His Mentor's Preaching Could Bring Down Obama's Star

Ross Mackenzie

3/20/2008 2:47:57 PM - Ross Mackenzie

So what’s up with Barack Obama?

We’ve just seen Eliot Spitzer augur into the ground, and Bear Stearns crash and burn. Tibetans have shot down any ambitions the Communist Chinese regime had for the Olympic gold in toleration of dissent. And Obama may be flaming out.

Not on personality or policy.

Certainly not. Hillary Clinton hardly is well-endowed in the former, yet the two are practically Siamese-twin inseparable in the latter — though in sheer leftism Obama takes the cake. As John McCain will continue to note, the midstream National Journal — which rates every member of Congress — finds him the Senate’s “most liberal” member.

On race, then? The preachings of his Chicago minister — the Rev. Jeremiah Wright?

Bingo. The sudden problem for Obama is this: For the past 15 months he has campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination as a kumbaya-humming racial uniter, yet for the past 20 years he has sat regularly in a church overseen by a racial divider — indeed, as Obama acknowledges, by a racial divider who has doubled as a personal mentor (“like an uncle,” in Obama’s words). Wright officiated at Obama’s wedding. He baptized Obama’s children. He served as a no-pay campaign adviser until quotes from his sermons began circulating on the Internet and Obama, in damage-control mode, urged him to leave.

Yes, but a lot of people in the pews don’t necessarily agree with everything their preachers say.

Of course. Yet a lot of people in the pews do leave (these days are leaving in big numbers) their churches because of the routine message dished out from the pulpit — be it ideological, socio-cultural, liturgical, or whatever. Besides, not many people have mentors with whom they viscerally or deeply disagree.

Still, this remains a free country, and the Rev. Mr. Wright can believe and preach whatever he likes.

Yes indeed. But Obama’s 20-year membership in Wright’s church implies acceptance of Wright’s views broadly — and so suggests an Obama as not necessarily the racial uniter of his campaign rhetoric. This opening in his armor — into his beliefs — may undermine his appeal to those in the electorate inclined to vote for him to purge their racial guilt and vindicate their racial innocence.

How about some examples of Wright’s far-out views?

(1) Wright employs the phrase “U.S. of KKK-A” — KKK meaning Ku Klux Klan.

(2) Just days after 9/11, he gave a sermon saying America’s foreign and national security policies invited the Islamofascist attacks: “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

(3) Two years later he sermonized urging African-Americans to condemn the U.S.: “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law, and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no — God damn America. That’s in the Bible for killing innocent people.”

(4) Wright is a close friend of Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan. In the 1980s the two journeyed to Libya together to pay homage to Moammar Qaddafi. In November, Wright gave Farrakhan a “lifetime achievement” award and featured Farrakhan on the cover of his church magazine.

(5) In 2005 Wright sermonized: “White America got a wake-up call after 9/11. White America and the Western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork, or just disappeared as the great white West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”

And (6), in 2006 he sermonized: “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. And, and, and — God! Has got! To be sick! Of this s--t!”

Obama has disavowed all that, saying last week: “I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies.”

But the distinguished Shelby Steele, of mixed blood as Obama is, notes (in The Wall Street Journal March 18) that the damage already may be done. Steele finds Obama a man of “slight political record (130 ‘present’ votes in the Illinois State Legislature, little achievement in the U.S. Senate,” who “stacks up as something of a mediocrity.”

Devastatingly, Steele writes, Obama has “fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own (white) mother.” Obama’s run at the presidency “is based more on the manipulation of white guilt than on substance.” And so?

And so, for Obama, this: A leftist campaigning as a moderate, a novice campaigning as hugely experienced, a political insider campaigning as an outsider (a U.S. senator is a D.C. outsider?), an adamant partisan campaigning as a uniquely successful bipartisan — now is revealed as possibly a racial divider dissembling as a racial unifier.

As word spreads about yet another aspect of Obama not being as he presents it — not being all he would have it seem — his soaring star may burn dim and begin to plunge in the political night sky.