The Right's 'shameless' plan to tie Obama to Jeremiah Wright... again

After a barrage of criticism, conservatives abandon a scheme to make the president's controversial ex-pastor an even bigger issue than he was in 2008. Smart move?

President Obama and Jeremiah Wright in 2005: Wealthy conservative Joe Ricketts reportedly wanted to bankroll harsh ads tying Obama to Wright, but has since said that he "rejects" this approac
(Image credit: AP Photo/Trinity United Church of Christ)

Conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, reportedly commissioned a plan by GOP strategist Fred Davis to "do exactly what John McCain would not let us do" in 2008: Mount a direct attack on President Obama for his past association with his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The $10 million plan, reports The New York Times, called for highlighting Wright's "black liberation theology," and then countering charges of racism by hiring an "extremely literate conservative African-American" spokesperson to lead the attack and cast Obama as some sort of failed "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln." (Since the Times story was published, Ricketts has disavowed the plan.) The super PAC that was offered the plan turned it down, and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney has repudiated it. Hitting the Obama-Wright connection didn't work in 2008. Would it be any more effective this time around?

This would have disgraced the GOP: This sort of "shameless" smear campaign would backfire, says Steve Benen at MSNBC. For one thing, Wright's sermons were aired in a "near-constant media loop" in 2008, and few voters cared. More importantly, this overtly race-based strategy, which gallingly calls for hiring an African-American spokesperson to call Obama a phony "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln," is less likely to win over "fence-sitters" than it is to make them sick.

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