Monday, April 28, 2008

Sullivan is right on Wright 

Andrew Sullivan has some good advice for the Obama campaign:

Obama needs not just to distance himself from Wright's views; he needs to disown him at this point. Wright himself, it seems to me, has become part of what Obama is fighting against: the boomer, Vietnam era's obsession with its red-blue, white-black, pro and anti-America fixations. That is not what this election needs to be about; and Wright's massive, racially divisive and, yes, bitter provocation requires a proportionate response.

We need a speech or statement from Obama in which he utterly repudiates this poison, however personally difficult that may be, however damaging the impact will be. The statement today will not do it. This is no longer about cynics trying to associate one man's politics with another. It is now about Wright attempting to associate himself and some of his noxious, stupid, rancid views with the likely Democratic nominee. Wright has given Obama no choice - and he has also given him another opportunity. He needs to seize it.

Jeremiah Wright's latest eruption troubles me, but not for its content. He has beclowned himself, and is no longer worthy of respect from intellectually honest people. No, my problem is this: Notwithstanding my desire to see John McCain win in November, it saddens me that Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton have chosen to damage his chances with the American center. Wright, in particular, owes virtually all of his mainstream stature, if that is the word, to Barack Obama, and he is returning the favor by ruining the chances of the first credible black candidate for President of the United States. If this is not tragic, what is?

MORE: Glenn Reynolds thinks Andrew Sullivan is giving Obama too much credit:
Become? I don't see that Wright has changed. People have just noticed. And if this is what Obama is fighting against, then . . . where's the fighting against part?

Wright may not have changed his views, but he has become a national figure with a very loud megaphone by dint of his lucky affiliation with Barack Obama; amplification matters, because it changes the nature and purpose of the ideas even if their literal expression does not change. As for the "fighting against" part, my sense is that three points may be made, two of which are in Barack Obama's favor. First, he is personally attracted to a post-racial world in a way that many African-Americans, including perhaps his own wife, are not. This is to his credit, it is seemingly genuine, and it is at the root of his popularity among whites. Second, he has run a campaign that has been as free of racialism as anybody can reasonably expect, especially in light of the devious pressure from the Clintons. Third, he has not genuinely "fought against" Wrightism because to do so carries a very high political price that -- so far -- he has been unwilling to pay. Perhaps that calculus has now changed.

STILL MORE: People who read Andrew Sullivan's blog more frequently, or search it for flips to offset the flops, think differently. WSJ at Patterico has some fun at Andrew's expense. He would have titled this post "Sullivan is right on Wright, finally". Meanwhile, Tom Maguire thinks that Sullivan is wrong (echoing some of our commenters), insofar as Obama cannot now credibly back away from first position as Wright's contextualizer. And don't miss Tom's post for his comparison of WrightGate coverage from the NYT and the WaPo. It is as though they are writing for entirely different propaganda ministries.

I still think it is sad that Wright (and others, like Sharpton) are choosing this time to inflame racial controversies. Wright in particular is exploiting the gift of fame that Obama has given him to divide the country in rage, whether or not it costs Obama the Democratic nomination. He is betraying Obama in the most visible and humiliating way, and that is tragic.

That said, commenter Teresita might be correct in this:
Obama is getting the Reverend Wright cable news saturation over and done with now, in the primary season, so it will be a dead horse in the general. Come September he will roll his eyes at any further questions about Jeremiah Wright and say, "That again? How many different ways can I say I repudiate and reject Pastor Wright? Proceed to the next question please."

Of course, the two preconditions for this are, first, that Obama actually repudiate what Wright has said, and second, that he wins the Democratic nomination. Wright's craziness is powerful mojo in the hands of the Clintons, who are no doubt burning up the lines to superdelegates arguing that Wright can cost Democrats the election.

WE CANNOT STOP THE UPDATES: Numerous people have recommended Wretchard's post and the affiliated comment thread. He makes two key points, one in the post itself and another in the comments. First, the nature of Wright's eruption:
Maybe James Lewis is onto something when he argues that the "moment of truth for the Left has arrived" because the ideology espoused by Jeremiah Wright and his enthusiastic audience is more a product of the Left's idea mill than anything else. You'll find equivalent versions of the Wright ideology for Latinos, Indians, gays, lesbians and environmentalists. Wright is part of a product line. A small part.

And that's why Obama's associations with people like Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, in conjunction with Jeremiah Wright are more significant than they appear at first glance. They imply a loyalty to the parent brand, the Left, more than to its special product line for black people.

Then, the reason Wright chose to speak now:
Here's why I think Jeremiah Wright did it.

The important thing to remember is that as far as the Left is concerned, Barack Obama is already the President of the United States. He's already been selected by the People. Any sequence of events which frustrates this result will be a lynching. He'll be Patrice Lumumba, Allende and Che Guevara all rolled into one.

So the Left has already won whatever happens to Obama. But in the matter of winning, it's important how he wins. The preferred mode of Leftist victory is through intimidation. Winning an ordinary electoral victory is ho-hum. Winning one with the smell of gunpowder in the air is a revolution.

Now after Obama built up a big delegate lead on Hillary, the Democratic Party was essentially committed to carrying Obama whether or not Hillary found some way to overtake the lead. Remember, Obama once in the lead, is always in the lead. Otherwise it's a lynching. I think Wright is essentially running up the Jolly Roger knowing full well that the Democratic Party will have sail under those colors or lose the black vote. He's going to force the Democrats to take Obama on his terms. This is the revolutionary act. Wright believes he has an historic opportunity and he's going to take it.

Personally, I think the Democratic Party will be dragged kicking and screaming into doing exactly as Wright wants. They can't lose the black vote. They'd rather lose in 2008 than smash the Rainbow coalition they've built over the years.

So my prediction is that Wright has gamed it this way. He's making a play for the soul of the Democratic Party. He's prepared to lose 2008, knowing that even if Obama loses the general election, Obama in the leftist hagiography, will be even greater than if he had won.

In a very subtle way, it's a putsch.

If Wretchard is correct in this last argument, John McCain will win big in November, a point Hillary will make many times in the next few weeks.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Apr 28, 10:38:00 PM:

All I can say is go read The Belmont Club post "And the Truth Will Set You Free...", and especially Wretchard's later comments in the post.
I think he understands this because he has seen the Left do this sort of thing on a smaller scale in other parts of the world.

It can't happen here? Think again. Millions are totally unaware of what Wright said today, and will believe any hearsay that is said to explain it, and certainly won't want to believe the "worst" that is possible. True Obama believers will "blank out" what was said and rationalize it in their heads, rather than give up on Mr Hope and Unity.
And The Nation of Islam provided security for Rev. Wright today.

This isn't tragic, it's something else entirely. Even Andrew Sullivan cannot look the Gorgon in the eye and accurately describe what he saw. We are in for one wild-ass political ride this year.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Apr 28, 11:21:00 PM:

Obama is getting the Reverend Wright cable news saturation over and done with now, in the primary season, so it will be a dead horse in the general. Come September he will roll his eyes at any further questions about Jeremiah Wright and say, "That again? How many different ways can I say I repudiate and reject Pastor Wright? Proceed to the next question please."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Apr 28, 11:24:00 PM:

It's already too late. Dems are now the "Black Party" and believe that the US created AIDS to kill the Black Man, that America had 9/11 coming, that there are "black brains and white brains" and that there is "black rhythm and white rhythm" and that God Dam America is the Gospel.

That Louis Farrakhan, Jimmy Carter, and the Democratic Party are one.

That Whites owe Blacks an endless apology, endless amounts of money, endless abasement.

In a recession/depression, hard times, gas maybe going to $10 a gallon, this is what Dems have come to.

Dems at a stroke became "Blacks Only."

And while Wretchard may have seen it abroad, let me remind everyone that Blacks make up only 12% of the population. Whites are the majority still, and very unhappy. All Obama promises them is endless payments to shills like Wright. With extra added humiliation thrown in.

Exit Dems as a national party.  

By Blogger Elijah, at Mon Apr 28, 11:40:00 PM:

again....who are those captors, captive, and subjugated?  

By Blogger Escort81, at Tue Apr 29, 01:08:00 AM:

I am not sure that Obama has to completely disown Wright, so much as he absolutely must repudiate with specificty -- on a point by point basis -- the more extreme statements that Wright has made and reiterated at his NPC Q&A. That would have the added benefit of having a respected black leader (Obama) reassure African-Americans that in fact their government did not infect them with AIDS in an effort to commit genocide.

But I think Obama has to say something at this point. Modified limited hangout won't work now.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Tue Apr 29, 03:09:00 AM:

It doesn't matter what Obama says now, because Mr. "Hope and Change" has been exposed as a cynical political hustler. Does anyone believe that the refined, cultured Mr. Obama ever believed any of that bile that Wright was spewing? Of course not, but he not only sat there listening to it for twenty years but praised Wright as his "spiritual mentor" because it was politically advantageous for him at the time. And if he "disowns" him now it will be for the same reason.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 29, 03:11:00 AM:

"I could no more disown Rev. Wright than I could the Black Community, or my own family."

You can't walk back from that one.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 29, 07:39:00 AM:

Put yourself in Wright's shoes.

Obama is only good for Wright and so many other Blacks if the Big O reinforces and validates their view of themselves as victims and bearers of a flag of uniqueness.

Why else the inflammatory and narrowly focussed sermons?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 29, 07:57:00 AM:

I don't see how Obama can distance himself from Wright after 20 years. Wright has shown the comments he made during the short video clips are in context with his longer speeches of recent days. He is a biggot and anti semite. I am sure Obanma knew this all along.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Apr 29, 08:14:00 AM:

I agree with much of Wretchard's commentary, and agree particularly that this sets up a powerful potential victory for John McCain.

Many commenters argue that Wright is a sideshow, but in this I must sharply disagree. The choice of one's Church is significant. And it's a twenty year association -- it'sa highly personal reflection of commmitment and devotion. Obama entitled his book about himself after a Wright Sermon.

Obama cannot disown Wright. It is consistent with Obama's down the line leftist voting record as well. Obama is of the left, by the left and for the left. That is what Wright is saying. Remember when Moveon.org said they "owned" the Democratic Party because they bought and paid for it? Well, this is the same storyline. That's what Wright is saying. You can't run from me Barack. I made you. I own you.  

By Blogger SR, at Tue Apr 29, 09:09:00 AM:

I completely agree with Elijah's comments above.
All the while affirming whatever positive effects the church has had on the Chicago inner city it serves, Obama should vigorously denounce any truth in statements like those Wright has made about AIDS, etc. Whenever he is asked about Wright, he should ask for specific statements of interest, and then say something like, "No clear thinking American can possibly believe such a thing." If Obama keeps saying things like that, Barry won't have to disown Wright, the opposite will occur. To date, as in the Philadelphia speech, Obama has been to vague, and not forceful enough. One might say he has been Clintonian, leaving wiggle room for parsing.

Oh, and Barry, start wearing the flag. Say that you are running for President of all Americans and that you now understand the importance of such symbols to many of us.

That said, I'd never vote for Obama.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Apr 29, 10:20:00 AM:

They want the smell of gunpowder, eh? Perhaps they have forgotten which end of the political spectrum has all the guns?

If Wretchard's theory is correct, the Democrats will come to rue these days. There will be political fragmentation, and there might even be blood spilled, eventually.

Hurray identity politics!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 29, 02:46:00 PM:

"Otherwise it's a lynching. I think Wright is essentially running up the Jolly Roger knowing full well that the Democratic Party will have sail under those colors or lose the black vote."
Blacks will vote for who the dems tell them to vote for, just like always. Some of the black race pimps who lose out by Obama withdrawing and leaving the nomination to Hillary make start riots and make a lot of noise but most will fall in line.
Obama has Wright in the open now, but Rezko and Ayers follow along with others we do not yet know. There have to be some dirty Chicago aldermen in his background.Do we now, for example, if Obama was connected to the black nightclub disaster (porch fell?) a couple of years back?
Obama needs help in erasing his past and may realize that it is better to cut his losses now and try again in 4. If Hillary loses to McCain then Obama may actually be better off with four more years of Magic Negro-hood.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 29, 03:15:00 PM:

[Tiger, did you really delete my post? If you don't want me to post here, that's fine, it's your sandbox and I respect that. Just let me know or leave a "post deleted" sign. Let me try again: ]

I don't think it is intellectually dishonest to defend Wright for having false words put in his mouth, but I would agree that in respect to his recent appearances there is a fine line between helpful demystification (the Moyers interview) and self-aggrandizement, which he passed several reels of videotape ago!

But let's keep things in perspective. I don't think this compares to the Gennifer Flowers episode the Clintons faced in 1992. Bill was decidedly dishonest. No one is accusing Barack of anything like that.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Apr 29, 05:21:00 PM:

Well that depends on what your definition of dishonest is. For example, is

'I attended that church and listened to him speak for 20 years and was married by him, but I never knew he was a hate-preaching conspiracy nut.'


Well, not if he's deaf and/or an idiot. But if he's neither, then yes, he knew damn well that his 'spiritual mentor' was a freak and was naive enough to think that no one would find out about his tolerance for him in a presidential campaign. And when he got caught, he lied about it.

And then there's the

'Oh I don't really know this Ayers guy, even thought we've worked together in the past and attended the same parties and been seen speaking together repeatedly. Oh, and he gave me money. Forgot about that'

incident. Or how about the

'I know that Mr. Rezko has been indicted for wire fraud, bribery, money laundering, and attempted extortion, and he was a major fund raiser and political ally for me and we've exchanged several favors involving business transactions and property acquisition, but I've nothing to do with him.'

episode? More of this one, unfolding.

So it seems that Mr. Obama is a horrifically naive and foolish politician, or he's dishonest. Could an honest, well-meaning 'bringer of hope and change' really be so sullied, unknowingly of course, by shady characters and not be retarded?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Apr 29, 08:22:00 PM:

I watched a clip of Obama's speech today and I do believe that he is a good guy.

That he has done work with and even been influenced by assholes like Wright and Ayers is noteworthy, but I think he would try to listen to all types of people as POTUS.

The reasons he is unlikely to get my vote really do have to do with what he says will be best for the U.S.

People who think Carter was a good leader will vote for him. People who think Reagan was will not.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 30, 02:20:00 AM:

As another commenter pointed out, there's no way in hell Obama ever took Wright or any of his insane rants seriously. At the same time, he knew full well where he stood on the issues.

Obama doesn't hate America. But he's not principled either. He's a politician. Simple as that.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu May 01, 07:38:00 AM:

This used to be mentioned all the time, but I haven't seen it anywhere recently:

The race hustlers, like Sharpton and Wright, lose big if Obama is elected President. It explicitly undercuts their "all white Americans are racist bigots" assumption. It drains their power, and makes them marginal.

Only four years ago, Sharpton was crowned as the Democratic Party's spokesmen for all people-of-color. Now he is being shoved to the side, and can barely get coverage of his violent protests and marches to "shut down" New York.

Wright and Sharpton and Jackson and all the other "black leaders" have a very strong interest in seeing Obama fail. And so, they'll try to undercut him wherever they can -- as long as they can do it without giving away the game.  

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