Monday, April 28, 2008


The Wright Stuff

I ran into Ralph Reed at the White House Correspondents Dinner this weekend. In response to a question as to whether McCain would have problems with the GOP base, Reed said (paraphrased), "No. They're already coming home. It has nothing to do with McCain. Jeremiah Wright has united the religious conservative base."

Wright's speech this morning at the National Press Club (carried by the three major cable stations and C-SPAN) -- following up on his stemwinder to the NAACP Sunday -- may have thrown Barack Obama a political lifeline in its affirmation of the history and values of the black church. While assertive, he had clear intellectual foundations from which he was speaking.

However, his combative and dismissive Q&A may have cut that lifeline and left Obama swimming for his political survival. Wright said several times that various parts of the black community and culture are "not inferior, just different."

As Public Enemy once said, "Too black, too strong."

White Americans don't have to think that Barack Obama -- as a presidential candidate -- is racially inferior to deem that the tradition to which he is part is too "different" to support as a presidential candidate.

Arguably, his least helpful statement was that Obama would say what he had to "as a politician." While he may have been making a contrast with what he (Wright) says as a pastor, the effect, I believe, undermines the ecumenical and spiritually lifting tone of Obama's much-credited speech on race. In short, Wright reduced the Obama speech to, in a phrase, "just words."

Not good.

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