Politics

Obama’s Wright Problem

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So, Barack Obama says the Rev. Jeremiah Wright we saw over the weekend is not the man he befriended 20 years ago. This has, as the Brits would say, become quite the sticky wicket for Obama. His credibility is at stake as he asks us to believe that he is genuinely surprised by the continued radical statements of his (former?) spiritual advisor.

The best defense of Obama I can come up with is that I know a lot of liberals who’ve become radicalized since George W. Bush took office. There are people in my life who, while otherwise sane and loving, will occasionally shock me with statements which I believe to be nothing more than radical leftist propaganda. Conceivably, Rev. Wright has drifted off the deep end over the last 4 to 8 years and Obama is just now realizing how disconnected from reality his former pastor actually has become.

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of faith in Obama to believe in that construction of events. I think it’s far more likely that Obama knew full well that Rev. Wright has a fierce radical streak but Obama willingly chose to ignore it because belonging to Wright’s church was politically advantageous for most of Obama’s career. Now, belonging to the church is a liability and Obama sees that it’s necessary to condemn the pastor. I doubt Obama believes in any of Wright’s wild theories and warped conceptions of the world, but this is what happens when you play politics. An allegiance that helps you today can burn you tomorrow.

In Obama’s attempts to position himself as a different kind of politician, he’s set himself up for greater condemnation when his true and truly typical political nature is revealed. Any politician would have a hard time explaining away Rev. Wright, but Obama’s task is nearly impossible because he’s worked so hard to appear as if he’s not possessed with the same congenital opportunism of every other politician. There’s no good way out of this for Obama. He’s just lucky that the long Democratic nomination process has allowed all this to happen in March and April and not September and October.