Monday, March 17, 2008

Is Obama even half-Wright?

The following links discuss the Obama family's world-view, the part Jeremiah Wright has played in it and whether the Senator has been forthcoming about either. As TOC noted, it's about choice.

Reading all of these is recommended. Some are fairly long.

Knowing Obama by the Company He Keeps

I learned more about staying on the narrow path and avoiding trouble from my grandmother in five minutes than Barack and Michelle Obama seem to have learned in their whole lives. This lesson in human nature and relationships is pretty darned simple. And it gives no quarter to anyone; it applies to all human beings.

"People will know you by the company you keep," my grandmother told me.

"So, be very careful how you choose your friends, because a person's most valuable possession is his reputation, and once lost, a reputation is nearly impossible to restore."

But the most valuable nugget of all:

"If you remain friends with people up to no good, you are bound to become like them. If you think you're above their influence, you are just fooling yourself. So, choose wisely."

Barack Obama chose Jeremiah Wright as his pastor, his spiritual mentor and friend. Obama has kept the relationship intact for more than 20 years now.
Deconstructing Obama's lawyerly evasions on Wright
Barack Obama desperately needs to distance himself from his spiritual mentor and pastor of two decades, Jeremiah Wright, Jr. But the man who wants America to believe his promise of unspecified change adopts the carefully-parsed language of a Harvard-trained lawyer. There is a fundamental discordance in spirit between a canny, evasive lawyer inserting loopholes, and the smiling vision of unity and change you can believe in.

Here is the key paragraph of Obama's statement, bizarrely first published on the Huffington Post, a website that once featured Senator Joseph Lieberman in minstrel blackface. There are multiple evasions buried in each line, analyzed below: ...
The Wit & Wisdom of Barack Obama
...in his best speeches he offers quick, arresting portraits of individual Americans he has met in his travels. Taken together they help him execute a rhetorical pivot that only the greatest populist politicians--FDR in the 1930s, Reagan in 1980--have been able to pull off. You could call it optimistic despair. The overarching theme of Obama's speeches, and of his campaign, is that America is a fetid sewer whose most glorious days lie just ahead, thanks to the endless ranks of pathetic losers who make it a beacon of hope to all mankind.
who-ya-gonna-believe-me-or-your-lyin'-eyes
The Senator has said he missed Jeremiah Wright's post-9/11 sermon. How many other Sundays did he decide to sleep in? Did he also miss the one where the Reverend Wright referred to "the US of KKKA"? How about the one where the pastor said "the government lied about Pearl Harbor. They knew the Japanese were about to attack"?

Out of town that morning? Well, what about the one where he said "the government lied about inventing HIV as a means of genocide against people of color"? Alarm clock out of batteries that Sunday, too?

It seems hard to believe you could spend 20 minutes in this pastor's company, never mind 20 years (as the Obamas have), without figuring he's a race-baiting loon.
Obama responded forcefully yesterday to what his pastor has been saying for lo, these 20 years: "I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue." Fair enough.

What about these statements, then?

This country is "just downright mean," we are "guided by fear," "we're a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents." "We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day." "Folks are just jammed up, and it's gotten worse over my lifetime. And, doggone it, I'm young. Forty-four!"

"For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change."

Where does this person live who thinks things have gotten progressively worse in the last 44 years? In America,
the most charitable and upwardly mobile country in the world.

Those are the words of Michelle Obama. Who, by the way, is paid over $300,000 a year by the University of Chicago Medical Center. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, her husband's a United States Senator. To paraphrase Tom McGuire, if the Obamas were white they'd be John and Elizabeth Edwards. Two Americas, indeed. Cynics, sloths, complacents and complainants are the natural constituency of the Edwama message.

In the interest of giving unequal time to Jeremiah Wright's defenders, let's hear from Otis Moss III, the current pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ. Moss called criticism of Wright and the church an "attack on the legacy of the African American Church which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world."

Barack Obama cannot view this as helpful. The Reverend Moss just equated "God damn America - the US of KKKA; the terrorist state that invented AIDS to kill blacks; the country that conspired to let the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and deserves what it got on 9/11." - since that montage of Wright sentiments is what the criticism is about - with the legacy of the "African American Church." Or else Reverend Moss' remarks were an unfortunate non-sequitur. Or maybe TUCC is beyond criticism. You pick.

Finally, much left-wing attention has been paid to the defense that guilt by association is ridiculous. For myself, I think a 20+ year association and high public praise of someone is an association worth pondering. However, if you want an example of how "progressives" have treated this association thing in the past, you will be grateful for this reminder from Peter Wehner at National Review Online:
We actually have an example of how the MSM plays the “guilt by association” card when it comes to certain political and religious figures. In the 2000 campaign George W. Bush spoke once at Bob Jones University; it was an event used to bludgeon Bush with for the rest of the campaign and into his presidency. And, of course, Bush did not attend Bob Jones University, financially support it, or consider Bob Jones to be his spiritual mentor or close friend for 25 years. Yet these things mattered not at all. Bush spoke at Bob Jones University — and so to many in the press, he was joined at the hip with it. The association between Reverend Wright and Senator Obama is far deeper in every respect.

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