Problematic? There’s a lot going on: Her Majesty’s hamfisted attempt to parse Obama’s statement, leading to nothing more damaging than a laugh line at her expense; Russert’s dopey follow-up question, which does both too much (anti-semitism by two degrees of separation) and too little (failing to probe him more about his pastor); and the usual leftist white-noise indignation afterwards that such a subject would even be broached, per the many Pretty Vicious Rants and Important Action Alerts that have descended upon us this a.m. It’s not surprising that an NRO correspondent or a hardcore Hillary partisan would find the Messiah’s answer overly nuanced, but check this out. Heart-ache among the apostles?
10.09 pm. Farrakhan. Does Obama understand that saying he has consistently denounced him is not the same as simply saying, “I denounce him”? A weak response – reminiscent of Dukakis. (By the way, why is it somehow only a question for Jewish Americans that Farrakhan is a fascist hate-monger? It’s a question for all Americans.) Obama’s Farrakhan response suggests to me he is reluctant to attack a black demagogue. Maybe he wants to avoid a racial melee. But he has one. He needs to get real on this. Weak, weak, weak. Clinton sees an opening and pounces. She wins this round. He is forced to adjust. His worst moment in any debate since this campaign started. I’m astounded he couldn’t be more forceful. His inability to say by himself, unprompted, that Farrakhan’s support repels him and he rejects it outright really unsettles me.
I have not believed that Obama has an ounce of sympathy for a creep like Farrakhan. But Obama has now made me doubt this. If David Duke called John McCain a good man, would McCain hesitate to say he’d rather Duke opposed him? If this is how Obama wants to tackle this emotive issue, he needs to get real.
Or, as Althouse puts it, “He’s creating the space for Farrakhan to operate separately, bringing him support.” Exactly, and exactly what Hillary was trying to insinuate, but after Billy Jeff’s Jesse Jackson moment and the “shuck and jive” comments that trickled out of her camp last month, she’s too shy to swing hard on a subject involving race. Best case scenario if she had: She gets accused again of trying to paint Obama as the “black candidate” by implying that he’s too cozy with Farrakhan. Worst case scenario: She alienates black voters who are soft on Farrakhan by attacking him too harshly, something that’s clearly weighing on Obama here too. So she went about halfway, to the middle of the road — and got squashed. Good work.