Ed tacked this on as an update to his last post but let’s put it front and center. Question: How do you “distance yourself” from a racist conspiracy theorist whose church you’ve patronized for 20 years? Answer, per yesterday’s post: You don’t. You swallow hard, do the denounce-and-reject two-step, and hope — audaciously! — that independents aren’t paying attention.

And then you bundle your kids into the car to go hear another of Rev. Jeremiah’s sermons on life, love, and how the people in the Twin Towers got what was coming to them.

Q: I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s all over the wire today (from an ABC News story), a statement that your pastor (the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side) made in a sermon in 2003 that instead of singing “God Bless America,” black people should sing a song essentially saying “God Damn America.”

A: I haven’t seen the line. This is a pastor who is on the brink of retirement who in the past has made some controversial statements. I profoundly disagree with some of these statements.

Q: What about this particular statement?

A: Obviously, I disagree with that. Here is what happens when you just cherry-pick statements from a guy who had a 40-year career as a pastor. There are times when people say things that are just wrong. But I think it’s important to judge me on what I’ve said in the past and what I believe.

That’s super, but he’s got the same problem here as he has with that terrorist he schmoozed back in Chicago, except times a hundred. It’s not that he necessarily endorses everything Wright says, it’s that he necessarily doesn’t object to anything Wright says strongly enough to get him to quit the church. In the case of Bill Ayres, or McCain vis-a-vis Hagee, you can attribute the tolerance for intolerance (“intolerance” in Ayres’s case meaning “attempted murder”) to craven political expedience. What’s Obama’s excuse in Wright’s case? Like one former advisor told the Prowler this morning, there’s no sense in trying to cut ties to him. The ties are too strong; they’re unbreakable. “Distancing” himself now only raises the question of why he didn’t distance himself before. Better to preserve his “authenticity” by avoiding the appearance of political calculation and stick with the two-step.

Here’s Obama’s new pastor. Fast forward to around two minutes in, where he talks about Obama choosing Trinity and Wright because they were in line with his “values” as an organizer.

Update: Yeah, we’ll see about this. It’s not totally implausible: Maverick has enough trouble with evangelicals and, potentially, with Catholics via Hagee that he might be shy about going after a pastor, even one as scummy as Wright. Better to let the media handle it than give Obama an opening for the tu quoque.

Update (Ed): Makes sense to me.  Why should McCain go after Wright when Hillary’s people will do it first?  McCain can rise above the fray and talk about his own themes while Hillary and Obama fight it out in the streets.

Tags: Barack Obama