Remember when Barack first put himself forward? The Obama's not black enough kerfuffle among the old guard civil rights activists? Most of them slowly came around, driven partly by the Clintons' willingness to marginalize Barack after South Carolina but mostly because -- it was just crazy not to. After Iowa the impossible had become possible.
But still. At some level there was this feeling, and it didn't go away. A feeling of -- this isn't fair. It fell into his lucky lap. Look at him, swanning around in front of all those adoring white kids, reaping all the props. And he never paid his dues.
Jeremiah Wright is like the return of the repressed, a last desperate lunge of the undead 60s toward center stage. Wright represents a longing for enduring relevance so deep that it is willing to sabotage the very possibility of setting out on the long road that runs past race in order to preserve the claims of a certain righteousness, a certain rhetoric, a certain stance -- a familiar and heroic sense of self-in-the-world.
It's so hard to get old. It's so hard to watch history pass you by. It's so hard to look out across a public landscape in which your style of being once loomed so large and to realize that somehow -- you are suddenly yesterday.
People who say Obama needs to confront Wright are correct. But he needs to do it simply, he needs to tell the truth. He needs to say, kindly but firmly: old man, I love you and I thank you for your service -- but your day is done.