Guilt By Association

Jeremiah Wright

Stanley Fish wrote a piece for The Times a couple of days ago.

In 1952, when McCarthyism was at its height, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas labeled the investigative techniques of the junior senator from Wisconsin “guilt by association” (Adler v. Board of Education). Douglas added that McCarthyite tactics were “repugnant to our society” because, despite the absence of any overt wrongdoing, the pasts of those attacked were “combed for signs of disloyalty” and for utterances that might be read as “clues to dangerous thoughts.”

More than a half century later, “McCarthyism” was joined in the lexicon by “Swiftboating,” the art of the smear campaign mounted with the intention not of documenting a wrong, but of covering the victim with slime enough to cast doubt on his or her integrity. Now, in 2008, after a primary season increasingly marked by dirty pool and low blows, “McCarthyism” and “Swiftboating” have come together in a particularly lethal and despicable form.

Professor Fish goes on to write about Bill Ayres, who he knows personally and how he was used to tar Obama.  But it is just as true for the Jeremiah Wright association: that the Clinton and McCain campaigns, with the total cooperation of the MSM, have combined McCarthyism and Swift Boating against Barack Obama. Obama can be accused of naivete for not publicly breaking with Wright before he announced for the Presidency. He made a point of not inviting him to the announcement ceremony, but he never made a Sister Souljah moment of it. That’s part of his character that is in the true tradition of his faith–“He who is without sin, cast the first stone”.

But even if he has handled it poorly, what Wright says has nothing to do with Obama’s candidacy. It is “Guilt by Association.”

UPDATE:The Daily News says an associate of Hillary Clinton arranged the appearance of the Rev. Wright at The National Press Club yesterday. If so, that will go down in the history of dirty tricks in this country.

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0 Responses to Guilt By Association

  1. Morgan Warstler says:

    No way. Jon, c’mon. Look, even I feel bad for Obama, but this isn’t a killer. Really it’s not. He’ll be fine, he’s finally wrightfully throwing his ex-preacher under the bus. It’ll play fine.

    But my god, how can you cry, “guilt by association” in one breath, and in the next tar John McCain for the behavior of extreme members of the repub party?

    Just put some other shoes on for a second. I swear it will help. Obama needs to shift gears and start running towards the center, you should too.

  2. Jon Taplin says:

    Morgan-John McCain can try and distance himself from the new swift boaters, just as Karl Rove disavowed the original swift boaters.

    It might work.

    I was drawn to Obama through policy. He’s the only Candidate who is really for Network Neutrality. MCCain and Clinton are both backed by Big Media/ Telco. He shouldn’t run for the center. If he fights it out on his turf–reform–and wins, it’s huge for the country.

  3. Morgan Warstler says:

    Jon, you just did it again. The way to say it is, “I see the difference between a candidate and their supporters, for this reason we can forgive Obama and McCain for their oddball constituents.”

    I said just days ago, Rev Wright = Rush, and my point was proven yesterday. You wanted to jump up and down on McCain, because his side was being racist, but now want to praise Obama, for turning the other cheek. You might say you vote on policy, but you cheat on rhetoric. When you do that, you invite and justify the very kinds of attacks, you are loathe to see aimed at your man.

    Be a fair arbiter, and use your credibility as such to sway people.

    And I dunno about the center thing, its getting pretty friggin weird in the center – GWB just came down against “millionaire farmers.” Strange days are afoot.

  4. Jon Taplin says:

    “Only thing in the middle of the road is yellow lines and dead armadillo’s”–Jim Hightower, former Texas Commisioner of Agriculture

  5. Rick Turner says:

    Don’t forget that other thing in the middle, Jon…

    Your erect middle finger…

    And Morgan…GShrub can well afford to come down on corporate welfare farmers now. He’s not up for losing an election…

    Funny how the Amish seem to do well farming their way without subsidies…

  6. Patrick Freeman says:

    Of course it’s guilt by association, and it will continue to the end. Let’s suppose Rev Wright is truly insane, and tomorrow he disavows Jesus, proclaims Osama the next savior, and threatens to shoot GWB. ABC’s Stephanopolous and the other mindless minions of TV “news,” along with Hillary, Rush, O’Reilly, and other patriots will stumble over each other to assess how this will affect Obama’s campaign strategy. Hillary, especially, will again affirm that she would not have stayed in Wright’s church a second longer than it took to record his outbursts and get them uploaded to YouTube.

  7. Ben Hoffman says:

    Imagine the outrage that would have ensued had it turned out that Obama had business dealings with the bin Laden family (as does Bush). He would have been lynched by now.

    From the mainstream media, there was barely a whisper about Bush’s connection with the person responsible for the deaths of almost three thousand Americans, but this story about Obama’s pastor has been the top story every day for weeks.

    Hopefully things will settle down now that Obama has distanced himself from Rev. Wright. Maybe somebody will actually start talking about the issues now.

  8. Morgan Warstler says:

    This from Dick Morris:

    “Nor will Obama solve his Wright problem by subtly distancing himself from his pastor and condemning his views, in general, as “offensive” or “not representative of my campaign.”

    Rather, he needs to seize the opportunity Wright presents and rebut the pastor’s views, point by point — as he began to do Tuesday — and, in the process, define himself and his candidacy. He needs to rebut all of the spurious points Wright raised in his now-famous “chickens coming home to roost” sermon and speak up for America, our record and our values. He needs to explain why we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki — to save millions of American and Japanese lives, which would have been lost in an invasion. He should defend our support of Israel and take issue with Wright’s characterization of our backing for its efforts to protect itself as “terrorism.” He needs to speak out about America’s moral role in the world and differ sharply and publicly with Wright’s worldview.”

    Ben, you’re wrong, no one is talking about Saddam’s $ buying Obama’s house either. This tit-tat, will never serve you.

  9. Rachel says:

    Morgan, only you would consider Dick Morris a legitimate political voice. Everyone else considers him a partisan hack.

  10. Dan says:

    I read a story that Fox News made some statements implying that Hamas had “endorsed” Obama. Then McCain made some statements on the Fox story. Then Fox reported on McCain “confirming” the Fox story. So the implication is that Obama is in league with Hamas. Courtesy of the right-wing echo chamber.

    Only mouthbreathing morons believe that kind of crap, but then then a whole lot of them put our current cretin into office. Believing that W was a gen-u-wine American hee-ro and Kerry was a draft-dodgin’ dope-smokin’ cut-and-run coward.

    And as far as McCain and the right, McCain has gone to the extreme fringe far-right people and posed for pictures with them, given speeches on their Hate-For-Jesus campuses, and used them as tools in his campaign. Even so, he shouldn’t be assumed to be carbon copies of them, but his situation is not the same as Obama’s.

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