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Panicky A-Listers on Wright: "Please, can we talk about something else?"

Now, it's only natural that Obama's supporters would like to change the subject from All-Wright-All-The-Time, and talk about, you know, important stuffMR SUBLIMINAL Ponies for everybody!!!!! (at least when they're not imagining Hillary's death as the solution to all their problems). Kevin Drum, quoting John Cole, is typical:

Maybe it is because I am totally and unrepentantly in the tank for Obama, but I just can't get worked up over what his pastor said ... Or maybe I just refuse to spend any more time and energy getting worked up over and denouncing, distancing, and rejecting the wrong people — people who really don't matter in the big scheme of things.

What he said.

Nice try.

To begin with, it was Obama himself, all on his own, who decided to make his religious choices part of his political appeal. Here's Obama in October 2007 on religion in politics:

Republicans no longer have a firm grip on religion in political discourse, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama told Sunday worshippers.

The senator from Illinois delivered his campaign message to a multiracial evangelical congregation in traditionally conservative Greenville, South Carolina. "I think it's important, particularly for those of us in the Democratic Party, to not cede values and faith to any one party," Obama told reporters outside the Redemption World Outreach Center where he attended services.

"I think that what you're seeing is a breaking down of the sharp divisions that existed maybe during the '90s," said Obama. "At least in politics, the perception was that the Democrats were fearful of talking about faith, and on the other hand you had the Republicans who had a particular brand of faith that oftentimes seemed intolerant or pushed people away."

He finished his brief remarks by saying, "We're going to keep on praising together. I am confident that we can create a Kingdom right here on Earth."

Obama's South Carolina campaign is in the midst of promoting Obama's values through a grass-roots effort called "40 Days of Faith and Family," which is reaching out to primary voters through gospel concerts and a series of faith forums.

So, I think it's entirely righteous that Obama's choice to use religion as a political tool should have consequences, and I hope those consequences are very, very bad indeed for Obama, because I'm sick of politicians pimping out their Gods to the voters. It's disgusting, and the public square needs a lot less of this behavior, and not more. (Matthew 6:2). It's even more disgusting when Democrats do this, because when they do, they're ripping out and re-using one of the uglier pages from Rove's playbook.

Yes, Obama made his bed; now let him lie in it. If people look seriously at the religious commitments that Obama made and then ran on -- and let's remember that Obama gave Wright's church $22,500 in just one year, so his commitment was very solid -- and reject Obama on the basis of his choice, is there any reason that's not an entirely legitimate decision? Apparently, not everyone thinks as highly of Wright as Obama does did. So what? Obama's the one who put his own religious practice in play as a reason to vote for him, so turnabout is fair play: His religious practice can also be used as a reason to vote against him. Why not?

Finally, the relation between religion and politics is important. Arguably, the people Cole wants to talk about -- the people who "matter" in the "big scheme of things" -- got to where they mattered exactly because they exploited religion for political gain. Obama tried, and his effort blew up in his face. None of this "matters"?*

O felix culpa!

And all this is before we even get into the "character" issues, the judgment issues, the truthtelling issues, the unraveling biography, all that nonsense about the "flawless campaign" Obama's run, and so on and on and on, all of which will doubtless be endlessly analyzed on cable. Too bad none of this came out before. I would have expected the famous media critique from the A list to be able to do that. Silly me.

Obama pimped out his God to be President.

But God -- assuming, arguendo, that there is a God -- is not mocked.

And if Obama loses the nomination over this -- which he should, since he'll certainly lose the general over it -- I, for one, couldn't be more pleased.

NOTE * Oops, these are the Boiz. Dragging a flailing Obama over the finish line in Denver is more important than, like, anything. Sorry. Note also that VastLeft is a lot stronger on these issues than I am, but I felt this had to be said, and now, before the firestorm got damped down. I'm not finished with my popcorn!

NOTE Atrios, of course, is not a panicky A-Lister, despite his momentary lapse in the PA primary.

UPDATE Funny, there seems to be hardly any coverage at all of the Wright Story from WKJM. Odd, that. Or not. Meanwhile, the firestorm continues its raging yet entirely predictable course, with advice to Obama from the pundits, off-point tut-tuttery from the Times editorial page (the point of the Wright affair isn't race, but religion), a story from Izvestia on the Hudson on "tamp down the fallout" and from Pravda on the Potomac on "striving to distance himself".

You know, back in the day before the A-listers pissed away the media critique, they would have been able to defend their guy by deconstructing a typical media firestorm. [Leah: "Gennifer Flowers"] But now, they've forgotten how to do that, or don't want to, so all they can do is stop their ears and chant "La la la." It's sad, or would be said if it weren't so dangerous to the health of our democracy.

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tedraicer's picture
Submitted by tedraicer on

Well I'm an atheist, so I agree. But let's forget that, and say they are right. This should be unimportant, shouldn't hurt Obama, shouldn't matter.

So what? Bush shouldn't be President. RWR should have stayed in Hollywood. I shouldn't have flat feet. Sheep shouldn't be able to fly the way do (those most dangerous of creatures, ambitious sheep). The fact is that Wright IS going to matter in terms of Obama's chances of winning the White House, quite possibly enough just by itself to give us President McCain. Closing one's eyes and wishing the election would be decided on "more important" matters (as if bloggers get decide that) isn't going to change anything.

I can only assume their solution to Global Warming is thinking cold thoughts.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Obama has lectured the democratic party, chastising them on their need toacknowledged the power of faith in the lives of the American people".

Judged other Americans for their religious beliefs (see SF comments re clinging).

Claimed "that nobody in a presidential campaign on the Democratic side in recent memory has done more to reach out to the church and talk about, what are our obligations religiously, in terms of doing good works, and how does that inform our politics?"

And let's not forget reminding all of us pro-choice forces that the forced birth zealots were on the side of "morality." Repeatedly (finding common ground on abortion "requires us to acknowledge that there is a moral dimension to abortion, which I think that all too often those of us who are pro-choice have not talked about or tried to tamp down. I think that's a mistake because I think all of us understand that it is a wrenching choice for anybody to think about.")

You might want to read the entire transcript from Obama's appearance at the April 13th Faith Forum. A lot of it is very interesting in light of the last couple of days. Here he is on Wright:

MEACHAM: You have spoken about how your former pastor in Chicago, the Jeremiah Wright was critical in helping bring you to Christianity and is like part of your family. Can you tell us how he helped bring you closer to God?

OBAMA: Well, I actually wrote about this in my second book "Audacity of Hope." I had worked as an organizer on the South Side, as I mentioned and it was tough work.

OBAMA: You know, the community was in difficult straits. And I was bringing churches together to set up job training programs and after-school programs for youth and to try to bring economic development to the community.

I had been raised in a nonreligious home. My mother was the most spiritual person I know, but was mistrustful of organized religion, in part because of some of her experiences seeing segregation being compatible with organized religion. And so we went to church very infrequently.

So as I'm doing this organizing, some of the pastors started saying, "You know, you've got great ideas, Obama, but, you know, if you're going to organize churches, it might help if you were going to church."


And I thought, "Well, that's not an unreasonable position." And so I started visiting some churches. Trinity United Church of Christ was one of the churches that we were trying to get involved in the organization.

I visited that church and found the ministries that they were doing on HIV/AIDS, on prison ministries, there were a whole host of wonderful ministries that they were engaged in. And Reverend Wright's sermons spoke directly to the social gospel, the need to act and not just to sit in the pews.

And so I found that very attractive and ended up joining the church when I got out of law school. Now, I have to say that, you know, in reports subsequently, there's been this notion that he was, by various terms, my spiritual adviser or my spiritual mentor. You know, he's been my pastor.

And what that means is, is that, you know, the ministries that have been built in that church community have been very important to me. It also means that there are areas where we've disagreed on. And, obviously, the most recent loop that's been playing -- Reverend Wright's greatest hits, so to speak...


... are, I think, both a distortion of who he is and what the church has been about, but also express...


... but also express, you know, some comments that I think are deeply offensive and are contrary to what I believe. And I've told him so and have made a lot of statements about that, including one pretty long one in Philadelphia.

But that doesn't detract...


That, I think, doesn't detract from the incredible church community that this is. And I think that all of us who have been part of a faith community know that the church is a body of believers and it brings in the imperfections of us, men and women.

And, you know, pastors are imperfect. Certainly, the membership is imperfect. I, as somebody who is sitting in the pews as a sinner, is imperfect. And, you know, that doesn't detract from, I think, what the church is supposed to be about, which is to worship God and proclaim the good news.

Still happy to use Wright to make him look good (see Democratic Daily on how Wright is Obama's Falstaff). Which means Obama either was too politically stupid to find out more about Wright's views leading up to and after his big speech on race (as others have pointed out, nothing Wright has said in the last couple of days is new) or he's lying and hoping to get away with it. Now, all politicians lie. But you need to be better at it than this if you want to win a presidential election.

Wright has always been a ticking time bomb. That he has turned out to be such a big one is almost entirely Obama's own doing. Complete political incompetence in the handling of it.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"Live by the sword, die by the sword."

Thanks for the shoutout on my double-blasphemy (was that a John and Yoko album?): dissing the holy Obama for his holiness.

Watching Obama throughout this campaign has been to observe a portrait of religiose pandering.

To be fair, he was "Called to Christ" and "Called to Serve" so it's not really his fault, is it?

Oh, and is there some corner of our world in which Hillary's (or Chelsea's) desire for a topic to no longer be discussed is honored? Nope, only in ObamaWorld do you get the Bush/Alito-like privilege of pronouncing "get over it." Or to "MoveOn," as it were.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

IT is a sign of how sick our political culture is that both HRC and Obama brag about their contract with Colin Powell, but treat Wright as if he were radioactive. But heck, let it play itself out.

off topic, concerning the latest on White House email I was thinking about posting on this, but then thought better to leave it to Lambert's discrestion.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

A follow-up to what I wrote yesterday in comments re:'Not Forgetting'.

To add (despite what black folk are willing to admit), Farrakhan is not considered 'persona non grata' within the black community. At all.

Now, there are plenty of inside jokes about the NOI and Farrakhan himself (he knows who killed Malcolm, hahaha!) but for the most part he is well respected.

For giggles watch this

2:44 of the clip.

Farrakhan at the 2006 SOTBU. (hasn't been back since, LOL, the video explains why)

Farrakhan > Wright > Obama.

Yeah, I said it.

Submitted by lambert on

Don't wait for me, since I have to go do stuff in RL.

Check out our backlist at Xan did stellar work on this (but this cautionary and embarassing tale is required reading for this digital hall of mirrors).

Oh, and 8 years of not being able to set up a system is not "incompetence" but something more...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

whaleshaman's picture
Submitted by whaleshaman on

and mistrusted organized religion.

Wow, there's an analysis here somewhere -- rejecting the bad mommy -- any Jungians/Freudians/Primal Screamers on board? And Meacham? Do. Not. Get. Me. Started -- on the Pope of Newsweek.

I got issues, you got issues,
All God's children got issues.
When I get to Heav'n gonna put down my issues,
Gonna walk all over God's Heav'n, Heav'n, Heav'n
Everybody talkin' about Heav'n ain't going there,
Heav'n, Heav'n, Heav'n.
Gonna shout all over God's Heav'n.

Kristol: White women are a problem
Wright: Hillary has never had a people defined as a non-person.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Just to be clear, I couldn't care less about Wright. I don't think going to his church makes Obama unfit to be President. If I had my way this entire scandal would be about Obama's not holding a single hearing in the Senate and not about Wright because that goes to what I think the real substantive problem with Obama is, he has no substance.

My problem with Obama is that Wright has only bolstered my belief that Obama isn't ready. Anyone who had even paid half-assed* attention to American politics over the last 20 years would know Wright would be a problem. But Obama and his campaign had no plan. When it did become a problem it appears his plan was to give a bullshit speech that was internally contradictory and which he had no plan to back up with action and then hope the whole thing went away. The sad thing is that I think they really believed it had gone away, not only for the primary, but the general. Now, they're once again reeling. Or as Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes, noting that Obama is Obama's problem:

But Obama is no different than other inexperienced politicians who get blind-sided by damaging and hurtful allegations and associations. They panic, do their public mea culpas, and hope and pray that it all blows over. It never does. The clouds of doubt remain transfixed in the air of the voter's minds, and that doubt will always be there with whispers, wisecracks, and raised eyebrows that maybe the politician with a taint who so many put their fervent faith and hope in is not all that he's cracked up to be.

It's that first part that's a killer, because far from being some sort of political genius, Wright has shown Obama to be inexperienced at this political level. Which means Democrats have to ask themselves, do they want to send a novice into November against McCain and the GOP.

* I grant you that based on some of his statements regarding political history, Obama was probably only paying half-assed attention. However, that should've been sufficient to see the potential danger Wright posed. Instead of defusing it, which I think could've been done, Obama's actions have made it worse.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

we mostly bullshit the workday away.

Started has a dare/joke really.


Usually NSFW in the comment section, ironically.

Submitted by lambert on

... right after Obama gave Teh Greatest Speech Evah in Philly.

If we were having a national conversation on race right now -- and The Speech set us up to do that -- that would be the narrative and that would be the frame for Wright (and a winning frame both for Democrats and for Obama). Like you, I don't give two shits about Wright. But no. As soon as the Wright cancer went into remission, the Teh Greatest Speech Evah was immediately forgotten and in two weeks it was as if it had never been given.

That's the difference between a leader and a meta-leader. Leaders, as Atrios is fond of saying, lead.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on

s_toast3.... that you can't win a championship when your star player's too small.

So with Obama. It's not just that he's inexperienced at this level. He can't bang in the paint. And at least this go-round, Obama's base of AA's and the "creative class" [cough] is strong enough to take the lead, but not strong enough to put the game away. Obama could try to change the game, but nothing he's done in the race so far leads me to think that he can or will.

And we haven't even started. Wright sells videos on the UCC web site; and you just know somebody's going through every piece of video footage of Obama ever taken on a Sunday, or of UCC, with the transcripts of Wright's videos at their side, and at some point "did not hear such incendiary language" is going to become Obama's equivalent of "did not have sex with that woman." Because if what they need is not in the real footage, they'll splice it together.

All predictable, and no doubt predicted.

NOTE Iverson was a guard, Obama a forward.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I enabled the Iraq war and don't want to talk about that. I enabled all this racist crap and Wright to happen and I don't want to talk about that either.

iamcoyote's picture
Submitted by iamcoyote on

He and Wright talked about it a year ago today - at least the NYT says they did:

Mr. Wright, who has long prided himself on criticizing the establishment, said he knew that he may not play well in Mr. Obama’s audition for the ultimate establishment job.

“If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me,” Mr. Wright said with a shrug. “I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.”

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Or not.

So is the answer to any bad news for Obama to simply assassinate the character of whoever happens to be standing nearby at the time? I don't think I can handle so much Unity.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

The topic is virtually nonexistent in much of Left Blogistan.

(crickets) is the Boiz official position.

John Cole has two posts so far today that mention Hillary's gas tax holiday proposal though.

Real ponies don't oink - Patrick McManus

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

who hurt his chances--whether working class voters or Wright, etc-- does not say much for Obama -- it's sad, actually. "Either you're for me or you're trash"

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

"Obama's voice gave way to music as he waded into the buzzing crowd, another performance over and many more to come."

which is exactly how he dismissed Wright, repeatedly talking about "on the stage" and "performances", etc.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

he's always good--

Messiahs Just Aren't What They Used to Be -- -- "... This means one of two things: Obama is one of the stupidest people in America (and that would be an achievement of some note), or he is a liar of the first order. It's probably a combination of both, with a huge dose of pathetically desperate and obvious strategizing thrown in. ..."

and going along with BringItOn's post the other day-- "... with only a few exceptions and never with regard to a person in a position of great authority, anyone who devotes his life, or a significant portion of it, to acquiring power in our corrupt political system is a manipulative, detestable, lying son of a bitch. Yes, that includes many (probably most) commentators and bloggers of any prominence, of any and every political persuasion.

Tell yourselves and everyone else it's not true. That will be a lie, too. But then, you're used to lying. It's like breathing."