pageok
pageok
pageok
Obama Responds to the Farrakhan Controversy:

Obama: "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decisions with which I agree."

The Senator assumes wrong. As I noted previously, Trumpet Magazine, published by his church, explicitly explained [in the video it prepared for the banquet at which Farrakhan was honored] that it was honoring Farrakhan for his purported dedication "truth, education, and leadership." Obama's spiritual mentor, Rev. Wright, [quoted in The Trumpet last Fall] praised Farrakhan for his "astounding and eyeopening" analysis of the "racial ills of this nation," a "perspective" that is "helpful and honest."

If the magazine and reverend had merely honored or praised Farrakhan for "his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders," it might have raised an eyebrow or two, but I don't think anyone would have found the story of much interest. So, give Obama some credit for forthrightly rejecting Farrakhan's anti-Semitism (though Farrakhan's bile goes beyond Jews to gays, whites in general, and others), and subtract some credit for his failure to address the true underlying concern, which is that the magazine and reverend say that they are honoring and praising Farrakhan precisely because of his stated political and racial views, which they claim are "honest" and reflect "truth."

By the way, last week I criticized Prof. DiLorenzo of LewRockwell.com for invoking a conspiracy theory centered around the Cato Institute to explain the controversy over the Ron Paul newsletters. Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall similarly blames the messenger by referring to Richard Cohen as an "odious slime peddler" and wondering, "Who do you figure pitched Richard Cohen on the Obama/Farrakhan column?" [And here's a rather bizarre defense of Obama by M.J. Rosenberg. Rosenberg points out that he stopped attending his synagogue on the High Holidays when it started inviting what he describes as a hate-filled rabbi to services. This somehow means that Obama is off the hook for not taking such a stance regarding his church.]

UPDATE: A reader, quite fairly, asks what I would have Obama say. How about something along these lines: "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. Trumpet Magazine erred in honoring Farrakhan, who has made blatantly false statements about Jews and others, for his purported commitment to truth. The Rev. Wright similarly erred in his praise of Farrakhan, which could be read as endorsing Farrakhan's noxious ideas. I am of course not responsible for every action undertaken by my church or my minister, but as a member of the congregation and a religious follower and friend of Dr. Wright's I have made my displeasure known to the relevant parties, in private correspondence that I think would be inappropriate to share." There, that wouldn't satisfy everyone, but I think it would be enough to end the controversy.

FURTHER UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan goes ballistic on Richard Cohen for raising the issue of Obama's church and pastor honoring Farrakhan. Yet here's what Sullivan wrote with regard to Mitt Romney in 2006:

Romney was part of a church that barred blacks from the priesthood for his first 31 years. ... The only sect I can think of as equivalent is the Nation of Islam - in reverse. I don't know if Romney has addressed the question of Mormon racism in its historical practices, or whether he has a record of opposing it in his twenties, when he was a missionary for a racist church. But it strikes me as a matter that will require addressing.

Admittedly, Sullivan's accusation is that Romney belonged to a racist church, while Cohen's complaint is that Obama belongs to a church that honors racists. On the other hand, Cohen's complaint is about current church and ministerial behavior, Sullivan's about decades-old practices. I don't see how Sullivan can logically question Romney as he did, and then be so outraged regarding Cohen.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Obama Responds to the Farrakhan Controversy:
  2. Cohen on Obama's Church and Farrakhan:
  3. Obama's Minister and Church:
Brian K (mail):
whites in general

isn't this already covered when obama said "I decry racism"?

and I don't know anyone who can credibly say that obama supports anti-gay beliefs or is anti-gay himself.

but, in a manufactured controversy like this, there was nothing obama could have said to appease you. you'll find what you want to find no matter what he said.
1.15.2008 4:09pm
Brian K (mail):
wow! i've never been first post before.
1.15.2008 4:10pm
all the young clash:
This is a non-issue and always has been. I'm not sure why this sort of thing is on the Volokh Conspiracy.
1.15.2008 4:14pm
none (mail):
I agree with Brian. What more could Obama possibly say to please you? He condemns racism and anti-semitism, and he strongly disagrees with giving the award to Farrakhan! Sheesh!
1.15.2008 4:15pm
ChrisO (mail):
Well for one, Obama could not have any friends or acquaintances or be in any pictures with any people. I think that would go a long way toward assuaging our presumptions thats he's a crypto-somethingorother.
1.15.2008 4:17pm
Mr. Liberal:
Why should we give credit to Barack Obama for saying the obvious? Why should we give him credit for exhibiting a normal level of morality as a human being? Our standards need not be so low. Barack Obama does not deserve any credit.

We already knew that Barack Obama was not anti-Semitic and did not approve of Farrakhan's anti-Semitism. You already knew that too.

You were just trying to smear.

Barack Obama does not deserve credit. But you deserve blame.
1.15.2008 4:20pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

isn't this already covered when obama said "I decry racism"?


Unless Obama has renounced and reversed his own support for laws which mandate discrimination against American citizens on the basis of race in the name of "affirmative action," any claim he makes to "decry racism" against whites (or Asians) is an outright lie.
1.15.2008 4:22pm
Mr. Liberal:

What more could Obama possibly say to please you?


See, it is not about pleasing Mr. Bernstein. He never had any sincere doubts about whether Barack Obama approved of anti-Semitism or not.

If he did have any sincere doubts, this statement would have cleared them up.

Obama did the right thing by killing this evil smear in the cradle. Smear can work if it is not killed at birth. But he shouldn't have had to do that.
1.15.2008 4:23pm
Birdman2 (mail):
Thorley --

"Affirmative action" is an unclear term covering many things, some of which are discriminatory -- like racial preferences in university admissions -- and some of which aren't. If you disagree with this and believe that all affirmative action is discriminatory, then your comment is of little interest to me, since we would disagree on that. But if you have evidence that Obama specifically approves of affirmative action in its discriminatory form, I'd very much appreciate a lead to such evidence. That would be of interest.
1.15.2008 4:28pm
Birdman2 (mail):
Thorley --

"Affirmative action" is an unclear term covering many things, some of which are discriminatory -- like racial preferences in university admissions -- and some of which aren't. If you disagree with this and believe that all affirmative action is discriminatory, then your comment is of little interest to me, since we would disagree on that. But if you have evidence that Obama specifically approves of affirmative action in its discriminatory form, I'd very much appreciate a lead to such evidence. That would be of interest.
1.15.2008 4:28pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
None, since you asked, how about something like this: "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. Trumpet Magazine erred in honoring Farrakhan, who has made blatantly false statements about Jews and others, for his purported commitment to truth. The Rev. Wright similarly erred in his praise of Wright. I am of course not responsible for every action undertaken by my church or my minister, but as a member of the congregation and a religious follower and friend of Dr. Wright's I have made my displeasure known to the relevant parties, in private correspondence that I think would be inappropriate to share."
1.15.2008 4:29pm
Tom952 (mail):
Obama has been a politician for many years. He is only disassociating himself from Farrakhan today when it became inconvenient to his presidential campaign. His newfound sensitivity to Farrakhan's radical views lacks credibility.
1.15.2008 4:30pm
Dan28 (mail):
What exactly do you want from Obama at this point? He's completely disavowed Farrakhan's anti-Semetic statements. He has nothing to do with Farrakhan personally and nobody is alleging otherwise. Are you saying that he isn't allowed to be friends with someone who approves of Farrahkan? Unfortunately, there isn't a prominent black leader in America who isn't two degrees of separation away from Farrakhan.

This isn't like criticizing Bush for speaking at Bob Jones university. This is like criticizing Bush for having a spiritual adviser who once spoke at Bob Jones university. Who cares? Isn't it time to move beyond this Jewish/black BS? Obama is a prominent black man with increasingly enormous support who is explicitly rejecting the anti-Semitism of Farrakhan. Shouldn't Jews be happy about this?
1.15.2008 4:31pm
Adam J:
Thorley Winston - Surely a more nuanced view is required then "affirmative action is racism" is required. The idea of affirmative action isn't founded upon any element of racism, but rather on remedying racism. Racism is the idea that certain racial groups are superior or inferior. You might think the best way to remedy racism is to be "color-blind", rather than proactively helping blacks, that's certainly a legitimate position. But it's not legitimate to claim that affirmative action is racism.
1.15.2008 4:31pm
Adam J:
Tom952 - Obama never associated himself with Farrakhan, he associated with someone who associated with Farrakhan.
1.15.2008 4:33pm
The Truth:
[Deleted by Editor. Behave yourself or you will be banned.]
1.15.2008 4:34pm
Mr. Liberal:
Funny. It turns out that the pastor does not even edit the Trumpet. His daughter does. From the Economist blog:


Three boos for Richard Cohen and the Washington Post for this nasty little piece of race-baiting. Let me get this straight: a magazine founded by the church that Barack Obama attends, (a magazine, let's not forget, that almost nobody outside that church would have heard of had Mr Cohen not brought it up: it's not as though Trumpet Newsmagazine is setting the agenda for the 2008 campaign) edited not by the pastor himself but by his daughter, gave an award to Louis Farrakhan. "Where is [Obama's] sense of outrage?" Cohen wonders—this despite writing, "I don't for a moment think that Obama shares Wright's views on Farrakhan." Then why bring it up? Why drag Farrakhan's tired, irrelevant old bones into this campaign?
1.15.2008 4:37pm
annoyedasheck (mail):
I find this whole flap disgusting. Two points:

1) If Obama's actions here make him unacceptable as a candidate to you, then there should be no acceptable candidates for President for you. No one --- nobody --- can escape the test of guilt by secondhand association. Those accusing Obama right now can blather on histrionically about the importance his support for the preacher and the preacher's support for Farrakhan, but it's such a secondhand connection that it's either pure nonsense or a smear. Frederick Douglas himself could not escape this level of scrutiny about his race credentials, nor could MLK. Pray tell, all you holier-than-thous: how many friends have you dropped on a dime after they told an ethnic joke? Hell, doesn't this blog occasionally revert to ethnic jokes? Maybe people running for President should think twice before they endorse it's legal content. Geesh.

2) Cohen's column was a disgrace. Andrew Sullivan nails this one. It's as if the presumption is that black men have predisposed hatred of jews. The only thing I detect is that jewish men have predisposed beliefs about how black men feel about jews.

3) This bodes very poorly for Obama in the primary, and even more poorly for the tenor of the general election should he survive the primary. On one hand, the GOP will take a page out of the Clinton/Dem establishment playbook and run this story to the hilt, and on the other hand we'll have the backlash and inevitable scandal about the GOP nominee's racism and use of racism. Just when i thought we were headed for an incredibly civil McCain/Obama election. What a shame.
1.15.2008 4:39pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
David -- give me a fvcking break. That is a clear disavowal of Farrakhan and anti-semitism. I expect a post on why Episcopalian candidates (such as McCain?) should distance themselves and condemn their church's leadership because of its cozying up to Palestinian terrorists. Same with Catholic candidates for the Pope's continuingly criticizing Israel for self-defense.
1.15.2008 4:40pm
rarango (mail):
Quite honestly, as an evil rethuglican, I am enjoying the Clinton and Obama camps playing the gender and racial cards and protesting their innocence, but this appears to me to be an anti-semitic controversy made up from whole cloth. We have successfully pole vaulted over a mouse dropping. Surely there is an issue somewhere to be talked about? How about: what is there about the loss of jobs in Michigan in light of the willingness of non-US manufacturers to build in the South?
1.15.2008 4:41pm
Houston Lawyer:
Until such time as he disavows racial set asides in every form and actively works to repeal them, I'll classify him with Farrakhan. The Democratic party lives and breathes on racial grievances and he is a beneficiary of that. While it is wrong for the Clinton supporters to attack him as inauthentically Black, he is also wrong to wrap himself in victimhood because of his race.
1.15.2008 4:41pm
Mr. X (www):
Race baiting appears to be the theme of this campaign season. So nice to see the bloggers going along with it.

Also, is it me, or does Kirchick's latest blog post seem like he's trying a little too hard to destroy Ron Paul to be considered just a muckraking journalist anymore? Also, who is he to say what's good for "the libertarian movement"?
1.15.2008 4:42pm
Mr. Liberal:

Tom952 - Obama never associated himself with Farrakhan, he associated with someone who associated with Farrakhan.


Actually, its worse than that.

Obama associated with X. (Rev. Wright)
X is associated by blood with Y. (Rev. Wright's daughter)
Y, we can assume, approves of some of Farrakhan actions. She may have approved of, but at least did not veto, a decision to give Farrakhan an obscure award associated with her obscure news magazine.
1.15.2008 4:42pm
Crust (mail):
By the way, last week I criticized Prof. DiLorenzo of LewRockwell.com for invoking a conspiracy theory centered around the Cato Institute to explain the controversy over the Ron Paul newsletters. Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall similarly blames the messenger by referring to Richard Cohen as an "odious slime peddler"
David, if you look very carefully, you may notice a slight difference between the two. In Ron Paul's case, it was his own name that appeared on the masthead. In Obama's case, it is that of the daughter of his pastor.
1.15.2008 4:43pm
Observer:
Mr. Liberal, I trust that you also had the same reaction to the Ron Paul newsletter controversy, since no one has any "sincere doubt" as to his positions on the controversial statements, either.
1.15.2008 4:44pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
[DELETED by editor. Behave yourself, or you will be banned.]
1.15.2008 4:44pm
Mark Field (mail):
After reading this column (the only one by Cohen I've ever read), I think "odious slime peddler" accurately describes him.
1.15.2008 4:44pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
he is also wrong to wrap himself in victimhood because of his race

Please give me one example, one, of him "wrapping himself in victomhood because of his race."
1.15.2008 4:46pm
Kazinski:
I don't think burdening Obama with his ministers views are particularly fair, but it is par for the course in presidential campaigns, ask Mitt Romney.

When someone is member of a church, or a sect, then one does have a voluntary association with the views of the leaders of the church or sect. That doesn't mean the person owns the views, but it is a legitimate question of whether the candidate shares the views, and there isn't anything wrong with asking for an explanation.

It isn't like Cohan or Bernstein said something like: "Doesn't his church believe that Jesus and Farrakhan are brothers?". Or even accused Obama of dealing cocaine.
1.15.2008 4:46pm
Mr. Liberal:
David Bernstein thinks Obama should have gone into more detail. There apparently is still a "question" in David Bernstein's mind about whether Obama approves of Farrakhan, even though he said he disagreed with the decision by an obscure and unknown publication to grant him an obscure and unknown award.

The problem with that is, that Obama should not be playing in the mud with pigs who make baseless smears.

He should nip the smear in the bud, right when it appears. But he shouldn't roll around in the mud with pigs.

His two sentence statement was a perfect rebuttal to this smear. He doesn't get dirty by rolling around in the mud. He kills the smear in the cradle.

Perfection!
1.15.2008 4:47pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'll just point out that contrary to some of the hysterics here and in other threads, I never said that this would stop me from voting for Obama if I were otherwise strongly so inclined, nor have I said that I prefer that either of the other Democratic presidential candidates, which would be my only motive as this point if I were "out to get him." In fact, while I can't say I've studied the finer points of his platform, I'm pretty confident that I prefer Obama to Edwards, and probably to Hillary, too, with my main concern Obama's lack of experience. But I gave Ron Paul heck for his (admittedly more serious) transgressions, even though I otherwise would be rooting for him to do well, and I don't see any reason to refrain from discussing this issue with regard to Obama. It's an objectively less serious concern than the Paul newsletters, but more serious because Obama actually has a good shot at becoming president.
1.15.2008 4:47pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Until such time as he disavows racial set asides in every form and actively works to repeal them, I'll classify him with Farrakhan.


That's probably not that unfair of a comparison. During his 2002 Senate campaign, Barack Obama delivered an anti-war speech in which he intimated that the Iraq campaign of the War was a plot cooked up by Karl Rove to distract Americans from poverty and the uninsured. Throw in a few UFO references and you've got either a Farrakhan speech or a Michael Moore film.
1.15.2008 4:47pm
runape (mail):
I tried noting this in your other post, but I'll try again; perhaps you'll note it. Obama has already commented on his disagreements with certain views held by his pastor. Read David Mendel's biography for more information. It is no less persuasive to hold Obama accountable for the views of his pastor than it would be to hold him accountable for the views of all of his professors at Harvard. He joined the church looking for spiritual guidance, just as he enrolled in school looking for an education, but he can't dictate the beliefs of his pastor or his professors. (No, it does not make a difference that this pastor is more outspoken than others; the same is true of some professors. No, it does not make a difference that he could have chosen another church; he also could have chosen another school. And in any event, it is implausible to suggest he could have chosen a pastor with whom everyone would agree about everything. It is a difference of degree and not kind.)
1.15.2008 4:48pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
[see above]
1.15.2008 4:49pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
I am so looking forward to nine months of, "Barak Obama snorted coke while listening to Louis Farrakhan Calypso records," and "Mitt Romney refuses to renounce his seventh cousin, who has five wives."
1.15.2008 4:50pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Let's at least have some level of intellectual honesty here. The controversy isn't solely over a magazine edited by Wright's daughters, it's also over comments made by Wright himself. And I don't give Obama full credit for denouncing Farrakhan's anti-Semitism because I never suspected he endorsed it, nor did I suggest he did. What I did say is that someone campaigning as a uniter will and should have to answer questions about close associations with people who endorse the likes of Farrakhan, and that I don't want such people to be close to the levers of power.
1.15.2008 4:51pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

By the way, last week I criticized Prof. DiLorenzo of LewRockwell.com for invoking a conspiracy theory centered around the Cato Institute to explain the controversy over the Ron Paul newsletters. Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall similarly blames the messenger by referring to Richard Cohen as an "odious slime peddler"


Shocking that both the Far Left and the Far Right indulge in conspiracy theories when their anointed candidates get criticized for the more unsavory associations they used to build their political careers.
1.15.2008 4:51pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
David Bernstein: "As I noted previously, Trumpet Magazine, published by his church, explicitly explained that it was honoring Farrakhan for his purported dedication 'truth, education, and leadership.' Obama's spiritual mentor, Rev. Wright, praised Farrakhan for his 'astounding and eyeopening' analysis of the 'racial ills of this nation,' a 'perspective' that is 'helpful and honest.'"

. . . [T]he magazine and reverend say that they are honoring and praising Farrakhan precisely because of his stated political and racial views.


Since you're taking Senator Obama to task for not scrutinizing the magazine article that you linked to, it's worth noting that you're misrepresenting it. The only sentence in that article that purports to explain why Farrakhan was honored is the first sentence of the last paragraph on page 15 of the issue (page 2 of the .pdf document; note that the article say it's continued on page 16, but the document I downloaded does not contain page 16). That sentence was written not by Rev. Wright, but by one Rhoda McKinney-Jones, and it states:

Because of the Minister's influence in the African American community, Trumpet Newsmagazine honors him this winter at its Sounds of the Shore gala with an Empowerment Award.


The article does not state that Rev. Wright had any particular role in the magazine's decision to honor Farrakhan. While it quotes Rev. Wright lauding Farrakhan, quotes you have excerpted above, it does not say that his praise is the reason Farrakhan was selected. I note also that Rev. Wright is quoted in a way that could be read by a more charitable audience as a signal of disagreement:

"When Minister Farrakhan speaks, Black America listens," says the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, likening the Minister's influence to the E. F. Hutton commercials of old. "Everybody may not agree with him, but they listen…


On the basis of the materials you linked to, you have misrepresented Rev. Wright's role in this matter, with the effect of overstating Sen. Obama's proximity to Farrakhan. You ought to publish a correction.
1.15.2008 4:54pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
I don't see any reason to refrain from discussing this issue with regard to Obama

Why don't you at least get your facts straight? I see no correction on this post and the other post noting that the editor was not Obama's minister, but Obama's minister's daughter. You should put corrections on both posts.

Someone, please, find out who Bernstein's Rabbi is, and then find out everything his family has ever said so we can smear Bernstein.
1.15.2008 4:55pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):

Also, I think I deserve an apology, since I had to wade through Trumpet Magazine. Ick.
1.15.2008 4:55pm
annoyedasheck (mail):

What I did say is that someone campaigning as a uniter will and should have to answer questions about close associations with people who endorse the likes of Farrakhan, and that I don't want such people to be close to the levers of power.


So what you don't want is people like Farrakhan to be "close to the levers of power." That's fine. But you seem to be defining "close" as "endorsed by a magazine and a preacher who has been endorsed by a Presidential candidate."

If this is truly how you feel --- that Farrakhan will be "close to the levers of power" if Obama wins the Presidency, you are either being stubborn or silly. And the more you try to argue your way out of it, the more stubborn/silly you seem.
1.15.2008 4:57pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Tyrone, I'm quoting from the video the magazine prepared for the banquet at which Farrakhan was honored, which I linked to in my last post. You can watch it for yourself.
1.15.2008 4:58pm
Mr. Liberal:

I'll just point out that contrary to some of the hysterics here and in other threads, I never said that this would stop me from voting for Obama if I were otherwise strongly so inclined, nor have I said that I prefer that either of the other Democratic presidential candidates, which would be my only motive as this point if I were "out to get him." In fact, while I can't say I've studied the finer points of his platform, I'm pretty confident that I prefer Obama to Edwards, and probably to Hillary, too, with my main concern Obama's lack of experience. But I gave Ron Paul heck for his (admittedly more serious) transgressions, even though I otherwise would be rooting for him to do well, and I don't see any reason to refrain from discussing this issue with regard to Obama. It's an objectively less serious concern than the Paul newsletters, but more serious because Obama actually has a good shot at becoming president.


I am going to give David Bernstein a pass on this one. He apparently is trying to be "fair" in some sense.

I think that this whole set of posts was a mistake, but I take Bernstein at his word that I am misinterpreting him when I see him as trying to smear Barack Obama.
1.15.2008 4:59pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
But I gave Ron Paul heck for his (admittedly more serious) transgressions, even though I otherwise would be rooting for him to do well, and I don't see any reason to refrain from discussing this issue with regard to Obama.


I agree that Ron Paul deserved most of the criticism he received for pimping out his name to the Lew Rockwell crowd but I'm not sure that his was a "more serious" transgression. AFAIK Ron Paul doesn't actually have a track record of supporting racist policies like Jim Crow and affirmative action that discriminate against American citizens on the basis of their race. Barack Obama does.

Given a (rather poor) choice between racist words that offend people and racist laws that carry the force of government behind them and infringe on individual rights, words are objectively the lesser transgression.
1.15.2008 5:00pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Bernstein is male? I thought he was a drama queen.

The Urban Dictionary has this nailed.

Drama Queen
2. Someone who turns something unimportant into a major deal. Someone who blows things way out of proportion when ever the chance is given.

"Oh my god! You copied that without giving the other person credit! That is just mean. You're horrible, don't talk to me. Im gonna go tell everyone what a cruel person you are just so they will pay attention to me and think im cool.

Once again, aging drama queen and his wife cried to the media for attention; the very same media they always falsely claim misquoted them.


Of course, this whole thing is moving into drama whoredom

Drama whore-ism is a self feeding condition. As more and more people are fed up with a constant barrage of useless stuff they don't care anything about, the drama whore feels justified by the new attention of being told off. In some cases, the drama whores will band together into a circle jerk, telling each other they're all right and the other 6 billion people on earth are just jealous.
1.15.2008 5:01pm
Pope Clement:
Is there any way to excommunicate a Volokh conspirator? Because I am seriously considering starting a petition. Bernstein's posts have become progressively more worthless as time has passed.
1.15.2008 5:01pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Enjoying the racial bloodsport folks? There is blood in the water! Chomp on it! Chomp on it!
Best,
Ben
1.15.2008 5:04pm
Brian K (mail):
"I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan."
ok.

"Trumpet Magazine erred in honoring Farrakhan, who has made blatantly false statements about Jews and others, for his purported commitment to truth."
this would only make sense if obama has ever taken any responsibility for things written in the trumpet before, had a role in the selection of farrakhan for the award, or if he has previously said he agrees with everything written in the magazine. otherwise it is covered by the very first sentence above.

"The Rev. Wright similarly erred in his praise of Wright. I am of course not responsible for every action undertaken by my church or my minister, but as a member of the congregation and a religious follower and friend of Dr. Wright's I have made my displeasure known to the relevant parties, in private correspondence that I think would be inappropriate to share."
already done through his campaign manager. "Instead, as Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances." (link here) i would like to point out that this requirement would be impossible to fulfill because all you have to go on his is word. which you clearly think is meaningless...you wouldn't have had to make up this controversy otherwise. obama has already said he disagrees with wright with respect to farrakhan
1.15.2008 5:08pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
David Bernstein: You can watch it for yourself.

Not on this machine, alas, but I will bathe myself in disinfectant and watch it later.
1.15.2008 5:13pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
I don't have the bilious writing talent of Prof. Bernstein, but I demand that every follower of the Book denounce Leviticus 20:13, and personally condemn and disassociate from all of the Book's Christian, Muslim and Jewish adherents.

Something like this:

"I decry homophobia and murder in every form and strongly condemn statements made in the book of Leviticus. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have erred in honoring Leviticus, who has made blatantly hateful statements about homosexuals, for its purported wisdom and holiness. Rabbis, Imans, pastors and priests err in their praise of Leviticus. I am of course not responsible for every word written in holy scriptures, but as a member of [fill in]and a religious follower of Abrahamic religion I have made my displeasure known to the relevant parties, in private correspondence that I think would be inappropriate to share."
1.15.2008 5:13pm
ellisz (mail):
ok, now that we got the Farrakhan bit out of the way - what's with Rev Wright's disavowal of 'middleclassness'?
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0716/p01s01-uspo.htm
1.15.2008 5:14pm
Pope Clement:
What Cohen and Bernstein's Guilt By Association Game is all about is fear that Obama is too much of a loose cannon at this point. To reign him in, they have started this smear campaign.

As whispers of supposed anti-semitism grow louder, Obama will be forced to grovel at the feet of AIPAC and AJC. He'll pledge his complete and uncritical support to Israel and declare his commitment to continue the racket that is foreign aid to Israel. If he really wants to get in good with them, he will promise to increase aid, while the rest of America is either too stupid or apathetic to care.
1.15.2008 5:15pm
all the:
Pope Clement:

YES. please. volokh@law.ucla.edu
1.15.2008 5:17pm
Mike Keenan:
This seems like an excellent response from Senator Obama. He puts the focus on Farrakhan -- which is were it belongs.

Rev. Wright seems very much a father figure for Senator Obama. I think it is asking too much for him to condemn him. He will lose the respect the many if he does that and gain very little.
1.15.2008 5:18pm
Adam J:
Thorley Winston- once again you equate affirmative action with racism. Maybe you should run and grab a dictionary and read just what racism is, because affirmative action definately isn't it. The goal of affirmative action is to correct the results of generations of racism, I think it's offensive for you to equate the two.
1.15.2008 5:22pm
JohnAnnArbor:

I don't see how Sullivan can logically question Romney as he did, and then be so outraged regarding Cohen.

You're asking for consistency from Sullivan? The only thing he's consistent in is preening self-congratulatory narcissism.
1.15.2008 5:22pm
Viceroy:

Why don't you at least get your facts straight? I see no correction on this post and the other post noting that the editor was not Obama's minister, but Obama's minister's daughter. You should put corrections on both posts.


This is funny, and sad. As others on this thread have noted, there's really nothing much Obama could say to appease DB (and that's as it should be)!

I do see a qualitative difference between the actual policy of a church w/respect to its membership (particularly if racially restrictive) and its decision to honor folks in a magazine? If you can't see that distinction it's not worth having the discussion.
1.15.2008 5:28pm
JSinger:
Josh Marshall similarly blames the messenger by referring to Richard Cohen as an "odious slime peddler" and wondering, "Who do you figure pitched Richard Cohen on the Obama/Farrakhan column?"

I don't know about Josh Marshall and the Economist but I read about Wright via Mickey Kaus months ago, and IIRC, Kaus had linked a New York Times article on Wright. That Obama's church is headed by an unsavory extremist is about as much of a secret as the fact that the 1980's Libertarian Party was populated by some really creepy people.
1.15.2008 5:29pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
subtract some credit for his failure to address the true underlying concern

And subtract ten more for trying to evade the issue, and thinking we're such idiots we won't notice.

As I said on another thread this reminds me of Huckabee's "Oh, I didn't know there was a cross behind me in that video" routine. Both are trying to simultaneously tell the general public "I'm not of of 'them'" while simultaneously signaling "I am one of you" to "them." Like Kerry did with the antiwar crowd in 2004.

It's both sleazy and insulting to the intelligence.
1.15.2008 5:29pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
What exactly do you want from Obama at this point? He's completely disavowed Farrakhan's anti-Semetic statements.

A disavowal of his "spiritual guide" Wright's racist views.
1.15.2008 5:31pm
Comment:
I don't usually comment on this site, which I admire. But I have to agree that this kind of thing is beneath the Volokh Conspiracy. Obama is, after all, a fellow law professor, and is a thoughtful person who has held his own in repeated debates with other serious law professors, students, etc. I can't believe he's somehow hiding his true hideously racist views on this one. Disagree with his views if you like, but do so with the respect due to a person of substance. Repeating a weak political smear, especially a factually uncertain race-baiting smear by association, however unfortunately acceptable in the political arena, shouldn't pass. I expect more from this blog.
1.15.2008 5:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Why don't you at least get your facts straight? I see no correction on this post and the other post noting that the editor was not Obama's minister, but Obama's minister's daughter. You should put corrections on both posts.
I'd be glad to issue a correction if you can point out where I wrote that Obama's minister edited the magazine. If not, I'll accept your forthcoming apology.
1.15.2008 5:32pm
MDJD2B (mail):

The only thing I detect is that jewish men have predisposed beliefs about how black men feel about jews.

Yeah, let's generalize about Jewish men.


Ron Paul doesn't actually have a track record of supporting racist policies like Jim Crow and affirmative action that discriminate against American citizens on the basis of their race.

He thinks the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a bad idea. This may not be endorsement of Jim Crow, but it is endorsement of the right of states to enact such laws and to maintain them on thier books. Thorely, go sit in the back of the bus!
1.15.2008 5:34pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I see no correction on this post and the other post noting that the editor was not Obama's minister, but Obama's minister's daughter.
Who cares who the editor was when the article contains a direct quote from Wright praising Farakhan's insights into race in America?

I'm getting sick of seeing the same irrelevant talking points over and over. Obama's supporters are starting to remind me of Paul's.
1.15.2008 5:37pm
Helen:
Pope Clement:

<i>Is there any way to excommunicate a Volokh conspirator? Because I am seriously considering starting a petition. Bernstein's posts have become progressively more worthless as time has passed</i>

Click on the "Select a blogger" link. You will bring up an old post that shows how to "excommunicate" Prof. Bernstein and/or any of the others from your version of the conspiracy.
1.15.2008 5:39pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
So what you don't want is people like Farrakhan to be "close to the levers of power."

No, we don't want people who think it's a good idea to go on a road trip to Cuba and Lybia with Farakhan "close to the levers of power."

That would be Wright I'm talking about, by the way.
1.15.2008 5:39pm
Hans Bader (mail):
The defenses of Obama are hypocritical in the extreme.

I cannot imagine what logic could support attacking Romney, whose family staunchly backed civil rights, merely because his church once upon a time was racist, while people see nothing disturbing about the fact that Obama's spiritual guide and mentor is a flagrant racist TODAY, and Obama continues to seek his counsel TODAY, and refuses to recognize his flagrant racism.

Many of the posts defending Obama, by focusing on Richard Cohen's ancestry, are clearly anti-semitic.

(Since you're wondering, I am not Jewish. So don't accuse me of being hypersensitive about anti-semitism. (I'm Norwegian/Swedish/German/Hungarian/Romanian, etc.)).
1.15.2008 5:42pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Pope Clement writes:

What Cohen and Bernstein's Guilt By Association Game is all about is fear that Obama is too much of a loose cannon at this point. To reign him in, they have started this smear campaign.

As whispers of supposed anti-semitism grow louder, Obama will be forced to grovel at the feet of AIPAC and AJC. He'll pledge his complete and uncritical support to Israel and declare his commitment to continue the racket that is foreign aid to Israel. If he really wants to get in good with them, he will promise to increase aid, while the rest of America is either too stupid or apathetic to care.

Thank you for allaying my concern that Obama's campaign, like Paul's, is dependent on the support of conspiracy theorists and antisemites.
1.15.2008 5:44pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Rev. Wright seems very much a father figure for Senator Obama. I think it is asking too much for him to condemn him. He will lose the respect the many if he does that and gain very little.

Obama's "father figure" is far-left racist. If Obama can't publicly separate himself from those views, he shouldn't be President.
1.15.2008 5:45pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I can't believe he's somehow hiding his true hideously racist views on this one.

I don't believe Obama is himself a black nationalist. I just think black nationalists are an important enough part of Obama's base that he can't bring himself to cross them. And that's bad enough for me.
1.15.2008 5:48pm
Brian K (mail):
I'm getting sick of seeing the same irrelevant talking points over and over.

this one had me laughing my @$$ off. it's all the funnier when you realize who is saying it.
1.15.2008 5:54pm
Hans Bader (mail):
Obama's false claim that the racist, antisemitic Farrakhan was honored because of his work with ex-offenders (rather than, as his Obama's own church expressly stated, because of his "racial" statements, which are antisemitic and anti-white in the extreme, and which racist statements Obama's church claims embody the "truth") is patently ridiculous.

It's like Trent Lott saying that his praise for Strom Thurmond and wish that he had been elected in 1948 (when he ran on an expressly segregationist platform) was based on his support for mainstream conservative values.

It didn't work for Trent Lott, and it shouldn't work for Obama. Obama shouldn't get a free pass for turning a bling eye to racism.
1.15.2008 5:59pm
EH (mail):
I think it's very interesting that nobody has brought up the fact that Cohen has been consistently shaking the Farrakhan stick against Democratic candidates for 20 years now. Cohen is a tool.
1.15.2008 6:01pm
Yankev (mail):
Annoyedasheck, see Ralph's post.

I think that Obama has adequately disavowed anti-semitism but then again I never suspected him of harboring that illness, and DB never accused him of it.

Nor it the that Farrakhan would be close to power; the concern is that Wright, who says he admires Farrakhan's racial views, would be close to power.

The accusations that Obama is being accused of anti-semitism are a convenient distraction from this issue. It has often been charged at VC that false accusations of anti-semitism are made in order to frighten away honest debate. It seems to me that the same can be said of falsely accusing people of making false accusations of anti-semitism.
1.15.2008 6:02pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I'll wager that Obama has addressed this with sufficient specific moral clarity that it will satisfy anyone who realistically might have voted for him anyway but who hates Farrakhan. I myself am in both those categories; I suspect some of the folks posting their "concerns" about Obama wouldn't meet the first criteria.
1.15.2008 6:03pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Obama's spiritual guide and mentor is a flagrant racist TODAY, and Obama continues to seek his counsel TODAY, and refuses to recognize his flagrant racism."

Hans: Is there any evidence at all to support this claim, beyond the praise of Farrakhan in the church's newsletter?
1.15.2008 6:05pm
JohnAnnArbor:

beyond the praise of Farrakhan in the church's newsletter?

That's all that's needed! Come on! If he were praising David Duke, would you ask something like that?!?
1.15.2008 6:08pm
JohnAnnArbor:
And he praises Farrakhan specifically about his racist views!
1.15.2008 6:09pm
The Truth:
I love this argument that there are no accusations of anti-semitism being levied.

Bernstein, Cohen, and their ilk just use the old rhetorical trick of going through the song and dance of saying, "Oh, I'm not saaaaying he's an anti-semite or anything" and then proceed to list all the reasons why he might be an anti-semite. When others cry foul, Bernstein and his supporters claim that the complainers are the ones clouding the issue. It's enough to make Hillary proud.
1.15.2008 6:10pm
CFG in IL (mail):
To put this controversy in perspective, I see two competent and tough political campaigns slugging it out on the Democratic side. Looks like they both have the chops to run the country.

And on the Republican side?
1.15.2008 6:16pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):

The defenses of Obama are hypocritical in the extreme.

I cannot imagine what logic could support attacking Romney, whose family staunchly backed civil rights, merely because his church once upon a time was racist, while people see nothing disturbing about the fact that Obama's spiritual guide and mentor is a flagrant racist TODAY, and Obama continues to seek his counsel TODAY, and refuses to recognize his flagrant racism.



You might try painting with a finer brush. I think both the Obama and Romney cases are pure horsehockey, and do not appreciate being lumped in with dunderheads like Sullivan.
1.15.2008 6:25pm
luke (mail):
Excuse me but the comparison made to Andrew Sullivan's Romney post is way off base.

Romney was a church leader, a bishop I believe, at a time when the church was clearly racist.

This is not guilt by association with Romney but guilt by active participation.
1.15.2008 6:26pm
SenatorX (mail):
Wow DB really does push the buttons of the anti-semites and hypocrites! Got popcorn?
1.15.2008 6:26pm
Kazinski:
Crazy Train:
Someone, please, find out who Bernstein's Rabbi is, and then find out everything his family has ever said so we can smear Bernstein.

If Bernstein runs for President, I'm sure it will be an issue. It is part of running for President. Like it or not any presidential candidate is going to have ALL of his associations brought up for scrutiny. You can go back and see similar themes brought up over the years from Kennedy's Cathilocism, Nixons's Quakerism, Carter's born againism, Romney's Mormanism, etc. Not to mention everything any idiot kid brother, or senile parent said. If you want to get outraged over something a newspaper columnist said this seems much worse.
1.15.2008 6:30pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):


Obama's "father figure" is far-left racist.


Cite proof or retract.

And "He said kinda nice things about Farrakhan at a benefit his daughter put together to give Farrakhan an award," doesn't count.
1.15.2008 6:30pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Mr. Bernstein,

A serious question, if you don't mind. Did you seriously, at any point, think that Senator Obama shared any of Farrakhan's anti-semitic sentiments?
1.15.2008 6:36pm
JohnAnnArbor:

And "He said kinda nice things about Farrakhan at a benefit his daughter put together to give Farrakhan an award," doesn't count.

Saying nice things about an unrepentant George Wallace would count, I imagine, though. Lefty racism gets a pass.
1.15.2008 6:41pm
neurodoc:
AFAIK Ron Paul doesn't actually have a track record of supporting racist policies like Jim Crow and affirmative action that discriminate against American citizens on the basis of their race.
Ron Paul has made it clear, has he not, that he believes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was fundamentally wrong and itself the principle cause of racism in this country. So, where racial relations in the country are concerned, would it be unreasonable to infer that Paul thinks those were halcyon days pre-1964 when rights of "free association" were more respected (i.e., no forced integration of public accommodations) and all Americans everywhere could participate in the political life of this country without fear for their lives? While it may be that "Ron Paul doesn't actually have a track record of supporting racist policies like Jim Crow and affirmative action that discriminate against American citizens on the basis of their race," I think we can fairly say he hasn't done much to combat racism, he has a wacko notion of the history of racism in this country, and he would have been on wrong side of hugely important civil rights legislation in 1964 had he been in Congress then.
1.15.2008 6:44pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):


Saying nice things about an unrepentant George Wallace would count, I imagine, though. Lefty racism gets a pass.


Psst. I'm not a lefty. I'm not even an Obama supporter.
1.15.2008 6:45pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Wow DB really does push the buttons of the anti-semites and hypocrites!"

You wish.

Genug iz genug.
1.15.2008 6:48pm
MDJD2B (mail):
<blockquote>
Bernstein, Cohen, and their ilk just use the old rhetorical trick of going through the song and dance of saying, "Oh, I'm not saaaaying he's an anti-semite or anything" and then proceed to list all the reasons why he might be an anti-semite.
</blockquote>
Someone who feels vulnerable because of his demographic characteristics likely will oppose a candidate if there is the slightest whiff of suspicion that the candidate opposes what he considers to be the legitimate aspirations of his group.

This is true of many members of ALL minorities.

Analogy: Say there are 100 cars on the market. One, and only one of them has a miniscule chance of exploding, You will buy one of the other 99 models.

This may not seem fair to you if you like the candidate, and if you think the chances are low that the candidate harbors the flaw in question. That's too bad. We all get to vote based on whatever we think is important. They may not like your priorities (just as you don't like theirs) even though you <i>are </i>"<b>The Truth</b>."

This is not dishonesty on the part of Cohen and Prof. Bernstein (assuming this to be their mindset). Rather, they perceive this slight whiff and would like to be reassured before they consider Obama a candidate acceptable to them.

Obama has only been on the national stage a little while, and has little track record. He hasn't done the sorts of things over the years that build bridges with a lot of constituencies. Those for whom traditional Jewish issues are important don't know where Obama stands with regard to what is important to them. So they read tea leaves, among which are the people to whom Obama turns. With regard to Jews, this consists principally of generalities ("I am not an anti-Semite") and association with Brzezinski and Rev. Wright. This concerns them. (Obama may have more of a record; I am not aware of it. If so, and if the candidate cares, he should publicize it.)

Remember-- Obama has to convince them (and everyone else) that he should be president, not the other way around. If the only thing Jews know about what Obama is likely to do is that he pals around with people who are unfriendly to Jewish concerns, then they won't cast a ballot for him, however unfair this appears to you.

Just as a Black who knows nothing about a candidate except that he praises Storm Thurmond won't case a ballot for him. Or someone whose main concern is keeping abortions legal won't cast a ballot for a candiate who belongs to a strongly pro-life church and has no public record on abortion.

When you're voting, you use whatever information you can get.

Your post was very dishonest in its criticism of this.
1.15.2008 6:50pm
neurodoc:
Mark Field: After reading this column (the only one by Cohen I've ever read), I think "odious slime peddler" accurately describes him.
I suggest you go back and read other columns by Cohen about Farrakhan. He has given Farrkhan hell many times over more than a decade, and he has not been too forgiving of Farrakhan's "enablers." So for this Cohen is a serial "odious slime peddler"? I think Cohen is to be commended for staying on Farrakhan's case even when to do so has riled some.
1.15.2008 6:54pm
Arkady:
Yet another Bernstein-initiated foodfight.
1.15.2008 7:10pm
JohnAnnArbor:

Yet another Bernstein-initiated foodfight.

Yep. Just leave those poor racists alone!
1.15.2008 7:15pm
Brian K (mail):
This is not dishonesty on the part of Cohen and Prof. Bernstein (assuming this to be their mindset). Rather, they perceive this slight whiff and would like to be reassured before they consider Obama a candidate acceptable to them.

you are assuming that if it were not for the "whiff" of anti-semitism, that they (and some of the more vocal commentators here) would find obama acceptable. i think this is a very big assumption that is all but guaranteed to be false. In this regard, these people are just using false information trying to make obama appear unacceptable to people who would otherwise find him acceptable. it is an attempt to avoid an argument on the merits of obama's (possible) presidency in comparison to the other candidates'.
1.15.2008 7:19pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Where is the false information?

Farrakhan is a racist. Obama's minister praises Farrakhan, specifically citing Farrakhan's views on issues where it is known that Farrakhan is an anti-white, anti-Jew bigot.
1.15.2008 7:23pm
Brian K (mail):
Farrakhan is a racist. Obama's minister praises Farrakhan, specifically citing Farrakhan's views on issues where it is known that Farrakhan is an anti-white, anti-Jew bigot.

and you wonder why people up thread are saying that anything obama said would be irrelevant. it's been just about 3 hours and you've already forgotten that obama said:

"I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan.


now you tell me where does obama explicitly support farrakhan or his views?
1.15.2008 7:29pm
Kazinski:
The BDS (Bernstein Derangement Syndrome) that some of the commentors's exhibit is what makes Bernstein's posts so entertaining. I mean he does nothing more than comment that Obama was off base ascribing the Farrakhan award to his work to "rehabilitate ex-offenders" and even supplies a video link to verify it. By the reaction you'd think he had burned a menorah outside Wright's church.

One of the things I look for in a presidential candidate is a willingness to publicly repudiate obnoxious beliefs espoused by supporters. Take Ron Paul and Stromfront for example. It shows the candidate has the fortitude and the integrity to risk alienating supporters in order to stand for what is right. By ascribing Farrakhans award to helping ex-offenders is Obama trying to sidestep criticizing his chruch for giving Farrakhan an award for "truth"? Just as Mitt Romney had to distance himself from his church for its racist past, it seems fair to ask whether Obama has the courage to do the same. If he doesn't then it is fair to ask is he pandering, or does he share those views.
1.15.2008 7:36pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Obama's mentor is a man who believes Farakkhan's just peachy.

Obama denounced the views of Farrakhan, but has not addressed why he's so buddy-buddy with a guy who shares those views. Apparently being friends overcomes the whole toxic-racism thing.
1.15.2008 7:39pm
Dave N (mail):
Romney was a church leader, a bishop I believe, at a time when the church was clearly racist.

This is not guilt by association with Romney but guilt by active participation.
I am neither a Mormon or a Romney supporter, but I must rise to his defense.

A bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not a bishop in the same as a bishop in the Catholic or Episcopal Churches, where the bishop is an eclesiastical leader of a large number of congregations. In the LDS Church, the bishop is the local head of a specific congregation known as a ward--and the LDS Church, while having a heirarchal leadership structure, has other who are above the bishop in the heirarchy (there is a Presiding Bishop of the Church itself, but that is not an office Romney has ever held).

Romney's father was an active proponent of Civil Rights laws in the 1960s--and was also an active Mormon his entire life. There is nothing in either Romneys' background to support Sullivan's smear.
1.15.2008 7:47pm
Brian K (mail):
JohnAnnArbor,

thank you for proving my point. there is nothing obama could say or do to appease you...you'll shift the goal post back.
1.15.2008 7:56pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Um, no. Obama could REPUDIATE THE VIEWS OF HIS MINISTER.

But he's unwilling to do so, directly. Because he's buddies with the guy, you see. Buddies with a racist.
1.15.2008 8:03pm
MarkField (mail):

I suggest you go back and read other columns by Cohen about Farrakhan. He has given Farrkhan hell many times over more than a decade, and he has not been too forgiving of Farrakhan's "enablers." So for this Cohen is a serial "odious slime peddler"? I think Cohen is to be commended for staying on Farrakhan's case even when to do so has riled some.


I don't see this as a column about Farrakhan. Cohen can say whatever he wants about Farrakhan; I'm not going to defend him. This, however, is a column about Obama. As such, the description "odious and slimy" seems quite right.
1.15.2008 8:17pm
JohnAnnArbor:

This, however, is a column about Obama. As such, the description "odious and slimy" seems quite right.

Feel free to point out factual errors in the column. Inconvenient truths (to coin a phrase) don't count.
1.15.2008 8:21pm
Brian K (mail):
hahaha...thanks again.

it won't be enough for him to "repudiate the views of his minister" because then he'll still be "Buddies with a racist." and if he ends his friendship with the minister, he'll be ex-"buddies with racist".

and obama has already said he disagrees with wright w/r/t farrakhan.
1.15.2008 8:31pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Actually, it would show political guts to repudiate the minister. "Disagreeing" sounds so genteel. That's not appropriate for racism, under the rules the left fought so hard for (any touch of racism = never-ending criticism unless full repentance is displayed, and often not then!).

If he DID repudiate the guy, that would make an impression. But otherwise, he's making excuses for a racist.
1.15.2008 8:36pm
K Parker (mail):
Sean O'Hara,

Sorry, Farrakhan should be toxic to all people of good will. He's a racist demagogue, for heaven's sake, very much along the lines of David Duke or Richard Butler.
1.15.2008 8:41pm
hattio1:
Kazinski says;

It shows the candidate has the fortitude and the integrity to risk alienating supporters in order to stand for what is right....Just as Mitt Romney had to distance himself from his church for its racist past, it seems fair to ask whether Obama has the courage to do the same. If he doesn't then it is fair to ask is he pandering, or does he share those views.

Did Romney ever say that racist past was wrong? No, he specifically said he wished it wasn't in the Mormon church's belief system, and was happy when it was taken out, but he had no control over that. That's called distancing yourself while not risking alienating friends and companions. Obama went a lot further (specifically saying Farrakhan was wrong) and you still don't think it sufficient. So, Kazinski, did you ever criticize Romney for not sufficiently "distancing" himself from the Mormon church's racist past? If not, thank you for playing.
1.15.2008 8:58pm
JIG:
The ADL -- an organization that is even more energized about Farrakhan than Richard Cohen (they criticzed Joe Lieberman for even suggesting that he'd be willing to meet with Farrakhan) -- has praised Obama's statment as "strongly condemning" Farrakhan's anti-semitism.

Their press release says: "When someone close to a political figure shows sympathy and support for an individual who makes his name espousing bigotry, that political figure needs to distance himself from that decision. Senator Obama has done just that."



It's hard to see how anyone can view this as a continuing live issue.
1.15.2008 9:03pm
Eli Rabett (www):
The really depressing thing about the Mormon Church's behavior towards African Americans in the last 50 years is the role that Ezra Taft Benson played, and the fact that he was Sec. of Agriculture in the Eisenhower cabinet.
1.15.2008 9:10pm
CJColucci:
If the only thing Jews know about what Obama is likely to do is that he pals around with people who are unfriendly to Jewish concerns, then they won't cast a ballot for him,

If the class of persons, Jews particularly, who genuinely fit this description is in the double digits nationwide (excluding Alzheimers patients and the like, who know nothing about Obama because they know nothing much, period), I would be astonished. Ilya could do another post about political ignorance.
Since the class of persons as to whom this argument could apply is asymptotic to zero, what's the point of making it?
1.15.2008 9:28pm
autolykos:
I find the willingness of the erstwhile Obama backers on this board to sweep Obama's association with an unrepentant racist (I don't know what else you call someone who explicitly states they admire the views of a person who's most known for his racist beliefs) somewhat amusing.

My assumption has always been that non-racists generally don't form close personal relationships with racists. I wouldn't even go back to the neighborhood barber after they made disparaging remarks about a Korean baseball player when I was getting my hair cut there.

Maybe my assumption is wrong and others (including Obama) are a lot more tolerant of racism than I am...
1.15.2008 9:42pm
SavetheOwls:
Ron Paul and Barack Obama 2008! Today DC, tomorrow Tel Aviv.
1.15.2008 9:44pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Obama was offered a Sister Souljah moment on a silver platter, and he blew it. I thought he was smarter than that.
1.15.2008 10:53pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Obama's "father figure" is far-left racist.

Cite proof or retract.

From a NYT article:


Mr. Wright, whose sermons fused analysis of the Bible with outrage at what he saw as the racism of everything from daily life in Chicago to American foreign policy.[The anti-Bill Cosby]

He [Wright] was also interested in the world beyond his own; in 1984, he traveled to Cuba to teach Christians about the value of nonviolent protest and to Libya to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, along with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Wright said his visits implied no endorsement of their views. [Yeah right.]
...

Mr. Wright preached black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as the story of the struggles of black people, who by virtue of their oppression are better able to understand Scripture than those who have suffered less.
...

Mr. Wright issued a "War on Iraq I.Q. Test," with questions like, "Which country do you think poses the greatest threat to global peace: Iraq or the U.S.?"
...

He [Wright] has said that Zionism has an element of "white racism."

On the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later he wrote that the attacks had proved that "people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just 'disappeared' as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns."


And from a statement of principles on the church website:

Commitment to the Black Community. The highest level of achievement for any Black person must be a contribution of strength and continuity of the Black Community.

...

Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions.

...

Pledge Allegiance to All Black Leadership Who Espouse and Embrace the Black Value System.

...

Personal Commitment to Embracement of the Black Value System. To measure the worth and validity of all activity in terms of positive contributions to the general welfare of the Black Community and the Advancement of Black People towards freedom.
1.15.2008 11:25pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Obama's dealt with his Farakhan problem, but he's still got his Wright problem.

The Wright problem looks to me like a hit below the waterline.

The image of Obama I had received was of the post-racial candidate, the upper-class kid with a Kerry-like upbringing and no connection at all to ghetto culture or the traditional civil-rights establishment and who therefore wasn't considered "authentically black" enough, the guy who could be a president for all Americans and just happened to be dark, the first black Democrat candidate for President who wasn't a racial huckster joke like Jackson or Sharpton.

Now it turns out that for the past twenty years he's been part of a church that emphasizes african-american solidarity, and his personal "spiritual adviser"/confidant /surrogate father is a radical black separatist preacher whose political and social beliefs sound just like Jackson's and Sharpton's.

Aside from the Ivy education and the nicer suits, how exactly is Obama an improvement?
1.15.2008 11:38pm
Informant (mail):
"Obama was offered a Sister Souljah moment on a silver platter, and he blew it."

Did you miss the part where Obama said, "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan"? That's a far stronger and more direct statement than Bill Clinton ever delivered to Sister Souljah: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sister_Souljah_moment
1.15.2008 11:40pm
The Truth:
Shorter version of Ralph Phelan from above:

You can take the black guy out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the black guy.
1.15.2008 11:43pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
I don't think Obama really could say what you demand, at least not in keeping with the usual norms of our societal discourse.

In personal relationships, especially in a case where you are talking publicly about your minister, politeness requires that one go to great lengths of charity to interpret them as not holding bigoted or otherwise unacceptable views. It's much like the expectation that you don't point it out when someone has made a social gaffe at dinner. Of course it's important to clearly and firmly reject the racist or other unacceptable implications but it's just good social grace to pretend that of course the other person wasn't really saying that. It's a different standard when we talk about organizations and we accept the idea that the canidates themselves wave this sort of expectation when they choose to run but we still expect them to treat their personal aquantances in this fashion.

Frankly this isn't merely a choice but a social custom necessary for our society to continue to function. Unfortunately there are a great many people with racist or otherwise unacceptable views out there and we live in a society where everyone (including the speakers..who don't take themselves to be racist) understands that it is a grave insult to be called a racist. It would be wrong (and counterproductive) to refuse to have personal relationships with these people, impossible to do so while publicly calling them racists and unacceptable not to publicly condemn certain views as racism. Thus the only way we can forgive the misguided and avoid social conflict while speaking out against racist attitudes is to politely pretend that our personal relations meant something else while we critique their real message.
1.16.2008 12:05am
TGGP (mail) (www):
Though I usually don't like Sailer on Obama (it was kind of lame that he kept harping on what to my mind is relatively insignificant stuff), I thought two recent posts of his were particularly interesting. One is speculation that Rev. Wright is intentionally trying to hurt Obama's chances of becoming nominee/president. The other is that the end result of Obama trying to prove he's not a Farrakhanite will be his hiring of neocon/neoliberal advisors, resulting in more of the same bad hand we've been dealt recently rather than that vaunted change.
1.16.2008 12:34am
cityofwind:
I thought Ron Paul disagreed with the civil rights act because it wasn't specifically authorized by Art 1 sec 8 and he fancies himself a strict constitutionalist??

I also thought Dr. Ron Paul considers Martin Luther King, Jr, and Gandhi as personal heroes (according to his own words).

I further thought that Ron Paul believes that governments are ill-suited to combat racism - and that in fact, by lumping people into various categories and giving benefits to some groups at the expense of others, etc..., governments in fact encourage group-think and collectivism.

Lastly, I know Ron Paul strongly abhors any collectivist political philosophy - stemming from his strongly held view that ALL people have inalienable rights as individuals, and that membership in any group does not and cannot confer any additional rights that one did not already have as an individual. And wasn't it Martin Luther King, Jr., who had a dream that people wouldnt be judged by the color of their skin but on the content of their character? Sounds like Dr. Paul and Dr. King think alike.

And since Ron Paul is so racist, i suppose his proposal to end the federal war on drugs and pardon all non-violent drug offenders (i.e, mostly minorities) and allow their release back into society is part of his plan to ...do what again?

Man, I thought people knew these things already.
1.16.2008 12:41am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"So, where racial relations in the country are concerned, would it be unreasonable to infer that Paul thinks those were halcyon days pre-1964..."

Yes, I think it would. I have little interest in Ron Paul, but I've heard many a conservative argue that the Civil Rights act did more to divide this country than unite it, and that government engagement in race relations does more harm than good.
1.16.2008 1:24am
American Patriot:
This entire affair is truly Obamanable. Farrakhan is the left-wing equivalent of David Duke, not Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. You would never see any serious Republican politician endorsing David Duke or even being closely associated with someone who endorses David Duke. Of all Republican candidates, Ron Paul is supposedly the one who is most closely connected with "racists" or friends or racists, but even then, Rockwell and other friends of Paul would not themselves have said anything in support of David Duke.
1.16.2008 1:25am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Farrakhan is the left-wing equivalent of David Duke, not Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell."

I don't agree, and I think this is a very shallow comparison, to the extent that it can blind one to the profound influence Farrakhan has had, for better or worse, at one time or another within the black community. You can decry his racism and politics all you like, but if you ignore what parts of his message have meant to large numbers of blacks, you do so at your own peril. The Million Man March wasn't just a Sunday picnic--nor was it a racist conclave. It was intended to revitalize the role of husbands and fathers in the black community, and it led to an upsurge in voter registration and child adoptions. The Nation of Islam has been viewed as a beacon of strength and rectitude in many communities, though Farrakhan's aggressiveness and extremism have probably done a lot to harm its reputation.

Perhaps some would say the same thing about Duke and the Knights of the KKK, but I don't think you can remotely compare the two.
1.16.2008 2:00am
Harry Eagar (mail):
What else could Obama have done?

Well, if he is a liberal and he is accused of consorting with illiberals, he could resign from the church.

I believe that is the standard established for liberals in the Augusta National case.

++++

'I've heard many a conservative argue that the Civil Rights act did more to divide this country than unite it, and that government engagement in race relations does more harm than good.' Grover, you may have heard that, but it's nuts. I was there. Jim Crow was not benign.
1.16.2008 3:52am
Baseballhead (mail):
I'd just like to refer to a personal anecdote: Both my parents are racists and homophobes. According to a frightening number of VCers, if I don't disavow and disassociate myself from my folks, I'm racist and homophobic even though I've many times argued against their views on race and homosexuality.

Man, that sucks. I'm sure gonna miss my folks.
1.16.2008 4:12am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Grover, you may have heard that, but it's nuts. I was there. Jim Crow was not benign."

Nuts or not, I recall reading that argument a lot over at the old Southern Appeal blog. I don't know that it's expressive of a desire to return to the "good old days" of Jim Crow so much as a genuine conviction, misguided though it may be, that government meddling in race relations has made things worse.
1.16.2008 4:23am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"According to a frightening number of VCers, if I don't disavow and disassociate myself from my folks, I'm racist and homophobic even though I've many times argued against their views on race and homosexuality."

Yes, but *you're* not running for president, the standard is higher, blah blah blah.
1.16.2008 4:25am
Baseballhead (mail):
Yes, but *you're* not running for president, the standard is higher, blah blah blah.


So if I WERE running for president, I'd be unsuitable because my parents hold racist and homophobic views that I do not share. I guess I'll have to wait until they're dead, or until people grow smart enough to realize that I have the ability to hold opinions that differ from those of my parents.

The arguments against Obama started at shrill, and have gone way past silly. Why people are so desperate to hate the man that they're inventing stuff to hate is beyond me.
1.16.2008 4:44am
Baseballhead (mail):
Yes, but *you're* not running for president, the standard is higher, blah blah blah.


So if I WERE running for president, I'd be unsuitable because my parents hold racist and homophobic views that I do not share. I guess I'll have to wait until they're dead, or until people grow smart enough to realize that I have the ability to hold opinions that differ from those of my parents.

The arguments against Obama started at shrill, and have gone way past silly. Why people are so desperate to hate the man that they're inventing stuff to hate is beyond me.
1.16.2008 4:44am
Baseballhead (mail):
Again, apologies for multi-posts. Why the browser is reposting on refresh is beyond me.
1.16.2008 6:18am
DavidBernstein (mail):
You can't choose your parents; you do choose your church and "spiritual mentor."
1.16.2008 7:50am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I don't think Obama really could say what you demand, at least not in keeping with the usual norms of our societal discourse.

In personal relationships, especially in a case where you are talking publicly about your minister, politeness requires that one go to great lengths of charity to interpret them as not holding bigoted or otherwise unacceptable views.


All he needs to do is be as clear about his disagreements with Wright and TUCC on the subject of racial politics as Kerry and Kennedy have been about their disagreements with the Catholic Church about abortion.

No personal slagging of Wright is required, just a declaration of independence in a few specific policy areas.
1.16.2008 7:53am
James Lindgren (mail):
One interesting angle: Obama and Farrakhan live in the same neighborhood, perhaps 3-4 blocks from each other. There are a lot of Nation of Islam members living nearby, so Obama would be putting himself at odds with some of his neighbors. Of course, there are probably a fair number of Jews living nearby as well (since, if I recall correctly, Obama lives directly across the street from a synagogue).
1.16.2008 9:03am
wfjag:
The NY Times article "A Candidate, His Minister and the Search for Faith", linked in the first post, concluded:


Mr. Wright, who has long prided himself on criticizing the establishment, said he knew that he may not play well in Mr. Obama's audition for the ultimate establishment job.

"If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me," Mr. Wright said with a shrug. "I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen."


I wondered how long it would take Sen Obama to start doing this.

Dear Prof.:

Too bad about the personal attacks on you. I don't read your bloggings because I agree with you, since I frequently don't. I read them because you pose provocative questions on important issues that require me to think, and check the facts. If I wanted to remain comfortable in my "opinions" (or substitute the word "biases", if you disagree with them), I'd stick to the many echo chamber blogs out there. Keep up the good work.
1.16.2008 10:19am
One Way Out:
Look, DB is right. Because Obama personally knows Wright and Wright has made approving, if veiled, references to Farrakhan's racist/political beliefs, the only sufficient action would be for Obama to actually b*tch-slap Rev. Wright. Nothing short of an action physical assault will adequately demonstrate his disgust for racism and anti-semitism.

I don't understand why so many of you don't get that. I know you all would've liked to see Trent Lott box Strom Thurmond's ears a couple times, right? Stop whining and demand action.
1.16.2008 10:21am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me," Mr. Wright said with a shrug. "I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen."

I wondered how long it would take Sen Obama to start doing this.

Knowing that the "distancing" was preplanned and agreed upon, how can we believe it's sincere?
1.16.2008 10:27am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Some people (I'm one) wrote off GWBush when he went to Bob Jones U. to pander to some of the scummiest haters in the country.

So I would write off Obama on the same grounds, except that I'd already written him off as soft on terrorism.

If we don't judge a politician's character on the basis of who he associates with, how do we?

I seem to recall criticism of Giuliani for hanging out with Kerik. When I lived in Iowa, long ago, a candidate for governor was criticized for associating with a contractor who had some unsavory business history. Her husband.

The claim that the reaction to Obama's religion is hysterical or overblown seems wrong to me. It's been underblown, if anything.
1.16.2008 11:49am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Harry Eagar:

Some people (I'm one) wrote off GWBush when he went to Bob Jones U. to pander to some of the scummiest haters in the country.

...

It's been underblown, if anything.


Bush spent what, a couple of hours? at BJU.

Obama's been a member of TUCC for 21 years.
Yeah, it's a much bigger deal.
1.16.2008 12:28pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I just learned that Obama's gave a speech at the Trumpet Awards.

Obama can't expect to just walk away from this.
1.16.2008 12:52pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Admittedly, Sullivan's accusation is that Romney belonged to a racist church, while Cohen's complaint is that Obama belongs to a church that honors racists.


Yes, so it's not really the same thing is it? But thanks for fanning the flames of this non-controversy.
1.16.2008 12:58pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

Obama can't expect to just walk away from this.


Well that's true. Not with the likes of Bernstein and Cohen helping out.
1.16.2008 1:00pm
David M (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 01/16/2008 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
1.16.2008 1:02pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

All he needs to do is be as clear about his disagreements with Wright and TUCC on the subject of racial politics as Kerry and Kennedy have been about their disagreements with the Catholic Church about abortion.


But:


Knowing that the "distancing" was preplanned and agreed upon, how can we believe it's sincere?


In other words, it's a lose-lose for Obama...but a win-win for his detractors!
1.16.2008 1:06pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
it's a lose-lose for Obama

It's a lose-lose Obama got himself into by playing kissy-face with a wingnut for 21 years.
1.16.2008 1:24pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I just learned that Obama's gave a speech at the Trumpet Awards.

Blech. Obama's wife.
So any claims that this caught him by surprise, or that he thought the award was for reforming prisoners, are bald-faced lies.
1.16.2008 1:26pm
JNS405:
David is right on this one, I think. A candidate for public office should rightfully be judged on the company he keeps. In this case, Obama chooses to associate himself with individuals who hold racist, anti-semitic views. Is there a reason that he shouldn't be called out on that point?

I'd love to see what the press would say about a candidate who chose to associate himself with a radical, Zionist movement of Judaism - I'm sure he'd be skewered in a second.
1.16.2008 1:48pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
DB:
Do yourself a favor and think of Andrew Sullivan as solely an online entertainer at this point.

Any credibility in the political arena Andrew might ever have had (and I would seriously suggest that his "rise", jumping from publication to publication was fueled for the most part by the novelty of having an HIV+ man writing for them) has been squandered into meaninglessness at this point.

Let's review: self professed "conservative" pushing for gay marriage rights; strong supporter of GWB and the war in Iraq... until the going got tough; now a blathering Obama supporter who represents the heights of liberalism.

I mean, how do you reconcile those views, flip flopping this way and that, trying to go with the crowd picks except, those who once favored GWB are not the same cohorts who now back Obama.

See, I think he's an outsider (not an American citizen, so his vote despite the "you know what to do's" is nonexistent) who just desperately wants to be with the majority. There's no principled "there", there. He is inconsistent to the hilt. See, now today he's loving up to Hillary Clinton, because it looks like she's up in the polls. Sad man, totally sad. Kinda fun to watch though -- like you check out dysfunctional families and car wrecks on the side of the road, or follow small-town gossip, if you live there for any period of time.

As far as understanding the heartbeat of America, this guy can't even drive, and his life seems to be his summer place, and the DC office.

Now that he's all done and married, and his career credibility is pretty much shot, all he's got is following the other blogs and whining. He doesn't offer much in terms of substance, unknown details, predictions, etc.

Honestly: he doesn't know the Nation of Islam well enough to understand, no it's really not linked directly with the IslamicFacism we're fighting worldwide. It's an offensive to many, but throughly homegrown American style. Hence, his objections that others are just trying to link Obama's church to portraying the candidate as a closet Muslim, when that's not it at all. It's Farakkhan and the racial superiority beliefs, stupid!

I click on him as I'm entertained by many drama queens: entertainment value. And no doubt, he'll continue to guest on somebody's political shows. But as a credible commentator?, that pretty much died with the less attention paid to homosexuals in the recent election years. He fed on that stuff, man, because that's all he really has, besides some phD level discourse on dead European philosophers that is pretty meaningless to the average American (thankfully.) The new meme in America is "keeping it real".

If we get a Democratic president, or a Romney or Huckabee or Thompson, Sullivan's got to know his one-trick horse-and-pony credible dissenter days are pretty much over. So sit back and enjoy the flip flopping drama antics as it begins to dawn on him too -- there really is no there, there. He peaked as a political tool on his "wedding day" last summer; by Christmas he was back to "visiting with my family; what a drag."

Absent the religious and political and HIV novelty, he doesn't have it within him to educate himself to offer up something unique. Look for more SoPark clips, more snowy window views, more interns scouring other blogs for items of note, and more manufactured "controversies". Alas, he's burned enough bridges politically that his views from the outside, and his desire to be liked and with the popular crowed, is gone. That's why he's campaigning so drastically against Sen. Clinton now -- his only hope is that Obama takes him in and embraces him, should he get elected. Highly unlikely, and that's not an election prediction either, but a "what use is this guy?" prediction of his worth to the Obama camp.

It's the inconsistency, and the johnny-come-lately political analysis that always seems to take place 2 days too late (GWB, Iraq war, torture, gay rights, Democratic primaries, etc.) Betcha in the end, he ends up blaming his medications -- who knew too much artificial testosterone addles the brain? Always with the excuses for having the platform, but nothing worthwhile to say.
1.16.2008 2:30pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Oh, and I think when the truth is told, Andrew Sullivan's army of sock puppets and "reader letters" will make Glenn Greenwald look like he was playing in the minor leagues, fwiw.

You play with fire, you eventually get caught. Even if it is just for entertainment purposes, meddling in American politics like you're a somebody and not caring much about the end score.
1.16.2008 2:34pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
Not with the likes of Bernstein and Cohen helping out.

And there's plenty more where those 2 came from. Just because somebody can fill a thread with many "dissenting" voices, doesn't mean you should underestimate the stupidity of the American people.

If you're running as a blank-slate unity candidate, why of course people are going to ask what acquaintances helped you on your super-quick rise to power along the way. HINT: it wasn't the law professors at UC Law School either, where Obama has been but a legislator, but his SoSideChiTown connections. And that's a racial pot surely worth looking into before we hand over the keys to the country.
1.16.2008 2:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Thanks, WFJag.
1.16.2008 3:30pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Some of the Obama defenders in this thread are clearly veteran yogists, seeing what knots they tie themselves into.

For instance: Obama attends TUCC, Obama went to Harvard. The opinions and character of the sole operator of the church Obama has attended for 20 years are equivalent to the opinions and character of any one of several dozen professors he took classes from among several thousand faculty at a four-century-old college.

Another instance: The Trumpet article saluting Farrakhan was written by Wright's daughter, not Rev. Wright. Who controls the Trumpet if not Rev. Wright? Who appointed Miss Wright to write and edit the Trumpet, if not Rev. Wright? So an article appearing in the official magazine of Wright's church, written by someone he put there to write it, explaining a major editorial action by that magazine, is equivalent to "anything ever said" by any member of Prof. Bernstein's rabbi's family.

And yes, Farrakhan and Duke are comparable. That Farrakhan is "respectable" among blacks is their shame, and the shame of America that closes its eyes to black racism.

It is interesting to note that Farrakhan has professed (and never explicitly repudiated) religious doctrines that are not merely heretical but blasphemous to any orthodox Moslem. Yet he has been welcomed in Libya and Iran. Anti-Americanism trumps even religious fanaticism.

Also: if a candidate for office has immediate family with unacceptable views, associations, or character, yes, it is legitimate to hold those against him, unless the candidate definitely and provably repudiates those views, associations, or character. John Gotti jr for State's Attorney? I don't think so - until maybe after he testified against the Mob, and not under a plea bargain.
1.16.2008 6:50pm