We have always understood that character, broadly defined, is important to possess for those in high public office, in part because it tells us whether our leaders warrant our trust, whether their word is dependable, and whether they are responsible. And one of the best indicators of character is the people with whom you associate. This is basic, elementary-school level common sense. The odds are your parents wanted you to hang around with the “right” crowd instead of the wrong crowd because if you hung around with the latter it meant its members would be a bad influence on you, it would reflect poorly on you, and you’d probably end up getting into trouble.
What applies to 10-year-olds also applies to presidential candidates.
Over the years, Barack Obama hung around with some pretty disturbing characters, and what we’re talking about aren’t isolated incidents. It has happened with a slew of people on a range of issues. He has connected himself with domestic terrorists (William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn), with an anti-American and racist minister (Jeremiah Wright), and with corrupt people (Antoin “Tony” Rezko) and organizations (ACORN). What we see, then, is a pattern.
Will it be something that will manifest itself if Obama is elected President? It’s impossible to know for sure, and we can hope it wouldn’t be the case. But it might.
The concern is not that Obama will invite domestic terrorists to the White House for signing ceremonies or private lunches; rather, it is that we know enough about Obama to say that his enormous personal ambition has clouded his judgment over the years. He looks to be a man who will do disquieting things in order to climb the ladder of political success; when he was in Hyde Park, the rungs on that ladder included Mr. Ayers and the Reverend Wright. This kind of trait — soaring ambition trumping sound judgment — can manifest itself in very problematic ways, especially when you occupy the most powerful office in the world.
For those who say that these associations don’t matter, that they’re “distractions” from the more urgent problems of our time and an example of “Swift-boating,” consider this: if John McCain had sat in the pew of a pastor who was a white supremacist and launched his political career at the home of, and developed a working relationship with, a man who bombed abortion clinics or black churches and, for good measure, was unrepentant about it, McCain’s political career would be (rightly) over, and he would be (rightly) ostracized.
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