The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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There’s always more room under the bus.

June 1st, 2008 · No Comments · Politics

Obama officially resigned from Trinity United today. Which is, of course, what he SHOULD have done months ago. My general feeling on the whole affair is summed up pretty nicely here:

It’s been just over two months since Obama’s Philadelphia speech on race — the one that was compared by the historian Garry Wills to Lincoln’s Cooper Union address. In that speech Obama famously said he could not more disown the Reverend Jeremiah Wright than he could disown the black community or his own grandmother and spoke about how Trinity United “embodies the black community in its entirely.”

Since that speech Wright has been tossed under the bus — and now, so has Trinity United.

Obama’s twenty-year participation at Trinity United and his close relationship with its senior pastor raised a lot of questions about Obama — both about his decision to associate himself with Trinity United and Wright in the first place and Obama’s tortured explanations since the public first learned of Wright’s anti-American tirades.

What Obama did today may have been politically necessary. It was certainly politically expedient. And it is yet one more blow to Obama’s image as a different kind of politician. In fact, as we’ve learned over the last few months, Obama appears to be a Chicago politician through and through. When he perceived a threat to his self-interest, he cut his ties to first his pastor and then his church, both of which he had expressed familial love and fidelity. This whole episode is deeply unattractive, even as it is deeply revealing.

Most of that is totally correct. Obama really IS a rather typical political figure.

Where I do take exception with the NRO commentary is the implication that Obama was “secretly” aware of Trinity’s “culture and style gap” for years, but chose to ignore it. The far simpler answer is that he attempted to leverage a tool that had served him well for years and it back-fired. I honestly believe that Obama probably knew next to nothing of what the church’s regular “message” tended to be because I doubt that he was ever a member for anything but personal, political reasons.

His early political ambition demanded that he pay tribute to influential entities in Chicago. He joined Trinity United to further his career and it worked very well at the time. His affiliation with the church was born of political necessity - not religious faith. Which is perfectly normal for most politicians. Yet, somehow, he was unable to see when that tribute was no longer needed - when the relationship had ceased to be a worthwhile one.

It continues to amaze me that the entire affair was handled so poorly by his campaign. Since early March, he’s been taking tiny half-steps in the hopes that he can JUUUUST nudge himself over the line where people will stop caring. As a result, he’s spent that entire time bleeding out slowly. And now, more clearly than ever, it’s obvious that it wasn’t his “agenda of change” that put him in this position standing behind his pastor and his church - it was simple, political miscalculation.


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