The most rewarding thing about a day like today, when some liberal’s in trouble and anxious to save his own ass, is watching the worst, most predictable, most embarrassing hacks on the other side go face-first into the tank, exactly as you’d expect they would. Sullivan? Check. Matthews? Check. The New York Times College of Cardinals? Checkity check check.

There are moments — increasingly rare in risk-abhorrent modern campaigns — when politicians are called upon to bare their fundamental beliefs. In the best of these moments, the speaker does not just salve the current political wound, but also illuminates larger, troubling issues that the nation is wrestling with.

Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion, with its enduring vision of the separation between church and state. Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better…

There have been times when we wondered what Mr. Obama meant when he talked about rising above traditional divides. This was not such a moment.

Hey, guys? If the last 20 years count for anything, the best estimates of his “fundamental beliefs” are that the United States is a racist hegemon begging to have jets flown into office towers to teach it a thing or two about imperialism. He’s a gutless, opportunistic coward who was afraid to say an unkind word to one of the power brokers in the black community on whom he counted for votes as an Illinois politician, and now that he’s a national figure he’s throwing the same guy under the bus to preserve the illusion that he’s a “post-racial” politician. And you’re sitting there cheering him on because you don’t care what sort of idiocy or anti-American vitriol you have to swallow to put a Democrat back into the White House. Does that about sum it up? Have I missed any “nuance” in the “U.S. government created the AIDS virus” rant that Obama never, ever heard anything about and that you’re now willing to wave away?

Exit question invitation: Which parts of Wright’s sermons, precisely, does the New York Times have any great objection to? The punchline to all this nonsense is that the good reverend’s rantings really aren’t very far outside the liberal mainstream (his AIDS theory notwithstanding), which is probably why Obama thought he could bury this scandal in the first place. So let’s compromise: You make a list of everything Wright’s said that you think is beyond the pale or off the reservation and we’ll pretend that Obama’s objections to those statements are heartfelt and sincere and not something he’d ever, ever want his young daughters to hear. Deal?