Bloggers can't get enough of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 30 2008 6:29 PM

The Day After

Bloggers are still talking about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, wondering if Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" is having any effect, and paying their respects to LSD inventor Albert Hofmann.

The Day After: A day after Barack Obama declared himself "outraged" and "saddened" by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's speech at the National Press Club on Monday, bloggers are still hashing out what the speech means and what it says about Obama.

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Liberal John Nichols at The Nation's the Beat  believes there was no reason for Obama to react as he did. "Wright can be unsettling, thought-provoking, often right and sometimes wrong. But he is neither anti-American nor unpatriotic.  In more ways than Republican and now Democratic critics seem prepared to admit, Wright is the embodiment of an American religious and political tradition of challenging the country's sins while calling it to the higher ground that extends from the founding of the republic.  No less a figure than Thomas Jefferson … worried openly about the retribution that would befall a nation that permitted slavery."

At the Washington Monthly's Political Animal, liberal Kevin Drum says the Wright issue is getting airtime only because "it lends itself to a simple moral judgment," while over at the National Review's Corner Mark Steyn says the fault is Obama's: "Imagine if Colin Powell, the genuinely post-racial man Obama merely claims to be, had run in 1996. Would the campaign have dwindled down to Aids conspiracy theories and the genetic predisposition of clapping rhythms? No. Because that's not where Colin Powell lives." Adds Jonah Goldberg, "[T]he people who do say [we need a conversation about race] seem to be the same people who want the conversation about Jeremiah Wright and what he represents to go away. That is outrageously dishonest. Unless of course your real aim is to have the same old conversation about race again and again and again, in which the only villain is white America and the only victim is black America, and all of the old cliches get one more fresh coat of Wrightwash."

"What is particularly noteworthy," writes conservative Jennifer Rubin at Commentary's Contentions, "is what got Obama angry: Wright's lack of loyalty and concern for him. … Insulting his country, spouting bizarre conspiracy theories, voicing racism and much more — none of that is what 'particularly' triggered a repudiation. That, as much as the intellectual inconsistency ('I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother'), should provoke concern among people looking for a selfless leader for the new era in American politics."

"Let's keep in mind something I'm sure Wright remembers well," writes James Antle at the conservative AmSpecBlog, "Obama benefited politically from his affiliation with Trinity United Church of Christ. It gave him credibility and clout as a community organizer. It helped him in his quest for racial authenticity. Those benefits do not come cost-free."

But if this controversy doesn't make Jeremiah Wright come out like Thomas Jefferson, the New Republic's Marty Peretz, at the Spine, thinks it may cast Barack Obama in the light of another American hero: "[H]e tried once again to show that he did not choose to have American politics be assumed as a battle over enemy territory. There is some nobility in the effort, a nobility akin to Abraham Lincoln's. It is a disposition that many Republicans used to honor and many Democrats, too: you may disagree, disagree over significant matters, but you try to found common ground."

Limbaugh pauses "Chaos": After the Wright speech on Monday, Rush Limbaugh called off "Operation Chaos"—which urged Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in their state primaries—given the possibility that Obama might now be the weaker Democratic candidate. As of Wednesday, it's back on. "What I've seen today," he said, "is that Obama did not damage himself yesterday."

"If Clinton clips Obama in Indiana by under one-thousand votes and the race goes on," saysPolitico's Jonathan Martin, who covers the GOP race, "this may actually matter." James Joyner at Outside the Beltway says it probably won't: "Aside from moral qualms about interfering in another party's primary, I've believed from the beginning that these sort of things are foolish precisely because there's no way to know months ahead of time how these things will play out. … It's better to … worry about getting your own team ready to play."

"Of course the irony," notes Michael Goldfarb at theWeekly Standard's Blog, "is that the netroots started it by asking Democrats to vote for Mitt in Michigan instead of 'undecided.' Kos explained the rationale for the campaign: 'Because we can. Because it'll be fun.' Rush couldn't have said it better."

Trip ends:Albert Hofmann, who created LSD, died Tuesday at age 102. Bloggers remember him fondly.

At Reason's Hit & Run, Nick Gillespie expresses his deep, deep gratitude: "Hofmann's 'problem child' (as he wryly dubbed his discovery) has been a major and generally positive influence through many aspects of society, from the obvious (such as mind expansion trips of Timothy Leary and many others) to the less obvious (including the personal computer revolution). Blowing peoples' minds is never an easy thing, and not always a good thing, but Hofmann is an inspiring figure, in large part because he never lost his taste for scientific inquiry and rational analysis while expanding the borderlands of human consciousness."

"One of the greatest crimes of the War On Some Drugs is the suppression of LSD as a tool for introspection," writes musician David Gans at Cloud Surfing. But philosophy professor Steve Gimbel points out that Hofmann thought LSD had potential as prescription drug and writes, "To his dismay, it was a mental health professional, Dr. Timothy Leary, who would lead a movement advocating its use in less formal settings. … Hoffman expressed deep regret that non-professional use led to the inability to determine whether it could have been fruitfully used in treatment or not and he strongly and explicitly opposed its use as a recreational substance."

Alec Mouhibian is a writer in Washington, D.C. His blog is the Lucky Frown.