Barack Obama has done an admirable job presenting himself as a non-divisive candidate. Facing off against Hillary Clinton virtually anyone would look non-divisive in contrast, but Obama has gone beyond that. Conciliating the attacks made against his kindergarten years, and the comparisons of his candidacy in SC to that of Jesse Jackson, he’d risen above the divisive racial divide. He’d won Iowa, proof he could win a predominantly white electorate.
Then along came the Rev. Wright with language many of us would find shocking on the street, but coming from the pulpit of a Christian church, apostatizing. With all the doubts of the depths of Obama’s Christian conviction, doubtless Rev. Wright’s ideas of paranoia and American self-loathing will do little to assuage those concerns. Recent polling indicates a five point downward shift in favorability ratings for Mr. Obama coming on the heels of the Wright controversy. Additionally, in previous head to head match ups with McCain, they were tied.
Rev. Wright’s remarks linger in the minds of almost ten percent of voters, and the shift results in an eight point advantage for Mr. McCain.
There is time for Mr. Obama to recover from his association with his former pastor, and the racial divide seems to be one divide both parties are eager to heal. But the latest controversy isn’t just about race. It’s about a prominent and wealthy, highly educated man complaining about disadvantages he evidently has not experienced:
We’ve had a situation where it’s politically unacceptable to attribute Obama’s success to race, but a minister may say that the government created AIDS to kill people of color and remain a candidate’s spiritual adviser. Suppose Clinton’s minister had awarded a lifetime achievement award to David Duke, as Wright had to Louis Farrakhan.
But for Obama, the most lasting damage of this affair may not be tied to race or religion but to class. Working stiffs will struggle to square Obama’s close bond to a purveyor of racial grievance with his own golden existence. With four Ivy League degrees between them, half a million in income and children in private schools, the Obamas seem to be doing more than OK.
The clashing images of resentment and privilege are a divide that is hard to bridge.
When I was a kid, we played a game called Poor Little Kitty. The object of the game was to pretend to be the most pathetic, meowing, ridiculous looking kitty in an effort to make someone laugh. The person who laughs first becomes the next ‘Kitty’. I would never want to play that game with Obama. His pretense at being pathetic and aggrieved would be too hard to stomach.
Crossposted at Hang Right Politics.