I never thought the Jeremiah Wright story was a big deal in 2008. It always seemed obvious to me that Obama is a political animal and an atheist (if not a closet Muslim), so I knew all along that his membership in Wright's church in Chicago was purely for political advancement and nothing more. Frankly, it occurred to me that the reason he famously couldn't remember Wright's rants from the pulpit was that he hadn't ever been in attendance.
That being said, the recent revelation from Wright himself that a confidant of Obama's, Eric Whitaker, offered Wright $150,000 in 2008 if he would shut up throughout the presidential campaign, is really really bad. No wonder the Democrats are already crying foul:
Stunning! Will Mitt stand up, as [Sen.] John McCain did? Or allow the purveyors of slime to operate on his behalf?” claimed a 5.42 a.m. tweet from David Axelrod, the senior strategic at Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago.
The proposed advertising is a “hateful campaign being planned by GOP super PACs,” claimed Bill Burton, who runs a Democratic “super PAC” political action committee, dubbed Priorities USA Action, that is itself designed to run negative ads against Gov. Mitt Romney.
Burton’s tweet came at 5.58 a.m. — some 16 minutes after the alert from Axelrod, who has worked in Chicago politics for decades.
At 9.05 a.m., Brad Woodhouse, the spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, joined the hue and cry. “Unbelievable @MittRomney can’t do more on this Ricketts slime story than say he hasn’t read the story,” he said in reaction to a Washington Post report that Romney declined to comment.
At 9.32 a.m., Woodhouse followed up with another tweet, saying “If @MittRomney can’t clearly denounce the type of scum bag tactics planned by his allies as outlined by the NYT he’s not fit to lead.”
My initial reaction was to think... isn't paying someone to be quiet during a presidential campaign exactly what Jon Edwards is being prosecuted for right now?
My next reaction was... what if this had happened to Mitt Romney? The media would be all over it.
But, then, it occurred to me that this couldn't happen to Mitt Romney. I just can't imagine anything in Romney's background that would be anywhere near as shocking as Obama's relationship with Wright... or Bill Ayers... or Frank Marshall Davis.
The double standard is not a matter of media bias about newsworthiness. It's that no one wants to say that Obama's background is really really weird, when it's not appalling or frightening.
In other words, the double standard is not that stories about Obama and Romney's past aren't treated the same. It's that they're not treated as being wildly different in kind.