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God-O-Meter

wright10.jpgIn the current issue of The New Republic, Dayo Olopade makes a convincing case that Rev. Jeremiah Wright won’t be keeping a low-profile all the way through Election Day for a pretty simple reason: he’s too self-absorbed to go so long without kicking up controversy. Of course, last week’s string of recent string of cancelled Wright speaking engagements cast some doubt on this theory. But here’s Olopade’s convincing nut graphs:

[W]hy didn’t Obama push him away long ago?
Actually, he did–sort of. Recall what happened in early 2007. Initially, Obama had invited Wright to deliver the benediction at the event where he would formally launch his candidacy; but, at the last minute, Obama rescinded the invitation. In doing so, it seems likely that Obama understood his political problem and was trying to send his pastor-mentor a polite but firm message: Stay away from the spotlight and, please, for the love of God, try not to cause any controversy, lest you sink my chances of winning.
Most people would have taken the hint. But not Jeremiah Wright. Less than a month later, he was on Fox News bickering with Sean Hannity about “black liberation theology” and admonishing the famously obnoxious TV host, “Let me suggest that you do some reading before you come and talk to me about my field. ” Five days later, he was in The New York Times complaining about Obama’s decision to block him from speaking and volunteering that, “[w]hen his enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli [to visit Muammar Qaddafi] with Farrakhan, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.” And he wasn’t done yet. Days after that, Wright uncorked an open letter to the Times that accused reporter Jodi Kantor of misrepresenting her interview with him. The screed rambled for more than a thousand words before culminating in this: “There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!”
Why wouldn’t Wright take the hint that Obama seemed to be offering and quietly slink into the background, at least until November 2008? Two months ago (long before his most inflammatory sermons had surfaced), I visited Wright’s church on a Sunday morning. And what I witnessed that day makes the answer quite clear.
To put it mildly, Jeremiah Wright is a man who is comfortable in the spotlight….

Now, the angry letter to the Times that Wright fired off last year is receiving a fresh round of coverage, with Mark Halperin’s The Page blog dusting off the letter (read it here) and getting a response from the New York Times, which stands by its original story about tensions between Wright and Obama.
Sure, Wright’s ego may have him back in the spotlight before November 4. Until then, it seems that the news media is happy to do the work for him.


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