Barack Obama is still apologizing for Reverend Wright, viewing him as “a brilliant man caught in a time warp” (at what point in Wright’s lifetime would it have been “brilliant” to conclude that the U.S. developed the HIV virus for the purpose of exterminating its African-American citizens?) Appearing on NBC’s The View, Obama said of Wright: “What you’ve been seeing is a snippet of a man. . .What if somebody compiled the five stupidest things you ever said, and put them on a thirty second loop, and ran them for two weeks straight?”
In my case, one would find some pretty stupid things. But the only anti-American comments would be 35 years old or more, and one would be justified in concluding from them that, when I made the statements, I held a very low view of the U.S.
Obama either doesn’t get it or is pretending not to. The problem with Wright’s comments isn’t that they’re “dumb,” although they are that. The problem is that they express a virulently anti-American ideology. People don’t condemn the U.S., even occasionally, in the kind of terms Wright used unless they hate their country. Or so it should be presumed in the absence of evidence of benign statements about America and its role in the world on the part of Obama’s spiritual leader. And it’s difficult to imagine what statements like this Wright might have made given the radical liberation theololgy that inspires him.
Barbara Walters asked Obama whether he would have left the church had Wright not retired. Obama responded:
Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn’t have felt comfortable staying at the church.
Here, Obama again fails to acknowledge what Wright is about. This is not the case of a preacher who “mischaracterized the greatness of this country.” It’s the case of a preacher who accuses his country of virtually the worst deeds imaginable (e.g. deliberating killing its citizens by spreading the HIV virus). And the problem here is not that Wright “offended people;” it’s that he made shockingly hateful statements.
Moreover, as a regular attendee of Wright’s church for almost 20 years, Obama certainly knew that Wright “offended people” and that he denied America’s greatness. In fact, Obama asked Wright not to attend the event at which Obama entered the presidential race precisely because Wright’s sermons were too “rough.” Thus, Obama’s claim that this knowledge would have made him too uncomforatble to remain in the church is nonsense — Obama had that knowledge and never left.
There’s an outside chance that Obama didn’t know until recently about the worst of Wright’s statements. But the way Obama continues to characterize and “explain” Wright suggests that, even at his worst, Wright doesn’t bother Obama very much from an ideological standpoint.