Public Comment

Commentary: Obama — Guilty By Association

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday April 01, 2008

It is not good enough for a presidential candidate to have the right views on the issues, they must not associate with anyone deemed offensive. This is the sort of intolerance and witch hunting that the media does in the United States to knock anyone down for any reason.  

It is not so much that the American people necessarily feel that way, but the press and the media have decided to obsess about the offensiveness of Obama’s minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and to make it into a decisive issue.  

It is unfortunate that the presidential race, having started out on such lofty ground when Clinton and Obama began their competition, has sunk so low, down to the level where it is normally expected to be during these sordid political contests. We have three candidates who will do or say essentially anything that will get them an advantage. If doing or saying the thing reflects badly on their character, they will get someone else supposedly not connected to them to say it whose actions they can disavow knowledge of. If it looks bad for Clinton or Obama to sling the mud personally at the other, they’ll get someone lower down to do it who they can say was acting on their own. This campaign has turned into a free-for-all slugfest in which the dirtiest fighter prevails. It’s good to watch on occasion, but on a nightly basis like we’re getting is a bit much.  

It is flawed logic to believe that because Obama’s minister has views that are hard for mainstream, white Americans to digest, Obama has the same beliefs because he admires the minister or is in the minister’s parish. I’m Jewish and that doesn’t make me have the same beliefs as all Israelis. I can’t stand Leiberman, and I disagree with plenty of other Jews, some of whom I don’t even like. I have had friends who have held beliefs I’ve regarded as completely bogus. Just because you know and like someone, it doesn’t mean that you have to believe the same things as they.  

People who are more ignorant can’t get the idea of separating the belief from the person. They can’t get the idea that you are not soiled by who you know. It is too bad that politicians must seek the vote of the ignorant people as well.  

You might believe I’m writing this article in support of Obama. (In fact, my favorite candidate is Clinton until such time as Obama gets the nomination, and then I become an Obama supporter.) I simply don’t want so much silliness going on when the candidates could be chosen for better reasons.  

I suggest that the democrats get to work at finding some dirt on McCain. God knows who McCain could have shaken hands with! The democrats should focus on the fact that there is no reason to stay in Iraq. That we are an infectious force--one which maintains the diseased state. Take the focus off of who everybody knows.  

Obama should deliver a clear and concise rebuff, hopefully in an irate manner, to the misdirected issue of merely knowing someone with the wrong beliefs.  


Jack Bragen is a Martinez resident.