A year and two months ago, after the Reverend Wright was disinvited to deliver the invocation prior to Senator Obama's presidential announcement the New York Times reported that, "Mr. Wright expressed disappointment but no surprise that Mr. Obama might try to play down their connection." He told The Times that, "Mr. Obama said, 'You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we've decided is that it's best for you not to be out there in public.'"
The disinvitation raised concerns about the Senator within the black community. The Times reported that "word of Mr. Obama's treatment has reached black leaders like the Rev. Al Sharpton and given them pause. 'I have not discussed this with Senator Obama in detail, but I can see why callers of mine and other clergymen would be concerned, because the issue is standing by your own pastor,' Mr. Sharpton said."
That is not, it seems to me, the issue. The issue is generational -- is racism in America still all pervasive or has it been marginalized? Reverend Wright is in the business of racism. Barack Obama is the first black leader to suggest that we are on the verge of arriving at a post-racist society. If Obama is right, Jeremiah Wright goes out of business.
There was always a difference between Wright and Obama. When Wright was quick to cite racism as the cause of the Bush administration's failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina, Obama said, "I do not subscribe to the notion that the painfully slow response of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security was racially based. The ineptitude was colorblind." Later, at a Harvard alumni function Obama said, according to the Harvard University Gazette, "Democrats and others working to help the poor should take the Bush administration at its word when it expresses a newfound determination to help the poor..." Is it possible for anyone to imagine the Rev. Wright taking President Bush's word about anything? Obama speaks for change, Wright thrives on the status quo.
Some will say that Wright has damaged Obama beyond repair, but it may be that by providing the opportunity for Barack Obama to say on national television:
"I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That's in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding, to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That's who I am. That's what I believe. That's what this campaign is all about."
Wright has in fact done more to elect Obama than anyone on his campaign staff.