Nobody who reads this blog can doubt the strength of my preference for Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee and, eventually, the POTUS. But I truly hate that the Reverend Wright thing has become the focus that it has, and I hate to think that voters would select a president on such a basis. I back Hillary because of her experience, her mastery of the issues, her passion for improving people's lives, her resilience, her courage, her judgment. It is because of those characteristics that she would make a better president than Barack Obama or John McCain.
Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright amounts to what is called a "behavioral clue." It is perhaps indicative of his character or personality, but it does not define the man anymore than Hillary's slip about the landing in Tuzla defines her. One may point out the difference between a sustained, twenty-year pattern of behavior and the muddled recollection of a decade-old event, but my point is that we should temper our judgments on both with the knowledge that human beings are imperfect. In electing a president we are not selecting a new best buddy or a saint -- we are selecting a leader. Behavioral clues can be valuable in assessing leadership qualities, but they shouldn't be weighted above such tangibles as positions on issues, record of accomplishment, and relevant experience. When they are, you get a George W. Bush.
And I suspect that it is not the voters who do that so much as it is the media. They may assert, and Obama's aides may agree, that the Reverend Wright issue is responsible for Obama's losses and Hillary's advances in recent polls. I prefer to think (and truly believe) that in the absence of substantive reasons to choose Obama over Hillary, the newness and excitement have worn away some of the luster of his campaign. His only real assets, his promises to play a "new kind of politics" and to deliver "hope" and "unity," have begun to pall as our economy deteriorates, conditions around the world look bleak, and people are increasingly seeking real solutions for our problems. I think we're witnessing a kind of "buyer's remorse" towards the Obama campaign, and Hillary's strength is being recognized for what it is. We're also seeing even a few media types beginning to note her own behavioral clues -- grace during crisis, a willingness to speak to any audience, a tireless fighting spirit that also seeks reconciliation where possible. These are positive clues. We have now glimpsed some of Obama's negative clues, but he also has some positive ones, such as his even temperament. Let's take them all into consideration, but not let them obsess us as they do the media.
We have good and tangible reasons to earnestly support Hillary. Let's keep our eye on that ball.