Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jeremiah Wright: the Sherpa's revenge

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright
"Barack Obama went to Rev. Wright’s church as a young man and was blessed with the Christian bona fides that would be absolutely essential for a high-profile political career." Bob Herbert - New York Times
David Seaton's News Links
When I saw Jeremiah Wright at the National Press Club, I had one of those moment of remembering exactly what it was like to be an American in America and to realize how during the long years away I had grown another head next to the old one.

My "new" head said to me... " ¿este tipo es 'negro'? ¿negro de que?" "This fellow is 'black'? Exactly what part of his anatomy is black?" I have known Cuban, Brazilian and Venezuelans with more African DNA than Wright who would be puzzled it you called them "black". If Barack Obama is half white then Wright must be at least 3/4 white. Even in the USA, I think if his name was Ignacio López, instead of Jeremiah Wright, very few people would consider him "black".

Of course my "old" head understood perfectly. Being "black" in the USA is a culture and Obama, culturally an outsider, but dressed by nature for the part and wishing to join that culture, could hardly have found a more exciting and "authentic" Sherpa than Jeremiah Wright.

A lifetime, studious, whigger myself, if I still lived in Chicago, I would have certainly have attended many of Wright's sermons. He has really got the stuff!

African-American culture has fascinated me since I was a tiny child.

When I was just learning to talk my parents were getting divorced, which was a before "no fault" divorce and my mom had to "abandon" the home, so I lived for about two years in the old Tivoli hotel in Biloxi Missisippi. My late mother was in those days a young divorcée and a drop-dead redhead, so I spent most of my time in the ample laps of the African-American ladies who actually ran the hotel. Thus, in effect, I became bilingual. To this day I can "pass", without caricature, on the phone. When we moved back up north, I was the only kid I knew that could actually understand Black people when they were speaking to each other.

So I can easily understand that,
Obama, culturally an outsider, but dressed by nature for the part, and wishing to join that culture, could hardly have found a more exciting and "authentic" Sherpa than Jeremiah Wright. I can easily understand that, as an Harvard man and Hawaiian preppy, wanting to be down, Obama must have felt that he had found the Rosetta Stone of African-Americanness, when first he set eyes and ears on the Reverend Wright.

Actually, I liked what I saw of Wright at the National Press Club and especially his speech to the NAACP. I think he is a wonderful speaker and what he said made sense. However he speaks like someone of the left and America is a right wing country.

I fear that Obama's "chickens" are also coming home to roost.

I think Barack Obama could have had a hundred other pastors on the South Side of Chicago, that were not as clever or fast on their feet as Reverend Wright, but who were not as controversial either.

But Reverend Wright is not just another preacher, he is a man of great charisma and of enormous credibility in his community... with the political power that carries.

Wright's "Nihil Obstat" gave Barack Obama, a half white, Harvard man, with a distant African-African father, the community credentials that allowed him to build a credible political base in the African-American community of Illinois, from which to continue to play the role he was born to, that of "JFK meets Sydney Poitier"

My question would be, When did Obama consider running for President? Because it should have been obvious to anyone, and certainly obvious to anyone with his enormous skills, that Wright would be poison to a lot of the people whose votes he would need to ever win the presidency, when the Roves of this world would be going over him with a microscope.

He should have begun years ago to, ever so gently, ever so diplomatically, distance" himself from Wright.

Publicly comparing an advocate of "black liberation theology" to his white grandmother from Kansas was probably not the most tactful way of doing that.

Wright may be many things, but I don't think he is anyone to trifle with

Also, when he "distanced" himself from Wright, didn't he know that Wright might be mortally offended and that his pastor was a man of formidable verbal skills and a mighty ego?

Like the Bittergate gaffe, there is something dumb about all of this and if there is any label that I would not have thought applicable to Barack Obama it is the label, "dumb".

Perhaps it is all about what I've been saying for months now, Obama has been brought along too fast. Impatience has spoiled a great talent... for the moment at least. DS


David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I just saw the Wright, NAACP, clip.
This guy is really great! Why don't they run him for president?

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

The clip is a the this LINK

Anonymous said...

Obama is not naturally empathic -- he does not understand how people feel about things and thus has trouble predicting the results of his own action. He can figure it out intellectually but he needs time and distance to do this.

I suspect his mother spent a lot of time asking him how he thought his actions made other people feel long before Obama was able to read how people feel.

If Obama does not understand at a gut level how people feel about things many of his errors become much more predictable. An empathic politician would never have worded the Bittergate comment the way Obama did because the empathic politician's head would have been ringing with alarm bells about how people would feel about the comment. I doubt if a trace of a conception of how people would feel about that comment ever crossed Obama's mind.

aml said...

I would recommend the Bill Moyers interview on PBS, which gives you terrific insight on this very charismatic and savvy preacher. The more I see and hear of the Rev. Wright, the more I begin to understand Obama's ambitions and personality. He (Obama) is kinda screwing himself over this "fake controversy". Of course, it doesn't help when the chattering classes are yelling for his complete and utter condemnation of the Reverend. It is very dumb, indeed.