Of course, when fanatics can’t attack a man for anything he’s actually done that’s downright despicable, they’ll go after him for what he’s said, and if they can’t find anything he’s said that’s awful they’ll go after him for what his friends or associates have said.
Seemingly, that’s why Fox News has endlessly replayed those clips of Senator Obama’s pastor saying controversial things. All they can charge Obama with is knowing the man, not exactly a crime yet in America, and the Fox newscasters aren’t the least bit mollified that Obama has repudiated Reverend Wright’s comments that were offbase.
Fox delights in the old Joe McCarthy tactic of guilt by association. Back in the Fifties, if you happened to ride on the same bus with a Commie, it made you a “fellow traveler.”
By contrast, Fox commentators don’t begin to hold Senator McCain up to the same standard they demand of Obama’s pastor. Bill O’Reilly sees nothing wrong with Senator McCain’s vote to launch an illegal war against Iraq because O’Reilly backed that war, too, and seemingly swallowed the lies Bush told to start it.
No matter if Bush’s war has by now claimed the lives of a million Iraqis, destroyed much of their country, sacrificed 4,000 American lives, and wounded 30,000 more, (have you visited a VA hospital lately?) and cost taxpayers a couple of trillion bucks.
As far as Fox News is concerned, it’s okay to make illegal wars and kill innocent people. What’s not okay to have a pastor that condemns illegal wars in an angry tone of voice.
As this campaign drags on, I have begun to suspect that Senator Obama does not believe in killing innocent people. Recall that Senator Clinton scolded him last year for saying he would not use atomic weapons to go after terrorists. Obama said he wouldn’t do it as nukes might kill civilians. Since the use of such weapons is prohibited by a treaty the United States has signed, it’s an eminently sensible position.
Besides, when you drop an atomic bomb, the fallout spreads and who knows where it might wind up? The Three-Mile Island debacle pales beside the prospect of military use of a nuclear weapon. But Clinton chided Obama for taking the nuclear “option” off the table when, in fact, no such option exists. Now this is a very real and significant difference between the candidates.
As far as I can tell, Obama is the only one of the three sane enough not to claim the right to use banned atomic weapons. Maybe that’s because, as a constitutional scholar and former University of Chicago law school professor, Obama believes in law and order. The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police thought so when it endorsed him for the Senate in 2004.
However, by their votes favoring an illegal war, Senators McCain and Clinton have proved they are no respecters of law and order, no more than is President Bush, no more than is Fox News.
Speaking of the law, when you graduate magna cum laude and as president of the Harvard Law Review you can pretty much have your pick of jobs at many a prestigious law firm and earn yourself a bundle. Instead, Obama took a $13,000-a-year post as head of a faith-based community organizing agency funded by the Catholic Church and directed by a church coalition.
According to biographers, Obama worked “to counteract the dislocation and massive unemployment caused by the closing and downsizing of southeast Chicago steel plants.”
So I ask you, who would want a man in the White House that actually believes in law and order, refuses to vote for illegal wars, pledges not to drop atomic bombs on civilians, works with the church, and devotes his life to alleviating human suffering in preference to enriching himself? (If you guessed Bill O’Reilly, guess again.)
Barack Obama is a candidate of exceptional intelligence who towers over his opponents. If this country is lucky, he may turn out to be that rare, transformative visionary capable of restoring the lost arts of American diplomacy on the world stage and possessing the considerable skills it will require to beat swords into ploughshares. #
(Sherwood Ross is a native Chicagoan who worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and served in an executive capacity in the Urban League movement. He was also press coordinator for James Meredith in his March Against Fear in Mississippi in 1966. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)