When it comes to the connection between Barack Obama and his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright -- or to John McCain's various positions on whether criticizing Obama for his relationship with Wright is fair game -- my head is spinning.
At first, the Obama defenders said Jeremiah Wright doesn't speak for Obama. Not only have Obama's ill-wishers taken Wright's statements out of context but they have unfairly imputed those statements to Obama.
Next, we witnessed the beginning of the Jeremiah Wright rehabilitation tour. He appeared on Bill Moyers' show, endeavoring to present himself as a calm, reasonable person whose statements had been twisted against him.
Then he spoke at the Detroit NAACP dinner. Forgive me if I have a different take than most Wright critics, but I read the transcript of the Detroit speech in its entirety and did not detect too much, if any, incendiary language.
Wright presented a rather innocuous talk about the differences in human beings and how our differences do not mean certain groups are deficient -- "just different." His theme seemed to be that we should strive to overlook people's differences and work toward reconciliation because we are all made in God's image. Bravo. Who could object to that?
In his speech the next morning at the National Press Club, Wright continued with that theme, which was fine as far as it went. But alas, he couldn't help dipping his foot a little further into the waters of controversy.
He touched on black liberation theology, revealing, inadvertently or not, that his religious views are formed through a racially tinted prism. He strategically characterized the recent scrutiny of his sermons as "not an attack on Jeremiah Wright," but "an attack on the black church." And he huffed that his congregation has sent dozens of kids to fight in this nation's wars, while those who have called him unpatriotic have sent "4,000 American boys and girls of every race to die over a lie."
But these subjects were tame compared to his responses to the moderator's questions following the speech, where Wright reverted -- full bore -- to the offensive themes to which we've been exposed recently.
In so doing, he undid the undoing of the damage he tried to undo with his two "reconciliation" speeches. In front of a large audience, he fatally undermined his recent protest that Obama's opponents have taken his sermon utterances grossly out of context.
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