After laying low for a while, Jeremiah Wright is back on stage, kicking off a series of public appearances that must have Barack Obama squirming. This weekend, PBS' Bill Moyers will air his interview with the controversial pastor. Snippets (sound bites, if you will) have already been released.
Moyers, who runs the Public Broadcasting TV Network (funded by US taxpayers), is a spokesman for the far left who is angered by the encroachment in recent years of alternative sources of information. He is a reporter with a political agenda, which we as tax-payers have to partially fund. One would assume that his interview with Wright would be fawning, sympathetic, and designed to retrieve public support for Obama in the wake of his pastor's publicized rhetoric. That assumption has proved to be correct.
In the interview, Wright discards his angry rhetoric in favor of a low key, low octave manner in responding to Moyers' softball questions. He comes across as soft-spoken, totally in contrast to the angry sermons shown on TV- even in contrast to the belligerence he showed last year when being questioned by Sean Hannity.
Wright describes the words he spoke in his sermons as nothing more than "sound bites", which the media has "looped". He claims when asked if Obama ever uttered similar opinions to him that he never discussed politics with the senator. On the contrary, Obama is a politician and I (Wright) am a pastor. Never mind the fact that Wrights fiery orations were totally political in content.
It should also be remembered that Wright's words came to surface as a result of DVDs of his sermons that his church sold publicly. Sound bites?
If Wright is claiming that his words are mere sound bites that should be disregarded, then what about the words of other public figures? For example, were the words of Don Imus merely a sound bite when he referred to Rutgers women basketball players as "nappy-headed hos"? What about the words of Trent Lott, when he made a reference to Strom Thurmond's past run for the presidency when he was an unabashed segregationist? Was that just an unfortunate sound bite? What about the words of Rush Limbaugh when he made racially-tinged comments about Donovan McNabb? I raise these examples not to condemn or defend the speakers, rather to remind the reader that each of these three persons paid a price for their comments. Imus was fired from his radio job, Lott was forced to step down from his leadership position in the Senate, and Limbaugh lost his short-lived football analyst position. Were they just "sound bites"?
What about the words of former Weather Underground fugitives, Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn-both associates of Obama and completely unrepentant about their pasts? Was it just a sound-bite when Ayers told the New York Times in September 2001 that he didn't regret setting bombs and wished he had done more? As late as 2007, we have him on tape telling an audience how bad his country is-racist, imperialist, homophobic, etc.) Similarly, Dohrn last year is on tape talking about America in terms such as "being in the belly of the beast" and the "heart of the monster". (Both are university professors.)
Free speech issues aside (which no one is debating), words do have consequences. If we stand up and make incendiary comments in public about our country or about other ethnic groups, then we should be prepared to defend them or accept negative consequences-at least deal with the disagreements and criticisms. People usually make a conscious choice to be controversial. This pastor has made his choice and is compounding it by not going away-to the detriment of Obama.
Wright has the misfortune of being the pastor of a presidential candidate-one who represents himself as one who would bridge the gap between white and black. Largely because of Wright's words, that has now been called into question and is a topic for legitimate debate. Similarly, the words, past and present, of Ayers and Dohrn, coupled with their associations with Obama, personal, professional and political, raise very appropriate questions about who this man Obama really is. Before he becomes our president, I think we have a right to know. Wright, Ayres and Dohrn are legitimate campaign issues that the mainstream media tried to ignore until they couldn't any longer.
Guilt by association? You bet.