Obama, Rev. Wright and the worst news coverage since the Lewinski scandal
Anybody here give a shit about Hannah Montana posing for Vanity Fair? Me neither. I've got bigger fish to fry and she's about to become a billionaire, so I'm not all that worried about her reputation. Every major news agency has been covering 3 stories this week: Hannah's "racy" pictures; The freak in Austria who kept his daughter and their 7 kids in a cellar for 24 years (ugh); and Reverend Wright. This, America, is what your media thinks you want to hear about. Or maybe it's what they want to tell you to kee you from focusing on what's really going on. Either way, the media sucks.
You would almost think Reverend Wright was running for office, because he has dominated the news cycle for a couple of weeks. As with most ministers, he says some outrageous things in the heat of the moment, mostly for effect. He's got some strong and controversial opinions, and he isn't shy about sharing them. That should be the concern of his congregation and only his congregation. The fact that his congregation included Barack Obama is not relevant to... anything. It's not relevant to the election, certainly. I've been in a lot of churches and I've heard preachers say some pretty offensive things. Not once did I worry that my mere presence in the building when these things were said tagged me with those beliefs. My attendance certainly didn't mean I agreed with everything, or even anything, that was said from the pulpit.
The Radical Right and Hillary Clinton, who are rapidly becoming one and the same, have been trying to tarnish the reputation of Barack Obama for weeks because he sat in a particular church most Sundays and because he attended a fundraiser once for a guy who has never been convicted of anything like the terrorism he may or may not have committed. Ayers is a blip - only an idiot would spend time on it. Like Sean Hannity. An idiot.
The Rev. Wright issue should have been closed for good when Obama made his historic speech in Philadelphia where he spoke so eloquently about matters of race in this culture. Being a good and decent man, Barack didn't disown Rev. Wright, but gently acknowledged that sometimes imperfect people can have a positive effect on us, and stated that Wright's views were not his views. In a reasonable society, that would have been the end of the controversy. WE, however, are about as far from reason as we could possibly be. Our founders would be ashamed of the "gotcha" politics and journalism that comprises our public discourse. We're supposed to be the first nation founded solely on reason and logic, but we fall very far short of that position these days. In a reasonable society, we would have moved forward with conversation about the failing dollar, rising gas prices, record housing foreclosures, corporate welfare, and possible food and water shortages - but we didn't.
It seems that Rev. Wright has a book to sell. And there was an excuse to bring him to Washington DC (which may have been orchaestrated by the Clinton campaign.) And he decided to screw Barack Obama for his own benefit. He apparently decided that Barack couldn't win the Presidency, so he'd help himself in spite of the damage he would do to the Obama campaign. And so he did. He railed against the government, and acccused them of starting the AIDS epidemic to oppress black people. He gave his best anti-Zionist screed. He praised Louis Farrahkan. He painted Barack into a corner.
Barack has tried to take the high road in every situation, even when people might prefer that he would come out swinging. In Wright's case, Barack first refused to disown him, then later admitted some of his comments were offensive, and then finally, today, Barack had to put his foot down and pretty much end his association with Wright altogether. He had no choice. He didn't want to have to go to that extreme, and it was obvious over recent weeks that he was doing everything short of that. But Wright saw an opportunity for... what? Self-aggrandizement? A larger forum? Book sales? Whatever his motivation, Wright hurt Obama, who had gone so far out of his way not to hurt Rev. Wright.
Part of me still wishes Barack had told his oppenents and the yammering press to pound sand. The behavior of the media, from the odious Christ Matthews to the normally sympathetic Keith Olbermann, was shameful, and they deserved to be told off. Hillary Clinton and her Neo-Republican machine smelled blood in the water, and something had to be done to end the controversy definitively. So Barack had to cut Wright loose, and make it clear that he didn't speak for him, nor did he even seem to understand him. I'm sorry he had to do it. I'm sorry Rev. Wright pushed him to it. I'm sorry that our media and our culture are no better than this.
I choose Barack Obama because his movement represents our last best chance to really change the culture in Washington DC. He's our best shot at restoring the rule of law, opposing the corporate control of our government, and getting us out of Iraq. I don't know if he can win, but given that he is setting records for donations and new registrations, his chances look damned good. Add to that the fact that I have no desire to go back to Monica 24/7, as we certainly will if Hillary steals the nomination and has to go head to head with the Karl Rove's of the Right, and I am adamant that I want Barack Obama to be my next president. When the chips are down, he always tries to take the high road. He tries to stay calm, he tries to be reasonable. What a refreshing change that will be for us all.