I thought I was done commenting on the whole Barack Obama race/Jeremiah Wright subject, until I saw this Bloggingheads diavlog with John McWhorter and Glenn Loury.

It is one of the most articulate discussions of race in America I’ve ever heard. Brilliant men, brilliant debate (and they do debate a number of points). An interesting sub-text to the discussion is McWhorter is for Obama (though he often gets called wrongly a black conservative) and Loury is for Clinton (when he is considered the progressive).

McWhorter’s central point, which I completely agree with, is that this episode revealed that he had a lotta white support so long as he was a black skinned individual who didn’t appear culturally black. (This was James Cone’s prediction btw).

What the church issue revealed is that yes Barack Obama is not only just a multi-racial background, but is identified and embedded in black culture. Black churches, the south side of Chicago. And as Loury points out and anyone who has spent anytime in black churches across the US knows (as I have), the kind of things Jeremiah Wright says–the ones in the clips and the millions of others that are simply about the gospel, the question of despair, and the dignity of people downtrodden–those are heard everywhere across America in black churches. They are not abnormal. Trinity United is known for a more specifically Afro-centric/liberationist bent to be sure, but hell I’ve heard white preachers in mostly black congregations say things at least as racially and politically charged as what Wright has said.

Again this is not excusing so-called reverse racism.

It shows the gulf. Every time I think I remind myself of how deep (unconscious as well as conscious) racial divides are–I remember that it is a pandemic disease–I’m still shocked by the reaction to events like this.

From a very different political angle (paleo-con), Daniel Larison has an astute meta analysis of points touched on by McWhorter and Loury here.

Relative to Sen. Clinton she is in a real bind now it seems to me.  The black community-Clinton rift is deep, some of which I think is deserved, some not.

But optically, if Obama comes to the convention with more delegates, more states won, and more popular vote (all of which at this point is basically a lock) and Clinton somehow gets the nomination at a brokered convention or the superdelegates back her en masse, how is that not going to be read in African American quarters as basically—here’s our guy, he beats them at their own game, and then its stolen from him by a bunch of rich, powerful white people.   Reasoning:  Because they are scared the Republicans will run on a continuous loop the scary black man image of Rev. Wright.

Again not that such a scenario would be the entirety of the truth (or completely false either if this hypothetical takes place), but I don’t see how it doesn’t come across as that.  And then Clinton suffers in a general because of it.

What it is clear is that if Hillary somehow manages to work the levers behind closed doors or superdelegates get nervous because of the Wright stuff, then she has to pick Obama as VP.

As Jon Chait (and even Keith Olbermann of all people) have correctly pointed out that Clinton can’t win except by taking Obama down.  She’s received an assist no doubt from the Wright blow up, but I don’t see any way in which that is not what is going on.  While John McCain can’t figure out the difference between Shia and Sunni, Clinton is saying Obama is not ready to be President but McCain is.

Not good.



Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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