The Fierce McCarthyism Of Now

Here are the questions that Hugh Hewitt wants Tim Russert to ask Obama this Sunday. If it sounds like Joe McCarthy, it's because, well, what difference is there in tone or implication? Are you now or have you ever been ... ? I was subjected to the same kind of damned-if-you-do inquisition when I went on his show:

What year did you join Trinity Church?

How often did you attend services there? (This requires follow-up after the inevitable ambiguous answer.  Wwas it quarterly, monthly, weekly?  Did you belong to any of the church's many organizations, like a men's fellowship?  These aren't trick questions.  Any church member knows exactly how often they go to church, and the patterns don't change much after they are set.)

When you attended the Million Man March, did you go with a group of men from Trinity?  Did you see Pastor Wright on that trip?

How often would you see Pastor Wright in a setting away from church?

Did you go out to dinner together?  Socialize together?  Travel together?

You heard him preach on "white man's greed," that's in your memoir Dreams from My Father.  And when you told him he couldn't deliver the opening prayer at your campaign kick-off, you said it was because he could be "a little rough."  How often did you hear him preach on the greed of white people, and what did you mean by "a little rough."

I'd like to know about your friendship with Bernadine Dohrn and William Ayers.

They hosted an event for you when you ran for state senate, right?

Bernadine Dohrn worked at Sidley and Austin when your wife worked there, and maybe when you were a summer associate there, is that correct?

You and William Ayers served on a foundation board together, correct?

So how well do you know them and how often have you seen them over the past dozen years?

Did you ever socialize with them?

Let's talk about Tony Rezko.  He helped you buy your house?  Did you have any other business dealings with him at all?

Did you socialize with him?  Attend events at his home?

Michelle Obama gave a speech a week ago Friday in which she bemoaned how much you two had been in debt until you wrote your two best-sellers.  How much had you been in debt?

She also talked about the burdens of the student loans you two had accumulated.  How much had you two borrowed to get through college and law school?

Did you receive financial aid other than loans from Columbia or Harvard Law?

Harvard Law has a program that encourages new grads to go into public interest work.  Were there any such incentives or encouragments when you left Harvard Law School?

Do you think the country has made great progress on race relations?

Do you believe the government had anything to do with inventing AIDs?

Your church bulletin had some amazing things in it, which can fairly be described as extremely anti-Israel and some would say anti-semitic, such as the charge that Israel was developing a bomb that would kill only Arabs.  Did you ever read anything in one of the Trinity bulletins that caused you to approach the leadership of the church and ask for more judgment or balance in the publications?

People are worried about your judgment.  There's your friendship with Pastor Wright, and you say you didn't know about his quote rants."  There's your friendship with Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, and you say you were 8 when they were blowing up people and buildings, but in November of 2007 they said horrible things about the U.S.  There's Tony Rezko, your business partner on the land deal which makes him your neighbor, and now he's in the dock.

How can people be confident that your judgment about people has improved?