Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama's preacher preaches again...

In his list of 22 questions for Senator Obama, Peter Wehner's question # 7 asks:

7. Can you cite a single public statement in which Reverend Wright acknowledges that what he said deeply offended people, and was both inappropriate and a mischaracterization of what you believe is the greatness of this country? To what evidence of Wright’s public contrition can you point?

Well, we have an answer of sorts for this question now, as reported here:

The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., former pastor of Barack Obama’s Trinity United The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., former pastor of Barack Obama’s Trinity United Church of Christ, has kept a low profile since some of his sermons landed him in the middle of a political firestorm.

But on Saturday Wright made his first extensive public remarks since the controversy began as he paid tribute to his friend, former appellate judge R. Eugene Pincham, a congregant at Trinity since 1987.While discussing “seven lessons the judge taught me,” Wright never mentioned church member Obama, who has rejected some of Wright’s comments, which included denunciations of America for its mistreatment of black people and claims that America’s promotion of terrorism abroad helped prompt the 9/11 attacks. But Wright did take the opportunity to bash some of the critics of his controversial statements, including Fox News personalities Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

And while Wright made no mention of terrorism, he did revisit the topic of America’s mistreatment of blacks, saying America’s founding fathers “planted slavery and white supremacy in the DNA of this republic,” and adding that Thomas Jefferson wrote, “ ‘God would punish America for the sin of slavery.’ I guess that makes Thomas Jefferson unpatriotic,” he said to the cheers of the congregation.

Escalating into full-preaching mode, Wright thundered, “Fox News can’t understand that. [Bill] O’Reilly will never get that. Sean Hannity’s stupid fantasy will keep him forever stuck on stupid when it comes to comprehending how you can love a brother who does not believe what you believe. [Pincham’s] faith was a faith in a God who loved the whole world not just one country or one creed.”At that point, congregants nearly drowned Wright out with a booming standing ovation. Delivering a eulogy for a late congregant of Trinity United Church of Christ — former appellate judge R. Eugene PinchamBarack Obama’s former pastor said America’s mistreatment of blacks is the result of the founding fathers, who “planted slavery and white supremacy in the DNA of this republic.”

Louis Farrakhan joined Wright and others at the funeral.

The mad priest remains not only unrepentant but seems intent on damaging Senator Obama's hopes for the presidency now. Unlike Obama, who stood by him and did not shun him, in spite of the great pressure and temptation to do so-- willing to implicate his own grandmother while providing a broad enough cover for Wright's ass -- Rev. Wright seems unconcerned and unhindered by such loyalties. He has all the finesse and warmth of a road roller...

Rev. Wright is Rev. Wright, an unreformable extremist. But what are we to make of Obama's judgment skills in all of this? I mean, he had embraced this man, allowed him to play a spiritual role in his family's well-being, quoted him in his book.. Is this the kind of good judgment of people and positions that people should expect or excuse in their leader?

Is Obama a naive intellectual after all, and simply hasn't got the steel and razor sharp acumen that are needed for such a high position he is seeking to fulfill?

His latest gaff about the"bitter" Pennsylvanians seems to support this reading of the man. He looks for the "root causes" of behaviours and when he finds them, they are usually the kind of "root causes" which have some condescension and pity built into them. He thinks about these issues, his preacher's expostulations, the culture of small town America, in terms of grievances which serve as mitigation for what he actually thinks are reprehensible manifestations.

Lee Iaccoca's counsel about leadership: "I forgot to shake hands and be friendly. It was an important lesson about leadership." should have been heeded by Obama. Had he made a clean and unambiguous break with the preacher, he would have been free of any lingering stickiness engendered by Wright's penchant for incontinent rhetoric.

It's an almost tragic combination that I sense in the man. His fine intellect, his cool eloquence (reminiscent of Daniel Webster's in the famous story), his detached social analysis, they are all staples of a sceptical thinker. Yet leadership is actually about something else. Hilary understands it.

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