Kathleen Parker

Summing up, let me just say that I reject, repudiate, renounce, denounce, dismiss and utterly regret 2008.

Sayonara and good riddance.

Which is not intended to convey offense toward anyone of Japanese descent, nor to serve as commentary on any but the preceding 12 months of the Gregorian calendar. Not that other calendars, including the Goddess Lunar Calendar, aren't perfectly good.

In fact, I categorically denounce any person or statement (or calendar) that disparages or causes distress to any living creature on this great planet or that serves to divide us from any other planet in this universe -- or any other -- and such creatures as, therein, may reside.

That being said, it is still nevertheless true that Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein.

I mention this not to cause trouble, because I categorically renounce trouble, but to cite one of the many odd utterings that defined 2008 as The Year of Denouncing and Repudiating.

Dare I say: 2008 was a veritable orgy of repudiation.

Despite our professed respect for walking the walk, talking the talk is the real deal-breaker, as the past year has made clear. It is now required that anyone seeking public office be prepared to denounce any and all who have ever said anything remotely offensive to anyone. This is potentially quite a long list.

It is also a rather odd exercise, a sort of redemption-by-proxy whereby the innocent confessor, having committed no offense other than to enjoy an endorsement or association, seeks absolution through repudiation of the "guilty" party.

"If you don't like my friend, I don't like my friend."

Thus, Barack Obama sought and was granted redemption by leaving his church and distancing himself from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his spiritual adviser for 20 years. The questions that mattered most were never really satisfactorily answered: Did Wright's now-famous rants represent his body of work? And, did Obama tolerate, not notice or not care about his preacher's offensive words?

But never mind. More important than the content of a 20-year history was the denunciation, though even that sometimes isn't enough. Judgment, as always, is in the eye of one's opponent.

Hillary Clinton challenged Obama's denunciation of Louis Farrakhan, saying that Obama should have rejected the Nation of Islam leader's endorsement. Obama said fine. He would "reject and denounce" if that would make Clinton feel better.

And then he made her secretary of state. And she did feel better.

John McCain also had to rebuke unfortunate friends, including Ohio talk radio host Bill Cunningham and Texas televangelist John Hagee.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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