Guilt By Association

Pretty much everybody who links to Steve Sailer gets asked (repeatedly) “why do you link to that guy?”

Well, maybe because Sailer predicted this – that Rev. Wright would actively try to sabotage Obama’s campaign by grabbing the microphone and shouting the most outrageous things he could think of into it – back in mid-2007. Here’s the best summary of his armchair psychologizing about Wright, which is much more recent. Is Sailer’s armchair psychologizing right? Well, armchair psychologizing is a questionable activity generally, but I’ve engaged in it more than a little bit myself. But I’ll say this much: he’s gotten the trajectory of this story more right than, say, Andrew Sullivan who has now belatedly jumped on the “he must be denounced” bandwagon.

I think Sullivan’s giving bad advice. I’m just not that worried about the Wright connection, for the reasons I articulated here. I read a little bit about Wright back at the beginning of the year, and it was pretty clear what he was, and I understood as well what Obama saw in him and got from him. That’s part of the package you get if you elect Obama – it’s not the whole package by any means, but it’s part of it.

I do wish that months ago Obama had said something like the following: “with all due respect to my pastor, I think some of the things he says are not just extreme or provocative, they are dangerous and wrong. At a time when fantastic conspiracy theories about AIDS have cost millions of lives in Africa, for an African-American minister – who, I should stress, has put his heart and soul into helping people infected with HIV – to stoke those kinds of fears is unconscionable. And I do hope that, to some degree, my candidacy and my Presidency will lead to a greater degree of trust, and that conspiracy theories like these get a little less traction in the next generation.” Yeah, that would have been nice. But I wouldn’t expect more than that in terms of distancing. And I’m not sure I’d want to hear it. The man is who he is. He doesn’t become somebody else if he throws his pastor under a bus. If Obama’s attachment to Wright is a dealbreaker for you, you shouldn’t vote for him – and that shouldn’t change if he denounces him today because he’s become politically “toxic.”

As it also happens, I don’t intend to stop linking to Sailer when he writes things that I think are interesting and insightful. That’s part of the package you get from me – by no means the whole package, and Sailer’s obsessions are his, not mine. But it’s part of the package.