Just as the dust surrounding Sen. Barack Obama’s long-term association with controversial minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright has begun to settle comes new reports of the democratic presidential hopeful’s connection to another racially divisive public figure-the stridently homophobic Rev. James T. Meeks, an Illinois state senator who also serves as the pastor of Chicago’s 22,000 member strong Salem Baptist Church.
Described in a 2004 Chicago Sun Times article as someone Barack Obama regularly seeks out for “spiritual counsel”, James Meeks, who will serve as an Obama delegate at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, is a long-time political ally to the democratic frontrunner.
When Obama ran for the U.S. Senate in 2003, he frequently campaigned at Salem Baptist Church while Rev. Meeks appeared in television ads supporting the Illinois senator’s campaign. Later, according to the same Chicago Sun Times article, on the night after he won the Democratic primary, Sen. Obama attended bible study at Meeks’ church ‘for prayer’ and ‘to say thank you.’
Since that time, not only has Meeks himself served on Obama’s exploratory committee for the presidency and been listed on the Obama’s campaign website as one of the senator’s ‘influential black supporters’, but his church choir was called on to raise their voices in praise at a rally the night Obama announced his run for the White House back in 2007.
Interestingly, the Chicago Sun Times has also reported that both Meeks and Obama share a history of substantial campaign contributions from indicted real estate magnate Tony Rezko.
Read the whole thing, but GayWired.com is an adult-themed site. Key conclusion in the article:
But the question remains: At what point must a candidate for the highest office in the United States be held accountable for the small coterie of individuals who make up his or her inner circle and potentially bear influence on his interpretation of the constitution? And at what point does the benefit of the doubt give way to guilt by association?
Moreover, how can a candidate cultivate a constituency like that of Rev. James Meek, essentially espousing a shared belief in their value system, become an effective and powerful advocate on behalf of issues like LGBT rights that run counter to fundamental agenda of that constituency without experiencing severe repercussions? The answer is he can’t.
Just as Hillary Clinton cannot cherry pick the successes and pitfalls from her husband’s administration that suit her campaign, neither can Barack Obama divorce himself from the implications surrounding the bedfellows he has made over the course of his relatively short political career.
Put even more plainly… Barack Obama can’t have it both ways, which increasingly seems to be his campaign’s modus operandi.
While it is altogether plausible that, in the spirit of bringing hope and unity, a civil rights leader might sit down with members of white supremacist groups to address racial differences, it is another thing entirely to propose that the same civil rights leader could count any of those white supremacists among his closest friends because he finds them to be inspirational people if, you know, you take that pesky race thing out of the equation.
Similarly, while potentially capable of co-existing peacefully in an environment of mutual respect, the homophobe and the LGBT rights advocate aren’t likely to be found cooing at or canoodling with one another in private because they share so many other common interests. Yet these are precisely the kinds of scenarios that Barack Obama asks the American people to accept on faith each and every time unsavory questions arise about the associates with whom he has chosen to surround himself. Ultimately, it is this porous type of reaction that may be Sen. Obama’s undoing. But, then again, perhaps not.