Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No comparison!

I am a long-time reader and fan of the New York Times. Often they cover complicated stories deftly yet deeply. But I find the Times' editorial judgments related to Senator Obama genuinely confusing. After Senator Obama's "race speech" on Tuesday, the NYT published an editorial
lauding Senator Obama and explicitly comparing him not only to Abraham Lincoln and FDR, but more specifically comparing Senator Obama's speech to John F. Kennedy Jr.'s famous one discussing the relationship between his Catholicism and his politics.

But to liken these speeches is to miss the point made in each. In his address, JFK made it clear that he distinguished between his Church and the state, between his religious affiliation and his politics, and that as a politician he did not answer to his Church. In his address, Senator Obama objected to some statements of his pastor but explicitly refused to draw the religion/politics distinction JFK did. On the contrary, for better or for worse, Senator Obama reaffirmed his commitment to his Church and to his spiritual advisor Reverend Wright, and the role both have played and still play in his political thinking. Indeed, Senator Obama emphasized that according to his experience of "the black experience" - Senator Obama's phrase, not mine - church, pastor, and politics are all woven together.

Make what you will of Senator Obama's outlook on his politics and his religious affiliation. What puzzles me is the fact that the New York Times, which often includes excellent writing, published an editorial that suggests its authors had not comprehended the words of either JFK or Senator Obama. I expect more from the Times.

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