Gratifying yet frustrating. Follow Smith’s link for the audio and skip ahead just past halfway for the key exchange. Quote:

“When I got in the mess that I got in, Senator Obama was the first one to jump up and suggested that I be fired, which I didn’t have any problem with. And when the wheels came off with Reverend Wright, the first thing Senator Obama said was that we should put his remarks in context and also we should consider all the wonderful things that Rev. Wright had done throughout his life,” Imus said. “That was a luxury that he was affording Reverend Wright and himself to get out of that mess, and something that he was unwilling to afford me – not that that would have been appropriate, by the way. But I thought that revealed a disturbing level of hypocrisy and a willingness to employ a double standard and something worth talking about.”

Indeed. I flagged it myself two weeks ago. If you missed it, go watch the old “Hardball” clip there of Obama explaining how he’d no longer appear on Imus’s show so as not to become an “enabler” of casually racist humor. That’s precisely the right word, and proves that The One has no objection in principle to drawing moral lines among his associates. It’s just that, in his moral universe, evidently Don Imus fell on one side of the line and the domestic terrorist and hate preacher he “enabled” for years and years and years fell on the other. Or at least, they did until they became political liabilities for him. Maybe that’s Imus’s real problem. If he could convince Obama that coming on the show would benefit him more than it would cost him, doubtless we’d see that “moral” objection evaporate, too.

Thus is the subject raised, and McCain duly acknowledges that it’s a good point — whereupon he promptly moves on, failing to hammer at it even though it dovetails with his own argument that Obama’s link to Ayers is ultimately a matter of credibility. Not only is The One distorting the extent of their relationship, he’s clearly exaggerating the extent to which it discomforts him; if he wasn’t, he’d have severed the tie the same way he severed his dealings with Imus. Why McCain leaves that point unmade, I don’t know. Maybe he’s reached the point where even the mere mention of Wright is enough to warn him away from a subject. The ‘Cuda seems to have a stronger stomach; something for her next stump speech, maybe? There are some sweet Hillary quotes to borrow if she’s in the mood.

The whole thing’s worth listening to, but if you’re pressed for time, start about a third of the way through for a spirited defense of Palin. Exit quotation: “Serve 35 years in the United States Senate and say you’ve got to divide Iraq into three different countries, or be governor of a state and a reformer and give people their tax dollars back and bring about reform in the way that your state does business? Which is better?”