This game of renunciation and denunciation is proving to be a difficult one to navigate, both for the candidates and the observers. In the first place, there seems to be no logic to the system of who should get denounced and who may remain in the safe embrace of the various candidacies. Basically, we've learned that a reputation for "straight talk" allows one to proudly befriend an anti-Catholic Neanderthal. Similarly, political expedience creates an environment where it is acceptable to forge an alliance with kooky, divisive newspaper magnates. And let's face it, I'd lay good odds on the probability that after a suitable amount of time spent in exile, the press will be willing to forgive a candidate who allows a famously intemperate Scottish genocide expert to return to the fold.
But once you are saddled with an association too toxic for anyone to look past, like, say, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a nearly insurmountable task remains: when it comes to renouncing, how far does one have to go before it is far enough? Is it good enough to break out the Roget's and run through every synonym of "reject?" Is speaking of the matter in measured tones enough, or must one experience a full-on, Zell Miller style anger-box freakout? Must the candidate go so far as to confront the figure, and do grievous physical harm to their person. See, until we can develop and codify an agreed-upon set of standards that govern precisely what a candidate must do, we're going to continue to have this problem.
That's the position the political media finds themselves in over the Jeremiah Wright Fiasco (which would be a good name for a band, by the way!). They are the ones that both drive the debate and decide when the standard for renunciation has been met. Some believe it has. Some believe Obama's fallen short. It's clear that Pat Buchanan will not rest until Obama has personally razed Trinity Church to the ground and rendered unto Buchanan the remains so that he might festoon his forehead with them next Ash Wednesday. So, for the next six days or so, expect to hear endless repetitions of the same question: "Did Obama do enough?" And for the answer to that question, we'll only offer: "What Colbert said."
COLBERT: Well, today, a disgusted Senator Barack Obama broke with his pastor in no uncertain terms saying, "I am outraged by the comments that were made...saddened over the spectacle...they offended me...I find these comments appalling...I am completely opposed to this...it is completely opposed to what I stand for...it not only makes me angry it saddens me...it shocked me...it surprised me...it directly contradicts everything I've done during my life...all it was was a bunch of rants that aren't grounded in truth...I find it objectionable and offensive...Reverend Wright does not speak for me...he does not speak for our campaign...I don't think anybody could attribute those ideas to me." A clean break, leaving only one question.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Does this put the Wright controversy behind Barack Obama?
COMMENTATOR: I don't think so.
COLBERT: Oh, thank god. Oh, thank you, Jesus. [Referring to image of Wright] We almost lost you today...We will have more on this Reverend Wright controversy as often as we can.