge and drown the best of Obama under the worst of Wright.

Andrew Sullivan finds some stuff to agree with, in the midst of Rush’s several-hour chew-fest on Obama. But Andrew also points back toward the high road that Barack needs to find again, if the candidate doesn’t want to hand the game over to Hillary, for her to hand over to John McCain (which is the way to bet now in any case, if you’re just following the odds). Sez Andrew:

  Obama is a mixture in this, as in so many things, a complicated mixture. My view is it is that very mixture, that very embodiment of American complexity that makes Obama such a next-generation candidate.
  It is no wonder the some of the old guard have mixed feelings about his ascendancy; or that Wright, at this point, might feel jealousy and the erosion of his worldview. And that’s why Obama needs to spell out again his own vision of a post-racial America that is not a non-racial America. Instead of seeking to play out the clock, he needs to seize the narrative again, before it irreparably seizes him.

Good luck with that. He’ll need a lot of it.


  1. James Robertson’s avatar

    Here’s the question you, Dave Winer, and everyone else who wants to give Obama a pass on this needs to ask:

    If a white politician had attended a white supremacist church for 20 years, had his kids baptized there (etc, etc) – and claimed to have never heard the messages of hate – and refused to disown the pastor and church – just how long do you think he or she would last in public life?

    Right now, you, Dave, and every other apologist are holding Obama to far, far lower expectations than you would hold anyone else to. There’s a word for that: bigotry. Unintentional, perhaps, but bigotry nevertheless. Personally, I refuse to hold Obama to a lower standard. I take him and his associations seriously.

  2. Gregory Y’s avatar

    There is also a question of judgment, Obama professed to have, which in his words, outweigh experience. It seem that he doesn’t have much to offer except pretty face and deeply inspirational message. Too bad, seemed like a real deal for awhile.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    There are differences between white supremacist churches and Rev. Wright’s. But it’s not worth arguing. I take your point.

    Obama says here that he has not heard Wright’s “divisive” rhetoric and “ridiculous propositions” before. Rush on his show says that Wright has been saying this kind of stuff for a long time.

    On this one I’m inclined to believe Rush. I’m also inclined to believe that Obama cut Wright a lot of slack over the years.

    I’ve also read a lot of what Obama has written and said, and the man is clearly trying very hard to overcome divisiveness in politics, and I like that. I don’t see Hillary or McCain doing much of that. Not that I can believe, in any case. Hillary’s remark the other day about “obliterating” Iran if it attacked Israel gave me the creeps.

    We have three choices. All are flawed. Hillary and McCain fill me with dread and ennui. Obama gives me some hope. Less than before, but still more than the other two. That’s the difference.

  4. Mike Warot’s avatar

    I’m a Hoosier. I’ll be helping to push Obama over the finish line next week (along with all of my family).

    I looked into the Wright thing the first time… and decided then there was nothing big to worry about. For me, Wright II and the media storm around it is just pulling back the blinders on some the hypocrisies we all live with and blissfully ignore.

    McCain and Clinton are essentially the same candidate… going wherever the polls tell them to go, afraid to grab any dilemma by the horns and actually dealing with problems.

    Obama proved to me he could actually lead in Wright I… I hope he does the same now with Wright II.

    We’re also wondering if somehow Clinton isn’t behind Wright II.


  5. James Robertson’s avatar

    The thing is, it doesn’t matter who is or isn’t “behind” Wright’s recent appearances. It is simply beyond belief for Obama to claim that he didn’t know about these extreme views. He has been a member of that church for 20 years. His children go there. He was married there. He has donated thousands of dollars. IMHO, any decent person who heard the kind of language Wright engages in once would have walked away. The fact that Obama didn’t doesn’t say anything good about his character. I think we’re left with two things on Obama and Wright – Either:

    — Obama didn’t attend the church much, didn’t hear much of Wright’s hate talk, and stayed a member for political reasons alone. That makes him dishonest on a person level, based on how he’s described his relationship with the church

    — Obama did attend regularly, and simply let the hate wash over him. As I said above, this says so many bad things about his character that I hardly know where to begin

    Now, I have nothing good to say about Clinton, and the depths of my loathing for McCain know almost no bounds – he can’t comprehend something as basic as the first amendment, and I have huge problems with that. If Clinton gets the nomination, I might well vote for her on the “lesser of two evils” axis of decision making.

    Obama? Not a chance. His “unity” schtick smacks of velvet fascism, and his associations (Rezko, Ayers, Wright) smack of the same thing. He can only say “I didn’t know about those things” so many times before it starts to beggar belief.

  6. Chip’s avatar

    1) Wright Stuff may turn in Obama’s favor, if he reads Dick Morris

    2) Rush is, well, Rush
    Caution on accuracy other than recitation of the “right line”
    Use to listen to him (in car, not otherwise) but caught so many mis-conceptions and factual errors (on things that can be fact checked like historical dates, geographic locations, weather data) that most anything he says other than opinion is suspect.

    3) caught a late night clip many years ago on NPR, before Rush was a major radio personality. He laid it all out: it’s all about entertainment entertainment entertainment. “If I don’t gather an audience, I can’t sell commercials”

    But I’m afraid he’s started drinking his own kool-aid and believing that he really is important.

    Maybe Ayn Rand was right, time for Atlas to Shrug

  7. James Robertson’s avatar

    Obama won’t take that advice. He’s a Chicago machine pol, and is extremely cautious. Can you recall him being willing to be pinned down on anything?

    Every day, I’m more and more convinced that Obama would be a bigger disaster than Carter.

  8. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Obama cautious? What bizarre land are you living in James? It was Obama who looked at the divisive racism baiting taking place, spend a few days, and wrote his own speech laying things out, and setting a new direction, a positive direction.
    Now we’re being subject to yet another wave of the same type of thing, and I think he’ll end up doing yet another great job of helping us to get out of this repetitive swiftboating, whisper campaign, Rove style slander.
    It’s the Clinton ticket that leads by following polls, and always plays it safe. She’s willing to subvert our Constitution to win, she’s willing to win at all costs. She’s not someone who should be trusted with any public office, let alone the Presidency.

  9. Mike Warot’s avatar

    As I look back on the Carter years, it occurs to me that he had Volker get us out of the stagflation spiral that Nixon put us in, just so he could win at any cost in 1972, by closing the Gold window.
    Carter forced Israel to work with their neighbors and actually made progress towards peace in the middle east.
    Carter was honest, it a fault.
    Since then we’ve had Presidents who insist on selling out our country by exporting jobs, debasing the currency, and maximizing their own power at the cost of democracy.

  10. James Robertson’s avatar

    “Obama cautious? What bizarre land are you living in James? It was Obama who looked at the divisive racism baiting taking place, spend a few days, and wrote his own speech laying things out, and setting a new direction, a positive direction.”

    Obama refused to distance himself from Wright in that speech. Not to mention this: Try reading that speech rather than listening to it. I read it first, then watched the video. It was flat, said nothing, and mostly involved throwing his grandmother under a bus.

    To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement.

  11. Doc Searls’s avatar

    A few thoughts.

    First, Obama’s denial of knowledge about Wright’s extreme views is not credible. Not to me, at least. He’s even more busted than Roger Clemens on that one, and he is making the same big mistake by not fessing.

    Obama should have said something like, “Look. Yes, this guy has extreme views. I cringed at them when I sat in his church, and when he shared them personally. But he’s my friend and like family to me. He officiated our wedding and baptised our children. We put up with disagreements in family that we won’t in politics. What was once family is now political, and it pains me to see that happen. But it has. So I have resigned from Reverend Wright’s church, but not from my affection for him personally, even as he works against my campaign for president. At least let’s thank God and our founders that free speech is a guaranteed right for everybody. And let’s move on”

    But Obama didn’t do that. Instead he stonewalled. It was a Nixonian moment. Or worse, a (Bill) Clintonian one. Getting out of it will require Obama’s own version of the weaseling at which Bill Clinton has no equal — and Bill’s ass still got impeached. This isn’t going away. It will only get uglier.

    My guess is that Barack is protecting Michelle here. I don’t know all the history, but I have heard enough of Michelle Obama (e.g. “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country…”), and know enough about her background to assume that her own opinions and cultural alignments are at a midpoint and form a bridge between Rev. Wright and her husband. To me the subtext of Obama’s messages about Wright are, “Look, I’m connected to this man through my wife, and I don’t want to bring her into this.”

    But she will be brought in. Count on it. This thing is far from over. Not because Barack buried it, but because he is clearly lying about what he knew and when he knew it.

    Hey, if I’m wrong about that, prove it. But I doubt that will happen. The dirt diggers in both parties are already all over it.

    As for Carter, he was in over his head. He’s a fine ex-president, but as president he was a lousy leader. To be fair, there haven’t been many great ones. And most of the ones we call great have been glossed by simplistic characterizations. Kennedy and Reagan both come to mind, for different reasons.

    Would Obama be another Carter? I dunno. James may be right about that. I do know that we need something better than a choice between a warmonger and dynastic succession. Obama feeds my fantasies about that. But as time goes on my cynicism returns. And it’s not because The Right has pulled Obama’s pants down. It’s because he’s running naked for emperor.

    The advantage here goes to Hillary, who has been undressed aggressively for many years.

    The disadvantage is McCain’s. He is masterful at schmoozing the press, but his own wacky nature and compromised connections will be exposed fully by the time the de-pantsers are done with him.

    Especially if Hiillary leads the democratic ticket. Which odds now favor, following the most disturbing convention since 1968.

    And McCain will win anyway, because the country will see the least worst in him.

  12. James Robertson’s avatar

    I like what Jarvis said about this:

    “You see, this is the problem I have with Obama. I’m still not sure what I think he is: a cynical politician who throws out empty rhetoric and makes these grand statements only when he needs to (that is, like every other cynical politician) or a mushy wimp who can’t make tough decisions because he thinks he can get along with everybody (Jimmy Carter).”

    Exactly. And, Carter has been a lousy ex-President. Unlike most, he doesn’t realize that diplomacy isn’t a freelance operation, and he continually gets played by authoritarians.

  13. Mike Warot’s avatar

    I’m getting sick of filling this thing out only to have my comments eaten for one reason or another….

    Carter is merely trying to help open communications between the various players in the middle east. He can’t make any promises or commitments for anyone other than himself.

    I find it quite ironic that a peacemaker is despised, while it’s quite alright to destroy a country based on a lie, killing 100,000+ people along the way, and destroying our own military to boot.

    As for Obama and Wright… we all have those friends and relatives who sometimes spout total crap… but we still consider them friends and/or family. If I had to disown every person I had any disagreement with, I’d be trying to figure out how to disown my own younger self.

    Guilt by association isn’t fair. We don’t judge McCain on the basis of his religious leaders. We don’t judge George Bush on his close friendship with the Bin Ladens. The only reason to do something like that is to divide people and make them afraid to associate with anyone.

    Hillary is a sociopath, hell bent on the acquisition of power. Can anyone point out where she’s done something that wasn’t in her own best interests?


    Hope it sticks this time…

  14. James Robertson’s avatar

    “Carter is merely trying to help open communications between the various players in the middle east. He can’t make any promises or commitments for anyone other than himself.”

    Hmm – Carter cae out saying that Hamas had agreed to a 2 state solution – Hamas said “No we didn’t” within minutes, and Carter is still maintaining that they did. At best he’s a fool; at worst, he’s a bald faced liar who has no sense of history.

    The use a different analogy than the normal one, Wilson thought he was being a peacemaker between the central and entente powers. You could try reading Tuchman’s “The Zimmerman Telegram” to see how well that worked out for him. When you are dealing with people whose stated desire is to conquer, there’s not a whole lot of “middle ground” to find. Wilson never figured that out, and it looks like the concept is beyond Carter as well.

  15. Mike Warot’s avatar

    It appears the truth is somewhere else… unknown to all.
    No matter who wins, they get a broken dysfunctional country to try to lead into the future.
    The next 10 years are going to truly suck, no matter who wins.

  16. Robin’s avatar

    gotta go with Rush on this one. Obama has to much to explain, and he’s not doing it!. Indiana will be something to watch. Carolina’s in the bag..but let’s see on Tuesday.

  17. Mike Warot’s avatar

    So why isn’t Hillary explaining why Wright was invited to the White House? Or the photo with the drug dealers at the White House? What about McCain’s minister? What about the Bush family ties to the Bin Ladens?
    Guilt by association is a dirty game, and the media is doing a great job of it… in one out of many cases, at just the right time.
    PS: Where in the World is Osama?

  18. John Sabia’s avatar

    Even now it appears Obama’s associations are still questionable. The whole political scene in Illinois appears corrupt. It will be interesting to see if anything comes back to Obama regarding his senate seat up for sale. I think the governor will sing like a bird to save himself.

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