The New Republic attempts to explain what might have attracted Obama to Rev. Wright. Presenting a passage from David Mendell's biography of Obama,
Wright remains a maverick among Chicago's vast assortment of black preachers. He will question Scripture when he feels it forsakes common sense; he is an ardent foe of mandatory school prayer; and he is a staunch advocate for homosexual rights, which is almost unheard-of among African-American ministers. Gay and lesbian couples, with hands clasped, can be spotted in Trinity's pews each Sunday. Even if some blacks consider Wright's church serving only the bourgeois set, his ministry attracts a broad cross section of Chicago's black community.The article suggests,
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But more than that, Trinity's less doctrinal approach to the Bible intrigued and attracted Obama. "Faith to him is how he sees the human condition," Wright said. "Faith to him is not . . . litmus test, mouth-spouting, quoting Scripture. It's what you do with your life, how you live your life. That's far more important than beating someone over the head with Scripture that says women shouldn't wear pants or if you drink, you're going to hell. That's just not who Barack is."
So, if you buy Wright's account [as given to David Mendell] - and it rings pretty true to me - it was his intellectualism and social progressivism that won Obama over. Certainly it's hard to imagine that someone like Obama, who came from a progressive, secular background, would have felt genuinely comfortable in a socially conservative, anti-intellectual church. The problem for Obama is that the flip-side of these virtues was a minister with a radical worldview and a penchant for advertising it loudly.That interpretation would help explain why Obama might accept Wright, warts and all, into his life. And why he would give Wright a chance to redeem himself, rather than issuing the renunciation some demanded from "day one" of this petty scandal.
The Washington Post in an unsigned editorial (and it seems almost cowardly to say this without attaching an author's name) opines:
We didn't join the renewed and growing chorus calling on Mr. Obama to renounce the Rev. Wright after the minister's all-about-me rant at the National Press Club on Monday, but the candidate's motivation is pretty obvious. The Rev. Wright praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, said it was plausible that AIDS was a genocidal tool of the U.S. government to kill African Americans and proclaimed that attacks on him were an attack on the black church. He also delivered a deliberate poke in the eye to his former parishioner, suggesting that Mr. Obama's conciliatory Philadelphia speech was nothing but politics. With each defiant utterance Monday, the Rev. Wright dug a deeper political hole for Mr. Obama.You can't pat yourself on the back for supposedly not calling for further repudiation of Wright while insisting that Wright's comments raise questions about Obama's judgment - the two go hand-in-hand. Moreover, do try for some internal consistency. Yesterday's similarly unsigned editorial proclaimed,
Did Mr. Obama climb out of that hole yesterday? It seems to us that the whole sorry episode raises legitimate questions about his judgment.
None of this is helpful to Mr. Obama, who could face more calls not only to denounce such inflammatory comments but also to renounce his longtime pastor. We will not join in that chorus. In his address on race in Philadelphia last month after video of the Rev. Wright's fiery sermons burst onto the national scene, Mr. Obama condemned, "in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy." The candidate credibly explained how he could understand his minister's anger without sharing or approving of it. Having had a closer look at the Rev. Wright, voters will have to decide for themselves how much weight to give Mr. Obama's long association with the pastor. But it is the Rev. Wright, not Mr. Obama, who yesterday chose to further discredit himself.So yesterday Obama had given a credible response to attacks over Wright, and today he has insufficiently responded to "legitimate questions about his judgment"?
The saddest part here is that Wright had a choice to make. He could have stepped up by presenting himself as a solid, Christian leader who had been misunderstood in one sermon. He could have engaged in a gentle dialog on race, discussed the difference in style between his style of preaching and the more restrained version many Americans are used to. He could have deflated the use of the out-of-context "G-D America" clip by Obama's opponents. But no, he instead chose to act the part of, in Jim Sleeper's words, a "wounded, raving, preening narcissist". It has to be painful to have your career reduced to a caricature, to have your good works ignored, and to have the Washington Post suggest that anybody who would voluntarily associate with you is unfit for national office. But Wright needs to take responsibility for the fact that he just made that pain a lot worse.