- Bernardine Dohrn
- Bill Ayers
- Sidley Austin
- Chicago Annenberg Challenge
- Antoin "Tony" Rezko
- Penny Pritzker
- Reverend Jeremiah Wright
- Father Michael Pfleger
We may not agree with the views and actions of every individual and group with which we individually have a relationship, but it is fair to judge our character by these relationship. And it does not matter when these unacceptable actions occurred. Past or present is not important. What is important is what we do after discovery. Once we discover unrepentant and/or radical behavior/views, our failure to disassociate ourselves from the offensive individual or group, indicates our true character and judgment. At the very least failure to disassociate from unrepentant individuals or groups signifies acceptance and tolerance for these actions.
Charles Krauthammer in today's Column (Obama & Friends: Judge Not?) makes much the same point.
Convicted felon Tony Rezko. Unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. And the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It is hard to think of any presidential candidate before Barack Obama sporting associations with three more execrable characters. Yet let the McCain campaign raise the issue, and the mainstream media begin fulminating about dirty campaigning tinged with racism and McCarthyite guilt by association.Can you say double standard? Yes it is. One cannot believe that if instead of Obama, the friends belonged to McCain, that the Media and McCain supporters would use words like racism and McCarthyite associations in defence of McCain's relationships.
But associations are important. They provide a significant insight into character. They are particularly relevant in relation to a potential president as new, unknown, opaque and self-contained as Obama. With the economy overshadowing everything, it may be too late politically to be raising this issue. But that does not make it, as conventional wisdom holds, in any way illegitimate.As Mr. Krauthammer makes clear, This is an Issue Hillary raised during the Primaries, and which John McCain should have raised months ago. But, while the Economy is in such sad shape, right now other issues just don't have the same impact or acceptance by the public.
Are they still just as important? Absolutely. According to Mr. Kruthammer these associations are important, not because Obama is a terrorist, a racist or a felon. They are important because they tell us two things about Obama's character.
First, his cynicism and ruthlessness. He found these men useful, and use them he did. Would you attend a church whose pastor was spreading racial animosity from the pulpit? Would you even shake hands with -- let alone serve on two boards with -- an unrepentant terrorist, whether he bombed U.S. military installations or abortion clinics?Obama is an opportunist. He looks at relationships from the standpoint of "How can this relationship help me?" And Mr. Obama is very adept at covering his tracks once the relationship advances his career.
Most Americans would not, on the grounds of sheer indecency. Yet Obama did, if not out of conviction then out of expediency. He was a young man on the make, an unknown outsider working his way into Chicago politics. He played the game with everyone, without qualms and with obvious success.
Obama is not the first politician to rise through a corrupt political machine. But he is one of the rare few to then have the audacity to present himself as a transcendent healer, hovering above and bringing redemption to the "old politics" -- of the kind he had enthusiastically embraced in Chicago in the service of his own ambition.
Second, and even more disturbing than the cynicism, is the window these associations give on Obama's core beliefs. He doesn't share the Rev. Wright's poisonous views of race nor Ayers's views, past and present, about the evil that is American society. But Obama clearly did not consider these views beyond the pale. For many years he swam easily and without protest in that fetid pond.Now it is up to you the voter. Does the end justify the means? Is this acceptable behavior for a Man who wants to be the next President of the United States?
Until now. Today, on the threshold of the presidency, Obama concedes the odiousness of these associations, which is why he has severed them. But for the years in which he sat in Wright's pews and shared common purpose on boards with Ayers, Obama considered them a legitimate, indeed unremarkable, part of social discourse. [Italics in Original]