Obama’s going to have a hard time explaining that I take to be the truth, namely that his relationship with Trinity has been a bit cynical from the beginning. After all, before Obama was a half-black guy running in a mostly white country he was a half-white guy running in a mostly black neighborhood. At that time, associating with a very large, influential, local church with black nationalist overtones was a clear political asset . . . . Since emerging onto a larger stage, it’s been the reverse and Obama’s consistently sought to distance himself from Wright, disinviting him from his campaign’s launch, analogizing him to a crazy uncle who you love but don’t listen to, etc.
The “real” Obama, in other words, probably looks a lot like the “real” person inside most politicians — somebody who mostly cares about Number One and will do and say what it takes to get elected. The problem for Obama is that Bill Clinton, who ran as a likable rogue, could get away with this sort of thing to an extent that someone who runs as a force for “unity” and “a new kind of politics” can’t, since this looks a lot like — well, actually it looks exactly like — the old kind of politics.
UPDATE: Obama’s problem is pithily summarized here:
Yglesias may well be correct about Obama, but when you’re left with the choice of either acknowledging that you had sincere close, personal, and political ties with a minister whose views most Americans find beyond the pale, or defending yourself by using the “hey, I’m just a cynical politician who uses religion to get votes just like anything else, and I don’t believe in it any more than I really believe that NAFTA is bad” excuse, I think you may be in for some trouble.
We are seeing a pattern of double-talk. Of course, the big question is what’s Oprah’s excuse?