It’s pretty clear that the most urgent task today for the Obama campaign and its advocates in the media is to cut Obama free from Rev. Wright. If only Obama’s defenders could argue that he has repudiated Wright and will have nothing to do with him, ever again, and that any suggestion of a connection between Wright could only be made by racists or Fox News! But they can’t. They could try to ignore, or downplay, Obama’s 20-year history with Wright — many have done that already — but they can’t get past Obama’s speech on race last month in Philadelphia, in which he said, “I can no more disown [Wright] than I can disown the black community.”
So they need help from Obama himself. “[Obama] could say, ‘This is different now. Just to eliminate any questions, I am going to leave this church, because I believe the country is more important,’” a Democratic strategist told me last night. “It would say that Wright’s rhetoric has no place in his campaign or the lives of his children.” (By the way, as the Wright controversy has festered, observers on both sides of the political divide have wondered, usually in whispers, about Obama’s decision to take his young children to Wright’s church.) But for any of Obama’s defenders to spring in to action, they need the signal from Obama that Wright is officially a non-person in the Obama camp. Unless Obama backs down from his Philadelphia commitment, they can’t do it.