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The National Review seems to particularly enjoy blogging about Jeremiah Wright.  I can sort of imagine the gang watching Wright's performance together, as they sip on a morning Chablis and kick their feet up on their desks, showing off their argyle socks.

Jim Geraghty -- otherwise known as the Dude Who Leaks Shitty Exit Polls -- had a particularly harsh critique of Wright and Obama today.

Now we hear Wright analyzing the differences between white and black brains (!) and that the criticism of him for his comments was "an attack on the black church." He didn't retract his assertion that the U.S. government created the AIDS virus. He didn't retract his accusation that the United States had committed terrorism. He raved about Louis Farrakhan.

And again, we're left with that question... presuming Obama strongly disagrees with all of Wright's statements in these areas... how did he end up selecting this pastor? This church? (I know we get the story in Obama's autobiography. But did Obama once agree with all of the crazy conspiracy theories? Does he still agree, late at night, when the microphones and television cameras are far away?)

Obama is saying he should be president, instead of two much more experienced rivals, because of his superior judgment. But what kind of judgment is needed to select Wright as a surrogate father figure?

Ignore everything else and pay attention to the boldfaced passage.  One can easily find this passage objectionable; rhetorically, it bears a lot of resemblence to the Billy Shaheen thing.  Can you imagine the reaction that Markos would provoke if wondered aloud if deep down, at 3 in the morning, whether John McCain agrees with John Hagee that Catholics preach a gospel of hate, and that Hurricane Katrina was spawned from God's righteous indignation against New Orleans?

But I don't call this passage to your attention for you to object to it, so much as for you to acknowledge it, because usually the right-wing media is far more subtle than this. This passage -- "Does he still agree, late at night, when the microphones and television cameras are far away?" -- is the essence of the seed that the right is trying to plant in the nation's consciousness about Barack Obama.  Forget all the other questions that Geraghty poses: "How did he end up selecting this pastor?  This church?" ... "What kind of judgment is needed to select Wright as a surrogate father figure?" -- most people don't care about that shit.  It is just the window-dressing designed to set up the punchline, to excuse the more nefarious implication.  

-----

From my point of view, if the Obama campaign is going to address the Wright issue in some strong, proactive way, there are two pretty good options.  Option #1 would be to enlist high-profile superdelegates like Ted Kennedy, or Kathleen Sebelius, or Bill Richardson, to tell the media to STFU.  Option #2 would be for Barack Obama to do it himself.

Of course, there is a little bit more subtlety required than that, and the real crux of the argument they'd need to make is that Wright and the media have developed a symbiotic relationship.  Jeremiah Wright is a brilliant man, and about three out of five things he says about America are highly astute.  But he is also an extreme narcissist, as was evident this morning in the Press Club Luncheon when he transitioned from his speech to the Q&A that followed.  There are people that are politically tone-deaf because they don't know how to speak to their audience, and then there are people that feign being politically tone-deaf because they do know their audience, and they know that with controversy comes attention.  

If Jeremiah Wright were some buffoonish caricature of a black preacher, then that would be one thing; maybe the "crazy uncle" theory would apply.  But this is exactly what he isn't; he is much, much too smart for that.  Instead, his statements are very politically savvy.  The problem is that the political agendas he is advancing are his own, and that of the media, and not that of Barack Obama. I think the Obama campaign would be on solid ethical grounding, and very solid political grounding, if they were able to point this out.  

Originally posted to poblano on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 10:02 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  This type of politics will backfire (12+ / 0-)

      It is starting.  I have never seen the level of anger at the media, at the Clintons at the Republicans as I have started seeing over the last couple weeks.

      Obama is winning.  He will win.  They will try, but they will not be able to stop him.  

      The path is not easy, it is maddening and saddening at times, but he will win.

      His supporters won't allow him to be stopped.  There are too many of us now.  We are too angry to be dissuaded at this stage.

      People want change.  Change will come.  Obama is the change.

      •  Another way it will backfire (7+ / 0-)

        I know pity is not a good reason to vote for anybody but isn't anybody else thinking today was such a horrifying pile-on on Obama from Easley to the media to Wright backstabbing him to the Newsweek cover to McCain to Markos that people are going to start feeling bad for him ? Remember what happened in NH ??
        I mean read the blogs. EVERYBODY from Chuck Todd to Ben Smith to Ross Douthat to even Geraghty mention how bad they feel for Obama (even the ones who caveat by saying "I dont want him elected") on how he is getting so screwed just because he is trying to be decent, and how self-cenetered Wright is to do what he is doing.

        •  I definitely think that's possible (8+ / 0-)

          It was so obvious to everyone that what Wright was doing was not in the best interests of the Obama campaign that it might have the effect of distancing him from Obama.

          fivethirtyeight.com: electoral projections done right.

          by poblano on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 10:18:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Honestly ? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Nova Land, Sedi, unertl

            The funny thing is that the coverage this time around revolves only on "Does Wright reappearance hurt Obama ?" rather than anything Wright actually said.
            And as you said, the actual snippets allow a distance between the two.

            I am way more concerned about the accumulation of bad news. Small thigns like the Ap poll, the Edwards mention, the Easley endorsement, the Newsweek story. Once you get that kind of bad news cycle momentum going, it is hard to take the race back in your direction.

            •  May is a busy month (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nova Land, bflaff, Sedi

              All that stuff will pass once a new poll comes out or after a primary day or anything else for that matter.  Winning a race isn't about winning individual news cycles.  It's about setting a theme and delivering it to the people.  A bad news cycle here and there won't really change anything.

            •  Votes change the narrative (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nova Land

              I am way more concerned about the accumulation of bad news. Small thigns like the Ap poll, the Edwards mention, the Easley endorsement, the Newsweek story. Once you get that kind of bad news cycle momentum going, it is hard to take the race back in your direction.

              We went through all of this before SC, when Obama had just lost NH in a shocker and then Nevada in an ugly affair. The media chatter was all about how Clinton was grinding it out, how Obama was hanging by a thread, and how an SC win wouldn't mean much because it had so many black voters. Five seconds after they called SC for Obama the coverage turned on a dime, and it became about Clinton's negative tactics and an ascendant Obama.

              If he wins big in NC and avoids a solid defeat in Indiana, the same thing will happen. He's lost three in a row now, and gone through a bunch of political setbacks with Ayers, Wright, and the ABC debate. But once he's back in the win column, the media will start the Clinton Death Watch and remind us all that Obama has an insurmountable lead.

    •  The damage was already done in March (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land, plum, poblano, bflaff

      People either chose to be offended and hold Obama accountable for not "denouncing" Wright or people chose to treat the two people as separate entities.  Because of the Philly race speech, Wright becomes generic negative press for Obama.  This is useful to the right-wing not to garner votes but to get out the votes.  They are using a manufactured racial fears to bring out their own base in support of Republican candidates because they have nothing else to motivate them.  McCain is planning on using it obviously, and the GOP is using it in the open seat race against Travis Childers down in Mississippi.

    •  On a side note... (0+ / 0-)

      How can there be only one of you?! How is it that you can produce so many thorough and excellent diaries here and on your own blog day after day after day? The sheer volume of material alone is nuts.

      Color me extremely impressed!

    •  This isn't the battle you fight (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land

      From my point of view, if the Obama campaign is going to address the Wright issue in some strong, proactive way, there are two pretty good options.  Option #1 would be to enlist high-profile superdelegates like Ted Kennedy, or Kathleen Sebelius, or Bill Richardson, to tell the media to STFU.  Option #2 would be for Barack Obama to do it himself.

      Obama will be asked about this guy ad nauseum, so there's no hiding from it. But it seems a big mistake to make this into a battle. It's not one that can be easily won, and Obama simply doesn't have the time to try and instigate a full court press on this issue. It looks like it would be very costly in terms of political capital, time, and effort, and there's still a lot of work to do. Moreover, by going to war over this, he would ensure that it became one of the top, defining issues of the campaign. 'Are you with me or against me on the Rev. Wright issue?' is just not a stand I would want, or expect Obama to make. Because it is a distraction. Treat it like one.

      The Wright issue is a political circus, and the media would like nothing more than for Obama to help them make it even more so. They're out there blowing this up like the worst political shitstorm anyone's ever seen, and they'd be overjoyed to see Team Obama suit up to throw down with all the critics. What theater! What, Mr. Out of Touch? You're criticising moi because I think Wright is a danger to America? Let's give the Flag Pin Lady two minutes of air time to explain why real Americans disagree.

      That really could easily spin into an actual disaster, rather than a media caricature of one. The idea should be to ramp the frenzy down, rather than to keep it going.

      Everyone's offering Obama free advice tonight, so here's mine: Deal with it the way you've handled it already. This is an irrational issue, so defeat with a  smart, rational response. Appeal to our better natures. Don't fight the media on this. Fight the perception that you share Wright's views.

      The Philly speech was the template for how to address it. People want this to be a pie fight (Obama throws Wright under the bus! Wright throws Obama undedr the bus! It's chaos!), but when Obama addresses this issue like an adult, it speaks well of him and elevates his standing in the voters eyes. It is an issue that lets him demonstrate authenticity - he is not disowning his friend of 20 years. He is simply saying 'We are two different people. And we don't agree on everything, including these comments.' If Obama simply offers the same sort of sound bite that he's been offering, then the beast will begin to starve. This story, if it is to continue, needs Obama or someone else to take the story to the next level. If he refuses to play along, then we're one step closer to moving past this and on to more important things.

      If Obama thinks this is truly damaging his political chances, he can address Wright in a broader context (i.e., guilt by association). But speaking on Wright specifically should probably be avoided, if possible. The story should be left to die of starvation, not revived.

      Just as a reminder, GWB survived all manner of scandals (draft dodger, coke snorter, intellectual lightweight) and still won. The scandals don't do you in if people want you to win anyway. Just don't panic.

  •  Time for surrogates (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boatsie, poblano, MAORCA, Sedi
    to get out in front and say STFU. Real democratic leaders need to get out front and center and attack, attack, attack. Attak the press, attack McCain. Get Obamas plan out to ever man women and child. Senator Obama is going to waive taxes on Social Security. Senator Obama is going to provide a middle class tax cut for all Americans uo 1,000 a year. We aren't talking about a tax rebate or a tax holiday. We are going to cut your taxes period. No string attach.

    Senator Obama wants to give each and evey child a 4,000 a year tax credit for school.

    When you son or daughter gets out of school they will have a job, because Senator Obama is going to stop giving tax breaks to companies to ship jobs overseas. He is going to give tax breaks to companies who provide good paying jobs for Americans.

    Time for a real plan for the economy. Time for Democrats to lead and not run and hide.

  •  Interesting... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poblano, unertl

    I just posted this a while ago:

    Rev. Wright
    is a really intelligent man..with a ginormous EGO.  That's what I see.  I think he resents Barack Obama getting all of the attention.  I couldn't help but notice that during the interview with Moyers, Wright used all of the "key" phrases we have come to associate with Obama.  As if to say, "Look, me, me, me".

    I have no doubt that the right Reverend Wright will continue to feed on the attention he is receiving now.  What's he got to lose?

    I have no idea what Obama will do.  Nor do I have any idea what he should do.  I do suspect that the media and voters alike (well, most of them anyway) will eventually have their fill of the Wright side show. That may be one of the silver linings of the Wright inundation. Meanwhile, the ball is in Obama's court.

    "Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change" Obama
    by SherriG on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 12:28:45 AM EDT

    Anyway, I completely agree with you.

    "Nothing can stand in the way of the *power* of millions of voices calling for change" Obama

    by SherriG on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 10:21:17 PM PDT

    •  Any public figure has an oversized ego. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land

      But at the same time, put yourself in Wright's position -- just consider if you were a preacher.

      From the egotistical preacher's perspective, this is all for the good.  His message, the one he believes God has given him to speak out, is now reaching the whole frigging world.  That's what it's all about, for both preachers and politicians.

      What I don't believe is that Wright's message is about his ego.  I think it is really about his strongly held beliefs, his message of truth and social justice.  So, in the scheme of things, elections and political cycles are temporal, temporary things.

      But if you're a believer (I'm not one), then the more important thing occurring here is that the message is getting out.  I find that hard to argue against on the principles.

      •  this may be so (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SherriG, unertl

        that any public figure has an oversized ego.  On the other hand, I for one particularly detest immodesty in a man of the cloth.  I also think that while Wright's message is not precisely about his ego, his ego does seem to be getting in the way of things. Maybe if he tried to couch his (in many ways valid) message in some milder tones or rhetoric, it would be more effective ultimately.

      •  There Have Been (0+ / 0-)

        reports of tension between Obama and Wright during book signing events for The Audicity of Hope, where both were attending.  In fact Keith O. alluded to this tonight on his show.

        I personally sense that Rev. Wright does feel that Obama is stealing his "thunder". Just because one is a preacher with impressive mission works and years of service, does not make said preacher immune to the temptations of the ego.

        "Nothing can stand in the way of the *power* of millions of voices calling for change" Obama

        by SherriG on Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 12:17:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  More Obama policy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plum, MAORCA
    Senator Obama is committed to bringing broadband to rual communities.

    Senator Obama is committed to increas funding for federal workforce training program to teach American Workers green collar jobs. The type of jobs that can't be outsourced and helps stop global worming.

    Senator Obama is  committed to passing the Employee Free Choice Act and giving workers the right to organize.

    Senator Obama is committed to raising the minimumwage and index it to inflation.

    Senator Obama will provide each and every homeowner a 10% mortgage tax credit even if you don't itemize.

  •  I'm not a violent man but ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poblano, MAORCA

    This crap will drive me to ...
    DRINK OTHER PEOPLE'S ILL-BEGOTTEN MILKSHAKES!

    Watch out Hillary.
    Watch out MSM.
    Watch out Republicans.
    Watch out.

    What's the matter with Hillary?

    by chicago jeff on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 10:28:10 PM PDT

  •  Geraghty is a . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plum

    [not so polite word referring to anatomy].

    I once was on a football team with the guy.  Biggest p---- in the world.  Standard issue conservative.

    A bit of a digression, just had to say it.

  •  In my view (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indybend, sea2008

    a campaign owes its supporters someplace to hang our hats.

    We don't have one right now.

    We rallied around TUCC and Wright on principle w/o endorsing
    Wright's views. We made every effort to understand Wright through the lens of the Philadephia speech.

    Now this: a very public reiteration of the worst of those views completely outside of the sanctuary of the pulpit.

    2008 is not about Rev. Wright and his views. The media, the GOP and HRC have worked hard to make it so.

    But it's not.

    Wright's Q&A today was totally and completely unacceptable.

    I hope the Obama campaign understands that cold.

    •  Kid (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land
      I really love your diaries but I disagree. What do we as Obama supporters need to hang our hat on.

      Obama policy and the issues facing the American people.

      Obama has no control over Wright. However he can get his surrogates infront of the MSM and talk about his economic policies. He can get his surrogates infront of the MSM and talk about the terrible policy of John McCain.

      Let's quit with the sport of politics and get down to the business of govern.

      •  You can't ignore the sporting aspect (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nova Land

        You have to give the media it's pound of flesh. However, there's ways of addressing this controversy that lowers the temperature and allows Obama to come off as a wise leader, like he did in his Philly speech on race, and then there's the other way, which is to get down in the mud and start trying to attack people (critics, Wright, the media) in a way that takes the story to another level. But it does no good to stick your fingers in your ear and ignore the controversy, because the media won't have much sympathy for the high road. Obama will have to keep answering questions about Wright for a long time. He can't realistically pretend otherwise.

  •  when wright first appeared on moyers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indybend

    i started wondering if moyers got his chance back on the air because of funding by members of the Democratic Alliance or through Center for American Progress and if perhaps in some way the Clintons were behind this and that moyers owes big clinton supporters and therefore decided to put wright on. Then I saw Wright's speech last night and actually commented that he was so brilliant that the campaign should allow him to speak directly with voters at town halls (i did have some problems with his right brain/left brain analysis of black v white as I am doubtful there is any true scientific research behind this...) But then today happened and Ive spent the better part of 3 hours searching for some connections ... i still haven't found anything. But i have to wonder, did moyers know when he had wright on that this was stage 1 in a major Wright redemption campaign? Before hearing some of his responses today, I actually had a feeling that maybe he had actually coordinated this with the Obama campaign! Now it's late and so im done researching for the day. but i gotta say that as i see it now, the timing of this is like a fucking october surprise and i kinda feel that there is more to this than wright just deciding to take his act on the road. what actually earned him a spot at the Nat'l Press club luncheaon today? And Why did CNN and Fox cover this speech live yesterday, with CNN showing it 3X....???? god, i am so gullible. Have they ever shown any speech 3x before?

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