His association with Jeremiah Wright has been dogging him for weeks, now, perhaps accounting primarily for a flattening of Obama's polling. And Wright just spent the weekend with a devastating set of public appearances.
Wright made clear where he stands politically, for those who sustained any doubt. And Obama, who in his early fire-stomping exercise over Wright had excused his pastor based on how well he knew him and thus the true nature of Wright's views, did a turnabout, saying that perhaps he did not recognize the Wright from this weekend and perhaps did not know him after all.
The media have begun to glom onto the young Senator's associations in the wake of the Wright weekend, such as with a story on (former terrorist) Bill Ayers in The New York Daily News (hat tip to Hugh Hewitt)
But listen to Ayers interviewed in The New York Times on Sept. 11, 2001, of all days: "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."
Though never a supporter of Obama, I admired him for a time for his ability to engage our imaginations, and especially for his ability to inspire theyoung once again to embrace the political system. Yet his myopia in the last few months has cast a new light on his "politics ofchange."
Nobody should hold the junior senator from Illinois responsible for his friends' and supporters' violent terrorist acts. But it is fair to hold him responsible for a startling lack of judgment in his choice of mentors, associates and friends, and for showing a callous disregard for the lives they damaged and the hatred they have demonstrated for this country.
So what does this shift in the emphasis on coverage mean?
First, it means that Hillary Clinton stays in the game a little longer. She has her shoe wedged against the door, keeping it ajar. Rush Limbaugh has made a to-do about suspending "Operation Chaos"--clearly to imply that Obama may have received a mortal political wound. And it's worth pointing out that Gallup's recent daily tracking polls have Sen. Clinton with a slight edge over Sen. McCain while Obama polls dead even against the presumptive GOP candidate. The Clinton versus Obama polling shows a dead heat among Democrats.
But the recent events simply cannot significantly affect the facts on the ground in the Democratic nomination battle. Blacks remain wedded to the Obama candidacy, and Obama's pledged delegate lead is insurmountable even if he cannot reach the required number. Clinton's only shot is a long one: The superdelegates see a late primary surge for Clinton while she significantly outperforms Obama in head-to-head polling against McCain--and that has to outweigh the potential for alienating black Democratic voters.
Either way, the outcome offers some hope to the GOP. If Obama wins the nomination, the questions about his associations linger until they appear resolved--and the press isn't likely to let it go no matter how much Obama might make them otherwise swoon.
If Clinton wins, the Democratic Party will be fractured to some degree. Clinton has magnified her negatives among Democrats, and the party may even fracture significantly if she captures the nomination (some think that if Obama accepts the V.P. slot on the Clinton ticket that black voters will go along with it).
In any case, it's safe to say that Wright has rocked Barack.