April 29, 2008


Jeremiah Wright, former pastor to Barack Obama, strides back on stage: With timing unwelcome to Democratic candidate's campaign, Wright defends his racially charged comments. (Peter Nicholas, 4/28/08, Los Angeles Times)

Taking questions Monday, Wright stood by some of the most divisive assertions he had made in church sermons -- statements that Obama has denounced.

He declined to retract a statement from a post-Sept. 11 sermon that "America's chickens are coming home to roost."

"You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you," Wright said after his speech. "Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic divisive principles."

Asked about his earlier suggestion that the government had created AIDS to harm black people, Wright said that "based on the Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything." He was referring to an infamous experiment conducted over decades in which the government studied syphilis by allowing blacks to go untreated for the disease.

Wright spoke admiringly of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, long criticized for making anti-Semitic comments. Wright described Farrakhan as a hugely influential figure -- "one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century."

"Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy," Wright said. "He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery and he didn't make me this color."

Wright had kept a low public profile since portions of his sermons were widely played on television in March, including snippets in which the pastor said "God damn America." Obama, a longtime member of Wright's church in Chicago, partially quelled the controversy with a speech on race in Philadelphia that month. But Republicans are already using Wright's comments in advertisements against Obama.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, has said that she would not have chosen Wright as her pastor.

A Pastor at Center Stage (George Will, 4/29/08, Real Clear Politics)
[W]right's paranoias tell us something -- exactly what remains to be explored -- about his 20-year parishioner.

In Monday's speech at the National Press Club, Wright repeated -- decorously, by his standards, but clearly -- his accusation, made the Sunday after 9/11, that America got what it deserved. His Monday answer to a question about that accusation was: "Whatsoever you sow, that you also shall reap" and "you cannot do terrorism on other people and expect them never to come back on you."

As evidence that "our government is capable of doing anything," he strongly hinted that he has intellectually respectable corroboration -- he mentioned several publications -- for his original charge that the U.S. government is guilty of "inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." But on Monday he insisted that he is not anti-American: It is, he said, Americans' government, not the American public, that is a genocidal perpetrator of terrorism. So, he now denies that America has a representative government -- that it represents the public. He believes that elections constantly and mysteriously -- and against the public's will -- produce a genocidal, terroristic government.

On Monday, Wright also espoused the racialist doctrine that blacks have "different" learning styles than do others. This doctrine of racially different brains, or of an unalterably different black culture, is a doctrine today used to justify various soft bigotries of low expectations regarding blacks, and especially black children. It has a long pedigree as a rationalization for injustices. Slaveholders and, later, segregationists loved it.

The Real Rev. Wright (Rich Lowry, 4/29/08, Real Clear Politics)
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright has taken Barack Obama’s critically acclaimed race speech in Philadelphia, ripped it into bits, and tossed it in the air to serve as confetti for his parade through the media.

In that speech, Obama said Wright had been taken out of context, a defense the pastor has made himself. If only we knew the true Wright, Obama complained, instead of just “the snippets of those sermons that have run on an endless loop on the television and YouTube.” In his interview with Bill Moyers on PBS, Wright said the playing of his sound bites was “unfair,” “unjust” and “untrue.”

Then cometh the good reverend to step all over the out-of-context defense in a speech at the National Press Club.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 29, 2008 7:33 AM

I wonder if the UCC approves of Wright's church paying for his new home ($600,000 or $1.6 million - I can't remember) in the gated community?

The man is a caricature. What Michelle must be saying about him now.

Posted by: ratbert at April 29, 2008 10:49 AM

I just heard that Obama is now denouncing Wright's latest meanderings. To me, it seems obvious that all of this is planned strategery. Whether it works or not is an open question that won't be answered until Hillary either wins the nomination or Obama wins or loses in November.

Until then, this bit of theater allows Obama ample chance to "denounce" Wright, in effect running against him. Meanwhile, Wright barnstorms the country enlisting voters whose only candidate will be Obama.

There is more going on here than the superficial dynamics the simple minded punditry is blathering about.

Let's assume Obama knows that he was going to have a huge problem with the "middle" of the electorate under any circumstance.

Let us also assume that he knows he not only needs the very rich, over educated, dingbat soccermoms and their emasculated husbands to vote for him, but also that he needs to expand the vote of the angry, disenfrnachised, uninvolved, very poor and very easily led.

This strategy would be the best way to do expand the base of the new left, all while hoping the economy and possible "surge reversals" do the rest of the work shrinking McCain's appeal.

Factor in the knowledge that Wright would never knowingly damage Obama's chances, and you are left with only two options.

1) these folks are amazingly stupid, or 2) they are executing a different and unconventional strategy, which they would need to do to win in any event.

See graveyard, start whistling.

Posted by: Bruno at April 29, 2008 2:56 PM

By a man's estimation of Reverend Wright's savvy shall you know him.

Posted by: oj at April 29, 2008 5:48 PM