The pastor in question is Jeremiah Wright Jr. It was his use of the term "audacity of hope" in a sermon that inspired Obama to title his best-selling book with the phrase.

Wright is a longtime supporter of Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan. Last year, the "Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award" was given to Farrakhan, who, it turns out, "truly epitomized greatness."

Farrakhan, in addition to making frequent distasteful comments about race, is a person who referred to Judaism as a "gutter religion" and its adherents a bunch of "bloodsuckers."

Wright even tagged along when Farrakhan visited Libya's dictator Moammar Khadafy a terrorist financier directly linked to the murder of Americans for a chitchat in 1980s.

Obama has shown zero inclination to agree with any of Farrakhan or Wright's odious statements. But as Obama's largest recipient of charitable donations, Trinity United Church of Christ is more than a fleeting distraction in the candidate's life. This is not guilt by association. Until a last minute change of heart, Obama's campaign invocation was to be given by Wright.

After bumping Wright, an Obama aide explained: "Senator Obama is proud of his pastor and his church, but because of the type of attention it was receiving on blogs and conservative talk shows, he decided to avoid having statements and beliefs being used out of context and forcing the entire church to defend itself."

If he is proud of his pastor, then asking Obama to clarify his connection to Wright is neither slander nor innuendo nor is it the right-wing "noise machine" in action.

It is nearly inconceivable to imagine Clinton or McCain or any presidential candidate enjoying a close relationship with pastor who praises a racist leader for "his integrity and honesty" not coming under the scrutiny of the entire media.

No, Obama shouldn't have to deal with unfair innuendo, but he deserves no dispensation when it comes to Wright.