A number of years ago, a lawyer I know decided to support a fellow lawyer in his quest to become a judge. He hosted a large party for the candidate, and introduced him to a wide range of people including some influential union leaders. We're not talking strangers here - the lawyers had known each other for years, and for two of three years had attended the same law school. They weren't personally close, but they had been working with each other professionally for years.
What was the "thank you" the lawyer received for his efforts? Once the parties were over and the introductions had been made, the candidate simply bypassed him. He was an intermediary, and the candidate no longer saw a need for him.
This is not a unique experience. There are people who view others as rungs on the ladder of success. They'll happily use your head as a rung, then forget about you. Some of these people are really good at making you feel important right up to the day they no longer have a use for you. The next day, they may say something like this:
Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls....I think it's time for Obama to reexamine his relationship with Wright, to see if he may have been regarded as nothing more than a step on the ladder of success by a narcissistic preacher who no longer has a use for him.
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"He didn't distance himself. He had to distance himself because he's a politician."
Eugene Robinson gets it about right, acknowledging Wright's service as a marine and a preacher, but observing.
I'm through with Wright not because he responded - in similar circumstances, I certainly couldn't have kept silent - but because his response was so egocentric. We get it, Rev. Wright: You're ready for your close-up.In the alternative, he can let Wright continue to step on his head for the next several months (or until Wright gets better traction from finding somebody else to step on).
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Historically and theologically, he was inflating his importance in a pride-goeth-before-the-fall kind of way. Politically, by surfacing now, he was throwing Barack Obama under the bus.
Sadly, it's time for Obama to return the favor.
Update: Andrew Sullivan puts things more bluntly:
This is no longer about cynics trying to associate one man's politics with another. It is now about Wright attempting to associate himself and some of his noxious, stupid, rancid views with the likely Democratic nominee.Freed from his church and given a national spotlight, we now get to see "the real Reverend Wright". Is he still the man Obama thought he was? (Here's some music to think by.)
Update 2: There's going to be a lot of this today. At TPM Cafe, Todd Gitlin opines,
Wright on video, preening, smirking, reveling in his star turn, has spun my mind around. I found him convincing in this sense: He's convinced me that he's a clear and present danger to Obama's candidacy. The father has turned on the son--it's the Laius complex in action. Sure, sure, Wright offers a heap of clever and not-so-clever self-extenuations for his kind words about Louis Farrakhan, and absurdly claims to speak for the entire black church. But he makes it clear that he believes Obama is simply "a politician," meaning a shifty no-good. He's broken the parental contract.Obama's choice here is potentially "make or break". In no small part it's his supporters who are demanding action this time. His opponents are gloating.
Update 3: M.J. Rosenberg adds,
It is not Wright himself that bothers us. It is that Obama does not utterly and completely repudiate a man who is willfully and with malice aforethought doing him profound and possibly fatal damage.I imagine it's painful to repudiate the guy who no doubt showed a gentle, loving face over twenty years as Obama's pastor, but I think the face we're seeing now is "the real deal". Rosenberg is correct, in my view, to identify Obama's next step as a test of his suitability for the presidency.
We don't care about Wright's views on racism, the Middle East or Farrakhan. He's just another media preacher. And not one of us believes that Barack Obama shares any of his views.
That is why we need Obama to divest himself of this guy. Not doing so, allowing this buffoon to hurt the most promising campaign of a generation, would demonstrate a weakness we cannot have in a President.