Now that the ecstasy of Barack Obama’s visit to our humble city is beginning to wear off (though one keeps expecting his most ardent disciples to show up on the doorstep one weekend morning wearing “Hope” t-shirts and asking if one has “heard the good news”…), the Democratic primary is once again looking like a political campaign rather than a messianic ascension into the hallowed Oval Office.
Unfortunately for Senator Obama, his now-famous Philadelphia speech, while throwing into a swoon those who are accustomed to swooning over him in any case, has also stirred up even more criticism about its evasiveness and message. One of the latest comes from none other than one of my personal favorites, Christopher Hitchens. While I think he spends a bit too much of his piece trying to mold the Obama/Wright controversy into a condemnation of religion in general (and don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against mocking religion — I just don’t think that the Obama/Wright issue is one that is fundamentally religious at its core), it does contain this interesting tidbit:
“If Barack gets past the primary,” said the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the New York Times in April of last year, “he might have to publicly distance himself from me. I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen.” Pause just for a moment, if only to admire the sheer calculating self-confidence of this. Sen. Obama has long known perfectly well, in other words, that he’d one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago “base” in the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success of the maneuver.
That’s exactly why I find myself somewhat bemused by the loving adoration heaped upon Barack Obama, and why I find myself not entirely trusting the words that come out of his mouth. Though it’s certainly been mentioned elsewhere ad nauseam, I feel it’s worth repeating here: Senator Obama attended that church for 20 years and donated close to $23,000 to it (PDF link). Now it turns out that at least as far back as April of 2007, when the New York Times reported on the Obama-Wright connection, that Barack Obama was planning to publicly distance himself from Wright if and when the proper moment presented itself, and Wright himself was in on it all along. (And, incidentally, if you’re wondering just what Hitchens meant when he mentioned that “South Side Chicago Base”, take a look at this, via Instapundit).
So how much of what we’ve seen transpire in the Obama campaign in the last few weeks was choreographed theatre, so to speak? How much of Obama’s Philladelphia speech was written months ago and kept on file for purposes of contingency? How honest is Barack Obama being with the public?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I doubt anyone besides Barack and Michelle Obama and Jeremiah Wright know for sure.
What I do know is that, despite disagreeing with many of Barack Obama’s politics, I’ve long believed in his sincerity. At this point, even that is proving to be as ephemeral as his supposedly “post-racial” bona fides.
None of this will phase his true believers, of course, nor those who’re in love with the idea of Barack Obama: Prophet of Hope and Change. It should, however, give pause to more considered voters.
I think I’ll end with an excerpt from Victor Davis Hanson, who has his own version of what he thinks Senator Obama’s could’ve said at Philadelphia:
There is nothing to be offered for Rev. Wright except my deepest apologies for not speaking out against his venom far earlier. We in the African-American community know better than anyone the deleterious effects of racist speech, and so it is time for Rev. Wright and myself to part company, since we have profoundly different views of both present- and future-day America.
That sounds like change. So where’s Obama?