Friendship is not necessarily based on someone's political views, no matter how goofy or even hateful, especially if the person is not sticking their views in your face all of the time. It is also appropriate not to be friends with someone whose political views you abhore, especially if they are flamboyant about it. But whether someone holds mainstream political views is not the basis on which acquaintances are built. If you have a sincere affection for someone built up over many years, you tend to forgive their occasional lunacies. Especially if it is a person who you came to respect, admire, and befriend many years before, perhaps when that person was not nuts. To me, I don't necessarily see it as a flaw in Obama that he hasn't made a big show of denouncing Wright or Ayers until he was forced to. I do think that he probably is fed up with Wright from the standpoint that he has tried to treat Wright with the respect that he sees owed to a longstanding pastor who is now making a public embarrassment of himself. He has tried to be patient with Wright in hopes that Wright would sober up, but instead Wright just keeps pouring it on, at which point Obama says "enough." So it seems reasonable to me that Obama has been largely sincere through this whole process, first in trying to give Wright an opportunity to clean up his act but then to say "enough" when Wright refused to do so.Amen to that. The writer, Prof. Zywicki, makes clear he isn't going to be casting a ballot for Sen. Obama, but does a nice job putting the whole issue into context. Read the whole thing.
As I said, Obama seems like quite a decent guy. I'm not going to vote for him because of his policy views but he still seems like a decent guy. He has a lot of tolerance for nutty political views, but anyone who hangs around academia or any political movement will certainly have friend and acquaintances who have nutty political views. If you are a basically decent and compassionate person you try to look for the best in people and work with everyone, not throw aside friends just because you don't agree with their political views. Moreover, if you have a friend who has idiotic political views you don't run around adding to his embarrassment making a public spectacle out of denouncing those views, but instead I would think that you would hope that the guy would wisen up.
April 30, 2008
A point well-taken, over at Volokh: