In his "Speech on Race" (which he now always calls his "Philadelphia Speech"), Barack Obama said that he would no more disown Rev. Jeremiah Wright than he would disown his 85-year-old white grandmother, and then proceeded to denounce his grandmother as a bigot comparable to Wright, which both diminishes Wright's bigotry by a mile and elevates his grandmother's exponentially. After all, his poor grandmother's only "sin" is that she is afraid of black youths who follow her from the supermarket. I think if white youths were following her home she would probably be afraid too. But no matter, grandma can sleep save tonight. The grandson that she raised when his parents abandoned him did not disown her yesterday. Nor did Obama disown Reverend Wright.
Once again, Barack Obama has denounced Wright's comments, but not the man. In fact, he makes this distinction clear himself: "I've already denounced [Wright's] comments that had appeared in previous sermons." Denounced the comments, that is, not the sermons, much less the reverend. In fact, when Obama delivered his Speech on Race, in Philadelphia, he admits that he "gave [Wright] the benefit of the doubt." So, as late as a month ago, Obama admits that he still "had doubts" that Wright's comments were "divisive and destructive." It is only now that Wright has challenged his own honesty and suggested that any criticisms which Obama has made of him were motivated solely by political expediency does Obama feel compelled to label Wrights comments as "destructive." "Destructive" to whom? Well, to Obama.
Even now, after Wright's most recent remarks, Obama feels the compulsion to praise him: "He's done enormous good in the church, he's built a wonderful congregation." That was at the start of his "denunciation." At the end he had this to say: "I continue to believe that Rev. Wright has been a leader of the South Side [of Chicago]. I think that the church he built is outstanding. I think he has preached in the past some wonderful sermons. He provided, you know, valuable contributions to my family."
Denunciation should be made of firmer stuff.
Obama is even willing to admit the possibility that Wright may have acted without malice in his "performance." Although he acknowledges that "there has been great damage," Obama stills believes that "it may have been unintentional on his part."
In other words, the man may be personally blameless. Still.
Then who's to blame?
The media (well, that's refreshing, at least).
Because they aired (or "triggered," as he puts it) "the initial round of sound bites" which were "a simplification of who [Wright] was, a caricature of who he was..." Well, it is true that a mere sound bite cannot convey the whole of Wright's perverse world view. But is that the same as "caricaturing" him. With his own words? Obviously, in Obama's opinion, Wright was a man done wrong by the media until the day when he actually questioned Obama's veracity. On that day, Obama says, Wright "caricatured himself." Still, though, Obama says that "made [him] angry, but also made [him] sad." Like a disappointed but still dutiful son, Obama blames Wright "for not showing enough concern for [him]." It is that anguish, more than anything else, that was on display in Obama's speech yesterday. How could Wright have done such a thing to him?
Obama claims not to have known about Wright's allegation that the U.S. government created AIDS to destroy the black community (gay men, too perhaps?) and other "divisive and destructive comments" which the reverend has made over the years. Obama has known Wright personally for 20 years and sat in the pew of his church for 15. He even used the title of one of Wright's sermons as the title for his own autobiography. Hard to think of a greater homage to one's mentor, pastor and surrogate father than to use the title of one of his sermons to define his own life and mission, though, now, Obama claims that Wright "does not speak for him." He obviously spoke to him and for him in the past when no one was challenging Wright's remarks or using them against him (Obama).