CAMPAIGN 08 & EDITORIAL: When did betrayal become a duty?

When did betrayal become a duty?

According to the conventional wisdom among those who understand the way politics works, Barak Obama has for several days needed to do something with Rev Jeremiah Wright: “throw him under the bus.”

Obama refused to do so. He refused to treat his association with his pastor as a liability that political expediency would dictate he must disown. Some might see that as a foolish act of loyalty, yet if we were to pause for a moment there might be another and much more obvious explanation — an explanation that Obama himself has already provided: the YouTube clips of Rev Wright are not the definitive representation of who he is.

Consider for a second something that seems to have received very little if any attention. For a week we have been seeing the same clips over and over again. If these truly provide a well-rounded representation of Rev Wright’s character, why have we not seen more? We know these clips came from DVDs of sermons freely available. There must be hours of sermons from which other clips could be taken, so why just these few fleeting snippets?

The most obvious explanation is that so far, for no lack of effort, no one has been able to cull anything else that is particularly damning. Indeed, anything else might actually have the effect of diluting the impact of what has already been so widely disseminated. In other words, if people saw more of Rev Wright they might find him much less shocking.

It is presumably for that reason that Trinity Church has made other YouTube clips available. Critics will no doubt regard this as an effort at damage control, yet when the church says that they see their pastor as a victim of a “modern-day lynching,” it’s not hard to understand why — especially if you take the time to listen to some of the other things he has to say.

Here then are a couple of clips of Rev Wright (and one his successor, Rev Otis Moss III) that are unlikely to appear on Fox News, CNN or ABC any day soon:

Congregation defends Obama’s ex-pastor

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright spent 36 years teaching this congregation how to recognize injustice, and his parishioners sense it all around them now. On Sunday, more than 3,000 of them filled Trinity United Church of Christ on the city’s South Side to pray for their former pastor. They read a handout that described Wright’s newfound infamy as a “modern-day lynching.” They scrawled his name in tribute on the inside of their service programs and applauded as Wright’s protege, the Rev. Otis Moss III, stepped to the pulpit.

“No matter what they want,” Moss said, “we will not shut up.”

A simmering controversy over Wright’s provocative rhetoric and his connection to Sen. Barack Obama ignited last week after some of his old sermons were aired, prompting the Democratic presidential candidate to condemn them and severing Wright’s connection to the campaign. But inside this mega-church that Wright built up from financial ruin, his most loyal listeners offered a different interpretation: It is Wright, and black theology in its entirety, that is misunderstood. [complete article]

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