Obama's Imperilled Candidacy

Posted: Mar 25, 2008 5:57 PM
Obama's Imperilled Candidacy

Ironic, isn't it? Some conservatives have been calling for an inquiry into Barack Hussein Obama's Muslim connection--didn't he attend a madrassa in Indonesia?--when the real problem turns out to be Obama's Christian mentor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Wright is a kind of Ward Churchill in vestments. Remember Ward Churchill? He's the leftist white guy who was posing as an American Indian as he gave speeches saying America deserved to be attacked and that 9/11 was a case where the "chickens came home to roost." Eventually the University of Colorado gave Churchill the boot.

Oddly enough Wright used exactly the same language as Churchill in saying that on 9/11 America got its comeuppance. Actually, Wright's statements taken collectively are worse than those of Churchill. Wright also said the U.S. government deliberately introduced AIDS into the black community. And he insisted that instead of saying "God bless America" we would be better to say "God damn America."

This is the man that Obama calls "like family." This is the man that Obama credits with "introducing me to my Christian faith." This is the mean that Obama choose to marry him and his wife, and to baptize his children. This is the man who inspired the title of Obama's book. This is the man whom Obama credits with being a mentor over more than two decades.

I found it very interesting to hear Wright explicitly endorse Obama over Hillary in church. Normally when evangelical preachers cross the political line they get hammered for violating the separation of church and state. One pastor I know invited a local Republican official to give his personal testimony in church and had to answer to the IRS for it. How come black churches engage in blatant electioneering, even to the point of busing members to the voting booth, and nobody from the ACLU or the media raises an eyebrow?

Equally fascinating is Wright's comment in church that unlike Hillary, Obama will be a race man. Wright's argument is that Obama will stand up for poor blacks against the rich whites who control the country. In the past Obama has been accused by some of being insufficiently attentive to black concerns. The term sometimes used for this is Oreo: black on the outside, white on the inside. Wright by contrast seems to be claiming that Obama is white--or at least tan--on the outside but black on the inside.

Wright poses a possibly lethal threat to Obama's chance to be president. Obama's great appeal is that he's the political equivalent of Tiger Woods. He's not an America hater or a race man like Charlie Rangel or Jesse Jackson. Wright makes Americans wonder: why is Obama so close to a man whose incendiary views are far worse than that of just about any black radical figure with the possible exception of Louis Farrakhan? Isn't professed ignorance of Wright's political views, combined with a refusal to cut ties with him, proof of Obama's bad judgment?

Remarkably Obama has refused to make a wholesale repudiation of Wright. All of us, Obama says, have preachers and mentors that we disagree with. But how many of us attend churches where the preacher makes the kind of comments that Wright has made? Even in the black church, “God damn America” is not standard fare. Certainly Martin Luther King didn’t talk like that.

Obama insists on likening Wright to a family member, kind of like his white grandmother. Nothing Obama cited from his grandmother even comes to Wright’s hate speech. Besides, she’s his grandmother. We don’t choose our relatives but we do choose our pastors and mentors. In addition, grandma made her comments within the privacy of the household while Wright shouted his from the pulpit.

Pretty soon people are going to ask: Is Wright's influence the reason why Obama doesn't want to wear an American flag pin? Or raise his hand to his chest when the national anthem is played? Is Wright's ideology part of the reason why Obama's wife says she has not been proud of America for her whole adult life? And behind all this, the big question: at a time of war, can America is entrusted to a man who seems tolerant of the kind of vicious anti-Americanism that we are used to hearing from our worst enemies?