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Obama the Ditherer
Answering the question no one asked.
by Dean Barnett
03/19/2008 12:00:00 AM

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While answering a question that no one is asking, Obama dodged the question that everyone is asking, namely how exactly did a healing figure like Obama spend 20 years listening to the hateful ramblings of a man like Jeremiah Wright. In dodging that question, Obama showed an unbecoming slipperiness. At one point, Obama intoned:

It has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
Note how the passage above suggests that Jeremiah Wright let loose his incendiary language during the past couple of weeks at the same time that Geraldine Ferraro was engaging in her unpleasant foolishness. Of course, Wright has been "incendiary" for the entire two decades that he and Barack Obama have enjoyed such a close relationship.

I know I said earlier that I would stipulate that Obama had delivered a brilliant albeit irrelevant address, but I have to offer one caveat--his delivery was oddly flat. There were virtually no applause lines. Obama
spoke in an odd monotone for much of the speech. His normal cadences, which are so brilliant and inspiring to so many people, were absent. It seemed like Obama had no interest in standing before a crowd giving that particular speech.

Understandably enough. Barack Obama is an exceptionally intelligent man and an extremely gifted politician, but he seems to understand that his relationship with Jeremiah Wright is one circle that can't easily be squared. Jeremiah Wright is a man who less than a week after 9/11 gave a sermon that sadistically rejoiced how America's chickens had come home to roost. Five days earlier, Americans (of all colors, incidentally) had leapt from the World Trade Center to escape the flames. The fact is, Barack Obama opted to remain in this minister's company for more than six years after that sermon until partially distancing himself just last week in the heat of a presidential race. As gifted a speaker and writer as Obama is, there's still no way he can make such a circumstance palatable to most Americans.

What the analysts who are gushing over Obama's sentiments regarding race relations are missing is not only did Obama fail to accomplish the mission he needed to, he didn't even really try. He made no attempt to explain his relationship with Wright and why he hung around a man who habitually offered such hateful rhetoric. Obama instead offered a non-sequitur on race relations.

While that non-sequitur surely distracted the scores of Obama sycophants in the media, conservative 527 groups will be lining up to run commercials juxtaposing Obama declaring that Reverend Wright "has been like family to me" with Wright offering one of his trademark greatest hits like "God Damn America." Obama could have tried to defuse those attacks, but instead chose once again to try to hide the ball.

Obama's relationship with Wright warranted a serious treatment. The voting public deserved as much. It says something about the candidate and his willingness to take on the tough issues that he declined to take on the challenge.

Dean Barnett is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.


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