The Obama Future: Haven’t We Been Here Before?

No matter how you try to parse it, there’s no way to make Barack Obama’s history with Reverend Jeremiah Wright look good. On March 14, Obama told Fox News’ Major Garrett, “none of these statements were ones that I had heard myself personally in the pews” (which becomes “I knew about one or two statements” later in the interview). To buy Wright Spin 1.0, you’d have to believe that the sound bites we’ve heard were all isolated incidents outside of which Wright’s message was totally different, and that Obama never caught wind of any of it, either in person or from fellow congregants, even though this was the kind of thing the church made available on video, and his wife sure as heck was paying attention. So the best case scenario is that Obama is Jacques Clouseau. Now there’s presidential material!

As unflattering as “inattentive buffoon” is, Obama could have settled for it. But no, in his
“A More Perfect Union” speech, he said “Did I ever know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes.” Make no mistake: this is an admission that Barack Obama, the new-style politician of hope who is going to restore our ability to believe in the process, lied to the American people just days earlier.

But that’s not all Messiah has to offer. He continues to maintain that, deep down, Reverend Jeremiah—who’s like an uncle to him—isn’t so terrible: even though he made “mistakes” (you mean the CIA didn’t invent AIDS? Whoops, my bad), there was enough talk of love and Christ and helping the poor amongst the lies, demagoguery and insanity to justify regularly exposing his kids to this man and his message. I don’t buy it—especially not after Wright’s
flattering appearance on Hannity & Colmes last year. (By the way, this would happen to be the same Barack Obama who called for Don Imus to be fired and for Trent Lott to resign, each for considerably less. What a fraud.)

Then there are the cheap shots towards Geraldine Ferraro, who “some have dismissed…as harboring some deep-seated racial bias” (not Barack, of course; he just, y’know, thought you might be curious about what people are saying), “politicians [who] routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends,” and “talk show hosts and conservative commentators [who] built entire careers unmasking bogus cases of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality.” Nice. And let’s not forget Obama’s charming reminiscence about Grandma. As Ann Coulter
writes this week:

Discrimination has become so openly accepted that—in a speech meant to tamp down his association with a black racist—Obama felt perfectly comfortable throwing his white grandmother under the bus. He used her as the white racist counterpart to his black racist “old uncle,” Rev. Wright.

First of all, Wright is not Obama’s uncle. The only reason we indulge crazy uncles is that everyone understands that people don’t choose their relatives the way they choose, for example, their pastors and mentors. No one quarrels with the idea that you can’t be expected to publicly denounce your blood relatives. But Wright is not a relative of Obama’s at all. Yet Obama cravenly compared Wright’s racist invective to his actual grandmother, who “once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

Rev. Wright accuses white people of inventing AIDS to kill black men, but Obama’s grandmother—who raised him, cooked his food, tucked him in at night, and paid for his clothes and books and private school—has expressed the same feelings about passing black men on the street
that Jesse Jackson has. Unlike his “old uncle”—who is not his uncle—Obama had no excuses for his grandmother. Obama’s grandmother never felt the lash of discrimination! Crazy grandma doesn’t get the same pass as the crazy uncle; she’s white. Denounce the racist!

And finally, the heart of his message is fundamentally contradictory. Sure, he throws in the obligatory scolding of Wright’s “profoundly distorted view of this country,” and admits that “all too often [anger] distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change.” But in the same breath, Obama perpetuates the distraction by saying he could no more sever ties with Wright than with the black community, thereby identifying the two as one and the same. Give to bigotry no sanction…unless the bigot in question talks about nice stuff, too. I don’t think so, Barack.

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