If you are still interested in my own reactions, read below the cut.
Once again, I am astounded at how Obama has captured a number of different things I have said and thought over the years, put them together in new ways, and with elegant and forceful language. Damn. I couldn't write a better speech if I tried, even after reading his.
I will add only a few other observations. For me, the question of a political vetting process spinning out of control to hold folks accountable not only for everything they ever said or did at any time in their entire lives, but anything a supporter or friend or close associate has ever said or done, and subject to the wildest fancies of spin by hostile critics, is somewhat personally concerning. While to possibility that I might some day have a Senate confirmation hearing remains highly unlikely, it is not so ridiculous that I can laugh at it as I once did.
Lets consider what folks could make of me through my associates who:
a) Live in polyandrous relationships and actively advocate polyandry and "lose living." Many of whom remain on my "friends list" on a social networking site.
b) Same issue, but active settlers on the West Bank who do not believe in the "two state solution."
c) On the other hand, I have allowed to live in my home a man who approves of the current Iranian government (including its nuclear ambitions), approves of the Hamas offensive against Israel, supports nationalization of most major industries, and -- perhaps most horrific in this political climate -- is a Shiite.
d) My membership in "Satan's Church of America" which, according to one legal complaint filed in federal court, supports child molestation and actively conspired to assist a child molester. Or my attendance at Science Fiction conventions where pornography is shown, polyamory discussed and encouraged, and people routinely rip off the intellectual property of others.
e) Various Rabbis of various Yeshivas and Synagogues who have made statements about non-Jews or others who do not follow the strict letter of Jewish law that are unacceptable in mainstream society.
I have always thought that the greatness of America was our willingness to embrace one another despite our differences. For me to recognize and prize what is good and worthy in others even when I disagree with them. To strive to hear opposing points of view even when I disagree violently. Or, as Heinlien once wrote: "Always try to understand your enemy. It may allow you to become his friend, or to kill him without hate."
Is this really the world we want? A world where the ever shifting mores of the masses drives our social interactions, our social contacts, our friends, and the relationships we have with our relatives? I have known ever since my older brother's wife secured a (in my opinion wholly unwarranted) protective order against him during their divorce that for a significant block of people that guilt by association would damn me forever. Shall I reject my brother? Refuse to decry the injustices done to him?
And if we proceed on such a standard, demanding every day that candidates renounce this friend or fire that associate for this or that offense against the public sensitivity, who remains? Do we want to be governed by those who will, at the needs of the moment, disavow their friends? What sort of people then does that set over us?
Is that really the world we want to live in?
This is not to say that the company we keep is wholly irrelevant, or that who chooses to support a particular candidate and why has no place in evaluating that candidates fitness. But we have gone beyond any sensible question of policy (i.e., does the fact that Obama has advisors like Reed Hunt or Bill Kennard tell us about his policies? Does the fact that telecom lobbyists support Clinton tell us something about hers?) to extremes of scrutiny that no one can survive without becoming a vessel of pure of ambition. Does it really tell us anything about the candidate that an adviser calls Clinton "a monster," a warm up comedian calls Obama a "corrupt Daley politician," or that a prominent supporter of Clinton says nasty things about race? Deplore the remarks or the people who said them, but must the candidate race to deny and repudiate the remarks and the speaker to prove his or her worthiness?
Well, it is our choice, individually and collectively. And, as an aside, don't sweat the collectively. Others will either agree or not. Make the individual choice and the collective will attend to itself.