Obama made two arguments for why he couldn't reject the Rev. Wright. One was that the Rev. Wright lived through the era of segregation. So did many others. Surely, there are plenty of black pastors in the country who have suffered more than Wright without letting a left-wing racialist ideology taint their Christian message of love and mercy, let alone telling paranoid lies from the pulpit.
The other was he "can no more disown him than I can disown the black community." This was a poetic simulacrum of profundity. Does that mean Obama can reject no black man or woman because it would constitute rejecting the black community? Did the Hillary Clinton campaign reject the Italian-American community when it rejected Geraldine Ferraro?
In the end, Obama made the case for the respectability of a man who is a hater -- and did it, amazingly enough, in a speech devoted to ending divisiveness. At one moment, Obama said we needed a searching national dialogue about race; at another, he suggested we needed to get beyond all that and unite around a cliched left-wing agenda of anti-corporatism. But whatever Obama is advocating at a given moment, his solution is always himself in his glorious personhood, the salve to the country's ills.
For now, Obama's speech worked. But questions about his judgment and candor will linger.