Way back in Vent #9 I grumbled about the so-called "character issue," and the character with whom I had issues was then-President Bill Clinton. At the time, I said that the Big He had a few, um, deficiencies, and that it was not at all guaranteed that the GOP would be able to make any political hay with them:

Much has been made of the so-called "character issue", and how it will affect the Presidential election. It is generally agreed among the current crop of Republicans, and grudgingly admitted by some Democrats, that Bill Clinton is something less than an ethical paragon. It doesn't require a call to the Psychic Friends Network to figure that the Dole campaign, not to mention various sources of that wonderful elixir, "soft money," will bring up this issue as many times as opportunities and finances permit.

It is at least possible, though, that the GOP could botch it. And the way to botch it is to fixate on the President's Sixties peccadilloes. Inhale or no, marijuana is a no-win campaign for the Republicans; the sort of people who would be upset by an occasional spliff are the sort of people who think Newt Gingrich is a flaming liberal, and they're not likely to switch their votes away from Clinton, since they wouldn't vote for him even if the Republican nominee were Joseph Stalin.

In the end, of course, flaws and all, Bill Clinton was re-elected, and managed to hold on to the White House despite the best efforts of the House of Representatives — and despite my suggestion that he take a powder in the wake of same.

Since Bill and Hillary are joined at the wallet, you might have thought that she would be the one inviting screams about character this time around. But no: the flap is over Barack Obama and his firebrand spiritual advisor Jeremiah Wright. Or maybe former spiritual advisor: the Obama campaign is taking considerable pains to throw Rev. Wright under the bus.

Frankly, I wish they hadn't.

It's not that I buy into Wright's version of Joseph Cone's theology, the leftovers after you subtract Mohammed from the Nation of Islam. It's that Barack Obama, who spent two decades under Wright's tutelage, actually did seem to buy into it, and it would have impressed me greatly if he'd said so, up front and out loud, rather than soft-pedaling it here and back-pedaling from it there. Now he looks like, well, just another politician, exactly the image he sought to avoid.

My own thi