Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama as Marley

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

- Marley's Ghost addressing Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843

On Tuesday morning, Obama held a press conference in order to stop the bleeding caused by his pastor’s, Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s, racist and anti-American screed broadcast live to the nation from the National Press Club on Monday. Because Obama was not honest with the public, the bleeding will continue and portends to be fatal. It need not have been.

Many people have said that Obama needs to distance himself from the racist Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But much like Marley's ghost, Obama has, of his own free will, been creating a chain attaching himself to Rev. Wright. After near twenty years of close association, that chain is so long and ponderous that it cannot simply be cut with a bald repudiation - despite what the editorial board of the NYT posited in the wake of Obama's news conference. That poses a problem for Obama that is quickly becoming, if not already, insurmountable.

If Obama had chosen to be honest and fully forthcoming at any point up through his news conference on Tuesday, a transcript of which is here, Obama could have innoculated himself from much of the negatives of his relationship with Rev. Wright and his membership in Trinity United. He would still have stood a realistic chance in his bid for the presidency. Instead, in an amazing display of hubris, Obama has taken the opposite path. He is being dishonest with the public, attempting to hide his past rather than address it.

Reverend Wright’s several public appearances over the weekend brought into stark relief both the seriousness of Wright’s negatives for the Obama candidacy - particularly in November's general election - and the disingenuousness of Obama’s attempts to paint these negatives as unimportant. The issue of Rev. Wright and Obama’s relationship is a core issue of Obama’s candidacy. It goes directly to Obama’s character, judgment, beliefs and, because of the way Obama has handled this issue, his veracity. Obama admitted as much Sunday, in an interview with Fox News. But he could not have framed this issue any more clearly than he did inadvertently in the Tuesday morning press conference:

. . . When I go to church it's not for spectacle. It's to pray and to find -- to find a stronger sense of faith. It's not to posture politically. It's not -- you know, it's not to hear things that violate my core beliefs.

So what does his twenty years of membership in Trinity United tell us of his core beliefs? We are still not sure, as, in between angry denunciations of the outrageous, now fully in context comments Rev. Wright made before the National Press Club, Obama at his press conference was being incredibly disingenuos about the black liberation theology of his Church and the nature of the sermons to which he has been privy.

John Perazzo wrote an exceptional article in February, before Rev. Wright’s name became a household word, explaining the origins and doctrine of black liberation theology. But for the religious overlay, it is a theology that espouses a world view that is marxist in its purest form, both in term of economics and by interpreting all events within the rubric of blacks as permanent victims of oppression occurring at the hands of whites. It is a gospel and a world view out of touch with reality and one that is completely at odds with the persona Obama has painted to the public in an effort to win the presidency.

Obama was asked at his press conference about the nature of black liberation theology and why he chose a church that practiced that philosophy. Obama’s response was rambling and disingenuous rising to the level of an outright falsehood. Obama's initial response was redolent of a seasoned lawyer defending a guilty client - in this case, himself. He claimed that, despite twenty years at Trinity United, he had no idea about the nature of black liberation theology:

“Well, first of all, in terms of liberation theology, I'm not a theologian. So I think to some theologians, there might be some well-worked-out theory of what constitutes liberation theology versus non-liberation-theology.”

To describe that response as disingenuous is an understatement. But then he rose to unambiguous falsehood when equated Wright's black liberation theology to the "social gospel" of Martin Luther King. This does not stand up to the least bit of scrutiny. Black liberation theology was just being born in the crucible of the Sandanista's communist revolution in Nicaragua at about the time MLK was assassinated. It did not originate out of MLK's sermons or philosophy. More importantly, as to substance, MLK was explicit that his goals for blacks were equality with whites and full integration of blacks into the mainstream of society. And he stated his goals with incredible eloquence:

. . . And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today! . . .

See his speech here.

The black liberation theology of Rev. Wright could not be more different than MLK’s “social gospel”. Black liberaton theology is centered on placing the blame for all the ills of black society on the white oppressors. It does not seek equality, it seeks a reckoning of the historical balance sheet. And wholly opposed to MLK’s soul stirring plea for an integrated nation of equals, Rev. Wright’s black liberation theology promotes separatism and makes an explicit call for its members to reject white middle class society. For Obama to equate Rev. Wright to MLK in an effort to diffuse the issue and halt any further inquiry is an outright falsehood.

But Obama, in his Fox interview on Sunday, actually went one further. He equated the vile anti-American fantasies and diatribes of Rev. Wright to MLK’s 1967 Riverside speech criticizing America’s involvement in Vietnam. Again, this does not hold up to the slightest inquiry. MLK’s criticism of American policy did not “damn America” for genocidal acts against blacks. It was a factually based criticism of why MLK saw the war as wrong. And indeed, the facts that formed the foundation of his criticism are well documented in the Pentagon Papers. That is a far cry from the fantastical claims of Rev. Wright, a man who does not argue a rational point of view, but rather paints a fantasy of evil white society at war against blacks and the world at large. In short, the differences between MLK and Rev. Wright are, dare I say it, as clear as black and white.

And that brings us to the core of the Obama approach to all of this. Despite what we know about Rev. Wright, despite what we know about black liberation theology that animated Trinity United long before Obama became a member, and despite Obama writing that “white greed runs a world in need” in his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama claims that he heard nothing in the pews over twenty years in the nature of the racism and vile anti-Americanism that forms the core of Rev. Wright's black liberation theology.

During the course of me attending that church, I had not heard those kinds of statements being made or those kinds of views being promoted. And I did not vet my pastor before I decided to run for the presidency. I was a member of the church.

It is simply unbelievable on the facts we know. It is completely counterintuitive. And Obama’s sarcastic remark about not “vetting” his pastor is an insult to our intelligence after he spent twenty years in the pews. His denial assures that this issue will not go away. Moreover, given the absolute nature of his denial, this was Obama's "I did not have sex with that preacher" moment. Future revelations regarding what he knew and when he knew it will utterly destroy his credibility and, with it, likely his bid for the presidency.

All of this is unfortunate in the sense that by his very candidacy, he could have made a difference for America on racial issue. He in fact could have led the nation on a true discussion of racism in our society - and I am not refering to the self serving pablum of his Philadelphia speech. Given the robust victimhood culture and grievance politics of the left, such a discussion is sorely needed.

With Obama’s unique background and given the reality that our country’s history is stained with racism and slavery, I think the vast majority of Americans, including conservatives, might have accepted a mea culpa from Obama. Were I to write that speech for Obama, it would be along the lines of what I have written below. I do not know if it is accurate, but I suspect that it might be:

As a young man, I was attracted to Rev. Wright by his dynamic presence, his message of hope, and indeed, his message of black liberation theology. That message combined an admirable belief in Jesus with a dream of hope for bettering the world that so captured my imagination that it still remains at the heart of my motivations today. Unfortunately, Rev. Wright's preaching also contained a message of racism and separatism that grew out of the black experience of the 50’s and 60’s.

I long ago separated the wheat from the chaff at Trinity United. I embraced the belief in Jesus as my savior and am eternally indebted to Rev. Wright gifting to me an unshakable belief in the audacity of hope. In those respects, he gave my life a meaning and a direction that have animated me since.

But the point where I agreed with the other aspects of Rev. Wright’s ministry ended within the first years of my joining Trinity United. I was able to recognize that our society has moved beyond Rev. Wright’s racial perspective and, indeed, have staked my entire political life and philosophy on promoting the opposite message. All the facts of my life in the public realm and in the private realm support that.

There are many good things about Rev. Wright that, indeed, have kept me close to him over the years. But his message of racism and his portrayal of a white government at war with blacks were not among them. I stayed in the Church and close to Rev. Wright wholly in spite of those things.

Many will say this reflects on my judgment. I would like to think it reflects far more on my loyalty and sense of duty to a kind, if flawed man to whom I am so indebted. And while I mean that with utter sincerity, I also speak with utter sincerity when I say that, in retrospect, I wish that had I been forceful over the years with Rev. Wright in expressing to him that his message, to the extent it contained a racist message, was wrong. At first I kept silent in the pews simply out of fear of offending Rev. Wright. As I aged and matured, I made the error of just keeping silent in the pews. I do hope that you will understand and forgive me for that error.

Unfortunately, even if the above is correct, we have seen repeatedly that Obama accepts no personal responsibility when he thinks that he can skate by. Obama lacks the necessary foresight, the intellectual honesty and the intestinal fortitude to make such a mea culpa. And indeed, the time frame in which he could do it and survive politically is likely passed. To attempt a mea culpa when future revelations come out will be interpreted as hypocritical political expediency and unlikely to salvage his bid for the presidency. Like Marley's ghost, Obama has doomed himself to walk the earth under the weight of the chain he built, link by link to Rev. Wright, over a period of twenty years. And he has securely tethered the chain to himself with buckles formed of hubris.


Anonymous said...

I believe if Obama had 1) Admitted knowing about Wright's rants. 2)Explained not taking a stand against Wright's rhetoric by saying something like, "it is best to know what tunes the devil is playing" and 3) Admitted he joined the church for political expediency, he might have gone a long way towards tamping down the furor.

Anonymous said...

The left loves to call Obama America's first post racial candidate.

Would America's first "post racial" candidate willing and knowingly marinate his children in the vile, racist filth of Wright's church?

Anonymous said...

Barack's campaign has been one long lie. In fact there is a website that is nearly up to 80 known lies. But for some reason the MSM want this song of his to stay on the top 40 until election day.

Ask Obama or his staff to respond to the allegations
Larry Sinclair has been making.

Larry has claimed that Barack Obama's drug
practices are much more recent than he claims.

Larry has also subpoenaed Barack
Obama, David Axelrod, and the campaign for phone records in connection
with an execution-style murder of Donald Young.

§ Donald Young was the choirmaster of Obama's much maligned
Trinity church.

§ Donald Young had been in contact with Larry until his

It turns out that Donald was also gay.

Parties unknown executed Donald and several other members of Chicago’s gay

Why is Larry doing this?