Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What Barack Obama Ought to Say to his Ex-Spiritual Advisor

With apologies to Andrew Shepherd!
Being President of this country is entirely about character. America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say
You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.
You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".

I've known Reverend Wright for years, and I've been operating under the assumption that the reason the Reverend devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Wright's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Wright's problem is that he can't sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Reverend Wright is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it.

Well, that ends right now. Tomorrow morning. We've got serious problems, and we need serious people, This is a time for serious people, Jeremiah , and your fifteen minutes of fame are up.

My name is Barack Obama, and I am running for president of the United States of America.

Wednesday Morning:

My post at the head of this thread reflected my gut reaction to the scattered accounts of Reverend Jeremiah Wright's comments in front of the National Press Club. Monday, I did not watch C-SPAN or read any newspaper accounts of Wright's remarks. Tuesday morning I posted my adaptation from The American Presidency based upon excerpts, hearsay, and spin, which I picked up vicariously. Since then, I have been nagged about doubts as to whether I had been unjust to Wright by prejudging him on the basis of others' reactions.

But, before I go any further, let me make two observations:
  • In yesterday's early morning hours when I was scouting around the internet looking for comment and reactions concerning Wright's appearance at the NPC, my distinct impression was that liberal sites were silent and conservative sites were all over the story.
  • Tonight, as I was looking around for transcripts of yesterday's event, it took me some time to find them. They were not in the NYT. They were not to be found on the National Press Club's site. They were only to be found on Faux News channel.
That, as the clinical psychologists would say, is diagnostic. And this goes to the root of my complaint against Wright - why Wright is wrong.

So, I have read the full transcript of Wright's NPC performance. The truth is, as I expected it would be, that I am in amazing agreement with a lot of Wright's positions. This, probably, is not the place to go into a detailed analysis of my agreements. Let's just say that Wright's stands and statements are at least arguably defensible.
I'll concede that every thing he says is worth consideration except his statement that HIV is a government conspiracy to kill off African-Americans. This exception is not a trivial one. Wright's decision to preach such rubbish does incredible damage to the mission of reconciliation that he purports to champion.

My major, major, objection to Wright is that he egotistically thinks he is a national figure. He thinks the headlines should feature him. He thinks he is responsible for Barack Hussein Obama making it big. In fact, it's the reverse. Wright would be a nobody, if it weren't for Obama. But Jeremiah Wright thinks yesterday's, today's, and tomorrow's story is all about Jeremiah Wright. I've even read rumors that he has a book coming out in November, just before the national election is held!

Although he has inadvertently become a major political personality, Wright does not possess any political skill, instincts, or vision. He's a religious freak, nutcase or cultist. Illustrative excerpts:
..... My theological lens shapes my anthropological lens ...

..... As I said, this is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright. It has nothing to do with Senator Obama. It is an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition.

..... 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.

..... In my tradition, however, what everybody has been saying to me as it pertains to the candidacy is what God has for you is for you. If God intends for Mr. Obama to the president, then no white racists, no political pundit, no speech, nothing can get in the way, because God will do what God wants to do.
An attack on the black Christian church? Answerable to God? Is this some Ayatollah speaking? If he's not concerned about Barack Obama being elected, and sensitive as to what he - Wright - should do and not do to support him, then this self-obsessed paranoid should have been thrown under the campaign bus in the Barack's Philadelphia speech, if not before. With friends or 'family' like this, Obama does not need enemies.