Audio: Shelby Steele on Obama and Wright

From John Gibson’s radio show, six minutes with a guy who’s been trying for decades to have that honest conversation on race that we as a nation now need to begin to help Barack Obama out of a political jam. The peg is Steele’s op-ed on “the Obama bargain,” which operates here as an intro to his thoughts on Wright. Pre-scandal, I would have called him unfair for dismissing Obama as a racial “bargainer” since it suggests BO’s post-racial identity is insincere and calculated for public advantage. Steele himself has a post-racial identity in certain ways and no one (on the right, at least) would sneer at that as contrived. Post-scandal, though, how do we know one way or another? Where does 20 years in the pews at Trinity fit as a piece in the Obama personality jigsaw puzzle? Gibby shares my own theory, that buddying up to Wright was the Messiah’s cynical way of establishing racial authenticity in preparation for a career as a Chicago politician (scroll down three-quarters of the way in this old NYT piece for the role race — and class — played in his run against Bobby Rush), but the timeline’s curious. He became a state senator in 1996; he joined Trinity fully eight years earlier. If there’s nothing more to this than political expedience, he sure did leave himself a lot of lead time.

The clip has been edited for brevity.