The Corner

A Campaign Slipping Away?

I think in the last posting a few days ago, I suggested that Obama would have to leave Trinity–not because of another loudmouth racist like Pfleger at the pulpit; but because the world witnessed a standing ovation from the Trinity congregation, and an encomium from Minister Moss, as the reaction to that hate-filled diatribe.

One is amazed at the poor public relations people surrounding Obama, since his statements and clarifications are slowly losing him the general election.

There are three problems:

First, he can never quite come clean about his past. Obama seems to claim that the problem with Rev. Moss and Trinity is the sudden attention given these men of faith and the difficult spotlight put upon them as a result of the Obama campaign.

But such public attention is NOT a problem for Trinity and Co.–only a problem for Obama. When the crowd rises to its feet to shout approval of a racist like Wright or Pfleger it is not because of sudden public attention, but because they wish to hear such racist scape-goating that apparently serves as some sort of collective catharsis. And Obama apparently, despite his much praised “candor” about race, cannot or will not address why his own congregation and new minister would applaud a nut like Pfleger. (Such an exegesis might really call for a landmark speech about race in a way in which Obama’s past politically expedient attempt was not).

Two, Obama situates these scandalous incidents in terms of himself. So Wright is wrong for showing “disrespect” for Obama. Pfleger erred by “disappointing” Obama. But these reprehensible figures are not wayward disciples whose straying hurts the messiah, but rather hard-core calculating politicians who know precisely the cost-benefit ratios of their own rhetoric.

They say what they say because they know of the welcome reaction to come. In contrast, Obama once again turns the venom into something about himself, when in fact the issue is far larger: how did we get to a situation in which self-acclaimed spokesmen for the black community feel they can say outrageous things about whites, women, Italians, genes and IQ and expect none of the censure that would meet any other who voiced such venom.

Third, can’t Obama’s advisers warn him that he is falling into a disturbing pattern? When a dubious figure of his past courts controversy, he should not, in anger and in hyper-sensitivity, counter with blanket praise (cf. his kind words about Wright and Trinity) and then slowly qualify that until he reaches the ‘disowning’ phase. By now all of America knows the truth: Wright, Trinity, Moss, Pfleger, et al have never changed one iota. They are intellectually honest and candid in their extremist views; the only one who changed is Obama. So the question always arises-WHY?

Is it because he didn’t know the nature of his associates, OR is it because he finds their well-known messages suddenly as politically disadvantageous as he once found them essential in jump-starting his Chicago career?

If the latter, voters will ask: what are the true convictions of their next president? And are his political contortions simply those of all politicians who evolve beyond their base, or reflective of a cynicism that we haven’t seen in quite some time? And when Obama attacks a Limbaugh or Dobbs as intolerant for expressing worries about illegal immigration and impugns their character with suggestions of racism, by why moral standard does he offer such condemnation, given his 20-year association with and subsidy of a hate-monger like Wright, and his former legislative assistance to a racist demagogue like Pfleger?

The tragedy about Obama’s race speech is that he used up his one occasion to be honest and candid about race, to save his campaign from the Wright fall-out, when he really could have discussed why a Wright finds such standing ovations-and what that says about us all?

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