Without ideas and principles and policies clearly presented to the
American people, ideas that provide the ballast to keep their boat
sailing, even a most attractive and popular candidate will start to
sink at some point. Especially if their popularity was based on images
and ideals.

Peter Wehner likens Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama to make the point.

Obama, as much as any national politician I can recall,
has made his presidential candidacy personality-based. Its success
depends on the public’s sense of who he is — and that puts added
importance on the public having confidence in Obama’s character and
values, his judgment and his integrity. Many of us were attracted to
Obama precisely because of how he came across: reasonable, thoughtful,
measured, a person who was attempting to transcend racial divisions. We
found his liberalism troubling — but we found him to be personally
impressive.

But…

Obama’s campaign has been far less about his ideas than
it has been about him. This separates Obama from political figures like
Ronald Reagan. Reagan was also a very attractive personality but his
candidacy was, at its core, based on his political philosophy and a set
of (conservative) ideas.

Right now, everyone’s wondering what Obama’s political philosophy
is, and just how closely his ideas about this nation and the world,
people and government, match his longtime friend and pastor Jeremiah
Wright.

What Obama is asking us to believe is that the Wright we
have all now seen — both in the television clips from his sermons and
now, fully in context, in his National Press Club appearance — is
fundamentally different than the Wright that Obama got to know during
the last two decades.

The word “implausible” has been surfacing a lot, one of the more polite critiques of his explanation.

Barack Obama is in treacherous territory. He is now in a
very visible and increasingly ugly fight with a man who was an intimate
friend and who on Monday showed he is both beyond the control of the
Obama campaign and willing to go after Obama’s character. From all we
can tell about Wright, this fire probably hasn’t burned itself out just
yet.

A few months ago, Barack Obama, a very likable man in possession of
some tremendous talents, was soaring high above the political seas. He
now looks to be heading directly for the cliffs. It isn’t a pleasant
thing to watch. But it appears to be something he has brought on
himself.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....