Reading between the lines

One take on what Barack Obama said and didn't say yesterday, as well as on the potential for the forthcoming movie, "Jeremiah and Barack"...

[Obama:] I'm particularly distressed that this has caused such a distraction from what this campaign should be about, which is the American people.... And the fact that Reverend Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage, for three or four consecutive days, in the midst of this major debate, is something that not only makes me angry but also saddens me.

[Ann Althouse:] Oh, how I wish I could have heard the way that feeling was expressed behind closed doors! What an outrageous betrayal Obama experienced! And I would love to have heard Wright's thoughts as he decided to wreak havoc on his protege. . . .

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, in terms of liberation theology, I'm not a theologian. So I think to some theologians, there might be some well-worked-out theory of what constitutes liberation theology versus non-liberation-theology.

Cop out. If he can't understand a black liberation sermon, how can it be preached? He's grasping at the word "theology" to distance himself from the very serious question.

I went to church and listened to sermons. And in the sermons that I heard, and this is true, I do think, across the board in many black churches, there is an emphasis on the importance of social struggle, the importance of striving for equality and justice and fairness -- a social gospel.

Okay. He's saying that whatever "black liberation theology" is, he and other parishioners hear it as a call to action for social justice.

So I think a lot of people would rather, rather than using a fancy word like that, simply talk about preaching the social gospel. And that -- there's nothing particularly odd about that. Dr. King obviously was the most prominent example of that kind of preaching.

Well put. The question is refocused on what Obama's politics are — and whether they are too left wing for Americans.

But you know, what I do think can happen, and I didn't see this as a member of the church but I saw it yesterday, is when you start focusing so much on the plight of the historically oppressed, that you lose sight of what we have in common; that it overrides everything else; that we're not concerned about the struggles of others because we're looking at things only through a particular lens. Then it doesn't describe properly what I believe, in the power of faith, to overcome but also to bring people together.

Excellent! Back to his original theme. People who like to say he's terrible when he's off script should study this passage.

Update: Another take:

As I said, Obama seems like quite a decent guy. I'm not going to vote for him because of his policy views but he still seems like a decent guy. He has a lot of tolerance for nutty political views, but anyone who hangs around academia or any political movement will certainly have friend[s] and acquaintances who have nutty political views. If you are a basically decent and compassionate person you try to look for the best in people and work with everyone, not throw aside friends just because you don't agree with their political views. Moreover, if you have a friend who has idiotic political views you don't run around adding to his embarrassment making a public spectacle out of denouncing those views, but instead I would think that you would hope that the guy would wisen up.

Thus, I also don't think it is fair to ascribe much of any of these relationships to Obama because I haven't seen any shred of evidence that he condones or agrees with any of the views expressed by Wright or Ayers (his wife may be a different story). On the other hand, I do find it somewhat implausible for Obama to imply that he didn't know that Wright held and expressed some nutty views or became more of a nut over time.