The stage we’re in now with Barack Obama’s pastor Wright problem is
sort of post-spin and pre-confrontation. People are still analyzing it.
Like, Christopher Hitchens,
for one. About a year ago, Hitchens reports, Obama knew this day was
coming, so there’s some grandstanding going on now in how it’s being
“If Barack gets past the primary,” said the Rev.
Jeremiah Wright to the New York Times in April of last year, “he might
have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack
personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.” Pause just
for a moment, if only to admire the sheer calculating self-confidence
of this. Sen. Obama has long known perfectly well, in other words, that
he’d one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth
Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago “base” in
the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he
came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success
of the maneuver.
Thomas Sowell breaks it down further.
Obama didn’t just happen to encounter Jeremiah Wright,
who just happened to say some way out things. Jeremiah Wright is in the
same mold as the kinds of people Barack Obama began seeking out in
college — members of the left, anti-American counter-culture.
In Shelby Steele’s brilliantly insightful book about Barack Obama —
“A Bound Man” — it is painfully clear that Obama was one of those
people seeking a racial identity that he had never really experienced
in growing up in a white world. He was trying to become a convert to
blackness, as it were — and, like many converts, he went overboard.
Nor has Obama changed in recent years. His voting record in the U.S.
Senate is the furthest left of any Senator. There is a remarkable
consistency in what Barack Obama has done over the years, despite
inconsistencies in what he says.
The irony is that Obama’s sudden rise politically to the level of
being the leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination has
required him to project an entirely different persona, that of a
post-racial leader who can heal divisiveness and bring us all together.
The calculus has worked for him probably more perfectly than he ever imagined.
One sign of Obama’s verbal virtuosity was his equating a
passing comment by his grandmother — “a typical white person,” he says
— with an organized campaign of public vilification of America in
general and white America in particular, by Jeremiah Wright.
Since all things are the same, except for the differences, and
different except for the similarities, it is always possible to make
things look similar verbally, however different they are in the real
In other words, the press and some people are being bamboozled. Successfully.
Except for writers who ask questions like these.
Among the many desperate gambits by defenders of Senator
Obama and Jeremiah Wright is to say that Wright’s words have a
“resonance” in the black community.
There was a time when the Ku Klux Klan’s words had a resonance among
whites, not only in the South but in other states. Some people joined
the KKK in order to advance their political careers. Did that make it
OK? Is it all just a matter of whose ox is gored?
That kind of moral equivalence doesn’t fit with Obama’s equation. Victor Davis Hanson, like so many other analysts, zeroes in on that.
The more the pundits gushed about the speech, the more
the average Americans thought, “Wait a minute — did he just say what I
thought he said?” It’s not lost on Joe Q. Public that Obama justified
Wright’s racism by offering us a “landmark” speech on race that:
(1) Compared Wright’s felony to the misdemeanors of his grandmother,
Geraldine Ferraro, the Reagan Coalition, corporate culture, and the
(2) Established the precedent that context excuses everything, in
the sense that what good a Wright did (or an Imus did) in the past
outweighs any racist outburst of the present.
(3) Claimed that the voice of the oppressed is not to be judged by
the same rules of censure as the dominant majority that has no similar
claim on victim status.
What is happening, ever so slowly, is that the public is beginning
to realize that it knows even less after the speech than it did before
about what exactly Obama knew (and when) about Wright’s racism and
Even elites will wake up to the fact that they’ve been had, in a
sense, once they deconstruct the speech carefully and fathom that their
utopian candidate just may have managed to destroy what was once a
near-certain Democratic sweep in the fall.
The speech continues to be deconstructed, and some elites are finding it unconvincing.