April 29, 2008

Why hasn't Obama dealt with Rev. Wright?

One little-mentioned aspect of Barack Obama's on-going fiasco involving his spiritual mentor is that it makes him look feckless.

Rev. Wright has been a problem Obama knew he was going to have for, roughly, ever. But what has he done about it, besides giving a 5,000 word speech? Did he switch to a Washington D.C. church when he was elected to the Senate in 2005? Did he persuade Trinity to stop selling Wright's sermons on DVD? Did he provide any sort of narrative about the evolving ideological differences between the young and mature Barack Obamas?

In contrast, do you remember how in February 2004, Democratic frontrunner John Kerry was rocked by rumors that he was having an adulterous affair with a young woman? You probably don't remember because, although for about a day it looked like it might derail Kerry's victory march through the primaries, the story quickly went away -- when the young lady went away, leaving the country.

Problem dealt with.

I have no idea if the rumors about Kerry were true or if the girl's timely departure from America was a coincidence or what. But, let's assume the worst about Kerry: he wrote a big check from the allowance his wife gives him to his mistress in return for making herself scarce. What can you then say about Kerry?

Well, one thing you can say is that he had a problem and he dealt with it. All else being equal, I'd rather have a President who had a problem and dealt with it than a President who had a problem and failed to deal with it.

Wright should not have been an unsolvable problem for Obama. Wright likes the spotlight, but he also likes other things. (He drives a Porsche, for example).

So, Wright likes money. Obama has friends with money. Right there, you have the makings of a deal. (The payoff didn't have to be crass -- just that in return for Wright maintaining a low profile all year, in December 2008 Obama's supporters would start up a charitable foundation for Rev. to run. Obama could have asked Bill and Hill for advice on the fine points of foundations.)

So, why hasn't Obama dealt with it?

1. Maybe it's all part of some brilliant plan Obama has got to heighten the drama before he delivers his master-stroke.

2. Is Mrs. Obama the key to Sen. Obama's Wright problem? Michelle Obama is a formidable woman, and Sen. Obama wouldn't be the first Presidential candidate who's scared of his wife. Maybe she won't let him deal with Wright? It's an intriguing idea, but I haven't been able to find much evidence for a strong connection between Mrs. Obama and Rev. Wright.

3. Rev. Wright is all tied up with Obama's complicated issues of personal identity, as expounded at endless length is his autobiography, so his normally cold-blooded brain fails to work rationally here. It's not uncommon for highly ambitious and effective people like Obama to have an Achilles heel, an area where their feelings of guilt and inauthenticity get concentrated and paralyze them.

4. He's terrified of losing the black vote? I dunno, that sounds implausible.

5. So what if he can't deal with it? He's not running against FDR and Reagan -- he just has to beat Hillary and McCain.

6. His campaign, going back to the opening of his 2004 Democratic Convention keynote address, is based on white people's assumption that being half-white made him less anti-white than other black leaders. So, Obama is worried that anything having to do with Rev. Wright will just unravel the logic of those fantasies he's elicited in his followers' minds.

I suspect, though, that Obama's overthinking this. People are slow to give up their fantasies due to logical disproof. Sure, Obama misled people about who he really was, but they wanted to be misled. And they still want to be misled.

At the moment, though, Obama doesn't looke like a leader. Obama's problem now is that Rev. Wright's vigor and enjoyment of the situation makes Obama, by contrast, look like a loser. Think about how Reagan wrapped up the 1980 election by turning to Carter in the debate and saying, with a smile on his face, "There you go again." What the hell did that mean? Not much on paper, but on TV it showed that Reagan was enjoying his dominance over the President. Reagan learned that from FDR, who always wore a look of amused mastery as he stuck the shiv in his political opponents. The public likes that in their leaders.

In the Obama vs. Wright battle, Wright is now playing the alpha male.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Jamie B said...

Excellent points but you should not have included the reference to the Kerry intern story. That story did not disappear because of any decisive action that Kerry or his staff took. There just wasn't anything there to begin with. The woman involved was dating Kerry's finance director. Kerry introduced them. That appears to be the extent of her interaction with the senator.

the Narrator... said...

Rev. Wright keeps the election on a racial basis and in a racial context. Every attack on Wright's comments can then be turned into a "White Devil trying to keep the black man down" tone and can thus be used to deflect attention from Obama's Black Nationalist ideology.

It's a win-win.

It both appeals to blacks sense of "injustice" while also enforcing "White Guilt" sentiments in White voters...

Unknown said...

These are all excellent conjectures. They are all more or less valid.

But I think that #2, Michelle Obama, is the first among equals. Think of it: childhood is training for adulthood, boyhood is training for manhood, and Barack Obama didn’t get early childhood education in dealing with formidable black women. A real black boy-child does get that - too much, perhaps.

True, Grandma Dunham was a solid Midwestern gal, but they express their toughness much differently from black women. They are much more low-key. Stanley Anne’s personality was, admittedly, not the usual – but I don’t think she was bossy and tough, the way black women are.

Now, Michelle Obama is the perfect package for a man yearning for black authenticity: 6 feet tall, dark-skinned, tough as nails, hard-boiled, take no shit. She absolutely wears the pants. I am 90% positive that a break with Wright would cause serious damage to his relationship to Michelle.

BTW, I give that marriage another 5—7 years. At some point, Barack will get very nuanced about his marriage. And Michelle ain’t the type to tolerate a nuanced man.

Anonymous said...

Your question assumes Obama has control over the right Rev Wright. The simplest explanation works; Obama has very limited control over Rev Wright.

Rev Wright profits greatly in pursuing the path he is following now. And by profit, I mean not just money but also fame which brings followers, love, women, social networks, respect and other things money cannot necessarily buy. These leads to even more money making opportunities as Jessie Jackson's knows from extorting a Budweiser franchise for his son from a boycott he threatened.

Given the independence of Rev Wright, all Obama could do is distance himself from Wright, but this would only give legitimacy to the fears/criticisms leveled against Obama. By turning on his long-time spiritual advisor and legitimizing black radical father figure now, Obama would be seen as a disloyal hypocrite and typical political opportunist.

The elites and MSM are firmly in Obama's corner making him a larger than life persona. History has shown when this is the case, any number of sins may pass unpaid. Look at Ted and John Kennedy's enshirement in the Super Friends' Hall of Justice despite their many personal failings, incompetence and even criminal offenses.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, liberals want to make everyone happy, except conservatives. I think on this visceral level Obama doesn't want to do anything to alienate Wright.

Anonymous said...

I think the Alpha thing came across when he said, "I'm not his spiritual advisor, I'm his pastor." In other words, Obama, I own you, I know your secrets, and you better show me some respect.

I honestly think Wright may have some blackmail material on Obama--probably an affair, perhaps worse--and wants Obama to run as a black nationalist and lose, if necessary, rather than sell out and take the wind out of the sails of the Wrights, Jacksons, and Sharptons of the world.

Anonymous said...

All of this attention might have the effect of mainstreaming Wright, or at least of blunting those sound bytes by making them overly familiar. The press isn't going to lean too hard on him, or on Obama. I think we will keep hearing that Wright was taken out of context, that his anger is a legitimate response to social injustice, and that anyway, he is only Obama's 'former pastor'. Which is probably the way most of the press see the situation. The effect will be that by November Reverend Wright will be very old news.

Anonymous said...

I read some years ago about how in high schools in the northeast where there are African immigrant students, the black/African-American students don't like them and there is a lot of hostility and conflict.

Black people are not all united. I live in Bermuda and the black Bermudians hate Jamaicans for some reason. They use the term "Johnny Jump Up" and a woman from Jamaica had that spray painted on her car a few months ago. Black people are also divided on skin tone.

Barack Obama is half white and half African, raised by whites, from Hawaii and from elite white colleges, so American black people would be inclined to look at him as an outsider. Jeremiah Wright has certified Obama as an acceptable and authentic black person, which is what Obama wants to be more than anything else in the world, possibly more than being president of the US.

White people may logically think half white black people are less hostile but from what I have seen they resolve the conflict by being blacker than black, maybe not quite as dramatically as Obama but in the same vein.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that Obama and his operatives simply underestimated the power of YouTube? Brian

Anonymous said...

Seeing this character on TV and seing how he loves the spotlight,I have to think:"THIS jabbering clown is the guy Obama sees as his spiritual mentor?" Obama spent 20 years of Sundays listening to...this jack-ass?? Interesting how 'much-discussed' people shrink so much when u get a good look at them.THIS is the big thinker?? Ha Ha ha! Driving a Porsche,living in his white suburb. So what does that say about Obama?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Obama is using Rev. Wright to deflect the fire. Better all the attention be focused on a guy who was only his pastor than someone like his wife or himself. I haven't followed the polls closely, and understand Rev Wright has hurt Obama in the polls, but it hasn't devastated him either, has it?

Anonymous said...

I'll bet that Rev. Wright has the goods on poor Barack, and can totally destroy him if he wants.

Right now, he's just poking Obama a little, showing him who's really boss and getting some big media coverage to stroke his ego.

But if Obama makes him *angry* say by poking him back, Wright could start playing nasty.

For example, Obama claimed that in all the 20 years he attended the church, he'd never *heard* some of Wright's wilder statements. Suppose the Reverend says that's an absolute and total lie, I'd personally told him about the CIA creating AIDS in order to to kill blacks at least 47 separate times over the years, etc. Who knows, maybe Obama even nodded his head in apparent agreement on three or four of those occasions.

Remember, Rev. Wright probably believes "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness"...

mnuez said...

Steve, I (as well as many others) have in the past mentioned that you seem to suffer from a bad case of Obamania, but I gotta say that (sufferer or not) you've got an understanding of this thing that's quite spectacular and this particular post is an excellent example of that.



Anonymous said...

Sure, maybe all that is true. And maybe (not unlikely) Wright IS just an arrogant media whore.

But part of me thinks this is part of a plan by the O'Blarney Campaign and that Baroque is now realizing he didn't separate himself enough (i.e., AT ALL) from Wright during his monumental, magnificent speech on race. He's realized it's gunna come back to bite him. So he gets Wright to say something controversial, in public, again. And then he pulls that speech out of his pocket and gives him a thrashing, separating himself from the man once and for all (and perhaps rehabilitating his grandmother's image).

Perhaps not. Maybe not. Probably not. O'Blarney seems the kind of guy who wants to run and win as is, so he still might not repudiate the man. I'm just warning you not to be a bit surprised when "the speech" happens.

Anonymous said...

Steve, the easiest answer is that Obama's entire political career is based on being "authentically Black" as well as his identity. A tough-minded pol would have dumped Wright before the Senate run, just to be safe. He didn't do that.

So, likely Obama is afraid his Black base will desert him if he dumps Wright. Early in the campaign, Obama was viewed with suspicion as "not Black enough" by voters preferring Hillary (hard to remember, but true). So there's some basis for that fear.

The stuff Wright says is never criticized by guys with position and power, like Rev. Joseph Lowery. So you can assume that stuff Wright says is held deeply and widely by nearly all Blacks, making criticism of Wright and/or his statements out of bounds even for guys who are at the end of their career and with strong power bases.

Shrug. Obama can't do anything now. It's too late. "I could no more disown Rev. Wright than I could disown the Black Community or my own family."

Identity. Political base. Proof positive that running for President is no place for beginners.

Quite right about Kerry. He at least had some sense. Though his campaign weakness against even a semi-competent Republican opposition showed. Nominating guys who have never beaten real opposition is also stupid.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer: At the moment, though, Obama doesn't looke like a leader. Obama's problem now is that Rev. Wright's vigor and enjoyment of the situation makes Obama, by contrast, look like a loser.

Well, according to Rush Limbaugh, Obama, in his news conference today, didn't just throw Wright under the bus, he "put him in the space shuttle and shot him off into outer space".

But with that as an aside, there seems to be a subtle, tacit assumption in your remarks here, which is that Obama ever had any capacity for "leadership" in the first place.

The truth of the matter is that Barack Hussein Obama has the sorriest excuse for a resumé of any "serious" candidate for the presidency in the entire history of the Republic - the guy has never put in an honest, productive day's work in his entire life.

That he could somehow have developed a magical yet super-secret insight into leadership, motivation, and human power dynamics, but have kept it under wraps all these years, waiting to suddenly unveil it for all the world to see, on January 20, 2009, when he takes on the likes of Hu Jintao, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro, and their ilk, not to mention all those money-grubbing thieves in the Exxon boardroom - and, along the way, making the world safe for democracy, social justice, and the spotted owl - that idea strikes me as ludicrous.

The truth of the matter is that Obama is a two-bit, race-hustling, crypto-Stalinist fraud, and if he hadn't inherited a healthy dose of melanin from his father's side of the family, then he'd be lucky to be a dog-catcher back in Chicago.

jbday said...

If Obama had said in his Philadelphia speech what he said in today's press conference, most of the media attention would have blown over. However, Obama's blatant reversal on Wright exposes him as an expedient politician.

If Obama truly believed that he could no more disown Wright than he could disown the black community, he's now disowning Obama offers the excuse that somehow Wright just now crossed some line, but that is simply untrue. Nothing Wright said over the weekend was any more offensive than the Trinity videos we've all seen.

Anonymous said...

Obama says he's outraged by former pastor's comments. Is that the same as Claude Raines being shocked, absolutely shocked by finding gambling going on in Rick’s CafĂ© in the movie Casablanca?

Intrestingly, the AP article is already revising recent history by stating that “In a highly publicized speech last month, Obama sharply condemned Wright's remarks. But he did not leave the church or repudiate the minister himself, who he said was like a family member.” I don’t recall the sharp condemnation by Obama, but rather more of the Chris Rock routine on OJ Simpson’s double murder where he says I’m not saying it’s right, but I understand why OJ did it.

Maybe Steve was right with option #1 – it’s all part of a brilliant plan. In the early primaries when Obama had to break out by appealing to the most radical element of the Democratic party and state caucus voters, Rev Wright provided Obama his authentically Black bone fides. This secured him 80 and now 90% of the Black vote and added to his appeal from the most radical of the elite liberals.

Now that a tight primary season is coming to a close where blue collar working whites are important and facing a general election this fall where they are indispensable, Obama can throw the Rev Wright (along with his racists granny) under the bus to appeal to these key voters and distance himself from who Obama has been all his life: a racially confused radical ideologue and entrenched race warrior for Black special interests and set asides.