Throughout his campaign Barack Obama has mocked his critics, noting that they just don't get what a novel figure and consistent unifier he has been for his whole life. "They say: We don't know enough about him. His pastor once said something. He's got a funny name, sounds Muslim."
But of late Obama's pastor has been saying a lot, and finally Obama has been forced to denounce him. For the first time Obama has called the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's views "ridiculous" and even accused him of being a purveyor of "hate."
To which one might say: better late than never. Maybe Obama never really knew how radical this guy is. But how likely is this? Let's remember that Reverend Wright is the one who has been consistent over the years. He used to believe that the U.S. government manufactured the AIDS virus and deliberately spread it in the black community, and he still believes it. He thinks America may have conspired to bomb itself on 9/11, and he's never wavered in that conviction. Now, and before, he thinks that "God Bless America" is better expressed as "God Damn America!"
Obama has been hearing such messages for more than two decades, packaged in an incendiary racial ideology which surpasses anything that Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton have ever said. And yet Obama selected this man for his mentor and even called him "family." By contrast with this white grandmother, Obama actually chose to make Wright part of his intimate circle.
Even six weeks ago, having heard all the controversial comments by Wright, Obama was standing by his man. He distanced himself from some of Wright's views while refusing to repudiate Wright. He said he could no more repudiate Wright than he could repudiate his own family. This by the way is the speech that many pundits hailed for its originality and brilliance. I think it will go down as one of the biggest blunders in American political history.
What Obama should have said in that speech: "Once upon a time this man rescued my spiritual life. A long time ago when I was spiritually and emotionally at a low point, he was there for me and he helped me get over the hill. So I owe him big time. I know that he's said some crazy things, but I've overlooked them, because of what he did for me." Instead Obama tried to sound like W.E.B. Du Bois. He impressed the liberal intelligentsia, while shooting himself politically in the foot.