Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Obama-Wright Divorce

[Campaign 2008] A New York Times backgrounder today on the Barack Obama-Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. split pretty much explains what's wrong with U.S. presidential politics:

1. Once you get famous, don't even think of remembering who actually brought you to the dance. Here in the U.S., we won't let you. Even though he tried until this week to honor the long relationship he had with his pastor and role model (including borrowing the title for his bestselling book from a Wright sermon), Obama really began cutting ties with Wright by dumping him from his campaign announcement program in early 2007. At the urging of his campaign operatives, Obama apologetically called Wright the night before the big announcement, telling him they would replace him with another pastor to offer the invocation.

According to the story, Wright never got over the snub. He told his daughters in a phone call: "I'm only going to say this once. Don't look at the TV tomorrow."

2. As a candidate, you'll have to choose between your faith and fame. And never, ever underestimate the pull of fame, and the blind ambition it takes to become president. (And that applies to all candidates, sadly.) Obama had characterized Wright's passionate beliefs and sermons as the reason he finally found religion. At Wright's inner city Chicago church, Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama saw rich and poor, and black and white worship together and embrace their differences. It was a time in Obama's life, according to the Times, when he "finally pulled every disparate strand of his background together and found his faith."

Ah, the good old days. Wright, obviously hurting still from what he perceives as Obama's disrespect, wanted to share the spotlight, but couldn't give up his fiery speeches and compulsion for polarizing politics to do so. Now the friendship is kaput--maybe even permanently.

3. And finally, the media. When will they shut the hell up about this rift? Obama has divorced the preacher man. It's done. America got to see the pain and the squirming of two good men under the big, 24-7 news cycle microscope. They've both been ripped to shreds over the issue. The Obama-Wright debacle has been reduced to something on the level of Divorce Court. Maybe we could move on now? (Holly Mullen)

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