Few constituencies were more surprised by Barack Obama’s win in last week’s Iowa Democratic caucus than the right-wing media—Clinton obsession has been its bread and butter for over a decade. Nevertheless, the Right is doing its best to prove it will pull no punches no matter who the Democrats nominate.
The Right has hardly refrained from attacking Obama—remember his visit to Rick Warren’s church over a year ago? Or last summer, when the National Clergy Council declared “Obama’s Christianity [to be] woefully deficient”? But the last few days have seen a seeming uptick in the number of anti-Obama articles: For example, Human Events editor-at-large Terence Jeffrey warned that the Democrat is “the most pro-abortion presidential candidate ever.” A CNSNews piece surveyed African-American religious-right activists on the candidate, such as Rev. Clenard Childress of Blackgenocide.org, who implied that abortion is worse for blacks than was lynching, and Jesse Lee Peterson of BOND, who said, “For Barack Obama to support abortion shows a lack of love for the black community and especially for the unborn.”
But the Illinois senator’s faith seems to be the most appealing target of the Right. Newsmax correspondent Ronald Kessler offers a menacing warning that Obama attends a black church whose pastor propounds the “thesis that blacks in America are oppressed.” “At the least,” writes Kessler, “Obama’s membership in [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright’s church suggests a lack of judgment and an insensitivity to views that are repugnant to the vast majority of white Americans who are not bigots.”
(In particular, Kessler objects to the “Black Value System” on the church’s website. “One can only imagine the outrage that would erupt if a white presidential candidate like Romney subscribed to something called the White Value System,” he writes. One can only imagine what Kessler would think if he knew about the Religious Right’s “Black Contract with America on Moral Values.”)
But if Kessler wants to present Obama as a radical Christian, he’s going to have a lot of competition from those on the Right who want to present Obama as a radical Muslim, a (needless to say, inaccurate) smear that continues to be distributed as an e-mail forward. Daniel Pipes (nominated by Bush to the U.S. Institute of Peace) wrote an article for David Horowitz’s FrontPage Magazine purportedly “confirming” the senator’s secret Muslim past.
Kessler concludes his report on Obama’s pastor with a bizarre comparison:
But media bias or not, if Obama is his party’s nominee, his Republican opponent will rightly be able to make use of Rev. Wright and his radical teachings as effectively as supporters of George H.W. Bush used Willie Horton’s furlough to help Bush win the presidency.
The 20-year-old Horton ad would hardly be the first campaign strategy to come to mind, unless Kessler were recalling the ad’s widespread reputation as a crypto-racist attack on Michael Dukakis. In that sense, comparing it to these insinuations about the black church may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.