June 2, 2008
One For The Money, Two For The VotesBy Lee Cary
Last week we witnessed two markedly different exercises of political expediency. One executed with the clumsiness of the Peter Principle poster boy and former POTUS press secretary. The other displayed the smooth linguistic choreography of an extraordinary campaigner for the presidency.
One, for the money. Two, for the votes. Different styles. Same self-serving political expediency at play.
Enough has been said and written about Scott McClellan. More than he deserves. Most eloquently by Bob Dole. There is now about McClellan an aura of sadness. As soon as he's served his purpose to those who continue to suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome, his new friends now promoting him and his book will vanish as has his personal credibility.
McClellan gives every appearance of having been ultimately most loyal to his wallet. Perhaps there's a company out there that will hire him as a PR spokesperson. Or, he can become a political pundit for one of the old TV networks. Beyond his family, who will care?
Senator Obama, on the other hand, showed us what masterfully executed political expediency looks like. By the end of his Saturday evening press conference, wherein he explained his decision to withdraw from his beloved Trinity United Church of Christ, he had successfully framed himself and the Trinity congregation as victims of excessive and unfair scrutiny. Why reporters, he said, had even been calling up the congregation's shut-ins to pump them for information. Shameful behavior!
And, in the context of the entire campaign, all this surprised him.
Of all the things black liberation theology is to those who respect or criticize it, "fairly conventional" doesn't fit.
But a fawning Obama campaign press corps ate it all up - asking questions more like adoring groupies than hard-nosed impartial reporters.
Obama is leaving his church, he said, because his affiliation with it was putting too much pressure on the congregation, what with all those reporters showing up for worship services just waiting for something to be said they could unfairly impute to Obama.
So, about who was he most concerned again?
It all got to be too much, Obama said, after Reverend Wright's National Press Club performance.
So was it the relentless, unfair scrutiny or the unacceptable statements from Wright that tipped the balance?
Doesn't matter. It's all ancillary to the suffering of the oppressed Obama family - unable to worship with uninhibited reverence at the church where he can't remember when the last time it was he visited.
So now Obama and his church-homeless family have been, like Adam and Eve, cast into the Land of Nod (Wandering) where they must shop around for a new congregation wherein they hope to finally worship in peace and privacy. Is that too much to ask?
Obama bristled at a question that suggested the notion that some -- certainly not the reporter posing the question -- might say he jettisoned his church when the cost of membership starting out-weighting the benefits he first sought as a young community organizer looking for contacts. He was, he said, "offended" by that suggestion.
Obama must not be offended.
All in all, his was a superior performance delivered by a highly-skilled politician. He threw his church under the proverbial "bus" (joining his white grandmother) when it was clearly becoming an uncontrollable liability to his campaign.
He did so a way that repositioned those who have criticized Jeremiah Wright, black liberation theology, the visiting Roman Catholic priest, and Obama's family - including the children - as the offended plaintiffs.
The mean cable news stations and intrusive reporters became the defendants in a clever twist on litigant roles that John Gotti's former attorney would envy.
The press groupies bought it all, asking puff questions including these:
Thankfully, no one asked, "Would you like us to pray with you, Obama?"