Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 28, 2008

Obama to Wright to Clinton to Monica: Connect the Dots

Hillary, she of the two faces, is at it again. I planned on posting about this last week, but I wanted to do some homework on it, and didn’t have time till today.

Here’s the short version: Jeremiah Wright has already been to the White House… as one of Hillary and Bill’s spiritual advisors in the wake of the president’s marital infidelity. So how did Wright suddenly become the one-dimensional, seething, angry representative of a dissatisfied black America, if his advice was so valuable to the Clintons during their biggest personal crisis ever? If known lefty Jeremiah Wright was good enough to stand alongside influential evangelical and Willow Creek Chuch founder, Saint Bill Hybels, back in 1998, then why is he the devil incarnate now?

I heard a mention of Wright and Hillary’s relationship on the radio early last week, when a commentator mentioned in passing that documentarian Michael Moore had cited her historical rewrite as one of the main reasons he was throwing his support behind Obama. Then a day later, I heard Moore himself interviewed on the subject (by Joy Behar — the only worthwhile thing about ABC’s The View ). Moore, no stranger to deep dark secrets, said he was shouting at his TV when Hillary brought up the Rev. Wright’s comments on the same stage as Barack.

“Tell them!” Moore implored Obama. “Tell them Wright was one of the pastors the Clintons looked to for help.” But Obama, not a dirty fighter by nature, chose to keep mum on the subject.

Moore and Behar called it gentlemanly behavior. I call it “politic” behavior, in the only decent use of that dirty word. It was both a turn-the-other-cheek moment, and a smart move. Obama himself has thus far made no reference to Hillary’s most vulnerable personal/family crisis. It would be nasty and un-Christian of him to do so. It also wouldn’t score him any points with anyone — not with the “family values” types who dislike Clinton but may grudingly respect her for forgiving her husband, nor with the patient, ego-bruised liberal women who see Hillary as their champion. Gordon Fischer, a major political figure in Iowa and an Obama supporter, mentioned Monica Lewinsky’s stained blue dress last week in his blog, and got a beat-down for doing so. Apparently people will still empathize with a scorned woman, even when she’s quite strong enough to fight her own battles. (Why else would we have wailed and howled for years in tabloids over the breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston?)

Partly because Wright spoke at the big NAACP meeting last week, and partly because Indiana’s primary is not very “sexy” news fodder, has no less than twenty stories discussing various aspects of Jeremiah Wright and the aftermath of his America-bashing retirement speech. Like Barack saying he would have left the church over those comments, if Wright wasn’t already retiring. Or Clinton Cabinet-member Bill Richardson saying Obama’s response speech, on race in America, was the pivotal moment when he saw Obama’s merits as outweighing Hillary’s.

Richardson was recently called a Judas by Clinton’s unofficial attack dog James Carville. James is generally a funny and likable character, though it’s not at all funny to accuse Richardson of disloyalty while Hillary loses other former supporters like Bubba Bill’s Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Michael Moore, John Kerry, actor/activist Tim Robbins, and dozens of others (who probably matter much more than the above-listed fringe-y dudes). Most realistic Democrats and progressives see the writing on the wall (that Barack is the future of the party, that he’s smart enough to make up for his lack of experience, and that Hillary won’t win back even one Reagan-loving, Bubba-bashing Christian Republocrat in the general election this November).

It’s the comfortable, scared, politically-disengaged Baby Boomers that are the problem here — the ones about whom Don Henley once brilliantly wrote as seeing no contradiction in putting “a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac”. My mother, a mild Hillary suporter who bought the whole Wright-Obama connection story hook-line-and-sinker, represents Clinton’s last and only hope. Any preacher, outgoing or not, who says “God damn America!”, is going to scare off some good white people who are nevertheless concerned about a post-O.J. Simpson, post-Rodney King backlash against the white middle class.

I think the Carville comments on Bill Richardson show that Clinton is genuinely worried about losing the support of the influential Latino community, one of her traditionally strong bases, the way she has already lost the black vote. I’ve said it here before, but I will say it again: a ticket with Richardson as a V.P. would be a smart choice. He’d steal some votes from McCain out west, plus he’d win back a few Clintonites with his likability and non-“elitist” ways. Most importantly, the prospect of a half-Mexican stepping into the Oval Office if anything happens to Obama would keep the wolves at bay, all those crackers who might want to do President Barack some form of harm. (“But I keed, I keed…”)

So please move on, Hillary. You make a pretty good Senator. You might even have made a better president than your husband. But like Jennifer Aniston, Bill Richardson and Michael Moore, we’ve moved on now. Reverend Wright is retiring. Louis Farrakhan doesn’t command much attention anymore, even though you brazenly brought up his name in connection with Obama in another public forum awhile back. 

Electing you would be a step backward, Hillary, and we need to move forward. Swallow your pride and be the kind of leader that we know you’re capable of, the moral and ethical leader who does genuinely care about America, about our health and children and growth and international standing. You showed you could Move On with regard to your horndog husband. Now do it for us.

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