Barack Obama is simply guilty. That is the "problem" which pundits pretend to be talking about regarding his twenty years at Trinity United Church of Christ and his long held admiration for its pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. What Obama has done is commit a serious moral crime which disqualifies him for the presidency just as much as if he had been a member of the Communist Party or the Nazi Party or the Black Panthers. There is no explanation and no excuse.
About the same time that this news story blossomed into a full blown scandal, New York Democrats faced a similar problem with Elliot Spitzer, former Governor of New York. Then, as here, there was no explanation or excuse that would work. Spitzer did a terrible thing. Obama, in attending a church of hate for twenty years without protest or complaint, did a terrible thing too. It simply cannot be undone.
What would black Americans think about a presidential candidate who had been an active member of the Ku Klux Klan for twenty years and who called an Imperial Wizard the inspiration for one of his books? Would any amount of explanation about the misery of poor whites in America or the misunderstanding between the races have mattered to black Americans? Would any excuse - should any excuse - have been accepted? Of course not!
If Spitzer had begun talking about an unhappy marriage or about guilt from growing up in wealth while his parents and grandparents faced very different young lives, would anyone in New York seriously have said that his conduct was okay? No. Spitzer was guilty of serious crimes and even more serious moral misconduct. He can, and should, seek repentance. He can, and should, seek help with his emotional problems. But he is unsuitable to be Governor of New York or any other office of public trust for the foreseeable future.
Obama did have a way out of his moral crimes. He could have said something like this: "Yes, I did attend a church that preached hatred of whites and hatred of America. Yes, what I did was wrong. It was also wrong of me not to tell the American people about my relationship with this church before I ran for president. I will not try to excuse what I did; I simply admit that what I did was wrong. I have learned my lesson. I will never allow myself to be morally compromised like that again."
Instead Obama compounded his original sin by hiding it and then lying about it. He pretended that his church was a mainstream church. Then he pretended that Reverend Wright did not make the sort of ghastly sermons that evidence later showed that he did. Then Obama pretended that he never attended the church when Wright made one of his "hate America and hate white people" sermons.
At every step, instead of coming clean with the American people and asking forgiveness, which is what he should have done, Barack Obama tried to trick the American people and to finesse his own moral shortcomings through his undeniable charm and eloquence. But America does not need charming, eloquent liars in the White House. America does not need morally flawed leaders who are quite unwilling to admit their moral flaws, almost adamant - even when confronted with those flaws - that the flaws themselves do not exist.
What did Obama think when Wright accused the government Obama wants to lead with creating the AIDS virus and addicting black youths to crack cocaine? Did Obama really think that, sitting in the pew and nodding thoughtfully, that he was innocent? What if the preacher had been Hitler and the sermon had been about the "contamination" of German society by alien Jewish pollution? Would a German Obama have sat quietly and seemed to agree? Would a white Obama have sat quietly while Senator Bilbo viciously attacked blacks? Would such alternative Obamas have attended the sermons of Hitler or Bilbo for twenty years, all of those years listening without comment or objection? The moral crime has already been committed. The court of public opinion should note, also, that Obama does not even denounce his Hitler or Bilbo, but he simply denounces those things which people can prove he said.
If Obama wishes to help, as he says, then he should do this: Obama should go to all the black churches which spew these lies and hate and tell them to stop. Will he do that? I am not holding my breath. Are you?