The answer to the persisting question, "Who is Barack Obama?" grows increasingly clear. Barack Obama is the appealing and only slightly more moderate face of American left-radicalism. Edward McClelland's article, "The crazy uncles in Obama's attic" is only the latest to confirm the pattern. More dots, more connections...
Obama's relationship to Wright is paradigmatic. Obama's own views are not precisely Wright's, but Obama understands and is attracted to Wright's radicalism and wants to win at least a gruff sort of understanding and even acceptance of it from Americans at large. What's scary is that this is all-too-similar to the way Obama thinks about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar Asad. Obama may not agree with them either, but he feels as though he understands their grievances well enough to bridge the gap between these leaders and the American people. That is why Obama is willing to speak to Ahmadinejad and Asad without preconditions.
Can we fairly make analogies between internal American splits and differences between nations? No we cannot. But that is precisely Obama's error–and it is pervasive on the dovish left. The world of nations is in fact a scarcely-hidden anarchy of conflicting interests and powers. Yet liberals treat the globe as if its one great big "multicultural" nation in which reasonable folks can simply sit down and rationally iron out their differences. Obama sees himself as a great global reconciler, on exactly the same pattern as he sees himself as a national reconciler–the man who bridges not only all races, but all nations. Unfortunately, what reconciliation means for Obama is getting Americans to accept folks who don't like them, and to strike bargains (on disadvantageous terms, I would argue) with those who mean to do us serious harm.
Obama is not the same as Jeremiah Wright. Jeremiah Wright traveled to Libya with Louis Farrakhan to meet Muammar Khadafi, when Khadafi was one of the most important rogue-state leaders and terror-supporters in the world. I don't think Obama would travel on his own, with Louis Farrakhan, to meet Ahmadinejad today. But Obama's willingness to talk to Ahmadinejad and Asad without preconditions, as president, shows that Wright's more radical impulse survives in Obama, in an only slightly more moderate form.
By meeting Ahmadinejad without preconditions, Obama would risk giving away the store. With so much riding on his unconditional pledge to meet, Obama would need to show something for his efforts, while Ahmadinejad could just walk away. America would likely get the short end of any deal. But Obama would use his every rhetorical gift to convince us that, whatever our differences, it was right and wise to reconcile with, or at least "understand" where Iran was coming from. Obama's gushing fans would eat it up, and all under the guise of "bringing together" America and its erstwhile enemy. That is what Obama does. He "unifies." He'll find out too late that the world — and especially an Iran in pursuit of nuclear weapons–doesn't work that way. Meantime the media and liberal elites will fall for the new president's silver-tongued tale. It's what they want to believe anyway.
Notice that McClelland's story points to the relationship between Obama and Rashid Khalidi, the Palestinian advocate and currently the Edward Said professor of Arab studies at Columbia university. Martin Kramer has some good posts on Khalidi here, here, and here. The sort of bogus "moderation" Kramer exposes in Khalidi is not at all dissimilar to what we're seeing in Obama himself. Again, Obama is the appealing face of American radicalism — the man who unites the leftism of the professors with the radicalism of the Afrocentric clergy, and ties it all up in an only slightly more moderate package. And that is exactly the sort of "unity" we'll get, when and if Barack Obama becomes president of the United States.