Barack Obama -- the self-anointed soul-fixing, nation-healing political Messiah -- has lost his glow. That is the takeaway from the beleaguered Democratic presidential candidate's "major" speech in Philadelphia yesterday.
For all of his supposedly unique and transcendent understanding of race in America, Obama's talk amounted to the same old, same old. The Glowbama mystique has gone the way of the Emperor's clothes. Instead of accountability, we got excuses. Instead of disavowal of demagoguery, we got whacked with the moral equivalence card. Instead of rejecting the Blame America mantra of left-wing black nationalism, we got more Blame Whitey. Same old, same old.
For two decades, Obama tethered himself to a fire-breathing pastor peddling bitter Marxist "black liberation theology" in the name of God. Behind the "audacity of hope" was a grievance-mongering preacher animated by the voracity of hate. And understand this: The Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama were not merely passing "associates." They were mentor and mentee, guru and student, with fates and fortunes intertwined.
For two decades, while using the church to build his Chicago power base and credibility in the black community, Obama turned a deaf ear to Wright's AIDS conspiracy theories, class warfare rants, anti-Israel, anti-white raves, and "God damn America" diatribes. These weren't occasional outbursts. They were the bread and butter of the Trinity United Church of Christ. Now, Obama blames "talk show hosts and conservative commentators" for exposing Wright's race-based rancor. Audacious, indeed.
On Friday, Obama attempted to minimize the extent to which he had been exposed to Wright's poisonous politicking on the pulpit. "None of these statements were ones that I had heard myself personally in the pews," he told Major Garrett of Fox News. "The other statements were ones that I just heard about while we were -- when they started being run on FOX and some of the other stations. And so they weren't things that I was familiar with."
Yesterday, Obama changed his tune: "I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes."
The clever Sen. Obama has attempted to erect a firewall of protection from probing questions about which remarks he heard and tolerated and failed to object to while sitting in the pews. Dwelling on what he knew and where and when, he argued yesterday, would be "to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality."
But it is Obama's pastor ("former" pastor, he is so quick to point out now, though he is a two-decade-long mentor) who holds a warped view of reality. And it is Obama who distorts the truth by likening this Ward Churchill of the United Church of Christ to an avuncular, yet lovable, family member who cannot easily be renounced:
"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."
Glad to know something made Obama cringe.
Even as he denied that he was justifying and excusing Wright's demagoguery, Obama was doing just that by invoking slavery, Jim Crow, segregated schools, violence in the inner city and, yes, denial of access to FHA mortgages, to explain how we get to Wright spewing "God damn America" on Sunday morning.
"These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love," Obama declared rather stiffly as he stood self-consciously in front of more American flags that he has ever been placed in front of this campaign season.
Well, you can't pick your grandma, but you can pick your pastor. And Obama picked the wrong one if he aspires to be the president of all America -- an America that includes citizens of all colors who cringe at self-serving racial rationalizations masquerading as moral salvation.