The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Friday, March 14, 2008
UPDATED Welcome to the "Politics of Change"
Just like he wasn't paying attention when the crook Rezko's wife bought him his new front yard, gratis (ok maybe for a political favor or 100...); or when Rezko himself donated a quarter of a mil (that we know of) to his campaigns (that one just came out today); nor when all that earmark money went to his own wife's business.
Rookie mistakes. Just a bit of bad judgment, no trouble here. Barack had his eyes on the "big picture, that's all." So let's let bygones be bygones and let's make the guy President now...
Victor Davis Hanson has got it exactly right: this isn't going away; not even for some call girl. I think we are witnessing the implosion of the Obama campaign:
Betrayed?The Democrats have a BIG problem; even Hillary may not want him on her ticket now... He portrayed himself as such a "uniter", and now it appears he has spent over 20 years with one of the biggest racist bigots around. Nice try.
The problems with Rev. Wright and Sen. Obama are fivefold. They won’t go away, but they will raise dilemmas for him that have no analogy, no parallel with other religious leaders of dubious past declamations who have supported the other candidates:
1) The Obamas were not merely endorsed by, or attended the church of, Rev. Wright, but subsidized his hatred with generous donations, were married by him, and had their children baptized by this venomous preacher; there is nothing quite comparable in the case of Sens. Clinton and McCain.
2) Rev. Wright’s invective is not insensitive or hyperbolic alone, but in the end disgusting. And when listened to rather than read, the level of emotion and fury only compound the racism and hatred, whether in its attack on the Clintons, or profanity-laced slander of the United States and its history, or in gratuitous references to other races. Its reactionary Afrocentrism, conspiracy-theory, and illiberal racial separatism take us back to the 1970s, and compare with the worst of the fossilized Farrakhan—and have no remote parallel in the present campaign.
3) Sen. Obama has proclaimed a new politics of hope and change that were supposedly to transcend such venom and character assassination of the past. Thus besides being politically dense, he suffers—unless he preempts and explains in detail his Byzantine relationship with the Reverend—the additional charge of hypocrisy in courting such a merchant of hate. And then he compounds the disaster by the old-fashion politics of contortion and excuse by suggesting the Rev. Wright is not that controversial, or is analogous to the occasional embarrassing outburst of an uncle—some uncle.
4) There is a growing sense of betrayal among some of his supporters. Sen. Obama promised to transcend race; millions of sincere people of both parties took him at his word and invested psychologically and materially in his candidacy. Part of his message was that collectively America had made great progress, and their Ivy League and subsequent careers, in addition to his rhetoric of inclusiveness and tolerance, bore witness to that progress in racial equality. Now we learn, that for much of his career, he was not only attending hate-filled sermons against “rich white people” and the “g-d d——d America” (in hopes of solidifying his racial fides in regional Chicago politics?), but subsidized that ministry of intolerance. So while he promised an evolution beyond the race-identity politics of Jesse Jackson or the Rev. Sharpton, his own minister trumped anything that either one of those preachers might have sermonized. All in all—a betrayal.
5) The timing is especially troubling. In delegate mathematics, Obama seems to have the nomination; but this scandal—and it is a scandal despite the best efforts of sympathetic journalists to downplay it—will only cause worry for the super delegates, who now must either nominate a candidate (no doubt the vast right-wing conspiracy is examining the multivolume DVDs of Rev. Wright’s collective corpus of hatred) who will bleed all spring and summer, or “steal” the nomination from the “people” and “hand it over” to Hillary.
So now in place of a critical discussion of issues from taxes to the war, welcome to the Politics of Change.
In his zeal to outdo the Queen of Identity Politics, Barack Obama has now reaped what he himself has sown. But not because he is black; rather, because he quite simply does not have the judgment to be President.
UPDATE: Tom McGuire isn't buying either:
This Rolling Stone article from Feb 2007 titled "The Radical Roots of Barack Obama" looks like a gold mine. Lots of material on Wright (but nothing on Ayers). This next passage gives a flavor of what Obama is pretending he did not hear in church [but do note my confusion following the excerpt]:
Wright takes the pulpit here one Sunday and solemnly, sonorously declares that he will recite ten essential facts about the United States. "Fact number one: We've got more black men in prison than there are in college," he intones. "Fact number two: Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!" There is thumping applause; Wright has a cadence and power that make Obama sound like John Kerry. Now the reverend begins to preach. "We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS. . . . We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. . . . We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. . . . We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!" The crowd whoops and amens as Wright builds to his climax: "And. And. And! GAWD! Has GOT! To be SICK! OF THIS SHIT!"
This is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr. Wright is not an incidental figure in Obama's life, or his politics. The senator "affirmed" his Christian faith in this church; he uses Wright as a "sounding board" to "make sure I'm not losing myself in the hype and hoopla." Both the title of Obama's second book, The Audacity of Hope, and the theme for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 come from Wright's sermons. "If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, a leader of the religious left, "just look at Jeremiah Wright."
Obama wasn't born into Wright's world. His parents were atheists, an African bureaucrat and a white grad student, Jerry Falwell's nightmare vision of secular liberals come to life. Obama could have picked any church — the spare, spiritual places in Hyde Park, the awesome pomp and procession of the cathedrals downtown. He could have picked a mosque, for that matter, or even a synagogue. Obama chose Trinity United. He picked Jeremiah Wright. Obama writes in his autobiography that on the day he chose this church, he felt the spirit of black memory and history moving through Wright, and "felt for the first time how that spirit carried within it, nascent, incomplete, the possibility of moving beyond our narrow dreams."
Ouch. [But hold on - per this article, the Rolling Stone is reporting on the same speech described by today's WSJ as having been delivered at Howard University; this YouTube video tracks both sets of excerpts. I suppose he could have delivered it twice. But word for word? So what was the Rolling Stone reporter thinking about? I'll guess - Howard University is in Washington DC, as is Obama's Senate office, and he got muddled.]
Let's cut to the Times for more on Obama's choice of minister:Whoa. It is hardly as if this is the church Obama's parents selected and he inherited. He sought out Wright, was moved by Wright, and is now pretending he had no idea Wright said these things. ....
It was a 1988 sermon called “The Audacity to Hope” that turned Mr. Obama, in his late 20s, from spiritual outsider to enthusiastic churchgoer. Mr. Wright in the sermon jumped from 19th-century art to his own youthful brushes with crime and Islam to illustrate faith’s power to inspire underdogs. Mr. Obama was seeing the same thing in public housing projects where poor residents sustained themselves through sheer belief.
In “Dreams From My Father,” Mr. Obama described his teary-eyed reaction to the minister’s words. “Inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones,” Mr. Obama wrote. “Those stories — of survival, and freedom, and hope — became our story, my story.”
Mr. Obama was baptized that year, and joining Trinity helped him “embrace the African-American community in a way that was whole and profound,” said Ms. Soetoro, his half sister.