The Obama-Wright discussion continues, May 1
more comments on Wright and Obama that have arrived in the last day. They include a theory that the bitter split between the pastor and the politician is a set up
Stewart W. writes:
It is clear that Obama needs his own “Night of the Long Knives” in dealing with the Wright problem, and more broadly, with the black church and black liberation theology problem. There is simply no possible way of spinning this that will stand up to even the slightest scrutiny.
Obama simply can’t have Wright’s Sturmabteilung running around unchecked like this. It damages his credibility outside of the South Side. It will be interesting.
John D. writes:
Fredric Dicker’s angle that Wright is furious with Obama. I believe it to be a ruse, another “trick” by the magic one, cooked up by Obama and Wright to put them both in a position to create a distance from each other in the public eye. I don’t for a second believe that Wright is at all disillusioned with Obama, nor Obama with Wright. After all, what has Wright said recently that gave Obama cause to condemn him now and not before? And I think it safe to say that Wright never really expected Obama to run for president as the candidate of black liberation theology.
Wright looks like the hero (to his people) for continuing to defend the black church and Obama gets to be the hero (to the white voter) for strongly criticizing Wright for his racist, America-hating views (the views that Obama has somehow managed to listen to for 20 years and never really hear). I’m quite certain they’ll kiss and make up after the election is over.
Jack S. writes:
This story caught my eye, in particular the part about a brand new endorsement from superdelegate and Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley He says that he saddened that the Rev. Wright controversy has drawn attention from the real issues. Braley represents whitest Iowa; Outwardly he has as much in common with Hussein as he does with a Cocker Spaniel. Yet his leftism trumps everything else.
I wonder how things are in the Obama family. Mrs. Obama is a female, non-preaching (her speaking style has been well documented on VFR) version of Wright, with whom she must naturally side. I wonder how Mr. Obama is now reacting to her rants, which I’m certain occur also in the family hearth? I wonder if she will continue to do so in public?
As for Wright’s method of lies and destruction, everyone is dispensable (for destruction and dismissal), including decades-long friends and associates. This is of course what Obama is doing, but he has managed to coat it in aggrieved tones, which I’m sure is winning him lots of sympathy votes.
Maybe Wright is helping him, after all.
Bill Carpenter writes:
A couple of your readers have suggested that the Wright publicity campaign is a set-up. That is a credible theory because it is not credible that Bill Moyers and the National Press Club would give Wright a platform without intending to benefit the Obama campaign. Dicker’s “source” would thus be feeding him a line parallel to that of the campaign that the campaign is not coordinating with Rev. Wright. Senator Obama’s denunciations would thus be mere window-dressing. This is a reasonable theory. Wright’s speeches solidify Obama’s far-left credentials despite the senator’s denunciations, while the denunciations give cover for Obama supporters to continue to present him as a centrist, moderate, and uniter. Perhaps this reveals the kernel of truth in the rigmarole about left and right brains, etc. Language is not only about creating models of truth in the form of declarative sentences, but also about uniting groups around representations in whatever form. Wright’s representations unite the far-left while Obama’s are an attempt to unite the center-left. One may resist the idea that the two presentations are coordinated as overconspiratorial. But that resistance is itself based on an overemphasis on consistency in linguistic representation, as opposed to social efficacy. It may indeed require an implausible arch-conspirator to deliver diametrically opposed statements from two sides of its mouth, but it only takes an average level of political cunning to tell different audiences what they want to hear. The efficacy of the strategy is increased by the left’s confidence in the truth of its world view, as witnessed by the Nation article you quoted yesterday. For the left, Wright is so prophetic a spokesman that Obama’s repudiation of him is only an insignificant, meaningless gesture dictated by the requirements of practical politics—a sham required to deceive the useful idiots of the center and the right. Post-modern Obama is ready and willing to engage in such gestures which are all his campaign has been about from the beginning. He has always been a leftist with a deceptive line about unity. For the leftist, the deception is justified because everyone should be united on a leftist basis. As to those who are too stupid, wicked, or benighted by false consciousness to know that: this deception is for their own good.
In short, Obama represents a coalition of resentment against American society. He and Wright are collaborating in presenting two distinct but compatible sets of symbols that unite people in such resentment. As propositions, these sets of symbols are incoherent. But as political gestures, they draw a wide variety of people into the Obama coalition of ill will, of which Wright represents the religious, Obama the secular wing.
The idea that it’s a setup just seems impossible. Obama has been damaged by this.
Bill Carpenter replies:
We don’t know that yet. Sometimes you accept a short-term loss for a long-term gain.
Mark Jaws writes:
These so-called “scholars” claim that the original Hebrew people were black and that contemporary Caucasian Jews are “impostors.” So, here we have a case in which Farrakhan, Wright, Cones and crew have been allowed to expropriate the heritage of Jews, while the left-wing media and academia have stood idly by. It is Stalinist revisionism at its worse.
I would ask Obama the following question, “Your pastor and his congregation hold that the Jews of the Bible were black. So, just where did these millions of Caucasian Jews come from, and how does that square with the historical evidence clearly showing otherwise?”
Howard Sutherland writes:
Jeremiah Wright may be giving the Democratic Party a way out of the Obama impasse (the pressure, that is, to nominate a candidate it knows has no chance to win in November).
Wright is undermining Obama deliberately. There is no other way to interpret it. Wright’s statements are inflammatory and off-the-wall, but he knows his audience and is not stupid. I think—unlike Obama himself, who has led a far more insulated life—Wright also knows how his statements sound to non-black Americans, and doesn’t care about that. Wright wants to maintain his authenticity among his people, and standing by Obama when Obama has sold out to suck up to The Man wouldn’t much help Wright with Keepin’ It Real. What not standing by him does to straying-sheep Barack, whom Wright probably does see as a traitor, isn’t Wright’s problem any more.
Wright’s rantings may cost Obama white votes, but Wright’s refusal to mute his message and help Obama after Obama “dissed” him also hurts Obama among blacks. Obama’s most prominent black mentor, the black leader who knows him best, is pretty clearly rejecting him. This raises the possibility that when the Democratic convention nominates someone else, black Americans won’t be too up-in-arms about it. After all, Obama’s own black nationalist pastor has found him wanting, and is making that blindingly obvious. [LA replies: That’s a really interesting point.]
My guess is that, in most black Americans’ eyes, Jeremiah Wright emerges from all this looking even more authentic and with his standing among them—which is all he cares about—greatly enhanced, while Obama winds up looking like a phony or even an Uncle Tom (delicious irony, considering what he has done for a living up “til now!) with his standing among them greatly diminished.
Steve Sailer may be right about another Wright motivation: If a black leftist Democrat can get elected President of the United States, how credible is the Jackson/Sharpton/Wright Perpetual Grievance Machine? [LA replies: Again, my comparison between Arafat and Wright is being supported.]
Paul K. writes:
When challenged about the patriotism of Rev. Wright, Obama invariably reminds us that Wright was a Marine, as if that settled the question. Leaving aside the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was also a Marine, it’s interesting to note the timeframe involved. According to an internet, “In 1959 Wright enrolled at Virginia Union University, in Richmond, where he remained until 1961. That year he left school to join the military. He served in the Second Marine Division of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1961 to 1963, achieving the rank of private first class.”
If joining the Marine indicates patriotism, why was Wright more patriotic in 1961, before the passing of the Voting Rights Act, Great Society programs, affirmative action, etc., than he appears to be now? It seems to support the suspicion that giving blacks what they say they want does not elicit any gratitude.
Many people continue to assume that Senator Obama sat and listened to sermons from Rev. Wright for 20 years, based in part on his few statements about “his faith.” But let’s face it, lots of people go to church for worldly reasons. Consider Obama as a secularist who chose to go to a church for political reasons, and who took some solace from it but really spent most of his time during the sermon thinking about something else. This could become a habit rather quickly, if you don’t really believe what the preacher is saying.
Thus it is possible for Obama to have not heard many things; the words were said in his presence, the sound waves vibrated against his eardrums, but his brain did not hear them because it was busy elsewhere. How embarrassing would it be to admit “Yeah, I was in church, but I didn’t really pay attention for 20 years,” eh? Quite possibly Obama was a pew-warmer, who never really paid much attention to the sermon or even the prayers, and who now is caught between two horns of a dilemma. Either admit 20 years of indifference, or try to deal with the content of 20 years of sermons.
I’m not saying this is how it is, merely pointing out the possibility.
I am thinking of some people I have known, one in particular, who sat in pews for years but could not accurately be said to have actually attended the church in question. Combine pew-warming with Senator Obama’s own very high opinion of his intelligence and the whole thing can be understood.
I sure wouldn’t want to have to choose between “I heard that stuff, and never spoke up” and “I was zoned out for 20 years,” and I ain’t running for office.
Rick Darby writes:
I don’t know what your Second Law of Majority-Minority Relations in a Liberal Society is, but it might well be: “If you criticize a member of a minority for villainous behavior, you must then level the same charge against members of all groups.”
Consider Ralph Peters, in the same issue of the New York Post as the Fredric Dicker piece you linked to. Peters says Rev’d Wright is part of the Global—global!—Victims Club:
“What the media have missed is the ideological company Wright keeps. If you listen past his magnificent rhetorical skills, he makes the same the-evil-government’s-out-to-get-you arguments as white supremacists, polygamist child molesters, UFO cults and all the less scrupulous “advocates” for troubled minorities.”
See, the Rev’d is a crank, but don’t forget those “white supremacists” who preach from pulpits to thousands of congregants in churches in white supremacist neighborhoods all up and down the land.
For every Rev’d Wright, there are a dozen (white) polygamist child molesters!
But I’m probably biased, being among the non-cultists who have examined the evidence and found it supports the reality of UFOs, whatever they may be and whatever their purpose.
Peters is a demented liberal who among other things hates white Europeans. In today’s climate of opinion, he’s called a “conservative” because he supports the military and supported the invasion of Iraq. I’ve stopped reading Peters for some time. However, I broke my pattern and began to read that Peters article yesterday, saw by the fourth paragraph where it was headed, and stopped reading.
Ben W. writes:
I’ve seen the following sentiment so often in the past few days (at so many liberal journals), “When can we close the door on the Jeremiah Wright case so we can move on to more important things?”
Why this haste to “close the door” on this affair? Are there “more important” things to consider with respect to Obama? I think this is a significant development by which to judge his candidacy.
Yeah, the likely next president just happens to have been connected at the hip through his entire adult life to a Farrahkanite preacher man, and this, like, is just a distraction from more important issues.
It reminds me of the first time I ever became conscious of John Edwards. It was in early 2001, and there was the controversy about former President Clinton’s scandous pardons in the final days of his administration. Edwards on a TV interview program was asked about this, and said it didn’t matter. All that the people of North Carolina cared about was getting their economic needs met by the government, blah blah. A U.S. senator was saying that massive corruption of the presidential powers was a matter of indifference. I referenced the Edwards comment in article I wrote at NewsMax about nihilism in America.
Adela G. writes:
After reading the behind-the-scenes background of the Wright-Obama situation, my sympathy is all with the ranting reverend.
At the beginning of their relationship, Obama needed Wright, Wright didn’t need Obama. Wright could have gotten exactly where he is today without ever knowing Obama; arguably, Obama would be nowhere today without the benefit of knowing Wright.
Given their background, Wright had every reason to believe he would be present at Obama’s announcement of his candidacy last year. Obama’s snubbing him then must have cut deep. Nor did Obama reach out to the reverence publicly in the months afterward. Wright must have seen all Obama’s public words and actions since as saying to him, “So long, it’s been good (and very useful politically) knowing you.”
Put in context, Wright’s keeping silent for weeks after Obama’s “transcendent” race speech shows admirable self-discipline. His performances since is merely payback proportionate to the insult.
In my opinion, both men are so un-American that they should be stripped of their citizenship. But on a personal level, I can’t help feeling for and with Wright. Nothing I’ve read indicates he set out to use Obama; apparently, he welcomed him into the fold sincerely and with no ulterior motives. Over the past year, he has been made aware (no doubt painfully) that that sincerity was not reciprocal and that he was being dropped by Obama like a bad habit. (I can just hear echoes of Stanley Ann yelling about white Americans, “They are not my people!”)
It’s as ugly a spectacle of personal and political betrayal as I can recall seeing in public. It has only increased and solidified the contempt I feel for Obama.
Here is the NBC Today Show interview of the couple from today. Michelle is doing a Hillary “I stand by my man” except that Michelle is sincere. She is his wife, of course, but I’m so surprised to see how she has written off her former pastor with a “we gotta move forward”, and is so proud of the way her husband is doing so.
These are very strange people. They looked like a power couple to me on the interview. But it was hidden behind a veneer of fake humility and real betrayal.
Michelle inadvertently showed her “tantrum” during the interview. Obama just finds it cute. He doesn’t even seem to take her that seriously.
Bill Carpenter writes:
Thanks for posting the reader comments on this. Despite your and Howard Sutherland’s skepticism, I still think Roland’s theory that the Wright performances are supposed to—and will—help Obama is more credible. Haven’t you been watching Bill Moyers’s campaign of leftist propaganda on PBS for, what, the last 30 years? Do you think the NAACP was out to sink “the brother from Chicago,” as I have heard him called in the grocery store line in Minneapolis (a Chicago colony)? Did the National Press Club decide it was time to support Clinton, perhaps to further Operation Chaos? Or were they all simultaneously overcome, were their political goals temporarily overcome, by a disinterested desire to give the misunderstood reverend a fair shake, so his views would no longer be taken out of context? I think it is pure cynical political theater. There are costs, but Obama’s supporters say this is something he had to do, and they wouldn’t say that if they didn’t want people to believe it would help him. I concede the costs are there, but the intention of all involved was to help Obama.
Mark P. writes:
Bill Carpenter’s conspiracy about Obama and Wright really does not make any sense. Simply put, what is the point of generating all of these appearances? If it was really about showing how moderate Obama is, then why did he not forcefully denounce Wright? After all, if all the blacks and leftists know what Obama is “really” like and if they know this is a conspiracy, then a savage denunciation of Wright would’ve been far more effective. Instead, what we see is Obama constantly hedging and obscuring his language, as if he is trying to maneuver between two incompatible ideas.
Comments added May 2
No, the bottom line is that Wright thinks of himself as a serious intellectual with serious ideas. He saw Obama as a serious, electable expression of those ideas. He won’t tolerate seeing his ideology watered down while his protege rides into the White House.
Paul Nachman writes:
You wrote …
Let’s elect Obama! Give America four years of continuous revelations of what black people really think and believe and want, and white guilt will be excised forever from the American mind. With white guilt gone, America will be able to start saving itself—and the West will be able to start saving itself.
As Adela G. writes, frequently, “I hope I’m wrong about this.” But I’m dubious that your scenario would play out. (If it were to develop as you describe, then having Obama as Prez would certainly be something to pray for, even for us atheists.)
My concern is the obvious one: Some of us are closely following Obama / Wright / Michelle developments. But recall J. K. Galbraith’s statement of “The Law of Observation”: In a country as big as the United States, you can find 50 examples of anything. Applied here this means: Those of us paying attention are, speaking statistically, oddities. I just don’t think these topics—though under intense discussion at VFR, VDARE, The Corner, etc—are part of the national conversation. The national conversation is about the usual trivia (famous personalities and lurid crimes) or about important subjects from the vantage of everyman’s daily struggles with them (gas prices).
I’ll reinforce this view with a Churchill quote I encountered for the first time this evening:
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
But, of course, I hope I’m wrong.
On the subject of whether the Obama-Wright developments are real or just a Kabuki dance for us rubes, I’ll acknowledge that I’d be a pigeon for that kind of set-up. What makes me most skeptical of the conspiracy angle, though, is that I doubt Obama has ever thought seriously about anything. In which case, I’m dubious that such a narcissist could have put together such a fiendish plan with enough forethought to carry it off.
This time I hope I’m right.
I haven’t been following this too closely, but has anyone asked Obama a few pointed questions such as: (1) Did you know that your church gave Farrakhan the Man of the Year award?; (2) Did you know that Wright has said on multiple occasions that the USA is under the control of the KKK? (3) Did you know that Wright believes AIDS was created or spread by the government to kill blacks? (4) Do you believe that racism is behind three strikes laws?
Rev. Wright doesn’t seem bashful when it comes to giving his opinions. The claim that Obama didn’t know what he taught is incredible.
Sage McLaughlin writes:
Whenever I see Obama on screen, I just can’t help but think of Jackie Chiles, the slick, opportunistic plaintiff’s attorney from the show Seinfeld. He was obviously modeled after Johnnie Cochran, though with the important difference that he’s a trial lawyer out to hustle his way into other people’s deep pockets, rather than a defense attorney. Anyway, I think more and more Americans are starting to make this kind of connection. My sense about the way this primary is unfolding is this: If Clinton wins, she will emerge stronger than ever she would have been had this nomination process not been so difficult. She will be seen as having displayed toughness, resourcefulness, grit, and a sense of proportion necessary to winning in November and, frankly, to running the Executive. The Clintons’ mastery over Democratic politics will be more total than ever before, and even their adversaries within the party will shudder to oppose them after watching them win a stare-down with Obama God, racial correctness be damned.
Obama himself, though, is in a different position. If we could somehow turn back the hands of time, and have a do-over of the nomination process, I think the Democratic rank and file would run from the stink of this charlatan in huge numbers, and back what appears at this moment to be the saner choice, Hillary. I sense a strong buyer’s remorse on the left with Obama, and he’s going to come out of this fight in much worse shape than he was in three months ago. Serious questions about his ability to win, and even his basic suitability to the office of President, have come to the forefront and the entire race at this point has come to be about Obama’s personal judgment. Clinton’s trip-ups have been minor by comparison—the whole “sniper fire” concoction could be seen as merely stupid electioneering. It does speak to her character that she lies so easily and thoughtlessly, even when it is obvious she will be found out. But Obama’s lies (especially concerning the abominable Wright) concern his entire being, his whole system of beliefs, everything he represents. And since his whole campaign has been based on the idea that what he represents is something practically divine, then the entire rationale of his candidacy is undermined. Like Jackie Chiles, his case rests on a single flimsy and basically absurd proposition that, if it can be shown to be such, completely destroys his credibility.
In 2004, the Democrats nominated a far left anti-war radical, who tried to run on his military record (and skiing prowess) in a lame attempt at exculpatory persona-building. It was a stupid strategy, because it opened him up to Swift Boat, and once his military credentials had been called into question, his candidacy was mortally wounded. Now a similar trick has been tried with Obama, and the same kinds of problems are coming up. If he can’t be the race-transcending Uniter of All Americans, then he’s just another radical leftist black with a brief against his country.
All this points, in my opinion, to the very real possibility of a coup by the Clintons, because if ever there was a reason to call on the superdelegates to “manage” the nomination process for the Democratic party, it’s right now. What this will mean for the party in November—whether blacks will stay at home, bitterly clinging to their black liberation gods and…um…guns—remains to be seen. Either way, I think Obama’s chances of becoming president are vanishing before our very eyes. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but we’ll have to see.
James N. writes:
I wanted to write with a moderately sympathetic view of Obama regarding his entanglements with Wright and with Michelle.
What I am about to say makes him completely disqualified to be President (or a US Senator, for that matter), so don’t misunderstand this as a veiled declaration of support.
I think he is a bit of a lost soul, who sees (correctly) that something is not right in the post-1964 black-white settlement, and who is offering his own confused, mixed-up self as a means to set things right.
With no father, and a nutty mother, living overseas or almost (Hawaii), surrounded by Commies and other assorted radicals, he arrived at life after Harvard Law with absolutely no clue whatsoever about who he was. When he decided on a career in Chicago electoral politics, he chose to convert to African-Americanism, the one religion which his background gave him no clue about. He married an African-Americanist. He chose an almost cartoon version of an African-Americanist church. In terms of progression to the statehouse and even the US Senate, it was a smart choice.
But now, he’s reverting to the religion of his childhood, one-world socialism. He’s a savvy electoral politician, and just as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave Strom Thurmond sudden new insights into the sagacity of black citizens of South Carolina, Obama realizes that there are voters whom he ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE whose radios do not tune in the Reverend Wright channel.
He probably does not realize that the white liberals who he is courting are quite as racist as they are. All his life, they have flattered him and preened for him, courting him in every way imaginable (he’s so CLEAN!).
But all of a sudden, the project of making a multi-racial America at peace with itself, through the very body of St. Barry (imagine! He has both a black brain AND a white brain!) is endangered by this specter from the past, a man he figured out a long time ago he could use, but who he never thought could cop on to the game (perhaps his white half brain was so racist that he though Jeremiah Wright was too stupid to see what was going on).
The Obama fantasy is going down in flames. In a way, it’s too bad, because we have really needed a change in the terms of black-white engagement in this country. McCain and Hillary’s plans for race relations are to keep lying about them. Obama would have been different.
But he’s too weak, and too flawed, to pull it off, even with all of the media providing wind at his back.
Weak, flawed, but probably not a bad guy.
Carol Iannone writes:
I don’t think Obama was lying. I read the entire text of his remarks, including his answers to questions, and I think he was eloquent in his repudiation of Wright and genuinely surprised at the extent to which Wright got carried away with himself in his self-centered, self-regarding fury at everything.
I do believe Obama allowed himself to look away from the bad in Wright because he thought he saw a lot of good. Also, he equated a lot of Wright’s rhetoric with a kind of social gospel and he thought that it could be useful for people to see that such feelings do exist among blacks. No sense looking away from them, causing them to fester more. That was his idea. Many black people do still feel that America must do more for them. Not everyone agrees but it’s not an outrageous idea. President Bush just signed some kind of legislation to help black men when they get out of prison. Many find there is little opportunity for them when they get out and they wind up back inside. If we are talking about that kind of thing, we can see that it’s not outrageous to think that the country might do more to help underclass blacks. That’s the kind of thing Obama felt Wright stood for, I’ll bet. However, when he heard the full bore idiocy, viciousness, and derangement of the remarks at the National Press Club, the scales fell from his eyes and he realized he was dealing with a toxic person, and he responded accordingly.
Carol Iannone writes: “I don’t think Obama was lying.”
James N. writes: “I think he’s a bit of a lost soul.”
Isn’t time people stopped giving Obama breaks, a candidate for the American Presidency? Actually, the only one who hasn’t so far is Wright himself.
There was a point when I gave a more sympathetic reading of Obama’s thoughts and actions, as someone who, due to no fault of his own, needed an identity, and his fate pushed him into the toxic identity of black racialism. But that excuse can only take him so far. Obama, for all his nice persona, has been shown to be a serial liar. James N. says he’s a lost soul. Yes. He’s so lost in his own lies that he doesn’t even know the truth any more.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 01, 2008 08:54 PM | Send
Be sure to see Charles Krauthammer’s very good dissection of Obama today.