March 13, 2008

Guilt by Association

The inflammatory rhetoric of Barack Obama's pastor of twenty-odd years has finally hit the mainstream media, as ABC News is reporting the story Obama's Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11.

The lede:

Sen. Barack Obama's pastor says blacks should not sing "God Bless America" but "God damn America."

The lede doesn't do justice to the actual language used by Rev. Jeremiah Wright or the repeated denunciations of the United States in his sermons, and I'll send you to the story itself to read his actual words.

Wright has had a great deal of influence over Obama as his pastor and spiritual mentor of two decades, in fact lending Obama the title of his book "The Audacity of Hope" from one of his sermons.

One cannot single out Wright as an isolated Obama associate.

To get a fuller sense of the kind of man Barack Obama truly is beyond soundbites and speeches, we are required to revisit the kind and caliber of people he surrounded himself with during his adult years.

In addition to accepting Wright's rhetoric for two decades, Obama has been married to Michelle Obama (formerly Robinson) since October of 1992, and she is known for having more influence over her husband than his closest political advisors, a fact hardly uncommon or surprising for a spouse. In her senior thesis at Princeton, Michelle Robinson focused on her feelings of racial isolation.

"My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before," the future Mrs. Obama wrote in her thesis introduction. "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second."

It reads at the sad commentary of a person who has had the incredible advantages of an Ivy League education, but who can can only see herself through the prism of being apart and alone. These feelings perhaps indicate why she would feel drawn to the Trinity United Church of Christ where Wright preached his inflammatory style of racially-separatist doctrine, as he reinforced her long-held fears.

Having already spent much of her lifetime feeling like an outsider, and with a key spiritual influence attacking the United States, it is perhaps unsurprising that she finds connecting with her country—much less feeling "really proud" of it—an unnatural act.

In addition to such profound influences as his pastor of 20 years and his wife of more than 15 years, Barack Obama has had relationships with far more radical denizens of society, including unrepentant terrorist leader William Ayers of the Weather Underground.

The Weather Underground bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and the State Department, and Ayer's girlfriend Diana Oughton and several other members of the group died while assembling bombs destined for a non-commissioned officer's dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

How did the Obamas interact with a man who said "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough"?

Barack served with Ayers on the board of directors of the Wood Fund from 1999-2002, and they are at least casual friends according to Dr. Quentin Young.

In addition to these individuals, add Obama's already infamous relationship with political fixer Tony Rezko, currently in the middle of a corruption trial that sees him accused of placing bribes and accepting kickbacks, including kickbacks funneled to Obama's 2004 Senate run. Obama has since given $150,000 raised by Rezko to charity. Rezko was also involved in the purchase of a Obama's home by buying an adjacent lot, then selling part of that lot to the Obama's at one-sixth the price Rezko originally paid.

My boss at Pajamas Media, Roger L. Simon notes on his personal blog that he is "not much for guilt-by-association," a sentiment I generally share if the associate is only a fringe player in a person's life. For that reason support of Louis Farrakhan by Obama's church should not be held directly against Obama himself, especially as Obama finally distanced himself from Farrakhan.

But even without him, we are left with a disturbing picture of the people who have great, long-standing, and future influence in Barack Obama's life that cannot be easily dismissed.

Do Americans want as a president a man who sits in on board meetings with proud terrorists, followed a separatist and anti-American pastor for two decades, and who counts as his closest advisor a wife who has made obvious the disconnect she has with her country?

It is unfair to judge a man by casual associations, but no doubt fair to judge him on the company he keeps for years at a time.

Update: Rick Moran has strikingly similar thoughts, posted at almost the same time.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 13, 2008 12:27 PM

I would add that Obama is obviously a smart, powerful, and persuasive person. It demeans Obama to suppose he was helpless to influence any of these actors and organizations in his life.

I'm a member of a progressive church. When I got tired of the all the anti-war complaining and organizing in the church sermons, meetings, and mailing lists, I, along with some other conservatives in the congregation, took action. We started speaking up at meetings, talking to the pastors, and vigorously debating the anti-war folks on the mailing list. It took a year or so, but eventually we persuaded the pastors and congregation to leave the anti-war politics out of our church.

Obama wants to be president and lead America to a better place. Why didn't he start with his own congregation?

Posted by: huxley at March 13, 2008 02:26 PM

It was apparently fair game to look at Romney's church, and Huckabee's.

Why is Obama's church not fair game?

Oh, right, he has a D after his name instead of an R. The rules are different, apparently.

Posted by: C-C-G at March 13, 2008 06:04 PM

I would argue that it is a bit more than just that C-C-G. For example, I do not know of anyone (that is not a member) that has a problem speaking out against the WBC. But it wouldn't be PC to talk bad about Obama's.

Posted by: Matt at March 13, 2008 06:12 PM

To me, Obama's pastor and spiritual mentor disqualifies him as a candidate. If Obama was white and had a white racist mentor, then he would have been chased out of Presidential politics already.

Obama has a pleasing exterior personality, but he has pandered to anti-white racists by being so close with that pastor. At least I hope he was pandering.

Sadly, judging by Mrs. Obama's anti-American rhetoric, Obama actually believes such extremism and is masking such horrible beliefs under his calm demeanor.

We've long since kicked White racists out of mainstream Presidential politics. Black racists should get the same treatment

Posted by: jim at March 13, 2008 07:03 PM

A bit more blunt than I put it. But ok cool :)

Posted by: Matt at March 13, 2008 07:19 PM

Actually, I don't care how much melanin someone has. Racists are racists and should not be sitting in the Oval Office.

And the fact that Obama has listened to this stuff for, what, 20 years and not only has he not walked out, but he's contributed large sums tells me what he thinks of this rhetoric... he agrees with it, obviously.

All the spin in the world won't change that.

Posted by: C-C-G at March 13, 2008 07:29 PM

For some of you who are still tripping over the false accusation of Guilt By Association. The following makes you squirm a bit, doesn't it?

"How did the Obamas interact with a man who said "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough"?"

But not enough?. Would you have a problem voting for someone whose friend/associate said this?:

"I don't regret setting bombs in black churches; I feel we didn't do enough"?

The only difference between what Obama's friend reportedly said and my addition is that I specified a target. The circumstances are the same, but THAT association you'd have no problem condemning.

Posted by: Bill Smith at March 13, 2008 07:57 PM

My Dad always told me "if you sleep with dogs your bound to get fleas"

Posted by: tonynoboloney at March 13, 2008 08:34 PM

hey, come on, at least he's not the most racist senator with a D after his name!

Posted by: ex-democrat at March 13, 2008 09:23 PM

We are constantly told that hate is learned, hate is taught.

I have one question for Obama: "How could you expose your little daughters to the likes of Rev. Wright?"

Posted by: Maggie at March 14, 2008 08:23 AM

What can you expect folks. Try waking up.

Posted by: Will Becker at March 14, 2008 09:38 AM

In the case of M. Obama, what is cause and what is effect? Many educated blacks express feelings of extreme alienation. The more "education, often the worse it is. Could it be that their image of themselves, their society and their place in it is the result of what passes for "education" these days? Four to eight years of extreme, left-wing, hate America first indoctrination is bound to have some effect.

Also, when the mind set of "America is evil and I am its victim" is re-enforced with substantial professional and economic incentives, it would take a rare character to rise above it. That is not to say the M. Obama's character is bad. She is ordinary and a product of the system that produced her. It is that system that is evil.

Posted by: George Bruce at March 14, 2008 10:37 AM

One chooses a church that agree's with ones own beliefs. Enough said.

Posted by: kate at March 14, 2008 04:53 PM

"She is ordinary and a product of the system that produced her. It is that system that is evil."

Once again, someone blaming the system, not the person. She is an adult, she is responsible for her actions just as any sane person is. This blame the system not the person crap has needs to stop.

Posted by: Matt at March 14, 2008 05:06 PM

Its fascinating how the American people are so easily distracted from issues that really matter. Opposed to getting titillated by who Obama and McCain's pastor is and what they think, you may want to take time to consider what if any of this has to do with your paying $4.00 a gallon for gasoline; 63,000 jobs lost in the month of February; the war in Iraq which is siphoning off $13 billion a month; 47 million Americans without healthcare; the Gulf coast still resembling a war zone two years post-Katrina; a gallon of milk costing almost $5.00; the astronomical number of American homes in foreclosure; American banking systems threatening to go under with your money still in it; gang violence out of control in many parts of the country especially the Mid west; the number of children in this country living two to three times below the federal poverty level; education system shot to hell --and I could go on. Keep on focusing on the dumb stuff and this country will get the government you already have and deserve because you refuse to look through all the smoke and mirrors. Keep focused on the media and its titillation de jour and come November you will all be living in a tent and getting to work on a skateboard because you were too focused on somebody's pastor instead of the real issues. Stay drunk with distraction if you will. In the interim, I wish you well with the outcomes realized.

Posted by: brenda at March 14, 2008 08:08 PM


Just wow.

Posted by: C-C-G at March 14, 2008 10:44 PM

Brenda, you are an idiot.

Posted by: Matt at March 14, 2008 10:48 PM


Posted by: Jane at March 16, 2008 10:38 AM

Matt & C-C-G, both bring up valid comments about the Obamas, however to call Brenda an idiot because of the points she brings up is demeaning to the arguments everyone is making trying to affect change. Brenda does bring up interesting points of view. For example, American homes in foreclosure, and some American banks looking to close...Its all linked together in the web of our "I'm entitled attitude". Those being forclosed on signed contracts with variable interest loans, only thinking of todays rate. The banks gave them those loans, knowing any blip on the horizon would blow the borrower out of the water. Both walked into their current circumstances with blinders on. Now everyones crying and not wanting to be held accountable.
Main stream media is providing smoke and mirrors to distract us, and make a huge profit doing it. I liken it to the Brits taking away Chinese currency in the 1800's and making opium legal tender. If more people are worried about wether or not Paris is wearing underwear, than who Obama idealizes, then main stream media is accomplishing its mission. We do get the elected officials we deserve. Thats what happens when 35% of eligable voters show up on election day.
As far as the war goes, I'm a combat veteran, and my son is serving in Iraq right now. Brenda we either kill them there or they kill us here.
Its just that simple. The hard part is finding goverment leadership with enough courage to do whatever is neccesary to win.
I'll close with my favorite qoute.
"No arsenal,or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."

Posted by: kevin at March 17, 2008 01:50 PM


"demeaning to the arguments everyone is making trying to affect change."

I called her an idiot because she was unable to disassociate her views of the world dynamic from the topic of discussion. She used a typical sub diversion tactic, and it seemed to have worked. The topic is no longer being discussed, and you brought up the points she did.

Do you smell what I am stepping in? If not then please read the other posts I have made on this topic of discussion.

If you have any questions, my email is real.

Posted by: Matt at March 18, 2008 09:35 PM

To summarize Kevin and Brenda: Please look the other way.

Posted by: PR at March 19, 2008 08:48 AM