Michael Goodwin sees a genuine disaster for Barack Obama in the Reverend Jeremiah Wright fiasco. He also sees the reason why it is such a disaster. Instead of Obama's claims to being a uniter, Goodwin sees Obama's stance on Wright's anti-America vitriol as nothing more than appeasement. Call Obama the Neville Chamberlain of our time.
Consider, for example, that Obama, alone among all major candidates this year, said he would meet our enemies without conditions, including Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. If his approach to Wright were applied, Obama would emerge from that meeting by condemning Ahmadinejad's threat to wipe Israel off the map while also condemning American and Israeli policies. This moral equivalency would be tacit support for Iran's warped grievances, and perhaps for its nuclear program.
After all, we have nuclear weapons and so does Israel, so who are we to deny Iran? Or, as Obama put it Friday when talking about race relations, "People all want the same thing."
They don't, but appeasement thinking often credits everybody with equally good and worthy intentions. That was the mistake of the most infamous appeaser of modern times, Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who, with France's help, gave in to Adolf Hitler in hopes of heading off war. In exchange for sacrificing innocent Czechs and others living on lands Hitler wanted, Chamberlain famously waved a treaty with Hitler's name on it that he insisted would secure "peace for our time."
Within days, Herr Hitler, as Chamberlain called him, attacked his neighbors and within a year Europe was engulfed in World War II.
Would Obama be so naive or craven? Because of his limited experience, we don't know. That's why the Wright episode, the most difficult issue of his idealistic campaign, takes on huge importance. The lessons are not pretty.
There simply is no amount of context that can offset Wright's viciousness. Regardless of how much else Wright may have done, he crossed a line when he shouted out "God Damn America." Obama's lukewarm denunciations of that and other outrageous statements by Wright speak volumes about Obama. None of it good. A president must not indulge in moral equivalence, a president must lead. Obama simply appeased. That is what will come back to haunt him in the coming months.