The Washington Post editorial board follows the lead in some ways of the New York Times, which pretends that Jeremiah Wright suddenly popped out of the ground this week, offering lunatic conspiracy theories and insane racial genetics with no track record of it at all in the past. Unlike the Gray Lady, the WaPo editorial at least acknowledges that Barack Obama’s long ties to Wright calls into question the judgment he claims as superior to that of Hillary Clinton and John McCain. It then repeats Obama’s assertion that his entire career goes against everything Wright said without — like Obama — offering any evidence to support it:
We didn’t join the renewed and growing chorus calling on Mr. Obama to renounce the Rev. Wright after the minister’s all-about-me rant at the National Press Club on Monday, but the candidate’s motivation is pretty obvious. The Rev. Wright praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, said it was plausible that AIDS was a genocidal tool of the U.S. government to kill African Americans and proclaimed that attacks on him were an attack on the black church. He also delivered a deliberate poke in the eye to his former parishioner, suggesting that Mr. Obama’s conciliatory Philadelphia speech was nothing but politics. With each defiant utterance Monday, the Rev. Wright dug a deeper political hole for Mr. Obama.
Did Mr. Obama climb out of that hole yesterday? It seems to us that the whole sorry episode raises legitimate questions about his judgment. Given the long and close relationship between Mr. Obama and the Rev. Wright, voters will ask: How could Mr. Obama have been surprised by the Rev. Wright’s views? How could he not have seen this coming? Mr. Obama didn’t help matters much by initially seeming to dismiss the furor building over the Rev. Wright’s Washington performance, just as he did with the initial uproar last month. At a media availability at an airport Monday afternoon, he displayed none of the anger and sorrow that etched his face in North Carolina one day later.
But Mr. Obama is right when he says that his entire career is antithetical to the divisiveness of the Rev. Wright’s comments. We’ve found things to cheer and things to criticize about Mr. Obama during this long campaign, but we don’t see how anyone could question his commitment to transcending old racial battles and finding common ground. The Rev. Wright doesn’t speak for the candidate, and we hope the pastor doesn’t become a continuing excuse for political ads built on racial fears.
Well, which is it? If the episode “raises legitimate questions” about Obama’s judgment, why would it be out of bounds for political ads? The Post, in attempting to have it both ways, makes itself incoherent.
It’s not the only incoherence. They note, in a somewhat self-congratulatory manner, that they didn’t join the “renewed and growing chorus” demanding that Obama repudiate the Wright Stuff. However, they then catalogue all the reasons why Obama needed to renounce his former pastor, and scold him for not figuring it out the day before, immediately after Wright’s remarks at the National Press Club. If the Post feels it was that obvious Monday morning, why didn’t they push Obama to account for Wright’s hateful speech?
In this editorial, the Post resembles nothing more than Obama’s own campaign. First they wanted to believe that Wright’s rants meant nothing, then a day later they discovered their inner outrage, far past when the rest of the country’s jaws dropped over Wright’s rhetoric. Now the Post wants to scold Obama for not having the political courage to break with Wright sooner when they couldn’t bother to request it before his late-afternoon repudiation yesterday.