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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, March 14, 2008


Hagee and Wright

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, March 14, 2008 permalink View blog reactions
No one should mistake Daniel Larison for a fan of Barack Obama. However, Larison is an authentic conservative voice who expresses his opinion independently of party affiliations. His defense of Obama (and critique of McCain) is thus notable and appreciated:

ne of the best things that can be said about Obama is that he seems to understand that loyalty entails keeping faith with friends and colleagues after it has become politically dangerous to do so. A lot of people give his church grief for preaching against an aspirational “middle-classness,” and I understand the objections to this view, but at its core this view entails a call to solidarity with your community and a willingness to remain loyal to that community even though better opportunities may beckon beyond the horizon.

Obama really shouldn’t have to answer for what Wright says, but I also think that his loyalty to Wright should not be an occasion for bashing the man. There are plenty of things in his record, or the lack thereof, that provide reasons to find fault with Obama. Despite the manifest unfairness about the way that the Paul campaign was treated over statements in decades-old newsletters that were objectively far less offensive than things Wright has said in very recent memory, especially when compared to the pass Obama has received and continues to receive from the media, and despite the profoundly dishonest double standard applied to Paul and Obama, I am not interested in criticising Obama along these lines. Obviously, I don’t share Wright’s views, and Obama claims not to share all of them, but I have to ask seriously what kind of man Obama would be if he disowned his spiritual father for the sake of the approval of others (who may not give their approval even if he did what is being demanded). No one that I would want to entrust with any office of importance, that’s for sure.

That is the real difference between Obama’s modest distancing of himself from Wright and McCain’s embarrassing embrace of Hagee. McCain does not belong to Hagee’s congregation, he has no duties or obligations to him, and yet he welcomes Hagee’s support in the most cynical fashion.

I hope that Obama does have the loyalty and integrity to not drop Wright like a cold stone. Not because I'm any fan of Wright but because this endless cycle of gotcha is perpetuated by compliance with the demands of the PC media police who enforce it. The issue with Samantha Power/Geraldine Ferraro strikes me as similar, but the difference there is that they were both actual representatives of the campaign and so Obama and Clinton have a duty to keep a tight ship. But Hagee and Wright are external actors. The difference, as Larison points out, is that Obama has a relationship with Wright, whereas McCain is exploiting Hagee.

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.