Welcome to the 257th edition of `Reject, Renounce, Forget, Repeat'. In what will surely be a ratings blockbuster from now through the election, once again we are bearing witness to the ridiculous game that the media has made a mastery of. And we all know what it is. All campaigns squeeze as much political gain out of it as possible, and still continue to engage in it, even though it's patently ludicrous, and the media knows it. When they're on the receiving end, they denounce the horrible way that they're being taken advantage of.
Step 1) The statement. Someone not officially attached to a campaign makes a controversial statement. The statement is horrible and unconscionable.
Step 2) The tee up... The media and/or rival campaigns pick up on this controversial statement. Both operations' motives are obvious - the media for the salacious story, the rival campaign for the political points.
Step 3) The fanning. The offensive statement is replayed endlessly. Whether it's YouTube, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post, etc., is irrelevant and besides the point. As long as the offensive statements are connected with a candidate, that's all that matters.
Step 4) The rejection. The candidate marginally attached to the person who made the offensive statements puts out a statement saying essentially "we regret/renounce/reject said person's statements; we find them offensive; they have no place in this campaign."
Step 5) The pile on. The media or rival campaigns will not let it go at this, of course. While the rival campaigns may engage in a "this isn't enough of a renunciation" game, the media will seem neutral and instead engage in a "Is this enough?" game, giving them endless opportunities to replay/repost the offensive message. If it's deemed a personal offense, it's completely irrelevant if the offended party publicly says they weren't offended or the comments are being blown out of proportion, of course.
Step 6) The absolute repudiation. Under increasing fire, the campaign under attack finally issues a blistering rejection of the person who is offensive. Whatever connections the person actually had to the candidate/campaign is irrelevant.
The latest iteration of this is Rev. Michael Pfleger's comments regarding Hillary Clinton while in Obama's church. Let's analyze this for a second. We're now asking Obama to repudiate someone who gave a guest sermon simply because the guest sermon was given at the candidate's church. This is beyond ridiculous. This is a silly, stupid game, and everyone knows it. Yes, his comments were offensive, and yes, they did offend me a lot. But you know what? I'm smart enough to realize that Pfleger's not connected to Obama and has nothing to do with him. If this isn't the definition of a manufactured story, I don't know what is.
The media's obviously never going to give up this stupid, ridiculous game, and we all know why. It's in their interest to promote a juicy, sexy story as much as possible. But come on, the rest of us know better, and both campaigns know better. Apparently the Clinton campaign is now accusing the Obama campaign of not specifically rejecting Pfleger's comments:
"Divisive and hateful language like that is totally counterproductive in our efforts to bring our party together and have no place at the pulpit or in our politics," Wolfson said late Thursday. "We are disappointed that Senator Obama didn't specifically reject Father's Pflegler's despicable comments about Senator Clinton, and assume he will do so."
Wolfson, come on, you know better. You've been on the receiving end of this enough times that you should know how it all works. Let's as Democrats be better than this. I don't think Obama should be held responsible for some stupid remarks made by someone simply because he happened to say it at Obama's church. It's just common sense.