Obama’s Wright Problem

Obama’s Wright Problem


So, Barack Obama says the Rev. Jeremiah Wright we saw over the weekend is not the man he befriended 20 years ago. This has, as the Brits would say, become quite the sticky wicket for Obama. His credibility is at stake as he asks us to believe that he is genuinely surprised by the continued radical statements of his (former?) spiritual advisor.

The best defense of Obama I can come up with is that I know a lot of liberals who’ve become radicalized since George W. Bush took office. There are people in my life who, while otherwise sane and loving, will occasionally shock me with statements which I believe to be nothing more than radical leftist propaganda. Conceivably, Rev. Wright has drifted off the deep end over the last 4 to 8 years and Obama is just now realizing how disconnected from reality his former pastor actually has become.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of faith in Obama to believe in that construction of events. I think it’s far more likely that Obama knew full well that Rev. Wright has a fierce radical streak but Obama willingly chose to ignore it because belonging to Wright’s church was politically advantageous for most of Obama’s career. Now, belonging to the church is a liability and Obama sees that it’s necessary to condemn the pastor. I doubt Obama believes in any of Wright’s wild theories and warped conceptions of the world, but this is what happens when you play politics. An allegiance that helps you today can burn you tomorrow.

In Obama’s attempts to position himself as a different kind of politician, he’s set himself up for greater condemnation when his true and truly typical political nature is revealed. Any politician would have a hard time explaining away Rev. Wright, but Obama’s task is nearly impossible because he’s worked so hard to appear as if he’s not possessed with the same congenital opportunism of every other politician. There’s no good way out of this for Obama. He’s just lucky that the long Democratic nomination process has allowed all this to happen in March and April and not September and October.

  • krabbie

    Right (wing) Problems are being thrust on us by the bigots of America. All of the Scare Comments are no more than saying. BugaBugaBuga, hint hint, he is BLACK!!!! Shame on them. Listen with your Jesus ears to Wright. Imagine listening to Jesus two thousand years ago amid the Pharisies of the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem. You talk about “stuck in place” religion (at that time). Jesus was a HUGE challenge to the Powers that Be in his time. Jesus talked in Code, the parables, because he knew that either the Priests of the Templle or the Romans would have killed him much sooner. Challengers to power get that treatment.
    Wright is a Challenge for our complacent white ears, shame on you.
    And Obama is a challenge to our bigotry. Shame on all who think color, gender, fill in the blank on your bigotry, racism, and prejudice.
    Judge, but don’t Pre Judge. Listen to it all, it made me a believer.

  • vwcat

    I disagree. We have seen the personality change in Bill Clinton so, why is it so hard to believe that Rev. Wright has changed with his age.
    Gotten a bit more rebellious and cranky in his age and with retiring.
    I’ve seen it in people who have aged so why is it so hard to believe this with this man.
    Also, remember that in the past 4 years Obama probably has not been in church all that much.
    As a Senator he has to do state business when he is home and visit with the voters. And in the past year and half has been a little busy running for president and all.
    I am amazed by the lack of sense in some who don’t see the common sense. They act as if a person who is not home all that much is at church every single week or why someone who is aging would change.
    I would guess this is why Obama did not totally distance himself before. He probably did not see the change in the man because he just did not see him all that much.

  • Regis

    Rev Wright’s comments are meant to offend. In his church, he speaks in the language that his congregation can identify with from their life experiences which have been highly offensive to them. I am sure that Sen. Obama sitting in the pew is bright enough to sort this out and can understand not only what Rev Wright is saying but why he is saying it in the manner he preaches. Regardless, this does not excuse the ego trip Rev Wright is on now which is damaging Sen Obama’s candidacy and playing right into the hands of Sens Clinton and McCain.

    However, one should also note what a respected liberal Catholic, Frances Kissling, fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the former president of Catholics for a Free Choice, said about Hillary Clinton in today’s Salon: “…Sen. Clinton has totally dismissed Wright; but her vision of a good pastor would exclude even Jesus Christ.” I believe that Rev Wright is closer to Jesus what Jesus would want of a Christian than is pro-war voter Hillary Clinton. I believe that Frances Kissling has it pegged about right. I believe that Sen Obama is far more Christian than Sen Clinton but I can judge them only by their actions and their rhetoric.

    Just to be clear, I am a well-educated white man, ex-Catholic, in his late 60’s.

  • juneblossom

    Why is it so hard to believe that he hasn’t been in church much for the last couple of years? The man was elected to a position in Washington DC, across the country from Chicago! And before that he did state politics, and Springfield is several hours away from Chicago — Illinois is a BIG STATE, people! Between campaigning and working, I’m sure the man was NEVER HOME. Politics is a busy job that requires traveling — a LOT of it!

  • J Cline

    This column is one of the smarter ones I’ve read today.

    Obama cannot have it both ways. In a country where whites expect you to look white, and where blacks expect you to act black, a biracial candidate of any party faces the worst of both worlds.

    Because he wanted the cake of white privilege, Obama has tried hard to eat it too. He could not look white, but he could act white… and because he looked black, Obama had a good shot at being accepted among blacks. But there was that whole “acting black” complication.

    How to establish one’s black cultural bona fides, then? Obama chose to associate with authentically black institutions, including the black church community. Unfortunately, in choosing Jeremiah Wright’s alienating creed of black liberation theology, Obama made a terrible (perhaps fatal) error.

    This day, when he would have to choose between defending his 20-year ties to the radical mentor who helped him climb the black power ladder, or abandoning that mentor in order to pander to dumbfounded whites who genuinely thought he was virtually “one of us” … this day could have been predicted.

    It’s a shame that the Democrats will almost certainly kick off the general election season with a candidate so besmirched, so weighed down by his old albatrosses, that he simply doesn’t have a prayer against a unified and invigorated Republican Party. Since this wound is self-inflicted, it’s hard to be sympathetic for Dems, given that they should have vetted Obama with open eyes and yet did not — until now. And now is just too late.

  • Kathy

    I think there is also a sense of personal betrayal that Obama is feeling. He went out on a limb to defend Wright. He took a big risk in Philadelphia by not personally condemning Wright, and this is how Wright repaid him. I would have agreed with you Alan had Obama condemned Wright in Philly he didn’t until Wright gave him no choice.

  • http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com Jimmy the Dhimmi

    onceivably, Rev. Wright has drifted off the deep end over the last 4 to 8 years and Obama is just now realizing how disconnected from reality his former pastor actually has become.

    In 1984, Reverend Wright and Louis Farrakhan went to Libya, after the United states declared Libya to be a terrorist supporting nation (and ceased issuing passports to Libya), in order to pledge solidarity with Qaddafi’s “revolutionary movement.”

    The Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, which Wright became the pastor in the early 70’s, was always explicit in its mission statement about advancing the black-liberation theology put forth by James Hal Cone, a notorious anti-semite and Marxist.

    If Obama didn’t know this it just means he is ignorant. Does that make him more qualified to be president?

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    You tell me Jimmy, you support McCain who doesn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shiite, who doesn’t know a thing about economics and whose gas tax holiday is widely panned by economists

  • gerryf

    …not to mention McCain actively seeks out the support and endorsement of anti-catholic, anti-semitic, homophobic tax cheat ministers….oops, mentioned it.

    There are so many issues that are wrapped up in this whole Wright controversy. Wright is a very complex character. Listening to the man (as opposed to the sound bites) there are clearly some issues on which he is off base. Some things have been taken out of context (9-11 is American’s actions coming home to roost is a reference to something said by Pres Reagan’s White House Task Force on Terrorism deputy director Edward Peck, for example) while other things are clearly the ideas of a conspiracy theorist (US invented HIV to use against minorities).

    Other ideas are merely passionate extrapolations to shock and prove a point (Damn America…)

    It should also not be denied that while some people were actively looking for ways to dodge military service, he served and served admirably. And don’t forget his church has done more to aid the poor than any goverment program, feeding and sheltering many in need.

    There’s also no denying that he seems to be giddily enjoying his time in the limelight, and his ego has now become an issue. And then there is what appears to be a personal betrayal of Obama.

    Finally, while a member of a church by virtue of membership means he or she does agree with much of the church’s (and pastor’s) teachings, it is only the most cynical who would attribute every belief of a church to every attendee. To take it even further, stretching the belief of a proponant of black theology to every person who attends a church is not just cynical, but dishonest.

    There are many reasons one attends a church-and it is not all about spirtuality and believe (or even a political base to prove one’s blackness). Church attendance is also a social function and within any congregation you are going to have varying beliefs. One does not leave a church just because of a handful of sermons over 30 years, even sermons that a bunch of nasty folks are trying to turn into something they are not.

  • http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com Jimmy the Dhimmi

    You tell me Jimmy, you support McCain who doesn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shiite, who doesn’t know a thing about economics and whose gas tax holiday is widely panned by economists

    Sounds like you are giving up on the Wright/Obama issue. Good for you!