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But What About Jeremiah Wright?

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Or William Ayers. Or ACORN. Or Karl Marx. Or whoever is the next person introduced on this Obama themed episode of This is Your Life.

"Wait a minute, Obama voter," I am often asked when declaring my voting intent, "What about Jeremiah Wright? Obama went to his church!" Sometimes I am even asked "What about Jeremiah Wright??? Obama went to his church!!!" In either instance, I can't figure out what this questioner expects from my response. As I see it, s/he wants to elicit one of 3 responses:

1) "Jeremiah who? Wright? Oh, I should have explained, I take a dose of HiberNol every March so I have never heard of him. But now that you will surely alert me to something very important and incendiary, I will change my opinion and vote for John McCain. Thank you, kind questioner."

2) Crying, ebbing into full sobbing, in a public display of remorse at how pathetic I am that I ever considered voting for Barack Obama now that this person has verbally confronted me with the prospect of Jeremiah Wright.

3) Some justification or defense of Barack Obama.

Not to disappoint too much, but none of those responses are coming. For one, HiberNol, to my knowledge, is not yet FDA approved. Secondly, I am not one for crying over spilled preacher videos. Thirdly, I could mount a defense for Barack Obama, sure. I could tell you that I have known religious figures who I admire despite despising their political views. I could tell you that I think that the line that would need to be drawn connecting the fact that Obama sat in Jeremiah Wright's church to the conclusion that Obama shares all of Wright's views is more convoluted than a dotted line in a Family Circus cartoon.

I could tell you all of these things, but instead I will tell you none because none of those responses is accurate. In fact, ultimately, I don't have an answer. But here is the thing... that is okay.

The fact that Barack Obama was close with Jeremiah Wright bothers me. The fact that he must have known some if not all of his pastor's views irks me, as well. But this election is not between the Barack Obama who knew Jeremiah Wright and the Barack Obama who repudiated him. If it was, I think I would vote for the latter. This election is between John McCain and Barack Obama, and in that race, I am also voting for the latter.

There is a tendency amongst people to pick sides and whitewash issues. If you support Obama, then this William Ayers business is overblown. If you are voting for McCain, it's stupid to look at G. Gordon Liddy. If you are voting for Barack, who cares that he broke his campaign funds promise, and if you support John McCain, then Sarah Palin is qualified to assume the presidency.

We lie to ourselves because it feels good. It feels better to vote for someone who you completely believe in and who has never had real associations with any felonious figures. But people are flawed, and these two politicians are no exception. We don't get to choose between idealistic, pristine versions of John McCain and Barack Obama; we get to choose between the actual, flawed McCain and Obama. And they are flawed... and that is okay.

When I step into the voting booth on November 4th and vote for Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States, it won't be because I don't think Jeremiah Wright matters. It will be because I do think he matters, but I think national security and the economy matter more.

So stop asking me about Jeremiah Wright. Is that okay?

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