May 18, 2012

Revisiting Jeremiah Wright: Really Dumb Idea

Lots of recent buzz and brouhaha over a reported strategy to highlight Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright, in a bid to attack Obama's "likeability" factor and reduce it in the minds of the electorate. 
The plan called for running commercials linking Obama to incendiary comments by his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons created a firestorm during the 2008 campaign.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.


I think its a stupid idea. I mean you know its silly and stupid right out of the gate when you look at the title page of the plan and its pejorative use of Obama's  middle name to appeal to that prejudice in people. Juvenile. People are sick of this political bloodsport between the parties.  But more than that, it will be counter productive in the same way that claims of racism launched at various and sundry white  politicians in response to any number of things are unproductive.  Why? Because going on a tear about how Wright is a "racist" hits the same "lack of common understandings" issue as when people throw it at white people in the same unsophisticated way.  He's racist because he said "chickens come home to roost?". What does that mean?  When you call white people racist, their visceral reaction is based on their interpretation of that charge as essentially equating them to Klansmen, people who have irrational hatred of black people and would lynch them.  It usually has no relationship to reality the vast majority of the time in modern days. 

So if you launch into this tirade of labeling Wright as a racist and then linking him to Obama to brand him as a racist by association, you run into the same problem that it does not jibe with reality.  No white person can credibly make the argument Jeremiah Wright or by association that President Obama has an irrational hatred of white people and wants to kill them or subjugate them.  Anybody who would believe that isn't a rational thinker anyway.   You can make Wright out to be loathsome because you dislike his political views, but thats about all you can really do.  This crap is only going to confirm people who already hate the president's guts in their views, maybe turn out, energize some base.  Its not going to turn independents to the GOP as the Rickett's proposal suggested.

Redstate thinks its a smart idea and I read their piece on it thinking "okay, they are arguing for it, they will articulate a credible strategic rationale.  How disappointing to read what I consider to be a regrettably small ball rationale for adopting this bonehead tactic. According to them "It is our job to chip away at his strengths and to provide distractions for his campaign to deal with. Jeremiah Wright will only be the first of those." Creating distractions? Really.  Okay.  Thats what the voters need right now huh? Silly me, I thought we needed some clarity.

It will be a distraction all right. From voters thinking about Obama's policies that don't work to  concentrating on GOP tactics of the negative.  Its not that I don't think you should attack.  I just think some attacks are more effective than others and this one was a stupid idea that won't work.