wright and wrong

Posted on April 29, 2008


Reverend Jeremiah Wright is a megalomaniac who cares more about himself and his image than his flock. That much is clear after his back-to-back-to-back media appearances since last Friday.

If it is true what they say about those closest to you knowing exactly how to hurt you the most, Wright’s words and actions must have been a stake through the heart of presidential hopeful Barack Obama and his campaign.

Wright was unapologetic for his outrageous and incendiary remarks, by turn claiming that he was misquoted, to openly confirming them. Lapping up the media attention, Wright’s antics these few days drew more negative spotlight on Obama at a time that he could ill afford to have more distractions and racial division to color his campaign.

What a stunning betrayal it must be for Obama, who considers Wright not just a pastor but an inspiration for many of his philosophies in life.

While Wright might have done much for the poor over the years in Chicago’s South Side, the man’s narcissism is amazing to behold.

Unrepentant about his ludicrous accusations, such as the US government’s deliberate introduction of the AIDS virus to the African-American population and 9/11 being a consequence of the US’ terrorism against others, Wright seemed to enjoy adding more wood to the pyre by reiterating those comments in the by now infamous session he had at the National Press Club. It was a performance so stunningly self-serving and simultaneously such perfect fodder for Obama’s enemies that one cannot help but feel that Wright must have had it in for Obama and wanted the Illinois senator to know that.

Perhaps Wright is still fuming from Obama’s distancing from his remarks in his speech on race relations in March.

Yesterday, Wright dealt Obama the deepest cut, by saying, “Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever’s doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they’re pastors. They have a different person to whom they’re accountable.”

“What I mean is what several of my white friends and several of my white, Jewish friends have written me and said to me. They’ve said, ‘You’re a Christian. You understand forgiveness. We both know that, if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected.'”

No wonder Obama had to come out so strongly and unambiguously to denounce Wright today. Not only was it to condemn Wright’s hateful and division comments, something Obama needed to do anyway, but also to defend himself.

Obama and his campaign has tried hard to paint him not as just another politician, but as a uniter who transcends politics-as-usual. To have someone as close to him as Wright pull him back down to earth must have been the last straw for Obama. And Obama is a politician after all, despite what many of his supporters might believe and the hype that seemed to have gone to his head.

His timing is also significant. Having played down Wright’s rants for so long, Obama is now choosing to cut ties with him as a new poll shows him being the weaker Democratic candidate in a hypothetical match-up with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain than Hillary Clinton, the feisty New York Senator who refuses to roll over and give up her pursuit of the party’s nominations.

However, Obama will now have to live with the consequences of this example of bad judgment on his part. For a candidate who has stressed judgment as a calling card, his association with Wright and his extreme views smacks either of poor judgment or Obama must have been lying when he said he wasn’t previously aware of Wright’s comments.

Wright’s views might not be Obama’s views, but Obama had been in his congregation for 20 years, seeking Wright out to burnish his Christian credentials that made possible his presidential run and to obtain both spiritual and life guidance. Obama adopted Wright’s phrase “The Audacity of Hope”, not just for the best-selling book Obama wrote and used as its title, but also for the 2004 speech he gave at the Democratic National Convention, which vaulted Obama to national prominence. To deny that Obama has not been influenced in one way or another by Wright’s teachings would be disingenuous.

It now remains to be seen if Obama’s clear denunciation of Wright will kill the story, or if it could drag on further if Wright, in his egomania, feels the need to strike back with another pronouncement on Obama’s motivations.

Amidst all this drama of the fall-out between the two men, Clinton must be glad that she did not withdraw from the campaign despite the immense pressure for her to drop out. This makes the remaining contests much more significant and validates the argument that the nomination should not be wrapped up quickly just for expedience.

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