POLITICS
11/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Palin Plays The Wright Card

Speaking to Bill Kristol, the conservative New York Times columnist, Sarah Palin continued her assault on Barack Obama's character. This time she aired criticisms of the Senator's former Reverend, Jeremiah Wright.

"To tell you the truth, Bill, I don't know why that association isn't discussed more," Palin said, "because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that -- with, I don't know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn't get up and leave -- to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up."

The remarks provide yet another sign of how invested the McCain camp is in turning the narrative of this campaign away from economic and towards personality issues.

And yet, taken on its own, the line is jarring in its chutzpah. Palin, for starters, recently bemoaned the media "elite's" obsession with trivial gotcha games that distract from discussions of substance. Now, she is doing it herself.

More jarring, however, is that Palin and the McCain campaign have, up to this point, gone to some efforts to avoid the subject of religious affiliations. That's because Palin's spiritual past contains, like Obama's, stark political liabilities. At her old church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, Palin discussed both the Iraq War and the construction of the $40 billion Alaska national gas pipeline as projects touched by God. Her old pastor Ed Kalnins suggested that people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would not be accepted in heaven and argued that terrorists and Iraq were part of a war "contending for your faith." A guest pastor at that church personally blessed Palin by asking Jesus to protect her from the perils of witchcraft.

More recently, Palin's attended a Wasilla Bible Church sermon conducted by the founder of Jews for Jesus, David Brickner, who made several remarkable claims about terrorism in Israel.

"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real," he said. "When Isaac was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment -- you can't miss it."

Palin, by all accounts, didn't "get up and leave" the pew.