- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Burying Obama

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him,” New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes.

“Smiling, cracking corny jokes, mugging it up for the big-time news media — this reverend is never going away. He’s found himself a national platform, and he’s loving it,” Mr. Herbert said.

“It’s a twofer. Feeling dissed by Senator Obama, Mr. Wright gets revenge on his former follower while bathed in a spotlight brighter than any he could ever have imagined. He’s living a narcissist’s dream. At long last, his 15 minutes have arrived.

“So there he was lecturing an audience at the National Press Club about everything from the black slave experience to the differences in sentencing for possession of crack and powdered cocaine.

“All but swooning over the wonderfulness of himself, the reverend acts like he is the first person to come up with the idea that blacks too often get the short end of the stick in America, that the malignant influences of slavery and the long dark night of racial discrimination are still being felt today, that in many ways this is a profoundly inequitable society.

“This is hardly new ground. The question that cries out for an answer from Mr. Wright is why — if he is so passionately committed to liberating and empowering blacks — does he seem so insistent on wrecking the campaign of the only African-American ever to have had a legitimate shot at the presidency.”

Wright’s friend

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright couldn’t have done more damage to Barack Obama’s campaign if he had tried. And you have to wonder if that’s just what one friend of Wright wanted,” New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis writes.

“Shortly before he rose to deliver his rambling, angry, sarcastic remarks at the National Press Club Monday, Wright sat next to, and chatted with, Barbara Reynolds,” Mr. Louis said.

“A former editorial board member at USA Today, she runs something called Reynolds News Services and teaches ministry at the Howard University School of Divinity. (She is an ordained minister).

“It also turns out that Reynolds — introduced Monday as a member of the National Press Club ‘who organized’ the event — is an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter.

“On a blog linked to her Web site — www.reynoldsnews.com — Reynolds said in a February post: ‘My vote for Hillary in the Maryland primary was my way of saying thank you’ to Clinton and her husband for the successes of Bill Clinton’s presidency. …

“I don’t know if Reynolds’ eagerness to help Wright stage a disastrous news conference with the national media was a way of trying to help Clinton — my queries to Reynolds by phone and e-mail weren’t returned [Monday] — but it’s safe to say she didn’t see any conflict between promoting Wright and supporting Clinton.”

‘Visibly angry’

“Early [yesterday] morning, after a long day of campaigning, aides showed Barack Obama extended excerpts from Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s jaunty and freewheeling press conference in Washington,” Marc Ambinder writes in a blog at the atlantic.com.

“Obama, the aides said, was deeply, visibly angry. Two said he ‘insisted’ that he hold a second press conference [yesterday] to unequivocally denounce Rev. Wright’s conduct and sever himself from Wright’s fulminations. Obama did not want to let Wright hijack his campaign any longer. Five days was enough.

“Judging by his square jaw and his posture — rigid — and his tone of voice — elegiac and sad at points, and hard and resolute at others, Obama felt aggrieved and disrespected, especially by Wright’s implication that Obama’s speech on racial politics in Philadelphia was mere politics,” Mr. Ambinder said.

He added: “Obama has used the power of his rhetoric to end controversies before, and the campaign hopes now that Obama’s angry sound bites will now replace some of Wright’s more radical utterances on the cable news. The campaign won’t say whether, in their North Carolina tracking polls, they discovered any fall-off among white voters. The bet they’re making is that by extending the active phase of a story for at least one more day, they can prevent its long tail from influencing too many votes next Tuesday.”

Goodbye, sexism

“Remember sexism? Remember when Hillary Clinton was at a disadvantage because she was a woman, when Gloria Steinem took stock of the primary campaign and concluded, ‘Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life’?” Kay S. Hymowitz writes at www.city-journal.com.

“Come to think of it, remember just two weeks ago, when New York and Salon published big think pieces by young women who saw, in Clinton’s declining fortunes, so much evidence of sexism that they predicted the emergence of Fourth Wave feminism? Well, that’s not going to happen. Not only does Clinton’s Pennsylvania win last week muddy most of the sexism charges, it makes the feminist critique of politics look as exhausted as the candidates themselves,” the writer said.

“At this point, gender has become just another force in the turbulent demographic cross-currents of American politics. In the Keystone State, the clincher was class, not gender. Clinton proved far more adept than Barack Obama at romancing the reticent blue-collar voter. She (once again) reinvented herself, this time as Roseanne, a small-town, bar-hangin’, gun-shootin’ waitress type. Bittergate, a bowling malfunction, and a general image of cool aloofness left Obama, on the other hand, walking around with an ELITE sign on his back, insisting that he does indeed eat Jell-O, in an effort to minimize what Newsweek now calls the ‘Bubba Gap.’ ”

Award winner

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation announced yesterday that one of four 2008 Bradley Prizes will be awarded to Robert L. Woodson Sr.

Mr. Woodson is founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and demonstration organization that supports neighborhood-based initiatives to reduce crime and violence, restore families, create economic enterprise and employment, and revitalize low-income communities.

Mr. Woodson will be presented the award during a ceremony at the Kennedy Center on June 4. Each award carries a stipend of $250,000.

c Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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