Getting the Rev. Jeremiah Wright away from the microphone and spotlight last week would have been like trying to pry the hunting rifle from Charlton Heston’s cold, dead hands. The public was at the same time entertained as it was mortified, as God’s spokesman for the Trinity United Church of Christ eviscerated the bloat of racial tension, launching a fearsome offensive on the campaign of unity and hope the Obama team had labored so tirelessly to create, and engaging the media sharks in a veritable feeding frenzy.
Wright had no doubt been rankled by what he perceived as Obama’s subtle denigration of the sound bites from his past fiery sermons as they threatened to torpedo the Democratic nominee hopeful’s campaign. Well, Wright did what he felt Obama’s benign apologia had neglected to do when the opportunity presented itself: lay bare the ugliness of the innards of racial tension and let the demons out. And very ugly it was indeed, as an unbelieving public witnessed. The National Press Club and the NAACP conference provided just the platforms Wright needed to set things right, in his eyes.
Was this the most propitious moment for Wright to deliver lectures on the history of the black church, hurl accusations, and settle age-old grievances? Was bad timing the only faulty strategy of Obama’s former pastor, or was there malicious intent to derail Obama’s high-riding campaign? And if so, what red flag could have so irked the clergyman to resort to mockery and unveiled vilification of his former parishioner, amid the flamboyant and entertaining gesticulations during his three-day speaking tour?
Barack Hussein Obama, he hissed, stoking the fires of latent distrust of Obama that simmered among the skeptics and bigots, perhaps swaying the opinions of the uncommitted and the undecided. To achieve what ends?
As a result, an incensed Obama came out swinging, divorcing himself from the cleric who married him some fifteen years ago, and shocked by a side to Wright he claimed as heretofore unknown.
“His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.”
Battle lines had been drawn, and though the candidate maintained his usual decorum under the frontal attack, he was unequivocal in his repudiation of Wright. But extricating himself from Wright’s public persona may prove a challenge, since the Reverend is gaining as much media exposure as the candidates themselves, his every word and gesture dissected for possible links to Obama.
While some cogent arguments on race relations in America may have emerged amid the angry flatulence of Wright’s stinging rhetoric, it is unfortunate that he thought it expedient to draw public attention from the issues relevant to the campaign and appeal to the basest tabloid instincts of those incapable of any analytic approach to thinking. Wrong timing, Reverend Wright.
Unless anyone has just crawled from under a rock, it would be impossible to ignore the seismic shift in the American Zeitgeist, signifying the thirst for institutional change that has placed the unlikely Obama in the forefront of the campaign, copping the endorsements of not a few delegates who had been until now, sworn Clinton supporters. It may be too early to determine the fallout from Wright’s barefest and what it means for the Obama campaign from here onward, since the media, the Clintons, and the public appetite for more of Wright’s antics are important factors.
Perhaps I am still frothing at the mouth, but it is fervently hoped Wright will very irreverently impale himself upon his own flagstaff and stay the hell out of the campaign.