The Buzz

The Wright Approach

Let’s stipulate that there’s no political advantage in Republicans resurrecting the question of the true nature of President Obama’s twenty-year relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whatever it was before the Illinois senator left Wright’s church during the 2008 presidential campaign. And let’s accept that whatever there is to be said about that relationship probably has already been said.

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker seems to agree with those stipulations. Yet she raises disturbing questions in response to reports that a GOP political strategist and billionaire donor contemplated raising the issue again in an effort to defeat Obama’s reelection bid. The reaction was so swift and severe that they quickly abandoned the idea.

Parker asks the question of just how close Obama was to the fiery Chicago preacher, whose fulminations could be called anti-white racism. As Parker notes, Wright inspired the title of one of Obama’s books. He conducted the Obamas’ wedding ceremony and baptized the Obama girls. He led the family prayer when Obama announced his first presidential run. That seems like a pretty close relationship, and it begs the question of what Obama really thought about Wright’s persistent anti-white rhetoric.

And yet she notes: “Four years later, the mere mention of Wright by political opponents is considered racist.” She raises questions of political equity when the putative Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney, is forced on the defensive by such an independent ad proposal, which was leaked to The New York Times and appeared on the paper’s front page.

“Romney is nothing like a racist,” writes Parker, “yet suddenly he is forced to distance himself from ads about which he knew nothing.”

This is merely another example of Democrats and Democratic-leaning journalists curtailing the range of political discourse in America by forcing opponents on the defensive on delicate racial questions. It probably isn’t smart politics to press such an issue now against a sitting president so long after it was vetted—however inadequately—four years ago. But raising it is neither racist nor inappropriate. In saying so, Kathleen Parker has rendered a smart analysis.