The obvious storyline award of the day goes to GOP Sees Reverend Wright as Pathway to Victory. Really? Because I thought the GOP would just let the issue rest.
Many will fault Republicans for harping on the Wright issue. I, for one, think itâ€™s a distraction from the real questions regarding Barack Obamaâ€™s experience and liberal policies. But I canâ€™t fault Republicans for using this association to their advantage. Democrats have long used religious extremists on the right to rally their base and excite fund raising. Turnabout is fair play.
The question is: will it work? It may, not because a huge number of Americans will be lured in by this specific story but because, with Obama being so inexperienced and having such a slim public record, any clarifying detail will be magnified in votersâ€™ minds. Itâ€™s not that a huge percentage of people will say â€œObama is a bigot and an America hater because his pastor has made inflammatory remarks.â€ But this Wright story is bound to color many peopleâ€™s perceptions of a politician they simply do not know very well.
The risk of running for president after so little time in the national spotlight is that you donâ€™t always get a chance to define yourself. You leave a lot of room for your opponents to raise questions and manipulate perceptions. And you sure as heck leave yourself open to misconceptions when you overtly associate with people known to have less-than-mainstream viewpoints.
If the Wright story ultimately takes Obama down it will not just be because Republicans exploited the story. It will also be because, with such a slim public record, Obama doesnâ€™t have the cover of a long, respected career to stand behind.