“Man Overboard!”: Obama turns away from a drowning friend By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
04/30/08 “ICH”

Obama is “outraged”.

After weeks of blistering attacks by the media, Barack Obama held a press conference yesterday and made it official; his friendship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is over, terminated, kaput. He would no longer associate with a man who believed that the United States of America could do horrible things to its people or that 9-11 might have been the result of US foreign policy. As Obama said, that’s just “outrageous”.

Obama”s press conference:

“I have spent my whole life trying to bridge the gap between different human beings…..That’s who I am and that’s what this campaign is all about. Yesterday we saw a very different kind of vision of America (Rev Wright’s speech to the National Press Club) I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle. The Reverend Wright I saw yesterday was not the person I knew 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but they give comfort to those who prey on hate. They do not accurately portray my values and beliefs. If Reverend Wright thinks that is ‘political posturing’ than he does not know me very well. And based on his comments yesterday I may not know him as well as I thought either.”

Blah. blah, blah. The media, of course, is elated with their victory; they’ve achieved their goal. They “persuaded” Obama to betray a friend. Mission accomplished. 1,816 articles appeared overnight on Google News celebrating the prodigals return to the fold; Barack is back. Hooray. Obama’s capitulation may be the greatest media triumph since the shrewish Linda Tripp produced the blue dress with the incriminating splotch. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Obama showed that he is not only willing to sacrifice his friends for his political ambitions, but that he’s also willing to distance himself from the very traditions and movements which made his candidacy possible. What more could they want?

But this is just the beginning of Obama’s political education and Wright is just one of many weapons that will be used to bludgeon the well-meaning candidate into submission. By inauguration day, he’ll have been stripped of his dignity, his aspirations, and his identity as a black American. In other words, he should be primed and ready to accept his duties as the next President of the United States.

But Obama’s travails haven’t ended just because he ran up the white flag. Oh, no. In fact they’re just beginning. The free ride is over. The Wall Street Journal ran an article on Wednesday that represents the next line of attack on the guileless Illinois senator. This time the target is not Wright, but black academics and “Afrocentric educators” which the WSJ dismisses as “charlatans”.

Wall Street Journal:

“The list of Afrocentric “educators” whom the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has invoked in his media escapades since Sunday is a disturbing reminder that academia’s follies can enter the public world in harmful ways. Now the pressing question is whether they have entered Barack Obama’s worldview as well.

Some in Mr. Wright’s crew of charlatans have already had their moments in the spotlight; others are less well known. They form part of the tragic academic project of justifying self-defeating underclass behavior as “authentically black.” That their ideas have ended up in the pulpit of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ and in Detroit’s Cobo Hall, where Mr. Wright spoke at the NAACP’s Freedom Fund dinner on Sunday, reminds us that bad ideas must be fought at their origins — and at every moment thereafter.

Approving of self-destructive behavior in school is just one part of the vast academic project to justify black underclass dysfunction.” (“The Wright Side of the Brain” Heather MacDonald, WSJ)

“Part of the tragic academic project of justifying self-defeating underclass behavior as authentically black”?

Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark!

But MacDonald is right; how dare black Americans think they can have their own history, traditions and education? What utter effrontery. As the Ms. MacDonald so persuasively points out; it’s all “crackpot Afrocentric pedagogy”. But we must be vigilant (the WSJ warns us) because “we may be on the verge of seeing such madness spread into the White House.”

Hide the children!

Obama naively believed he could simply toss Wright overboard and be done with it. Wrong. There’s no Faustian bargain in politics; no “one moment” when a man sells his soul and moves up to the next level. Politics is like gangrene; it’s piecemeal. One body part turns black and rots off and then the disease moves somewhere else. It all depends on the host. The same is true of politicians; as they ascend the electoral stairwell they discard one chunk of their humanity after another. Eventually—if they can avoid the many land-mines—they enter El Dorado and take the swivel chair in the Oval Office.

It’s no different for Obama; and that doesn’t make him a bad man either. In fact, he would probably make a much better president than John McCain or Madame DeFarge. It just means that the system won’t allow people of integrity to reach the highest rung on the political ladder. They end up being compromised. Eventually, the level of compromise is so great that the system no longer functions properly; the economic situation deteriorates, the country is wracked with debt and corruption, the military is bogged down in unwinnable wars, and the liberties upon which the nation was built begin to crumble. Everything that’s happening right now. Obama can’t change that nor can anyone who operates within the system. That is what makes men like Reverend Wright more important historically than Obama, even if Obama becomes president. Wright represents people-powered change, “transformational change”; the change that takes place when workers organize into labor unions and shut down plants and factories. The kind of change when women form liberation movements and demand the right to vote or equal pay. The kind of change when gays demand equal protection under the law and equal opportunity at work. The kind of change when black people say “enough” and take their place at “white’s only” lunch counters or in seats at the head of the bus.

These society-altering changes, which have shaped the class-race-gender struggle in America, have nothing to do with politics or politicians. The heavy-lifting was all done by grassroots movements that took the political system by the throat, threw it to the ground, and demanded radical change. Those groups were spearheaded by dynamic and passionate leaders like Jeremiah Wright.

Reverend Wright:

“Our congregation took a stand against apartheid when the government of our country was supporting the racist regime of the African government in South Africa.
Our congregation stood in solidarity with the peasants in El Salvador and Nicaragua, while our government, through Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal, was supporting the Contras, who were killing the peasants and the Miskito Indians in those two countries.”

Radical change!

There’s nothing wrong with Obama; he’ll probably be a better-than-average president. But don’t hope for miracles. Transformational change will not come from within the system; it must be forced on the system. And that’s what Jeremiah Wright is all about.

Good luck, Reverend.

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10 thoughts on ““Man Overboard!”: Obama turns away from a drowning friend By Mike Whitney

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  7. Nice article. Nice comment.
    I have felt so saddened, with all that is going on. The reverend being molded by the media as a horrible fungus that must be kept at bay, and Obama, with his pitiful speech, looking more beaten and white than ever. I like Obama, and also think he would be a lot better than any of the other 2, but to see him just back down and take it. And the reverend, appearing to be bashing Obama at the time he needs it the least. I love hearing him preach the truth, but he did come off as an asshole in the Q & A part of his speech, and why drill Obama and say things about him? Damn.
    And to top it off, I have to see a supreme court justice, a representative of the highest judicial power of the country, saying things that are so nauseating and downright disgusting and fascist. Man! How can one really get up and sing “God bless America”?
    THEN… DS’s post on Canada passing its anti-natural things law. Can that really be true? Can I be so bold as to ask a small question of the readers?
    What the fuck is going on?!!!!
    It’s enough to make one want to set oneself on fire!

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  9. I don’t see anything particularly new or shocking in the realization that Obama is a politician who compromises on important issues. He is a centrist Democrat, and centrist Democrats do that. I think he is far better than Hillary McCain and John Clinton, but I see an Obama presidency as an opportunity, not a guarantee, of progress on issues I care about.

    After almost 28 years of Republicans in the White House (and yes, Bill Clinton is a Republican in every way except party registration), having a centrist Democrat in the White House would be a relatively welcome change, as much as I would have preferred Kucinich or another liberal.

    One thing that Thom Hartman points out is that FDR ran on a balanced budget platform in 1932. It was the activity of social movements which forced him to do the New Deal.

    Democrats historically have followed social movements rather than lead them. If we want change, we will have to raise hell regardless of who wins or steals a nomination or an election.

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