There was no question, as this day dawned, that Barack Obama was going to have to denounce his ex-pastor in unequivocal terms — no more of that, Well, you just have to understand about the black church stuff.
Right now, I’m trying to decide rather urgently — did he go far enough in what he said today? I don’t mean "far enough" to satisfy me, or even you, necessarily. I just mean, did he do what he had to to save his candidacy? Because there’s no question in my mind that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s statements of the last two days put the Obama campaign below water.
After failing with white middle-class voters in Pennsylvania — and not least of all because of what we’d already heard from the Wright pulpit — this latest stuff could not be allowed to stand.
Normally, I’d allow myself a little time to decide whether what Sen. Obama said today was enough. But at the moment, I’ve trying to decide whether it makes the Bob Herbert column I just put on tomorrow’s op-ed page too outdated.
We have this problem with The New York Times. While The Washington Post, for instance, gives us its opinion columnists in plenty of time for us to run them the same day that the Post does, The Times takes a far more self-centered approach, not moving its copy until it’s damned well good and ready — which is generally hours after our next day’s pages are done. Consequently, when we run columns by Herbert, Dowd, Brooks, et al., it’s generally a day later. Which is not usually a problem. A good opinion is a good opinion a day later.
Anyway, Bob Herbert had a strong column on the Wright situation this morning, and I picked it for tomorrow over — well, over a lot of things, but in the end, it was down to that or a Samuelson piece that’s embargoed until Wednesday. I chose the Herbert. But his column says, in part:
For Senator Obama, the re-emergence of Rev. Wright has been devastating. The senator has been trying desperately to bolster his standing with skeptical and even hostile white working-class voters. When the story line of the campaign shifts almost entirely to the race-in-your-face antics of someone like Mr. Wright, Mr. Obama’s chances can only suffer.
Beyond that, the apparent helplessness of the Obama campaign in the face of the Wright onslaught contributes to the growing perception of the candidate as weak, as someone who is unwilling or unable to fight aggressively on his own behalf.
Hillary Clinton is taunting Mr. Obama about his unwillingness to participate in another debate. Rev. Wright is roaming the country with the press corps in tow, happily promoting the one issue Mr. Obama had tried to avoid: race.
Mr. Obama seems more and more like someone buffeted by events, rather than in charge of them. Very little has changed in the superdelegate count, but a number of those delegates have expressed concern in private over Mr. Obama’s inability to do better among white working-class voters and Catholics.
Then today, Obama comes out swinging on the issue…
So right this moment, I’m trying to decide whether to run Herbert because he still makes good points, or ditch him because Obama has at least tried to do something Herbert says he needed to do.
Right now, I’m at the coin-toss stage…