I meant to get to this yesterday, but since the arguments are still plenty fresh, check out Frank Rich’s column in the Sunday New York Times ; it may be the best thing written during the post-Jeremiah Wright phase of the Democratic primary battle. After noting how all televised clips from people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and John Hagee were curious absent from our television screens of late, despite the fact that they didn’t just say “God damned America” but, worse, blamed Americans for the September 11 attacks, Rich cuts to the core truth about the double-standard at work here:

None of this is to say that two wacky white preachers make a Wright right. It is entirely fair for any voter to weigh Mr. Obama’s long relationship with his pastor in assessing his fitness for office. It is also fair to weigh Mr. Obama’s judgment in handling this personal and political crisis as it has repeatedly boiled over. But whatever that verdict, it is disingenuous to pretend that there isn’t a double standard operating here. If we’re to judge black candidates on their most controversial associates -- and how quickly, sternly and completely they disown them -- we must judge white politicians by the same yardstick.

As I said in my last post, the election will not turn entirely on whether David Broder and others finally wake up to the double-standards at work here, including the fact that McCain is not a principles-first moderate and there are some white ministers in this country who pray for America while harboring (and occasionally, when off message, expressing) a deep, deep hatred for millions of Americans. But the media narratives are, of course, going to be a key factor. In every election, somebody has to be the phony, the flip-flopper, the poser, and the media aren't going to depict McCain thusly (and correctly), they're just going to anoint either Obama or Hillary Clinton for that role.

--Tom Schaller

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