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CNN Political Analyst
Editor's note: This first appeared in the National Review, on March 18, 2008.
I just figured out how Obama gets out of this. It's devious. But it may be only way.
He leaves this thing alone for the time being and suffers through the next few primaries. He hangs onto his pledged delegate lead, makes the argument that pledged delegates are all that matter. So far, polling shows Democratic voters agree.
He prevails and wins the nomination. Then, he deploys The Pastor Plan. It goes like this. Pastor Wright arranges to give a speech. In it, the pastor makes such outlandish and slanderous claims, not unlike we've already heard, that Obama has no choice but to say, "Enough! Jeremiah has gone too far. I cannot abide his divisive, harmful, and inappropriate language. He does not speak for me or my family which is why we must, with heavy hearts, sever our relationship. He will always be a friend and welcome at my door. But I cannot continue to take his counsel, religious or otherwise." It helps here if the pastor has used some swear words and invented new conspiracies.
Obama sends Pastor Wright a heartfelt letter, more in sorrow than in anger, which he posts on his website. He holds a press conference to inform the public that he has spoken with the pastor privately and explained his position. Obama vows to carry on the church's work of charity and compassion. He stages some events showing him involved in a multicultural community service project, visits a West Virginia coal mine, stuff like that. And he exhorts his fellow Americans to join him in the journey toward racial reconciliation.
Timing is key. Sometime right after the inevitable 527 Pastor Wright ads start running. In fact, they can be the pretext of the pastor's speech. The 527 ads provoke the Reverend's fury. Obama reacts. Bam! It's over. Pastor problem solved.
Think the Clintons wouldn't do it?
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