Thus Endeth the Lesson From Jeremiah

The Jeremiah Wright story will have a dead cat bounce, but the political lesson from Obama's pastor is, for all intents and purposes, over.  Some impact may be measured in the vote analysis after next week's Indiana and North Carolina primaries.  But, if the Clinton campaign expects a big decisive swing in Hillary's favor because of Wright, they could be disappointed. 

Going forward, Obama can shrug off further questions about his relationship with Wright by saying, "I've already answered those questions to the best of my ability." If asked to explain why it took him so long to make a clean break from his preacher (but not the church), Obama can say,

Look, while it was Rev. Wright who first drew me to Christ and Trinity church, I and my family have developed many important friendships there over the years.  Sure, I heard Rev. Wright say some things I wouldn't say, but never to the point of causing me to disassociate myself from the other 6,000 church members there, many with whom the Obama's have become close friends. After all, the pastor doesn't equal the church; the pastor serves the church.

If some reporter asks Obama if he regrets the donations he's given to the church over the years, Obama can say,

Michelle and I contribute money to the church because that's our responsibility as members.  In fact, when you join the United Church of Christ you make a pledge to support the church with your gifts.  The overwhelming majority of member donations go to support the many ministries that serve the community - and not just the immediate community in Chicago, but the global ministries of the denomination.

This will fly. Why? Because more than a few church goers, of all flavors and colors, don't like their current pastor but won't leave their church because their allegiance isn't primarily to the pastor. They stay loyal through the good, the bad, and the ugly preachers because they value the life-long connections with friends in the congregation.  

Obama has established a narrative that incorporates credible denial concerning his knowledge of, and support for, his pastor's expressions of black liberation theology.  "Credible denial" is the ability to tell a story with a narrative line that cannot be undeniably rejected as false on its face. While credible denial may stretch credulity to the max, it retains a toe-hold on the theoretically possible. It's possible that Barack Obama wasn't aware of his pastor's rants, even though accepting that proposition requires a major league stretch that takes us just a skosh short of the Land of Incredible Denial.  But a skosh is all Obama needs for credible denial.

Because Obama only arrived at the point where he definitively disconnected from Wright through a tedious labyrinth of partial denials, some accuse him of being indecisive.  On the other hand, others attribute his incremental distancing from Wright to a heartfelt hesitancy to disconnect from an old friend.  The true story is probably more complicated and based on carefully calculated motives difficult for outsiders to decipher.  In the long run though, his incremental separations, rather than an early and complete disavowal, put Obama in the best light, albeit dim, in the face of a situation that his campaign handlers had to have known was coming, sooner or later.

The episode could not have come at a better time in Obama's overall campaign in order to deliver minimum long-term damage. (Meanwhile, the MSM needs to answer this question: What took so long for the Wright story to surface?) It came too late to swing the nomination to Clinton, and too early help McCain in the general election.  Wright will be ancient history by November.

There is, though, one important outcome that could resurface to McCain's advantage in the general election campaign, if Obama is the nominee. It is this.

Either Democratic candidate will work hard to associate John McCain with President Bush, calling a President McCain a Third Bush term.  If Obama plays that card, McCain can say,

I'm no more George Bush than Barack Obama is Jeremiah Wright.  So why don't we just focus on what we, the candidates, think, rather than try to muddy the waters by calling on each other to account for what other adults, beyond our control, do or say. That's only fair.

This, too, will fly.
The Jeremiah Wright story will have a dead cat bounce, but the political lesson from Obama's pastor is, for all intents and purposes, over.  Some impact may be measured in the vote analysis after next week's Indiana and North Carolina primaries.  But, if the Clinton campaign expects a big decisive swing in Hillary's favor because of Wright, they could be disappointed. 

Going forward, Obama can shrug off further questions about his relationship with Wright by saying, "I've already answered those questions to the best of my ability." If asked to explain why it took him so long to make a clean break from his preacher (but not the church), Obama can say,

Look, while it was Rev. Wright who first drew me to Christ and Trinity church, I and my family have developed many important friendships there over the years.  Sure, I heard Rev. Wright say some things I wouldn't say, but never to the point of causing me to disassociate myself from the other 6,000 church members there, many with whom the Obama's have become close friends. After all, the pastor doesn't equal the church; the pastor serves the church.

If some reporter asks Obama if he regrets the donations he's given to the church over the years, Obama can say,

Michelle and I contribute money to the church because that's our responsibility as members.  In fact, when you join the United Church of Christ you make a pledge to support the church with your gifts.  The overwhelming majority of member donations go to support the many ministries that serve the community - and not just the immediate community in Chicago, but the global ministries of the denomination.

This will fly. Why? Because more than a few church goers, of all flavors and colors, don't like their current pastor but won't leave their church because their allegiance isn't primarily to the pastor. They stay loyal through the good, the bad, and the ugly preachers because they value the life-long connections with friends in the congregation.  

Obama has established a narrative that incorporates credible denial concerning his knowledge of, and support for, his pastor's expressions of black liberation theology.  "Credible denial" is the ability to tell a story with a narrative line that cannot be undeniably rejected as false on its face. While credible denial may stretch credulity to the max, it retains a toe-hold on the theoretically possible. It's possible that Barack Obama wasn't aware of his pastor's rants, even though accepting that proposition requires a major league stretch that takes us just a skosh short of the Land of Incredible Denial.  But a skosh is all Obama needs for credible denial.

Because Obama only arrived at the point where he definitively disconnected from Wright through a tedious labyrinth of partial denials, some accuse him of being indecisive.  On the other hand, others attribute his incremental distancing from Wright to a heartfelt hesitancy to disconnect from an old friend.  The true story is probably more complicated and based on carefully calculated motives difficult for outsiders to decipher.  In the long run though, his incremental separations, rather than an early and complete disavowal, put Obama in the best light, albeit dim, in the face of a situation that his campaign handlers had to have known was coming, sooner or later.

The episode could not have come at a better time in Obama's overall campaign in order to deliver minimum long-term damage. (Meanwhile, the MSM needs to answer this question: What took so long for the Wright story to surface?) It came too late to swing the nomination to Clinton, and too early help McCain in the general election.  Wright will be ancient history by November.

There is, though, one important outcome that could resurface to McCain's advantage in the general election campaign, if Obama is the nominee. It is this.

Either Democratic candidate will work hard to associate John McCain with President Bush, calling a President McCain a Third Bush term.  If Obama plays that card, McCain can say,

I'm no more George Bush than Barack Obama is Jeremiah Wright.  So why don't we just focus on what we, the candidates, think, rather than try to muddy the waters by calling on each other to account for what other adults, beyond our control, do or say. That's only fair.

This, too, will fly.