Monday, April 28, 2008

Jeremiah Wright: Obama's Root Canal

Howard Kurtz writes:
Barack Obama needed this like he needed a root canal.

Just when the Jeremiah Wright furor seemed to be dying down, the ex-pastor is back and suddenly inescapable. On the tube with Bill Moyers. Speaking to the NAACP. Showing up Monday at the National Press Club.

There it was yesterday, that endless loop of Wright shouting "God damn America" over and over. Yet another opportunity to talk about how he thinks the US of KKK-A created the AIDS virus to kill blacks.

This is rather amazing. At great political risk to himself, Obama refused to disavow Wright even as he tried to distance himself from the reverend's more inflammatory rhetoric. Wright might have repaid the favor to the man whose wedding he handled by laying low, at least until November.

Instead, Wright is mounting a media blitz that he has to know--has to know--is going to damage the most famous member of his former church. No matter how reasonable he sounds, he just reignites the controversy and throws his friend under the bus.
Root canal might be more attractive to Senator Obama and his campaign right now.

Someone should remind Reverend Wright that the heat of a campaign is not a time when he can explain himself.

If there are ways to explain his comments--and I believe that many of them can be explained, it would be better for him to wait until after November. Until then, all will be YouTube-driven, sound bite frenzy, hardly a time when intemperate words can be explained coolly.

To me, the Wright story has always been more complicated than the sound bites or the editorial cartoons conveyed. In looking at some of Wright's pronouncements and in heeding some who know him well, I've concluded that he is a basically solid Christian minister who nonetheless adheres to some reprehensible, indefensible ideas. When he is prophetic, as he can be in the most positive Biblical sense, he nonetheless also displays an allegiance to notions that are in turn, kooky, dangerous, or bigoted.

It appears that Wright is so bent on "clarifying" himself that he can't or won't defer addressing what he regards as unfair assaults on his character and his message until the election is over.

The results could be the scuttling of both his own reputation and the election of his former parishioner to the presidency.

His desire to speak out is, I suppose, understandable. His timing is horrible.

I wrote a series of posts on Wright from my perspective as a Lutheran Christian pastor:
Is Wright Wrong? Part 1
Is Wright Wrong? Part 2
Is Wright Wrong? Part 3
Is Wright Wrong? Part 4
Is Wright Wrong? Part 5


Outis said...


Barack Obama needed this like he needed a root canal. - Howard Kurtz

I really don't like this expression. Sometimes one DOES need a root canal, after all, and the root canal is usually compared to something one doesn't ever need or want. The expression

So-and-so wanted this like he wanted a root canal....

would be better, but can't professional writers come up with something better? And what ever happened to "hole in the head" in place of "root canal"?

Sorry for the off-topic rant, but this seems to have touched a nerve. I think I've been reading too much Orwell lately.

Pastor_Jeff said...


Good thoughts and observations. I've linked here and written a few thoughts of my own.

I think your link to Kurtz is off, though. It took me to his most recent, "A Pox on both Houses." I think you meant to point to "The Pastor Returns."

Ontario Emperor said...

From Wright's perspective, this is the ideal time to clarify himself.

One of Wright's key points is that allegiance to God is more important than allegiance to country; his "God d-mn America" statement was meant to emphasize that when the American people violate the will of God (Jim Crow laws, Japanese internment, etc.), God will not honor them for it.

If Wright truly believes (and I think he does) that all of his pronouncements are in accordance with the will of God, then what better time to talk about them than at a time when people are going to listen to him? If Clinton or McCain become president, no one's going to listen to Wright in 2009.

The important thing in the next week is how Obama responds. (We know how Clinton will respond, and we know how those Republicans who think McCain is a Communist will respond.) If Obama's smart, he can turn "bitter" Jeremiah Wright into an opportunity.

Spencer Troxell said...

Does Wright want Obama's seat in the senate? Or is his bad timing just to sell his book?