"John McCain is a good man. He's an American hero. We honor his service to the nation. But he's made some bad decisions about the company he keeps." This magnanimous pronouncement from Barack Obama in February sounded noble at the time it was uttered. The country should reject Senator McCain not because of his biography, he argued, but because of his questionable associations—many of whom are wicked right-wingers like President Bush. With his remark, Obama unwittingly constructed a new standard of judgment that can, and should, be used against him mercilessly in the general election. An alarmingly large portion of the company Obama keeps seems to be a ragtag posse of unreformed leftists, race baiters, and blame-America-first polemicists. Although none of these individual associations will singlehandedly derail his candidacy, when considered in the aggregate, they will give many Americans reason to pause before pulling the lever for the unvetted freshman senator.
Countless columns have already been devoted to the subject of Obama's twenty year relationship with his crackpot pastor and spiritual adviser, Jeremiah Wright. Now Obama's "friendly" ties to unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers are emerging as another headache for his campaign. After all, voters may be curious as to why Obama countenanced a political friendship with a man who in 2001 told the New York Times, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough." Meanwhile, a procession of Obama aides have been forced to issue public apologies or resignations over controversial comments. Samantha Power's not-so-off-the-record denunciation of Hillary Clinton as a "monster" comes to mind. As team Obama seeks to shrug off these setbacks, the hits just keep on coming. New rhetorical fires seem to flare up every few days—and Obama is starting to get burned.