In politics, it’s more often than not your friends and supporters who end up doing you in — something that Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' Texas warehouse where migrants housed in 'cages' closed for humane renovation North Carolina — still purple but up for grabs MORE (D-Ill.) is learning.

I would guess that by now, the young senator wishes he’d never stepped into the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church a couple of decades ago. Indeed, after his minister finished speaking to the Press Club yesterday, he’s probably wishing the man would just shut up.

Part of Obama’s problem stems from the fact that while folks have been impressed by his rhetoric, they don’t really know all that much about him. They’re beginning to realize that he’s a fairly conventional liberal when it comes to his votes — which are often at odds with his rhetoric — but now they’re quite naturally looking to his associates and those close to him to figure out exactly where he might be coming from.

Thus, the Rev. Wright and people like Bill Ayers loom as more important in evaluating Obama than they would if they were associated with someone who had already been defined or with whom the voting public had become familiar with over a long period of time. Obama no doubt thinks this sort of what he would probably like to dismiss as “guilt by association” is unfair, but it’s the way things are in the real world.

He’s tried to dismiss both the former crazed Weatherman and the currently crazed minister by arguing either that he didn’t know them very well (and, in Wright’s case, managed to sit through dozens or perhaps hundreds of sermons over 20 years without listening to any of them) or that since he shares few of their views, everyone should lay off.

That, of course, isn’t going to happen. The Rev. Wright isn’t about to shut up. He’s got himself a national audience and he’s going to make the most of it to expound on his craziest notions. If by doing so he hurts Obama’s candidacy, well, that’s just too bad.

Ayers at least knows that sometimes it’s better to say nothing, but his career first as a terrorist and now as a radical educator speaks for itself — as does his very, very early embrace of Obama as a soul-mate of sorts.

Republicans have been wondering what happened to the “Reagan Democrats” who in years past were so offended by the drawing-room radicalism of their own party’s nominees that they were easily convinced to pull the Republican lever on Election Day. Well, they went home in 2006 both because the Republicans they thought they could trust proved less trustworthy than anyone believed possible and because it seemed, for a brief instant, that perhaps the Democrats were beginning to realize that Berkley, Evanston and Cambridge are not in the nation’s political mainstream.

And then along came Obama, who talks a good game but whose intellectual and political roots seem anchored in the same feverish ideological muck that nurtured former Democratic losers.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has demonstrated over and over again this year that luck beats everything else in politics, and as things are shaping up, he’s pretty well-positioned to demonstrate it once again in November.

Keene is chairman of The American Conservative Union, whose website can be accessed here.