Quick. Which line in Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s recent televised
comments jumps out as the most potentially harmful to Sen. Barack Obama?
(Hint: It’s in the middle of yesterday’s post right after Obama’s press conference. Right after “That was enough.”)
Byron York parses it down like this.
A few days earlier, in an interview with PBS’s Bill
Moyers, Wright said Obama, in his Philadelphia speech attempting to
calm the controversy created by Wright’s sermons, had said “what he has
to say as a politician.”
That, not Wright’s wide-ranging social theories, is what forced
Obama to denounce Wright at a hastily arranged news conference Tuesday.
By questioning Obama’s honesty, Wright was striking at the heart of the
Obama campaign. The most damaging thing Wright could ever say is that
he knows, based on his long personal relationship with Obama, that
Obama agrees with him but can’t say so publicly for political reasons.
Put another way, if voters believe that Obama fundamentally rejects
Wright’s views, they might question Obama’s judgment in remaining close
to Wright for 20 years. But if voters believe that Obama secretly
agrees with Wright but is putting on another face to win an election,
then all is lost. “People could ask why somebody with good judgment
would take so long to do this,” a Democratic strategist told me Monday
night. “But that’s certainly better than the subtext being that Obama
is an angry black man, because if he’s an angry black man, then he
simply cannot win, period.”
So for all the rhetoric, the replays, the sound bites and the analysis going on, that’s
the heart of the matter. The Sword of Damocles threatens to pierce his
judgment or his character, to the core. Right now it appears he’s
exposing his judgment side in order to save character.