NYT's Cohen: Barack's 'Grown Beyond' Wright
One set of facts, two diametrically different NYT op-eds addressing it this morning. The fact: that Barack Obama is backpedaling as fast as he can away from the hateful anti-American rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright. The op-eds: Bill Kristol's, offering a dose of sobering realism about Obama's feet that if not of clay, then are certainly those of a garden-variety politician.
And then there's Roger Cohen's, the Obama fan who, in a bit of breathtaking revisionism, would explain away Barack's moonwalk on the theory the candidate has simply "grown beyond" the problematic preacher. And Cohen's just fine with that.
Compare and contrast . . .
Obama seems to have seen, early in his career, the utility of joining a prominent church that would help him establish political roots in the community in which he lives. Now he sees the utility of distancing himself from that church. Obama’s behavior in dealing with Wright is consistent with that of a politician who often voted “present” in the Illinois State Legislature for the sake of his future political viability.
The more you learn about him, the more Obama seems to be a conventionally opportunistic politician, impressively smart and disciplined, who has put together a good political career and a terrific presidential campaign. But there’s not much audacity of hope there. There’s the calculation of ambition, and the construction of artifice, mixed in with a dash of deceit — all covered over with the great conceit that this campaign, and this candidate, are different.
He has built his identity in a shifting world; that resonates with a lot of Americans. His radical Chicago pastor contributed to that journey. Now Obama has grown beyond him. I have no problem with that. [Emphasis added]
Impressive equanimity on Cohen's part, but the columnist offers no evidence whatsoever that this is a case of "growing beyond" and not of simple political expediency. Upon consideration, Cohen actually condemns Obama in trying to defend him. Is Cohen saying Barack used to believe that God should damn America, but has now thought better of the idea?
Bonus Coverage - Mika Makes Nice
On today's Morning Joe, Barack backer Mika Brzezinski did her best to paper over Obama's woes.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: You can have people, you can surround yourself with people you don't completely agree with. You [guest Jonah Goldberg] say he has a big problem. All the emails I'm getting [from fellow Obama fans?] say that there's a reaction out there to this. The question is will it wind up becoming part of the conversation [pet peeve alert: "the conversation" instead of "the debate" or other more realistic term], because if you watched Tim Russert yesterday it doesn't seem like the Clinton people, it doesn't seem like anybody wants to go there because it will bring the party down.Oh, people will want to go there, Mika. Not calculating Dem partisans, perhaps. But the American people at large will go there. They care about this. They are not going to elect someone president and commander-in-chief if there are any lingering doubts about his love of country. Bet on it.