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  Sunday September 21st, 2014    

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Why Obama can’t shake Rev. Wright (03/23/2008)
By John Edstrom


     
Barack Obama, who has probably won for himself the Democratic nomination for the next U.S. presidential election, now finds his candidacy seriously challenged by revelations that Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his spiritual mentor and the pastor of Obama's church back in Illinois, has a history of making racially and politically, uh, intemperate remarks. It would be fair to say, for instance, that Wright believes, or has said from the pulpit, that the AIDS virus was produced by the U.S. government and introduced into black America so as to be rid of it, that we were deserving of the 9/11 attacks, and that American society is still profoundly racist from top to bottom.

People want to know why Obama has never renounced, nor even distanced himself from these inclinations in his pastor of 20 years. It is a fair question. His platform has been for change, real change with a capital C, an end to divisiveness, and a healing of divisions in our society - by extension, an end to racial division. He has been called a "post-racial" candidate. Being a gifted speaker, Obama can make this all sound very real. Yet here is the pastor who brought him to Jesus, making the most racially and politically incendiary statements possible with no peep of disagreement from the senator over the course of 20 years.

Many of the rosy, young faces Obama has brought into the political process are now asking themselves how this can be? Hopefully they won't be permanently disillusioned to discover that politics, especially elections, are more about what divides us, than what unites us. A crude, but fairly accurate description of the two-party democratic system would postulate a political spectrum from left to right, arrayed with a wide and ever-changing variety of issues. The contending parties arrange their positions on these issues so as to, ideally, appeal to half of the electorate plus one. Unfortunately, winning soon becomes much more important than principle, particularly as government gets bigger and commands more resources.

Barack Obama is generally portrayed, and not just by his detractors, as the most liberal senator in that chamber. He can no more renounce the most radical, far-left elements of his party than he can campaign on one leg. The rhetoric of "unity" is nonsense, although that of "change" is not. Obama's record indicates that he will seek change that some will welcome, others abhor.

Despite his very clever and eloquent speech of last week, Barack Obama cannot renounce the divisiveness of Reverend Wright any more than he can renounce his liberalism, which seeks votes by creating a culture of endless grievance, dividing its various constituencies into separate groups by ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc., etc., etc., all believing they have something special due from government, which must, of course, come at the expense of someone else.

Barack Obama's eloquence and soaring rhetoric would surely be a welcome relief from the inarticulate sniggering of a George Bush, and he sounds positively Churchillian next to the carved wooden stiffs, Gore and Kerry, last put forward by the Democrats. And compared to the horrible school marm prating of Hillary (whose campaign theme song should be "The wheels on the bus go round and ‘round), he sounds like a whole choir of angels.

But when the echoes die away, it's just more gas from another gasbag senator. One of the more disturbing developments in American politics this last half century is this tendency by both parties to run senators for president.

J.E. 

 

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