Jeremiah Wright is one of Barack Obama’s most obvious vulnerabilities. The sight of this crazy pastor bellowing “God Damn America” or observing that 9/11 was just “chickens coming home to roost” would make almost anyone have second thoughts about voting for Obama. It is difficult to gauge the damage that Wright did to Obama, but the controversy certainly didn’t help him in Pennsylvania, where Hillary crushed him by ten points. Wright should be an effective hot-button issue for the GOP this fall.
Except he won’t be, at least if John McCain has anything to say about it. John McCain has declared the subject out of bounds. Apparently, McCain is “committed to running a respectful campaign based upon an honest debate”, and he seems to think that questioning Obama’s relationship with his crazy pastor is disrespectful.
That idea really doesn’t make much sense. Obama’s involvement in Wright’s church can certainly be seen as a tacit endorsement of Wright’s ideals. Furthermore, anyone who wants to lead America has a responsibility not to support such ideals. McCain is wrong not to take advantage of the Wright issue.
This same attitude can be seen in his dealings with Obama’s friendship with former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. After Obama compared Ayers to pro-life Senator Tom Coburn, McCain responded by meekly saying that such attacks “certainly [aren’t] in keeping with the [presumably Obama’s] overall attitude.” Hardly an effective response, especially considering the weakness of Obama’s position on the issue.
This episode reveals something of John McCain’s character. He runs his political career based on an unshakable assumption that he is absolutely in the right on every issue. This attitude can be both beneficial and harmful for McCain.
It helped McCain on the issue of Iraq. When nearly every Republican attempted to distance themselves from the war, McCain proudly and vocally stood for it. At the time, the war was seen a political killer, but McCain persisted in calling for the surge anyway. Now, McCain can be proud of the fact that he was one of the few Congressmen whom stood firm and full-heartedly supported our effort in Iraq.
But sometimes his obstinacy has very negative effects. McCain also stubbornly supported the illegal alien amnesty bill, which was anathema to conservatives. The rest of the GOP field realized the feelings of the base, and quickly shifted position, leaving McCain to face the brunt of conservative opposition. McCain has and will not budge on the issue, which will almost certainly cost him support from conservatives in the general election.
McCain’s overwhelming self-confidence is a mixed blessing. If he is right on an issue, conservatives can count on him defending his position to the death. However, if he is wrong, he will defend his incorrect decision equally strongly. Translating that philosophy to policy positions, that means that he will probably be wonderful on issues such as the war, abortion, and earmarks—but absolute death to conservatives on issues like immigration or global warming. McCain’s stubbornness, if he gets elected, will at times encourage and at other times enrage conservatives.