Bloggers on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 29 2008 5:44 PM

Wright Stuff

Bloggers are weighing in on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's speech on Monday and the reaction by his former parishoner Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Wright stuff: The Rev. Jeremiah Wright appeared at the National Press Club on Monday and breathed new life into a fading scandal that has plagued Barack Obama. In a performance many have described as preening and narcissistic, he reiterated his belief that the government invented AIDS to kill black people, defended Louis Farrakhan against accusations of anti-Semitism, and stood by his assertion that Sept. 11 represented America's "chickens coming home to roost." In a press conference Tuesday, Obama responded sharply: "His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate."

Andrew Sullivan, a big Obama supporter, explains what changed his mind about Wright: "[H]is open public embrace of Farrakhan and hostility to Zionism, make any further defense of him impossible. This was a calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism, and self-regard." Then after Obama's press conference, Sullivan added: "[W]e found that he can fight back, and take a stand, without calculation and in what is clearly a great amount of personal difficulty and political pain. It's what anyone should want in a president. It makes me want to see him succeed more than ever."

Responding to Obama's response, John Cole at Balloon Juice isn't sweating Wright so much: "Maybe it is because I am totally and unrepentantly in the tank for Obama, but I just can't get worked up over what his pastor said. Maybe it is because I am not religious, and I am used to religious people saying things that sound crazy." But history teacher Betsy Newmark at Betsy's Page can't believe Obama wasn't aware of this side of Wright: "I just find it hard to believe that Jeremiah Wright, in his late sixties, suddenly had a total personality change and start spewing forth these beliefs that he'd never before mentioned in Obama's hearing." And Dennis Sanders at the Moderate Voice believes Obama deserves the scrutiny: "[S]ince his campaign began… Obama has made sure that his religion is up front and center. When you do that, you are going to invite questions because you made something about your life public."

At Time's Swampland, Joe Klein is worried: "Wright's purpose now seems quite clear: to aggrandize himself--the guy is going to be a go-to mainstream media source for racial extremist spew, the next iteration of Al Sharpton--and destroy Barack Obama." And Ross Douthat calls Wright the "quintessential Bad Father … a pure creep straight out of an Augusten Burroughs memoir, who's happy to sabotage a younger, finer man who might just be the first black President of the United States in the hopes of feeding his own ego and becoming ... what? The next Al Sharpton?" But Commentary's John Podhoretz, at Contentions, thinks Obama isn't dead yet: "If Wright and Ayers had come to dominate the news in October, that would have spelled the end to Obama's presidential hopes. The fact that they have dominated the news in April will, I suspect, prove to have been something of a lucky break."

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Hot Air goes through the editorials denouncing Wright and notices a curious trend: "Finally, it appears, the audacity of lunacy has come to their attention. … All of these commentators came to see Wright as a narcissist, egotist, provocateur, and a shameless self-promoter in the last 48 hours. Why? In reading the pieces, their ire and scorn come exclusively because of the damage he does to Barack Obama."

Read more about Wright.

Gas-tax holiday: John McCain and Hillary Clinton agree on a plan to stop the federal gas tax for the summer, saving consumers about 18 cents a gallon. Barack Obama opposes the break, citing the need for an overhaul of U.S. energy policy as a cure for record oil prices. Clinton says she would recoup the lost revenue from a new tax on oil company profits, while McCain has suggested diverting it from other sources.

Liberal Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly's Political Animal writes:"I'd say there's approximately a zero percent chance that Hillary Clinton or John McCain actually believe this is good policy. It would increase oil company profits, it would make hardly a dent in the price of gasoline, it would encourage more summertime driving, and it would deprive states of money for transit projects."

David Weigel of Reason's Hit & Run calls it "probably the stupidest issue to surface in this race since the February NAFTA-bash"  and concludes: "Clinton and McCain aren't challenging the existence of the tax: They are implicitly saying it's a good tax that we should all relish paying in the non-summer months. Clinton is doing this and arguing that higher taxes on energy companies should be part of the bargain. It's phony populism in the service of a 'tax cut' that would fund one meal for two at Applebees, which may or may not include dessert."

Poli-sci professor Daniel Drezner notes that suspending the tax would save Americans about $30 this summer and writes: "You have to love an issue that puts George W. Bush and Barack Obama on the same page. As an added bonus, in this case they happen to be right. This will be an interesting test -- if I were Obama, I'd hit the thirty dollar line very, very hard. This would seem to be a classic example of 'politics as usual' and why it won't really solve long-term problems of energy and the environment."

TAS at Comments From Left Field sides with Obama: "Here in Massachusetts, gas is at $3.50 a gallon right now — Hillary wants me to pay $3.30.  Wow, don't I feel special?!  Of course, two weeks ago the price was $3.17, so the tax break..  Err, excuse me, the Hillary/McCain bipartisan tax pander, can't even keep up with two weeks worth of friggen inflation."

John Riley at Spin Cycle says a pox on all three houses: "McCain supports one bad idea that won't work. Obama supports a different bad idea that won't work. Clinton, proving her presidential mettle, supports deploying both bad ideas to not work as part of a package."

Read more about the gas-tax dispute.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.