Saturday, May 24, 2008

Questions of Honesty, Integrity Will Haunt Obama

Michael Barone has found deep liabilities for Barack Obama in the voting data from the West Virginia and Kentucky primaries.

It turns out that half of the voters in those states question Obama's honesty and integrity:

It's a little dangerous in interpreting polls to assume that voters' thinking proceeds along logical lines. People who aren't professionally involved in politics, whose knowledge comes from bits and snippets of news, can hold beliefs that are contradictory or in tension with each other. They don't feel obliged to resolve contradictions. But even granting that, it seems to me that about half of West Virginia and Kentucky Democratic primary voters were saying that Obama lied about not knowing what Wright has been preaching and that he agrees with him a lot more than he has let on.

Now West Virginia and Kentucky are not typical primary states. They, together with Arkansas, where Hillary Clinton was first lady for 12 years, were Obama's weakest states in this year's primaries. And some percentage of registered Democrats in these states have been voting Republican in recent presidential elections. Nevertheless, the negative verdict these voters render on Obama's honesty and his relationship with Wright is likely to be typical of some significant quantum of potential Democratic voters this year. And not just in states like West Virginia and Kentucky, which he will certainly lose, but in marginal states which he must carry in order to be elected.

I find confirmation from this in a recent focus group conducted for the Annenberg Public Policy Center by pollster Peter Hart (for whom I worked for seven years) of non-primary voters in Charlottesville, Va. As Hart and Alex Horowitz note in their analysis of reactions to Obama, "When asked to recount any two memories of the total presidential campaign so far, seven of the 12 participants cite Rev. Wright by name. So far, clips of Rev. Wright clearly are the one 'key defining moment' of this campaign."

Most reporters are liberals, whose circles of friends and acquaintances have included people with views not dissimilar to those of Wright or William Ayers, the unrepentant Weather Underground bomber with whom Obama served on a nonprofit board and at whose house his state Senate candidacy was launched. Such reporters don't find these views utterly repugnant or particularly noteworthy. But most American voters do. And they wonder whether a candidate who associates with such people agrees with them -- or disbelieve him when he says he doesn't.

Though most in the press won't admit it, that's a problem -- for the Obama candidacy and for the whole Democratic Party once it nominates him.
There are a few other questionable relationships out there as well, about which Obama's not been completely forthcoming.

Today's the 10th anniversary of Obama's dinner with Professor
Edward Said. See, Gateway Pundit, "10 Years Ago Today... Obama's Dined With Israel-Haters." Perhaps Obama can answer why he's had ties to groups intent on the elimination of the Jewish state?

See also, "
Palestinians See Obama as Close Ally."