Anyone who has followed Obama's career and history knows that Jeremiah Wright's Afro-centric and downright eccentric theology and politics would come up eventually. But it is depressing that the first major MSM column on the matter immediately raises the possibility that Obama is a closeted supporter of Louis Farrakhan. Not that Cohen is saying such a thing, of course. So we have this to-be-sure paragraph stuck right up front:
It's important to state right off that nothing in Obama's record suggests he harbors anti-Semitic views or agrees with Wright when it comes to Farrakhan.
But it's nonetheless important to write a column airing such a possibility. Usually, of course, Cohen wouldn't raise the theological issues around someone's pastor:
I don't for a moment think that Obama shares Wright's views on Farrakhan. But the rap on Obama is that he is a fog of a man. We know little about him, and, for all my admiration of him, I wonder about his mettle.
What on earth can this mean? Candidates whose rap is not a fog would not get the same scrutiny? Mettle? Is this code for "sound on the Jews"? Too soft on the Muslims? Or what? No one - no one - could read Obama's books or examine his career and believe he is anything but the polar opposite of Farrakhan. But that's not enough for Cohen.
I have been and remain an optimist about the ability of Americans to vote for and elect a black politician to the presidency. But as David Brooks points out today, resistance is no longer understandable on old white-black lines. The smorgasbord of racial and identity politics comes into play. And so long-festering black-Hispanic tensions may put Nevada at risk; and the older black establishment prefers to play the old game with the white power-brokers they have learned to deal with than the new black leader they cannot control; and some Jewish-Americans, seeing a black man with real power emerging on the national scene, immediately panic that it's Farrakhan in disguise. All the Clintons need do is sit back and allow this game to proceed. And maybe add a few comments to reassure all parties that they intend to keep playing their role: the white leader who's the benefactor of the minorities. And that's all the LBJ remark was: not a racist slip, but a statement of where power ultimately lies. With white dynasts in office, and the divided members of minorities who keep them there.