"A great deal of the information is, obviously, personal, because past
achievements are not guarantees of future ones. It is good to know more
about the personalities of each candidate. Acquaintances and friends of
the past can indicate a tendency or proclivity of that candidate to
take certain things or aspects into greater account. Though not in and
of themselves a proof, a spouse, children and surely friends create
some kind of a framework by which to assess the candidate."
- Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, On Faith panelist, October 8, 2008
The Rabbi does not beat us over the head with "you must think this" or "this has to mean that." Rather, he simply points out that which we know to be true, based on our own life experiences and learning, then leaves it to us to draw our own conclusions and act accordingly. Which is what we will do anyway, whether someone attempts to forcibly coerce our decision process or not.
Genius, I am certain, can be found in the realm of dealings with other human beings. Some have it, while almost all of us do not. This Rabbi clearly does, as did another famous Rabbi who roamed the Judaean desert long ago. They may physically lose out in the short term, but they will continue to impact their fellow man and woman long after they are gone. Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. spring to mind instantly, but there were and are many others, people of peace who were put down by people of violence, but whose voices only grew that much louder after their deaths due to the impressions that were made on others.
What does this post have to do with what I think of Obama's past associations? Nothing at all. I was just moved by the simple yet profound wisdom found in another's response to it, that's all.