The Corner

Past Time for Obama to Say ‘No More’

Dana Milibank has a sober review of Wright’s morning rantings — and what they portend for the Obama campaign. For weeks now Wright has insulted the United States, whites, Jews, Israel, Italians, et al., but confined his media attacks to talk radio and cable news. But at the Press Club he showed disdain for the liberal corps, and that is a felony of a different sort. So expect outraged reporters to strike back.

All this will be fatal to the Obama candidacy. Had he set an example of moral outrage at his pastor, Wright would be gone and Obama would have recovered by now from any backlash from the African-American community.

But the problem is that by contextualizing Wright, Obama has lost any high ground in commenting about race, and essentially given Wright a blank check to say what he wants without being “disowned”. Moreover, Obama’s de facto original embrace of Wright — in a Faustian exchange for the racial fides that jump-started his Chicago campaigns —  initially set a particular tone in the African-American community, to such a degree that a racist who lectures the NAACP about genetic brain differences is now canonized rather than jeered out of the hall.

The white poor and middle class, Hispanics, Asians, etc. look at Wright’s middle-class upbringing, his mansion and perks, and wonder why he is, Ayers-like, so venomous toward the society by which he has done so well, and how he gets away on national television lecturing about genetics and the relationship between race and brain DNA. As far as the electorate’s response: as in the case of Michelle Obama, if prosperous upper-middle-class and wealthy African-Americans show such disdain toward the United States, and are applauded when they do, then the less well off of other races and backgrounds will tend to give up on race relations, as if there is no point to addressing grievances and victimization that seem exaggerated and endless rather than empirically based.

If conservatives at first thought the Obama/Wright catastrophe was ironic, given Obama’s liberal sermons, or in a political sense timely in helping the McCain candidacy, I think by now they and most other Americans instead see the mess as tragic for the country, and a radical setback in our collective racial relations. Everyone of good conscience should deplore Wright in the strongest terms, and implore Obama once and for all to disown this extremist.

Otherwise I think some day Barack Obama will have a lot of answering to do in empowering a bigot who has done so much damage in so short a time to his country. Right now Wright and what he has said to the nation are the legacy of his campaign.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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