28 April 2008

Rev. Wright Won't Go Away

(For the record, Obama agreed that the Wright issue is a legitimate one.)

No doubt about it, Rev. Wright is not on Barack Obama's team.

If he were, or if there were any coordination between the two, he wouldn't have done the Bill Moyers interview and he wouldn't have appeared before the National Press Club.

Seriously, there is no scenario under which these things could have played out well for Barack Obama. Rev. Wright might have been able to repair, somewhat, his own reputation. But forcing himself back into the news does Obama no favors.

It doesn't help Barack's image as a uniter, not a divider, that Wright characterized attacks on his sermons "not an attack on Jeremiah Wright; it is an attack on the black church." We don't believe that Rev. Wright is representative of black churches everywhere. You better believe that Barack Obama doesn't want to turn this into a black vs. white issue.

It doesn't help that he said in his National Press Club appearance that Obama would say whatever he had to say to get elected:
Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever's doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they're pastors. They have a different person to whom they're accountable.

As I said, whether he gets elected or not, I'm still going to have to be answerable to God November 5th and January 21st. That's what I mean. I do what pastors do. He does what politicians do.

Just Another San Francisco Democrat.

It doesn't help that Wright didn't back away one whit from his belief that 9/11 happened because of terrorist sins in America's past.

It doesn't help that Wright didn't back away from his comparison of U.S. Marines to the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus.

One other note: Lots of applause and laughter for Wright's comments from the fawning press corps. Of course, that shouldn't surprise anyone.

If Rev. Wright really wanted Barack Obama to be the next President, he would have kept his mouth shut. Defending his previous statements in these two forums just forces an issue damaging to Barack Obama, back into the news cycle.

Look, the Rev. Wright, Barack Obama link isn't going to affect the votes of die hard, left wing Democrats. It's not going to affect the votes of die hard, left wing Republicans. It will, however, affect so called moderate voters--especially the ones for whom Obama's "post-partisan" politics held appeal.

It's a damaging story arc because it exactly contradicts the PR image Barack Obama and his team have worked so hard to create.

The Obama campaign might want to do a little investigative work to see if Rev. Wright is on the Clinton campaign payroll.

If you have tips, questions, comments, suggestions, or requests for subscription only articles, email us at lybberty@gmail.com.


buruboi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buruboi said...

It’s not Obama’s membership in Wright’s church that leaves me flummoxed. It’s why a so-called unitor places a racist, divisive, anti-American on his religious advisory panel of his campaign. If the Wright question never got raised (thanks again Tina Fey and SNL) would Obama have given him a voice of a similar sort in his administration?

Obama is no post-partisan (there aren’t many). Any moderate that thinks (or ever did) otherwise doesn’t know what a post-partisan is.

I’m glad Wright is as frank as he is; its showing just how obtuse of a perspective Obama is willing to consider. With that said, its shocking how cavalier Wright is regarding how he addresses his relationship with Obama considering to how loyally Obama has stuck by his pastor.

Morgan said...

i agree with buruboi. it is not so much obama's membership in wright's church that bothers me. it is the decision to give him a position on his campaign advisory panel. especially when his major selling point is the purported ability to unify and find common ground. it just doesn't make sense to me.

RD said...

Jake, this is a really good analysis.

My thoughts:

1. Your point about Wright equating himself with black churches is right on. If I were a member of a black church, I would be offended by this comment. If some white supremacist pastor somewhere argued that an attack on him is an attack on all white churches, I would say (a) you don't represent all white churches, and (b) there is no such thing as "white churches." Yes, there are churches with mostly white people, but I don't think most white people see religion as a racial thing. Wright's insistence on making it that way will hurt the interests of black Americans in the long run.

2. The fact that Obama has been so close to this man, and several other very disturbing figures, is, I think, an indication of some of his deeper attitudes. I don't have friends who have tried to bomb the pentagon, or who make ridiculous assertions like Wright. I would feel very uncomfortable with such people. There is something very disturbing about the growing revelations about Obama's (and his wife's) attitudes about American and white people.

3. I'm glad that Obama is finally being de-masked. The idea that he is some post-partisan uniter has been absolutely preposterous from the start. Only the most naive of his supporters can really examine his record and attitudes and conclude that he can retain the long-term support of conservatives. Like I've said for several months: if you support Obama because you like his liberal policies, that's fine with me. But if you support him because you think he will unite America, because he's new kind of politician, then you are naive. Obama is no different from other politicians. I don't think we're finished learning about his disconcerting past.

4. I agree with both Jake and Buruboi: After Obama refused to disavow his connection with Wright, the old pastor seems more than happy to throw Barack under the bus. Obama was afraid to lose his connection to black America - that is crucial to his success - but Wright doesn't need Obama.

Spikers said...

It is unfortunate that the Reverend Wright story is still getting attention in the press. In my opinion, it is a non-story. Wright's most recent comments are not all that revelatory. He is simply stating what nearly all American's accept as gospel, that politician's will do and say what is necessary to be elected.

Nor do I find Wright's sermons to be very surprising. Wright is a product of our discriminatory past. Wright's views are colored by a his personal experiences with with racism and by America's historical mistreatment of blacks. Is it really surprising that a man who experienced institutionalized racism may exhibit severe skepticism of the government and whites in general?

While I do not agree with his point of view, Rev. Wright has not been given a fair shake in the media. Instead of an honest analysis of the issue, we are given sound bites. We are given almost no context to Wright's remarks. Instead, Obama's rivals incessantly employ snippets of Wright's sermons for political gain. PBS interviewed Wright, and did a nice job of exploring Wright's frame. the interview is available at:


buruboi said...


Wrights comments are significant because Obama has held himself to such a high standard. McCain and Hillary aren't claiming to be a new breed of politician. Neither do they claim to have an uncanny ability to unite. Obama does in both cases, and Wright’s comments detract from them. He is divisive and yet Obama gave him a place on his religious advisory board. Moreover, Wright, a personal friend of Obama, is claiming he is like every other politician, openly challenging one of Obama’s strongest claims and most alluring traits (to his supporters). I see these as significant developments.

Wright’s perspective can be colored by the past (I’m fine with his distrust of government and belief in institutionalized racism). But AIDS as a weapon to eradicate African-Americans!?! That bit of fiction isn’t in Wrights past, and so his perspective can’t be justly colored by it.


I think the best way of deconstructing Wright’s recent behavior is as follows: he really liked his spot on Obama’s religious advisory panel…

RD said...


You make good points as always. However, I do feel this is an issue. I understand that we are not represented by the company we keep, but the several very disturbing connections Obama has are, I think, an indication of some problematic attitudes.

You are right to remind us that Wright is a product of the past. However, this raises larger questions about race, African-Americans in particular. Is Wright helping or hurting the cause of African-Americans? Are comments like his likely to increase our respect his cause or decrease it? When African Americans talk about discrimination and racism, I feel inclined to respond positively and even feel a degree of guilt for my forbears. But when someone accuses my ethnic group of ridiculous things as Wright has, I am inclined to write him and his followers off as ignorant, belligerent hacks. This kind of hate mongering is increasing racism in America, not decreasing it.

To what extent has Obama shared Wright's views? We really can't know. But we can look at the many associations he has with extremists and learn something of his character. I think it's disturbing that a presidential candidate is close friends with someone who has bombed government buildings. It's disturbing that a presidential candidate chose as an official adviser someone who spouts hateful, inaccurate, irresponsible rhetoric from a stand. The combination of these and other things indicate to me that we should carefully examine Obama's attitudes.

And, I agree with Buruboi that Wright is still significant. Obama has indeed claimed a higher standard - he has built his entire campaign around a new, uniting form of politics. There is little indication that he is capable of this. Someone who knows him very very well - Wright - has even placed him in the same category of all other politicians, saying whatever he needs to say to get votes (this is one thing on which I can agree with Wright).