Trying desperately to sell Jeremiah Wright’s image as mellowed out by his television tour, Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times claimed that prolonged Wright exposure might not hurt Barack Obama after all:
Now it turns out that Mr. Wright doesn’t hate America, he loves the sound of his own voice. He is not out of touch with the American culture, he is the avatar of the American celebrity principle: he grabbed his 30-second spots of infamy and turned them into 15 minutes of fame.
Cable news commentators have focused on the damage the spectacle inflicted on the embattled Obama campaign. And while Mr. Wright’s behavior may not have been politic for Mr. Obama, it was politics as usual for the television age. In at least one way, Mr. Wright’s star turn may have helped defuse his importance in the long run. The pastor who was thrust upon the public consciousness as a caricature of the angry black man emerged after an exhaustive series of performances as a more familiar television persona: a voluble, vain and erudite entertainer, a born televangelist who quotes Ralph Ellison as well as the Bible and mixes highfalutin academic trope with salty street talk.
Alessandra claimed Wright’s star turns weren’t proving that the supposedly unfair snippets of his sermons weren’t distortions. On PBS on Friday, Bill Moyers helped him demystify himself, she claims, as he looked “courtly, genial, and something of an egghead, tossing out academic citations, literary references and words like ‘hermeneutics.’” In Detroit on Sunday, he delivered a “thundering lecture” about white ignorance of the black church, and by Monday, he was “on a tear” at the National Press Club, offering reporters “feisty rejoinders and snappy retorts, looking as pleased with his replies as a contestant in a high school spelling bee who has just correctly spelled the final word.”
Nice try, Alessandra. Especially for someone who’s skewered the Bible Belt as “the Loire Valley of American extremism.”