John Andrews

And that again is probably not a bad thing, whatever you think of Barack's aspiration to the White House (I'm having none of it). What would be a bad thing is if we conservatives let this teachable moment slip away in a storm of self-righteous scolding toward the admittedly awful Jeremiah Wright and the admittedly confused folks who think he's on target.

People who are hurting tend to say hurtful things; anyone who's ever been in a bitter family or marital quarrel knows that. And you don't move toward reconciliation and healing in a toxic situation like that, merely by telling the other person (wrong as he may be) to grow up, get over it, stop being childish. You start by trying to understand, by walking in their shoes, and then slowly work back toward civil conversation with the emotional level dialed down.

I can't see that it's any different in our multiracial American family of 300 million than in the blood families you and I belong to. Or is it? Tell me what I'm missing.

Let me repeat, just to be clear: Barack Obama is the wrong man to be President of the United States. Though brilliant and gifted, he is too far left, too inexperienced, and yes, too slippery and manipulative. All of those qualities, positive and negative, were evident this week in his speech on race.

Michelle Obama is the wrong woman to be First Lady, and Jeremiah Wright is the wrong man to be visiting the Oval Office as spiritual advisor. Neither of them understands America well enough or, it would seem, loves her as she deserves -- warts and all.

But with that said, if these three fellow Americans of ours have provided the rest of us a chance to walk in the shoes of a long-suffering racial group that Lincoln warned would take centuries to knit back fully into our national family, it's too good a chance to miss. No matter what else comes out of the 2008 campaign, that could be one of this year's true blessings. Do as you choose, but I'll be damned if I'm passing it up.

John Andrews

John Andrews is former president of the Colorado Senate and the author of "Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen's Guide to the Next American Century"