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Is Obama Too Human?

Today Gail Collins writes one of those psychobabbly, pop culture-riffing political columns I know I'm supposed to hate, but it's actually very, very good. The best part:

Obviously, Obama doesn’t share Wright’s racial paranoia. But the saga does play into Hillary Clinton’s most powerful argument: that he is not seasoned enough to be elected president.

By seasoned, she actually means hardened by the soul-searing fires of humiliation and defeat. When Hillary was around Barack’s age and still in Arkansas, it’s perfectly possible that if her longtime pastor suddenly became a political embarrassment, she’d have loyally tried to distance herself without disowning him entirely.

Since then, she’s had a long string of painful lessons learned. One is that when beloved associates become political embarrassments, they tend to be much more concerned about their own reputation than yours. Many bodies under the bus later, when she tells you that she’d have dumped Rev. Wright at the first mention of chickens coming home to roost, you’d better believe it.

This sales pitch — I know how the cruel world works — is powerful in a political party that keeps losing elections that it thinks it deserves to win. On the other hand, young voters who have yet to have their hearts broken by a politician find it wicked depressing.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about all of this and we both agreed that, in a strange way, Obama's handling of the Wright situation actually made us like him more. The fact that Obama hesitated to throw Wright under the bus suggested that Obama's an actual person with actual human relationships and not just some robo-pol whose human interactions are governed exclusively by political considerations.

But then my friend said something else. He said he wasn't sure someone he could relate to would actually be an effective president. I'm still thinking about that one.

--Jason Zengerle