By Christopher Hitchens
I think we can exclude any covert sympathy on Obama's part for Wright's views or style—he has proved time and again that he is not like that, and even his own little nods to "Minister" Farrakhan can probably be excused as a silly form of Chicago South Side political etiquette.
Why? Obama wrote thousands of sympathetic words about Wright's views and style in 1995. If he has changed his mind since then (and in 2004 he said he hadn't), it's his responsibility to prove it to us.
And Obama wrote a couple of pages that were fairly sympathetic to Farrakhan, rejecting his black nationalism on practical, not moral grounds.
"If [black] nationalism could create a strong and effective insularity, deliver on its promise of self-respect, then the hurt it might cause well-meaning whites, or the inner turmoil it caused people like me, would be of little consequence."
If nationalism could deliver. As it turned out, questions of effectiveness and not sentiment, caused most of my quarrels with Rafiq [a Black Muslim ally].
After a discussion of the failure of the Nation of Islam's attempts to sell black-only toothpaste and other consumer products, Obama rejects Farrakhanism as being unable to "create a strong and effective insularity."
Hitchens goes on:
All right, then, how is it that the loathsome Wright married him, baptized his children, and received donations from him? Could it possibly have anything, I wonder, to do with Mrs. Obama?
This obvious question is now becoming inescapable, and there is an inexcusable unwillingness among reporters to be the one to ask it. (One can picture Obama looking pained and sensitive and saying, "Keep my wife out of it," or words to that effect, as Clinton tried to do in 1992 when Jerry Brown and Ralph Nader quite correctly inquired about his spouse's influence.) If there is a reason why the potential nominee has been keeping what he himself now admits to be very bad company—and if the rest of his character seems to make this improbable—then either he is hiding something and/or it is legitimate to ask him about his partner.
I direct your attention to Mrs. Obama's 1985 thesis at Princeton University…
A friend asked an old Chicago acquaintance of Obama about Wright a few months ago, and he blamed it on Michelle, but didn't cite any persuasive evidence.
I spent a few hours last week looking for evidence to support this not prima facie implausible presumption, but couldn't find anything in particular on Google. We know that Obama met Jeremiah Wright before he met Michelle Robinson. I've never heard that she was a member of Wright's church when she met Obama in 1989.
The idea that Michelle would knowingly risk becoming First Lady out of personal, ideological, or racial loyalty to Rev. Wright seems less likely the more you think about it. My guess would be that Michelle would strangle baby pandas to get to the White House. She has a need for social dominance, which was unfulfilled in her educational career at intellectually elite schools that she got into because of affirmative action. In contrast, nobody cares if the First Lady isn't all that smart -- she's the First Lady so she's the highest ranking woman at any social gathering.
On the other hand, I haven't seen any evidence that Michelle gave her husband any good advice on his Rev. Wright problem either. (I'm not sure that "giving good advice" is Michelle's strong suit.) There is so much we don't understand about them.