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April 29, 2008


"Just to expand on this a bit: one of the many, many reasons I will never go into politics is that I know that if someone decided to go through my various friends and acquaintances, they would find all sorts of things to cause trouble with."

Dare I say: Amen.

I have known people who have befriended me at a time when I was in some way their inferior: new, or young, or inexperienced, or junior in rank; and who have been immensely generous to me. They have taken me under their wing, offered to show me the ropes, and tried to mentor me. In many cases there was something about it that I might have found slightly condescending had I been so inclined. But I'm not, usually: generosity is generosity, and luckily, I don't have much of an ego. When I have encountered such people, I have tended to think: these are good people, who for whatever reason have to deal with other people in this peculiar way. Since they are good people, I would be foolish to turn them away, as though there were so many good and generous people around that I could afford to be picky; and since I myself no doubt have all sorts of peculiarities of which I am unaware, I'm probably not in any position to get all huffy about theirs.

Sometimes, however, these relationships did not survive the point at which I left the subordinate position in which I began. It was all very well when I was that person's acolyte, or pupil, or whatever; but when I turned into an equal, even if I did so involuntarily (e.g., by getting some kind of recognition), things went all weird. I hated that: in most cases, I felt that I owed the people in question a lot, and did not want to lose their friendship. But sometimes I did. And sometimes it was vicious.

Argh. I'm going through this right now. I'm very loyal. Often it is a fault. But it makes it soooooo hard when the relationship changes. You want to acknowledge what they have done, but you can't live with the way they are actively hurting things now. It is an awful problem. I wouldn't want to be going through it with the media reporting my every move.

Seb: I'm sorry you, or for that matter anyone, has to go through it.

Question: I am, as you might have noticed, unsure of this hypothesis. I think it makes a lot of the psychological dynamics make more sense, but I'm also pretty aware that it's just a gut hunch. So: since you are, unfortunately, going through something similar, does my hypothesis feel at all right to you?

This is an excellent post and I wish all involved in this thread well, but truly: is anyone else as mind-bogglingly bored by this whole Wright flap as I am? I keep trying to muster the energy to be outraged and I keep failing. I can't place my finger on why, exactly -- the utter predictability of it, the banality of the media's outrage, the complete irrelevance to anything substantive in the election (and therefore its dominance in the coverage) -- except to say that, well, wake me when the next story breaks.

PS: My sympathies to you too, Sebastian. It's a bitch of thing to go through.

I think your hypothesis makes a lot of sense hilzoy. But I’m afraid that if you are correct then what comes next is going to be really really bad. (Wright’s next move.)

Ditto on the sympathies Seb.

Best thoughts I've read on the whole topic. I think your speculation at the end sounds pretty accurate too, though I (fortunately) don't have the anecdotes to back up how reasonable it seems.

I think you forgot to include the part where ambitious politicians turn their backs on leftwing supporters and their causes who might prove embarrassing to them on the national stage


You've painted this nice black and white picture (no racial analogies intended) where Obama is the sincere man of complete integrity, where Wright is the angry (bitter?) old guy who's been left behind. It would mess up the pretty morality tale if we wondered if Wright might be making some legitimate points (along with some nonsense and not-so-savory points) and if we wondered if maybe Obama has changed his positions on some issues as he climbs the political ladder. Yeah, Wright is an idiot about HIV, but when Obama said US wartime actions shouldn't be compared to terrorism and claims to be appalled, I would like him to spell out just exactly what he means by that. There haven't been any US military actions which have been war crimes? There's nothing in American foreign policy or American conduct in war that merits comparison to terrorism? Does he really believe that?

Anyway, time to abandon this blog. I don't enjoy being a troll and frankly, it's hard to stay within posting rules lately.

Call me cynical, but I have to wonder if there is a calculated quality here. Wright says something that can be taken as disowning Obama, which makes it clearly acceptable for Obama to go ahead and disown Wright. Now Wright will passionately denounce Obama as a sellout which will, of course, be an immense political favor. If Obama is elected, they will reconcile. Otherwise -- who knows.

I am an atheist, with no experience of church politics, but after reading all of the commentary today about how Wright's sudden performance yesterday threatens to seriously tarnish Obama and how experienced people in Chicago did not see the Wright they felt they knew on display, I wonder whether it might be possible (and, of course, whether it might be desirable, in all sorts of ways) for Trinity, "independently" of the Obama campaign, to reprimand Wright for his current tack.

A nice post, Hilzoy. However, I must be really out of touch since I can't find what is so destructive or offensive about Rev. Wright and his words. I watched the whole Q&A part of the Press club speech and found nothing to be offended by. Am I supposed to so identify with someone else's opinions that I feel impugned when they claim some or other silly belief? Do I think that Mr. Farrakhan has little influence in the black community? Am I supposed to be offended by Mr. Farrakhan's beliefs, when they are different than my own? I applaud the dignity that Rev. Wright displayed in not disavowing his friend. I don't get what is supposed to be so terrible. From what I know as a white man raised in Oklahoma and who is only 3-4 years younger than Rev. Wright, he has every right to a pessimism about the larger culture; and I don't find it hard to believe that his views represent those of many African Americans of his generation. I would be astounded if it were otherwise.

I found Rev. Wright charming, bright and focused. Comfortable in the spotlight? Sure, but he has spent much of his life in public. I fail to see the narcissism. In what way do I confuse him with Obama? Why in no way at all. I took Rev. Wright at his word - he is a pastor involved in what he sees as a spiritual, religious relationship that is separate from and non-tangential with the world of politics, which I understood him to see as the realm of Mammon. How this reflects on OBama I can't understand.

So, can we track down McCain's and Clinton's former pastors now and find out what crazy sh*t they might have said, and hound them until the denounce it?

Actually, I find myself agreeing with you, hilzoy, but also to a degree with donald.

Part of the problem is that I am somewhat sympathetic to Wright's points of view (not all but many). I also think many, including some of those expressed yesterday are again being taken out of context and mangled. And I do think, in the sense of the deeper meaning, Obama may well agree with them.

However, for him to try to explain that to people would require to much nuance and would basically be throwing away his candidacy.

At the same time, I think that Wright is starting to enjoy this, particulalrly the "he speaks as a politician" meme. Duh, that's what politicians do, although Wright said in a way to give the impression that Obama secretly agrees with him. That is where the betrayal comes in and may well spring from your hypothesis (which is psychologically sound, btw).

The problem is that, quite simply, the MSM decided that this was more important than Iraq, the economy, healthcare, or any of a myriad of other siginficant issues. Obama had to address it, and Wright did him a favor by giving him an out.

What will come from this is still to be determined, but I agree, today there was sincere anger and pain comingfrom Obama. Yet, at the same time, he really didn't completely disown Wright, which if he had, may have resulted in my not voting at all for President in November.

So, can we track down McCain's and Clinton's former pastors now and find out what crazy sh*t they might have said, and hound them until the denounce it?

Hell, let's grill McCain on Hagee until he comes clean.

Donald Johnson, I'd rather you (and Nell et al. who I think were feeling similarly) hung around, though I completely understand if you need to go.

What I guess I really don't get in all of this is why Wright is obligated to shut up and go away because Obama is running for President.

Wright is not a political figure. He doesn't represent or speak for any party. He hasn't claimed that he speaks for Obama, or that Obama shares his views in any way.

He's Obama's minister. That's all. Not even that, any more.

He didn't seek the notoriety he now receives. He hasn't backed away from it now that it's been dropped in his lap, but it wasn't something he sought.

Wright's priorities and loyalties are to his church and the community he ministers to. Obama's are, and ought to be, broader. Different goals and different priorities. It's brought them in conflict. They're sorting it out.

None of us know what Wright's motivations are. I'm not sure what the value is of speculating. Whatever his motivations, I'm not sure he considers, or ought to consider, that it's his job to make sure Obama is nominated. He has other fish to fry.

I really think way too much is being made of this.

Thanks -

I could take issue w/ some of Obama's statements for the reasons Donald states, but overall, I think he's handled this with real decency & made a real effort not to personally harm Wright & to minimize the harm to him at some risk to his campaign. I don't think that Wright is making any parallel effort not to harm Obama. I don't think he's morally obligated to remain silent or apologize for saying bad things about America, but talking about how awesome Louis Farrakhan is, high fiving, not backing down on the AIDS conspiracy , etc. & then trying to imply that Obama doesn't sincerely object to any of this--he seems like he's deliberately trying to harm Obama or at least is going to say his piece & is indifferent to whether it harms Obama. This inflammatory stuff does not advance his substantive arguments, it's just gratuitous, it's sheer temper if it's not calculated, & I can totally understand why Obama would be furious.

"Personally, I like these things about me."

I suspect everyone else does as well :).

I don't think your hypothesis is too far off. It's an archetypical story. In this case, the "pupil" rejected the mentor's teachings, or at least saw himself as moving beyond them. I think it was very insulting for Rev. Wright to have Obama say, essentially, that his approach to social change was outmoded.

Not to make a joke of my storming out in a huff, though that's inevitable since I've come back once more, but I just watched most of Wright's press conference, as opposed to just reading it, to see if I could see the narcissistic egotism that horrifies hilzoy so much. Not so much. I saw a guy who's very talented at public speaking and obviously enjoyed it, taking (well deserved) potshots at the press which persists in misrepresenting him and getting laughs from the sympathetic audience and bonding with them. I suppose there's narcissism in all that, but probably most successful preachers, actors, and politicians have that same trait, including Obama, though his style is cooler. If you watch the speech with the thought in mind that this is going to kill Obama with the white jingoist crowd, then yeah, maybe it's horrifying, but Wright would probably consider it a betrayal to take such considerations into account. The betrayal theme, it seems to me, cuts both ways, and I don't even think Wright thought he was betraying Obama--like some of the lefties I read on Israel/Palestine, he probably still has himself convinced Obama is secretly with him, despite the evidence of Obama's own words.

If this is the speech that disgusts hilzoy so much, I don't belong here. It angers me every second I spend time here, and I can't keep coming back posting things on the verge of exploding, though that's what I've been doing all day today.


I would be sad to see you go, but you've got to do what you think is needed to be happy. I don't know about you but I sometimes feel that venting at hocb.net is helpful.

During a person's adult life, especially if they are involved and open to different people, ect., they will meet and deal with many different kinds of people including some who have a past,like Ayres or were once average but, changed with age.
It's not hard to imagine this man, Wright, may have gone through some changes as he was retiring and Obama, being a senator for 4 years and running for president probably did not go to church all that much.
But, no one can live to the standards of the media these days.
We would never have elected Lincoln or FDR or Kennedy today. They would not have been able to pass the limitus test of the press.
However, it is possible to posture and dazzle them with being a bubba and dolt and acting like a cowboy without common sense or intelligence and get elected these days.
The press demands that a candidate be like Larry the Cable Guy to pass muster according to their standards. But, if you show any class, intelligence (one story I saw was "Is Obama too Smart") and dignity, then they are labled this vague tag of elitist and are vilified by the press day in and day out.
They use the person's associations like a pastor to parade for weeks on end to tear the candidate down by making the pastor look too wacky and therefore guilt by association.
We wonder why our country is in the shape it is in.
Because the press tells voters that to need to elect the guy you want to have a beer with over the man who is capable.
And forget it if he defies their beloved conventional wisdom and succeeds with the voters. He will pay a price for that.

Am I supposed to be offended by Mr. Farrakhan's beliefs, when they are different than my own?

I'm no great fan of Farrakhan, but it would be stupid to disown all that he has done for the black community. Whether or not that balances against the stupid and racist things he's said, I don't know, but one can think he's a little stupid sometimes, and still want to defend his good works.

I think he's handled this with real decency & made a real effort not to personally harm Wright & to minimize the harm to him at some risk to his campaign. I don't think that Wright is making any parallel effort not to harm Obama.

I agree with all of this, and agree that it would make me angry if I was Obama.

then trying to imply that Obama doesn't sincerely object to any of this

I don't understand this part. When did this happen?

I haven't seen everything of Wright's, although I've seen quite a bit. Maybe I missed something important.

What are you referring to? Not a sarcastic question, I would just like to know which of Wright's statements you mean.

Thanks -

To state the obvious, the problem is not so much what Rev. Wright has said, but that it will be used as a club against Obama and his campaign for the presidency. Now, the Rev. Wright is not a stupid man, in fact, just the opposite. He must know this, and yet he has chosen to go out at this critical juncture (for Obama) to 'defend himself.' I can see his reluctance to wait, for doing so risked his becoming inconsequential and, thus, losing the opportunity to make his case at all. For me, this is where I think he has crossed the line, and I think he has done it out of egotism. Think about it. Here is the first opportunity for a black man to be elected President of the United States, and the Rev. goes out and appears to be actively underming the effort? Does that not seem strange? I think your analysis is right on target, Hilzoy, but I also wonder if the Rev. is not proving himself right (no pun intended!). If Obama fails, then Rev. Wright has been right all along and no black man can progress so far in this bigoted country. Heavy sigh.

Agree it is a nice post, especailly the part where you were using your instincts to figure out what happened. I too have seen that kind of thing happen. In a similiar vein, I had a dear friend that I worked with for several years. I lost a bunch of weight (we were both fat) and she turned on me horribly. I was suprised, hurt, couldn't for the life of me figure it out. But years later, the only explanation was the weight loss. We were no longer "equals".

Good post, Hilzoy.

I'll repeat what I posted on RedState.com (albeit in response to a very different post):

I can't and won't ask anyone else to subscribe to this view.

Having backed McCain for years, and advocated for him in these virtual pages, I intend to vote for Senator McCain. Why accept Cleon or Nicias when Pericles is available?* Yet, I have always found Obama's comments on race & Wright (the two are inseparable) sincere. He has repeatedly arose above an impossible situation. You can quibble with Obama's speech in Philadelphia, but the fact that one can only raise honest quibbles with such a serious subject is testimony enough to Obama's insights.

I respect that my view may not be widely held on this site. That's fine: I never was a particularly good Republican. Still, I want this written down -- even if, in this decadent age, writing consists of electrons pausing between states:

Barack Obama is a good man. He doesn't deserve this.


*Hi, Pretentiousness? Thy namesake is in my tagline (special expanded version; all that is good about western civilization is in the Funeral Oration):

If then we prefer to meet danger with a light heart but without laborious training, and with a courage which is gained by habit and not enforced by law, are we not greatly the better for it? Since we do not anticipate the pain, although, when the hour comes, we can be as brave as those who never allow themselves to rest; thus our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. For we are lovers of the beautiful in our tastes and our strength lies, in our opinion, not in deliberation and discussion, but that knowledge which is gained by discussion preparatory to action. For we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting, too, whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon reflection.

Hilzoy, I have to say, from personal experience, your hypothesis sounds incredibly probable. I would just add to it that Wright might be feeling a sense of righteous indignation about being "betrayed" by Obama. A "I made him who he is, where does he get off being more important than me," sort of mentality, no matter how completely untrue.


"If you can't watch it, and are wondering whether this is just some sort of pro forma statement, trust me on this: it isn't."

You've lost it. Obama was bland today... no fire in his belly at all. You just can't see it because you don't want to.

Free, remote psychoanalysis, right here!

Really? Thank god for that, I have issues.

“The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago.”

But it is the person you were defending last week.

Speaking for myself, the person I saw at the press club was a toned down version of the person who I think I had accurately judged after being exposed to his teachings for about a month.

People recognize that Obama was forced to give the talk after Wright’s “Obama’s a politician” line. He came across as either dishonest or naïve. Neither is a good trait in a President.

Wright seems to be in it for the book deal and speaking fees. He will make more money if he responds to Obama’s attack. Expect to hear more from the good Reverend.

"Really? Thank god for that, I have issues."

Can you elaborate on that?

As a datapoint, this account, credited to JEFF ZELENY and ADAM NAGOURNEY, says: "...Mr. Obama said, his voice welling with anger."

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

I don't think you have to run off of gut on this one, hil. There are two themes he comes back to several times.

1st, he suggests repeatedly that Obama doesn't actually mean what he says and, instead, just says it because he is a politician and he has to say things like that. To call someone out like that publicly, especially after they went out of their way to explain your comments in a nuanced fashion, is INCREDIBLY disrespectful/ It is also rather the opposite of looking out for your flock. As someone who thought that speech was an incredibly brave and well-thought-out speech, my hackles raised every time I heard Wright throwing all of that away. Listening to the Q&A, you can see that that is a lot of what sets Obama off as well. Not only is it personally insulting, but it also works to undo everything he is trying to accomplish. If Obama moved the discussion on race even a small bit forward, Wright is working to throw it two giant steps back.

2nd, and more telling to your point, is the repeated insistence that he is the pastor and Obama is the parishiner. Specifically, note the rancor with which he spits the term "spiritual mentor". That is every bit the sign of someone who is very insistent that HE is the one with the answers. It was very much an assertion that Obama had no right to talk on his words and was being played when he did so.

I hadn't actually watched any of it until today. I kind of wish I hadn't even now, because the whole thing just pisses me off. My dad is a pastor, and I can only imagine the strong words he would have with a pastor who went after a parishiner like that, not to mention the words he would have for anyone who was so insistent that he had nothing to learn from his members because HE is the pastor.

Then again, I guess that now my voice isn't supposed to matter either, because I am just a white guy who doesn't understand his church (because apparently being white or black matters more in your understanding of appropriate Christian behavior than does the Bible itself. Bleck.

Can you elaborate on that?

Why do you ask?

Tell me about your ask.

Well, certainly this whole thing is an inflated bunch of crap. That's why (he said self-righteously) I came into this posting with only vague knowedge of what's been going on since Obama's really superb speech last month.

And, watching the video here -- most of it, not without some skipping -- I didn't at first see what was so bad. Yes, I find I don't like his style much; it does exude a certain amount of egotism. But what was that bad? Then I sought out the transcript, and his prepared remarks were almost unexceptionable, except of course to the usual suspects I've held in contempt for decades.

But the queston session was very different, and it dawned on me: hey, that's a cool comparison of men of God against politicians, Mr wright; the problem is, they can be the same person, and you, sir, are a poltician.

The Farrakhan thing I noticed immediately: kind of a weasely politician's answer, like hey the guy is important, he brings out huge numbers of people, and so did GODWIN'S LAW GODWIN'S LAW

so did a lot of people I actually consider negative; so, hot shit. Whether his attracting all that attention is a good thing or a bad thing: a open question, not a given. If you agree or disagree on anything specific, you have the right to say so. Like, oh, say, your parishioner Obama. Or you can evade the hostile question.

And the AIDS thing: the same. Let's not answer a direct question -- oh, by the way, his way of putting down questions rather than answering them is not the way an honest speaker who has been misrepresented answers. It's much more like Ashcroft trying to deal with college students who are smarter than he is: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/first-salvo-in-next-nuremberg-by-dday.html

Ahem. Rather than give an up-or-down on "that was a long time ago and it was a wil goose chase", you list a bunch of things, some of them quite factual, and say you think the guys are capable of the AIDS genocide conspiracy. Phoo. Politician. Wouldn't want to offend the craziest of your suppoters, would you, Mr Isaiah?

This stuff is not the Straight Talk Express that is so idiotically claimed for McCain and so well done, on the whole, by Obama.

And, having IMO seen the narcissism, I think hilzoy's analysis makes very fine sense. Erich Fromm made much of narcissism, and the ex-mentor thing fits it perfectly. (Not claiming personal expertise, though, having not seen much of that stuff myself. Charmed life, I guess; or unearned grace or something.)

Your hunch checks out to me. I have noticed that you can't mess with people's idea of themselves. Wright seems to think he can say no wrong and do no wrong, and Obama publicly disagreed strongly with what Wright said in the youtubes, and chalked it up to Wright's generation. Wright couldn't let that stand, that public disagreement. And you know, I was wondering after the Philly speech if Wright was going to get self-reflective and say, "Well, maybe I am too suspicious, and the world has come a lot farther than I thought - I certainly hope that's true, and if Barack gets elected it would be a very happy surprise for me." But no. And he couldn't even disagree in any graceful, respectful way. No quarter whatsoever. And that really is the antithesis of what Obama's about.

Russell, as socratic_me mentioned, Wright suggested Obama objections to his comments weren't sincere when he repeatedly said the "He's a politician, he has to say what politicians have to say" sort of thing. This came up especially in the Q&A at Washington, and was particularly thoughtless on Wright's behalf.

Typically I find most folks around here pretty willing to face political reality. So I found it pretty strange to find myself in the minority recently trying to point out that this was really hurting Obama and he had to do something about it or he was going to lose this whole thing, which would lead directly to putting McCain in the WH (IMO).

Blame it on racism or the media or whatever you like. But denying it was/would have an impact is putting on the blinders. And saying “if this is who we are then we deserve what we get” is all fine and good – except that what we would get would be McCain. I personally think it’s less about racism than Wright’s views on many things. And it was possible to differentiate between the man and those views until he repeatedly said that Obama was only distancing himself from those views to win an election, implying that Obama actually agreed with those views.

And Ayers matters too, but there is one enormous difference. Ayers pretty much went incognito. He’s turning down all interview requests and he’s avoiding the press like the plague. What do you think would happen if Ayers went on the talk circuit tomorrow, proudly trumpeting his most radical views and claiming that Obama was only distancing himself because he had to in order to win the election? The end…

Everyone seems to agree that Obama needs a big win in NC and that he needs to at least win Indiana to put Clinton away. He’s been losing his lead in NC with Clinton up by like 9 points among white Democrats. NC voters were being polled on Wright Monday night. (Both D campaigns deny it was them so possibly it was a media poll. I think it was Obama.)

So yes the whole thing sucks but it is what it is. As to Wright’s motivation, I guess we’ll see within a day or so. If he goes quiet (or better yet issues an apology to Omaba) then this was intended to give Obama cover to make the break, or just an ill considered outburst of anger. If hilzoy is right then he can destroy Obama with one press conference. (I distinctly remember that Obama and his entire family were in the pews for “God Damn America”, etc. In private conversations Obama agrees with me on all these things, etc.)

TiO thread up at Turb’s suggestion if anyone needs to vent.

I'm pretty sympathetic to almost everything Wright had to say. So, that likely colors my take on it.

So, with that factored in, here's my psychoanalysis of Wright, FWIW. This and a buck will get you a cup of coffee. Hopefully it will be my last comment on the topic of Jeremiah Wright.

He's pissed off.

He's not particularly interested in electoral politics. He's interested in his church and his community. Obama's running for President and now anything and everything he (Wright) has said or done for the last 35 years is being analyzed and picked over by media pinheads.

After speaking for half an hour about the history and role of the black church in America, at a conference on the history and role of the black church in America, he's peppered with a bunch of political 'gotcha' questions, many of which are, frankly, stupid. All anyone will remember from the speech is a ten-second reply to one of these questions on the topic of Louis Farrakhan.

The man has put in his time, and has paid his dues. Way more than most folks ever pay.

Who needs that kind of crap?

I think he's just pissed.

Thanks -

I think we should reject and denounce and boycitt the so-called MSM. This isn't an democracy: it's an oligarchy and the corprotate media works for the oligarchy. The issue isn't Wright or Obama's reaction to him. The corprotate media will find some excuse to destroy the Doemcratic candidte for President regardless of who that person my be. If there is no psuedo issue to push the Repubicans will supply a lie as they did with the Swiftboat add and the corporate media will push that. McCin will get a free ride becuase he's there candidate.

I don't think Obama should have said any of this and I don't think he should asay anything more. Writht isn't the issue. The media is the issue. If he wants to transform politics (if it is possible to transform politics) we need a revolution against the corportate media and he needs to realize that.

Point hilzoy? (via memeorandum)

"After 20 years of loving Barack like he was a member of his own family, for Jeremiah to see Barack saying over and over that he didn't know about Jeremiah's views during those years, that he wasn't familiar with what Jeremiah had said, that he may have missed church on this day or that and didn't hear what Jeremiah said, this is seen by Jeremiah as nonsense and betrayal," said the source, who has deep roots in Wright's Chicago community and is familiar with his thinking on the matter.

Taken with a grain of salt given the source and the anonymity… But ouch if true and he goes on the record with this…

I suspect this is Obama's Sister Soulja moment, and it's pretty deep.


My impression about Obama is that he is a good listener. He pays attention, he makes you feel that he appreciates what you think, and if you are not careful you may go away with the impression that he agreed with you a lot more than he really did. That's not dishonest, by some standards it's mere courtesy. And it is a very good trait in negotiating and building coalitions -- but it can sometimes bite you in the a$$.

Whether the NYPost's tabloid gossip has any particular basis, it would not be at all surprising if Wright sincerely believes that Obama agreed with him on each and every particular, because Obama generally respected him and gave polite, non-committal answers when he disagreed. My guess is that something of the same sort lay behind McCain's blowup about their meeting on that ethics bill.

My real worry is that the whole thing looks, feels, and is sordid and petty, and will taint Obama's image no matter how it ends up.

Breathes there a man who couldn't be psychoanalyzed on the Wright-Obama psychodrama. First, there is a clear Rorschach quality to the way people's words are interpreted.
(Richard Cohen has a column about this in WaPo:
Second, a lot of the interpretation by bloggers have an echo-chamber quality where they are
worried about how each statement will be perceived by individual voting blocs.
Third, narcissistic or not, Rev. Wright was
certainly being uncharitable by spitting "politician" at one of his loyal parishioners. He could've easily defended
himself without maligning anyone. Fourth, Sen. Obama did what he had to under the circumstance, but he could've also reflected a bit on what TUCC and Rev. Wright meant to him and his family. Finally, it's pretty clear that Sen. Obama does not get his policy advice from Rev. Wright, so this whole discussion is pretty tangential to his electability.

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