Obama Lost Chance to Distance Himself
Posted by wordforit on March 20, 2008
By: Barrett Kalellis
In keeping with the myth-making propensities of the Obama campaign, former Pennsylvania Sen. Harris Wofford made an overwrought introduction of the candidate to the audience, claiming that Sen. Obama was already cast in the same mold of unique greatness as Washington and Lincoln.
Putting aside such improbable silliness, Obama was in front of the cameras during his campaign swing in Philadelphia for damage control from the negative media coverage of his long-time pastor and “spiritual mentor,” Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
For over a week, this bitter, clown holy man, was shown hectoring and working his flock into a lather on church-produced video clips, delivering the very worst sort of racist rants, cockamamie conspiracy theories and feckless Afrocentric history blather – all the while preening like a minstrel or buffoon.
In a peculiar way, this was Obama’s big chance to play the defining part in Shakespeare’s Henry IV – as the older and wiser Prince Hal repudiates his embarrassingly vainglorious companion Sir John Falstaff and his earlier days as an impressionable and wayward youth now that he has become King Henry V:
“I know thee not, old man: fall to thy prayers; How ill white hairs become a fool and jester . . . Presume not that I am the thing I was, For God doth know, so shall the world perceive That I have turned away my former self So will I those that kept me company.”
But Obama flubbed the opportunity to demonstrate Hal’s maturity of judgment and growth of character. Instead of rejecting Wright, Obama went all wobbly: “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”
Although he decried Wright’s distasteful and inflammatory rhetoric, he did nothing to distance himself from the man himself, deflecting the issue by claiming that the pastor was instrumental in “introducing him to my Christian faith.”
Any close explanation of Obama’s relationship with Wright and his bigoted ideas was finessed and replaced with a peroration on race relations in America.
In an cleverly worded and expertly delivered presentation, Obama turned what should have been a mea culpa acknowledgment into an off-the-shelf liberal speech about inequality of opportunity and black resentment.
In addition to the “legacy of racism,” Obama hinted darkly about present-day, “less overt” racism, and ticked off the predictable shopping list of ills that add to the problem: “the need to find good jobs,” “a falling economy,” “lack of economic opportunity,” “wars,” “terrorism,” and even, improbably, “devasting climate change.”
Unwilling to accept the ideas advanced by such notables like Bill Cosby – that most black problems today are self-inflicted in one way or another – Obama clings to the notion that black pathologies are still the result of active discrimination by whites, exactly the proposition that Rev. Wright angrily and sarcastically bloviates from the pulpit.
Thus Obama’s pitch-perfect stump oratory modulates from stirring talk about moving from the static past and present to a vision of “change,” which he variously interprets as “investing” in universal healthcare, schools, communities and the legal system. This, he assures us, “will help all of America to prosper.”
In the cold light of day, however, such a vision of liberal panaceas is likely to bankrupt the country and turn it into a giant welfare state.
“Healthcare to the sick, jobs to the jobless, education for the children,” Obama says. But tt’s really not much different from “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” fobbed on the public in 1928, and Hoover wasn’t talking about government largesse.
Although Obama sidestepped the true import of his 20-year attendance at Wright’s Trinity Church, one wonders if parishioners there continued to patronize the church and its pastor to learn about Christ and individual salvation, or instead, fiery sermons that fueled black anger and grievances.
It would be far, far better if Barack Obama were to declare that the change he has in mind is not more government assistance, but rather for blacks – both in and out of church – to stop constantly rehearsing and reinforcing all the past injustices stemming from historical slavery, in favor of doing what it takes to profit from all the opportunities that now lie at their feet.
Barrett Kalellis is a Michigan-based columnist and writer whose articles appear regularly in various local and national print and online publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did Obama ever say “God Bless America” in his speech? Isn’t that an “implicit standard”? That is, unless one has been listening to too many of JWright’s speeches. . .
May God HELP America!!