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.