John McCain has instructed his campaign that Barack Obama’s pastor of 20 years and general all-around nutburger Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not to be a campaign issue, contrary to the advice of his aides.
The Wall Street Journal is guessing this veto arises from fears of being labeled racist. Allahpundit says there’s not much point to giving Obama a pass on Wright when McCain is already hitting him on his associations with William Ayers and ACORN; might as well go whole hog.
I’m not sure either analysis is right.
My own take (and an UPDATE) below the break.
As far as fear of the racism brand is concerned, I doubt there is anyone on McCain’s staff who is fooling themselves into thinking they can escape accusations of racism in any case, whether they mention Wright’s name or not, at least not after the ridiculous flights of fancy coming from the tinfoil-hat salons of the press recently.
Nor do I think there’s a disconnect in ignoring Wright in favor of Ayers and ACORN. To put it bluntly, as a campaign issue Wright is played out. Unless he makes another appearance before Election Day in which he (inevitably) would embarrass Obama again, I think Hillary and McCain both squeezed as much mileage out of him as they could. The only way they could employ Wright as a talking point would be as a small part of a larger, general challenge to Obama over his poor decisions on the company he keeps, as the conservative judicial-appointments issue group Judicial Confirmation Network did in an issue ad released at the end of last month.
No, I think McCain is making a wise decision in ignoring Rev. Wright for greener pastures. Unless Wright himself comes up with new material, he’s a dry well.
UPDATE: Jonathan Martin at Politico’s got my back:
This publication and others have been vigilant for any signs of Republicans using Obama’s race against him. But let’s be candid — McCain has done no such thing, nor is there any evidence that he’s instructed GOP allies to go there.
He’s now in a no-win position. His supporters want him to use Wright against Obama, seeing it as the closest thing they have to a silver bullet in a difficult race. But, as messages like the above prove, he is already being accused of racism without ever mentioning the controversial pastor. One can only imagine the accusations that would rain down upon McCain should he extend his indictment of Obama’s judgment to the Democrat’s decision to sit in Wright’s pews.
Never mind, incidentally, that Obama himself has called Wright fair game and that Hillary Clinton questioned Obama’s decision to attend Trinity during the Democratic primary.