The Best They Can Do is “Elitist?”

I happen to think that most of America’s opinion of Barack Obama’s character is set in stone already.

He’s dreamy. He’s inspiring. He sends a thrill right up Chris Matthews’ leg.

He’s managed to magically make a decent number of Republican voters somehow forget about his ultra-liberal views. He looks to have truly awakened the youth vote, up until now a quadrennial flash in the pan. Even more, a few weeks ago the nation found out that the spiritual leader of the church he attended for the past 20 years was an anti-American racist whose venomous tirades played over and over again on a host of news outlets, and he seems to have survived it with nary a scratch, by all accounts rapidly closing the gap between himself and Hillary Clinton in uber-important Pennsylvania.

So now, in the wake of an episode of verbal Obamarrhea, both Clinton and John McCain believe that labeling him as an “elitist” or as condescending will somehow affect the rosy view of his character?

Spare me.

Personally, I think the best way to slow down Obama’s progress–if not stop it completely–is to force him into a battle over substantive issues. In the debates, he showed time and time again that he is nowhere near as smooth when dealing with actual, concrete, specific issues as he is when he reverts to his comfort zone and his warm and fuzzy rhetoric. The average voter may not understand the specifics but they may just perceive his shakiness, which plays right into the wheelhouse of both McCain and Clinton — experience.

If, however, Clinton and McCain wish to continue assailing Obama’s seemingly unassailable character, they must hit a little harder than “elitist.”

Obama has said that he has three spiritual mentors. We all know Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but voters may not be as familiar with the other two.

The Rev. Otis Moss III succeeded the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in the pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ after the latter stepped down following the media frenzy of a few weeks ago. His Easter Sunday service, titled “How to Survive a Public Lynching,” denounced the criticism laid upon Wright and compared the media attention and reaction to Wright’s anti-American and racist teachings to the final days of Jesus Christ.

Moss, like Wright, has repeatedly encouraged black Americans to view themselves as victims and to view white Americans as the oppressors. He’s even gone so far as to blame “rich white corporations” for conspiring to harm the black community. Much like his predecessor, Wright, said that the permeation of HIV and AIDS in the African-American community was a result of planning by the United States government, Moss says that it is not a coincidence that crack-cocaine and gangster rap entered the black community simultaneously.

Meet Father Michael Pfleger, seen here with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Pfleger, a Catholic priest, is very close to Wright, Moss, Obama and Farrakhan, and has vehemently defended the latter several times, saying among other things that Farrakhan is a religious hero and that Farrakhan’s repeated statements disparaging Jews were mostly a product of misunderstanding and media hyperbole.

“Minister Farrakhan is probably one of the most misunderstood and mis-defined leaders of our day,” says Pfleger. “When you don’t want to deal with someone’s truth, you try to destroy their character or redefine them …That’s what the media has sought to do with Minister Farrakhan. His truth causes America to face its racism and its hypocrisy.

Minister Farrakhan has been a personal friend for more than 20 years,” continues Pfleger. “His leadership has evolved, and I believe the coming days will see him as a unifying force, calling real Christians, real Jews and real Muslims to come together on principles of truth and justice… Contrary to those who want to make him anti-white and anti-Semitic, I believe Minister Farrakhan is presently building the umbrella for people of conscience to come together no matter the race or creed. I am honored to call him my brother.”

Pfleger also ruffled a few feathers at this time last year when, in a manner departing from the norm for most Catholic priests, he protested a Chicago-area gun shop and actually called for the death of the shop owner.

“We’re gonna find you and snuff you out,” Pfleger said about the gun shop owner after he compared him to a rat. “We’re gonna snuff out legislators who are voting against our gun laws and we’re coming for you because we are not going to sit idly.”

Later, he defended his words by saying that he didn’t know the possible connotations of the words “snuff out.”

Here’s the problem I have with all of this — Barack Obama started attending Wright’s church when he was roughly 26 years of age. That means that Wright, along with Moss and Pfleger, were the ones actively sought out by Obama to direct his own personal spiritual journey during some pretty formative years in any person’s life when it comes to forming and refining identity and ideology and a structure of beliefs and morals. The teachings of these three figures certainly connects the dots between Obama’s failure to wear a flag pin, his refusal to place his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, and even his wife’s statement that his candidacy has fostered pride in her country for the first time.

I believe, firmly, that if you look at a man’s friends, you’ll see his future. Even notwithstanding any correlation whatsoever, the double standard involved in the media attention and reaction raises more than a few eyebrows.

How would the mainstream media react if John McCain or Hillary Clinton were caught having attended a church that celebrated the Ku Klux Klan and its message? What would happen to McCain’s campaign if his own self-proclaimed spiritual mentor was actively protesting abortion clinics and threatening to “snuff out” the doctors, nurses and aides inside?

I’ve said before that Barack Obama is truly the perfect political weapon for this time and place. I’ve said before that he transcends everything we know about politics, about the media, about conventional wisdom. After all, in the wake of the Rev. Wright scandal, the mainstream media was echoing calls for Hillary Clinton, and not Barack Obama, to withdraw due to allegedly insurmountable odds. Since then, Obama has closed the gap in Pennsylvania! He’s caught up, and people are rumbling about a possible win.

Obama is like nothing else we’ve seen, and if Hillary Clinton and John McCain want to keep him out of the Oval Office, they need to take the gloves off and brawl. Get him on his spiritual mentors; Get him on substance. Merely painting him as an “elitist” just isn’t going to do it.


Speak Your Mind