Earlier today, I catalogued the silly spin from two of the usual media suspects over the Jeremiah Wright controversy and the very belated realization by Barack Obama that his friend of 20+ years is a racial divisionist. While no one should be terribly surprised to see the New York Times spinning like a gyroscope for Obama, their Beantown subsidiary does a much better job of explaining why it matters. Peter Canellos wonders what took Obama so long to figure out Wright, in today’s Boston Globe:
The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. had said it all before: how God damns America for its unfairness, how American policies brought on the 9/11 attacks, how Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is a great American, and more.
But for weeks, Barack Obama portrayed such statements as isolated soundbites, deeply offensive to him, but nonetheless taken out of context by political enemies to create a negative impression of an otherwise caring pastor. It wasn’t until Wright took to the airwaves over the past week to defend himself and take fresh ownership of the statements that Obama became fed up.
Now, after Obama’s uncategorical repudiation yesterday of the man who presided at his wedding and the baptism of his daughters, voters and other political observers will inevitably wonder what took so long – and how Obama could have misjudged someone to whom he was very close. …
On Monday, at the National Press Club in Washington, Wright took another shot: “I said to Barack Obama last year, ‘If you get elected, November the 5th, I’m coming after you, because you’ll be representing a government whose policies grind under people.’ ”
If Wright really had issued such a warning, Obama should have smelled trouble immediately. His failure to do so, and his decision to portray Wright as a distraction, inevitably raises the question of whether Obama is too naive to be president – the very insinuation he ridicules on the campaign trail.
Judgment. Obama sells this as the primary qualifier for his presidency. Don’t worry about my lack of experience, he tells audiences; he has better judgment than Hillary Clinton and John McCain. However, it took him twenty years to deduce what people understood immediately about Wright, and the scales only fell off when Wright publicly ridiculed Obama’s Philadelphia speech on race.
Canellos notes that the efforts of Team Obama, as well as the New York Times and Washington Post, to make this week’s rhetoric somehow a bridge too far falls far short of reality. Wright said nothing this week that he hasn’t said in the past, including the examples that Obama used in his repudiation press conference yesterday: the HIV conspiracy, the 9/11 attacks being justified by American foreign policy, and the notion that we commit the same acts as al-Qaeda under a different flag. For some reason, Obama wants us to believe that saying these things now is somehow much worse than saying them earlier, and that’s the reason he needs to repudiate Wright now rather than years ago.
I knew that some media outlets would grasp the issues that Wright highlights about Obama’s judgment. I just didn’t believe that the Boston Globe would be among them. Maybe Canellos can explain this column in smaller words to the editorial board of his parent company.