“We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue . ..”
So said Barack Obama in rejecting just that option he raised in his ‘landmark’ speech on race, which some of us predicted at the time would implode his campaign, since it’s absence of unequivocal denunciation gave a blank check to racists, cranks, and demagogues.
And the wages that speech earned are now clear: the public is learning that the NAACP hosts a speaker who insists that we have different brain chemistry based on race, the D.C. press corps — after caricaturing talk radio and cable news for taking Wright “snippets” out of “context”– is lectured by Wright that the government down the street created AIDS and deserved 9/11– and that Farrakhan is “one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century.”
Last week’s careful script was shredded by Wright. Obama gave an inspired and entirely professional performance in an interview with Chris Wallace. Then ever reliable Bill Moyers did his progressive best to sanctify a carefully coached and calm, soft-spoken Wright; then despite his brain remarks, the media gushed over Wright’s NAACP speech — and then all that careful work was destroyed in spectacular fashion by Wright’s Press Club rants.
Note that when any candidate makes a Faustian bargain with extremists, nemesis eventually catches up with them. Obama chose to go the race route, first to start a political career in Chicago by enlisting Rev. Wright, and later a presidential bid predicated on winning an overwhelming black vote in the key primaries — and now the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost. He was half-right a few weeks ago: while he might well have disowned his own grandmother by apprising the nation of her racism, he surely now cannot disown Rev. Wright.
There are no second-takes, no “National Landmark Speech on Race–Part II”. Ask Hillary if she can cry again. Right now Obama needs a Sophocles to teach him what this modern Oedipus has done to himself.