Wright is off and on the table

WRIGHT IS OFF AND ON THE TABLE…. John McCain has said, repeatedly and publicly, that he doesn’t approve of attacking Barack Obama over the former pastor of his former church. In April, when the North Carolina Republican Party went after Obama for his association with Jeremiah Wright, McCain said, “Unfortunately, all I can do is, in as visible a way as possible, disassociate myself from that kind of campaigning.” He added, “I’ve pledged to conduct a respectful campaign.”

Around the same time, Fox News’ Sean Hannity practically begged McCain to attack on this, pointing out some excerpts of Wright’s most provocative sermons. “Would you go to a church like that?” Hannity asked. McCain responded, “Obviously, that would not be my choice. But I do know Sen. Obama. He does not share those views.”

Maybe McCain should have a chat with the rest of his campaign.

Sarah Palin has now attacked Barack Obama over his association with Reverend Wright — even though John McCain himself explicitly said this spring that Wright was off limits and that attacking Obama over his former minister was “not the message of my campaign.”

Palin made her comments about Wright in a new interview with New York Times columnist Bill Kristol, after he asked her whether Wright was a legit issue.

“I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more,” Palin said, “because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character.”

“I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up,” Palin added.

Um, governor? By dishing to McCain’s biggest media sycophant, you just brought that up.

Greg Sargent asks the pertinent questions: “So will McCain now disassociate himself from what Palin said? Or has McCain changed his mind and decided that the gutter attack on Wright he previously condemned in such high-minded terms is now a legit tactic for his campaign?”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.