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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Speaking of a particularly creative murder suspect whose alibis grew increasingly more improbable, a veteran prosecutor once put it to me this way: “I’ve always found it’s easier to keep your story straight if you’re telling the truth to begin with.”

Paralyzingly obvious, perhaps. Yet it’s amazing how often people can get caught up in a well-told tale they wish to believe. The murderer had a considerable public following for a time. (Her story’s told in my book “Widow’s Web.”)

So it is in politics. All politicians dissemble some of the time, and we pretend to believe them. To name an obligatory political event in my home state, do you think they’re really thrilled to attend the annual Gillette, AR raccoon supper? Yet Bill Clinton and Sen. Dale Bumpers once crash-landed in an airplane getting there. What they do like is the admiration of crowds.

So it was with President Obama’s membership in the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Chicago congregation. Contrary to Mayor Cory Booker, there’s nothing “nauseating” about saying so. Did Obama share Wright’s impassioned racial views? Perhaps about as much as Catholics like me share the Vatican’s pronouncements about birth control. As an outsider with an unusual biography, Obama joined a church that sent the same message to his South Side constituents the coon supper sends to rural Arkansans: “I’m one of you.”