Bob Herbert: Jeremiah Wright Casts a Shadow

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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.

On Sunday night, in an appearance before the Detroit N.A.A.C.P., Mr. Wright mocked the regional dialects of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. I’m not sure how he felt that was helpful in his supposed quest to bring about a constructive discussion about race and reconciliation in the U.S.

What he is succeeding in doing is diminishing the stature of Senator Obama. A candidate who stands haplessly by as his former spiritual guide roams the country dropping one divisive bomb after another is in very little danger of being seen by most voters as the next J.F.K. or L.B.J.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsUS Presidential Election 2008

44 Comments
Posted April 29, 2008 at 8:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. RalphM wrote:

Ego - he can’t leave home without it….

April 29, 8:59 am | [comment link]
2. gdb in central Texas wrote:

Mr. Herbert thinks the Rev. Mr. Wright is diminishing the the stature of the candidate, Mr. Obama. The fact of the matter is that the candidate is a lightweight; a man of no accomplishments, no guiding principles, no moral compass except that of personal advancement. It is no mystery why Mr. Obama cannot distance himself from the Rev. Wright - he is the mirror of his worldview.

April 29, 10:48 am | [comment link]
3. David Hein wrote:

Wright comes across as angry and pompous. Why did Obama find him so attractive in the first place? Was it, as the columnist suggested, political? Establishing Christian bona fides? I hope and trust that there was more to it than that. But what do we really know about Obama and his personal beliefs?

Also, can’t Herbert and his editor get basic usage right? “Rev. Wright”: wrong. “The reverend”: wrong. (That would be like referring to a judge as “The honorable.”) Why not just call him “Pastor Wright” or “Mr. Wright”? And you can’t go wrong with just plain “Wright.”

April 29, 10:52 am | [comment link]
4. ekcathey wrote:

There must be some sort of guide the media use that has led them to believe that “reverend” is a noun, because they are terribly fond of using it as such.

April 29, 12:34 pm | [comment link]
5. w.w. wrote:

Wright is wrong, but give him credit for transparency. He lets everyone know exactly what is on his mind and where he stands, unlike the more learned but fork-tongued equally intolerant liberals among us.

w.w.

April 29, 12:38 pm | [comment link]
6. nwlayman wrote:

This guy is bee-yootiful.  Couldn’t have made him up.

April 29, 1:34 pm | [comment link]
7. Irenaeus wrote:

“Jeremiah Wright Casts a Shadow”

Sure does: a toxic shadow.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

“The fact of the matter is that the candidate is a lightweight; a man of no accomplishments, no guiding principles, no moral compass except that of personal advancement”

Words rather apt for George W. Bush.

April 29, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
8. Vincent Lerins wrote:

Rev. Wright was simply illustrating the double standards that blacks have to deal with in America. No one corrected mispronounced English of the Boston accent of JFK or the southern drawl of LBJ. Yet, if an African American had the accent of either JFK or LBJ, they would be criticized to no end.

That’s Rev. Wright’s point.

I do think it was tasteless to mimic the former presidents, but what he said was true.

-Vincent

April 29, 2:01 pm | [comment link]
9. Dave B wrote:

Vincents, yes they do try to correct other politicians, they try to correct Bush II all the time!!

April 29, 2:19 pm | [comment link]
10. Tikvah wrote:

8 ~ You wrote; “No one corrected mispronounced English of the Boston accent of JFK or the southern drawl of LBJ. Yet, if an African American had the accent of either JFK or LBJ, they would be criticized to no end.”

Why do you say that Bostonians and Southerners mispronounce words? That is as wrong as Mr. Wright telling us that we don’t speak English in this country because we don’t speak with the same accent as the Brits; well, some of the Brits, his arrogant ‘example’ was very limited. They simply are displaying regional accents/dialects, as is found world-wide. Even the Brits have their regional accents. It’s still English.  And I’d love to hear from a few Southerners. Do you know any African Americans who talk just like you? Do you feel they need “correction”? That’s just silly.
T

April 29, 3:00 pm | [comment link]
11. azusa wrote:

John Wilkins - you out there, brother?
Now it looks like Obama has thrown, er - disavowed his pastor.

April 29, 3:13 pm | [comment link]
12. Bill Matz wrote:

While I agree with Wright that there are many residual problems with slavery and discrimination, Herebert is correct to criticize Wright for seeming to claim that this is something newly discovered. In addition, Wright’s polemics suffer from a failure to recognize the substantial progress that has been made in ashort time and the extent to which black American problems are increasingly self-generated. E.g. the black illegitimacy rate during 50 years of progress has risen from @ 33% to @70%. As Bill Cosby and others have listed, a lot of the problems stem from lack of parenting.

April 29, 3:58 pm | [comment link]
13. gdb in central Texas wrote:

Irenaeus, you mistake inarticulate with substance.

April 29, 4:15 pm | [comment link]
14. Vincent Lerins wrote:

Tikvah:

I don’t have a problem with Bostonian and Southern accents. In fact, I am a southerner even though I currently reside in the Midwest and I take my summer vacations with family off the Massachusetts coast. Nor does Rev. Wright have a problem with Bostonians or Southerners. The point he was making is that JFK and LBJ weren’t penalize for strong accents, yet African –Americans are penalized because of strong accents. On this issue, I agree with Wright.

I don’t have an accent, except when I say certain words such as ‘harbor.’ I tend to pronounce it ‘ha’ bor.’ Whites have always commented on my family’s ‘prefect diction.’ Many blacks see this as subtlety racist. As if blacks can only speak bad English. Blacks, on the other hand, tend to criticize us for having perfect diction as talking/sounding white. Also, having worked in HR, I know that during the phone interview process, many people are weeded out because of how they sound over the phone. This affects whites as well as blacks. However, blacks, Latinos and Asians are discriminated against because of speech more so than whites (the exception being poor, rural, southern whites).

-Vincent

April 29, 4:29 pm | [comment link]
15. libraryjim wrote:

Vincent,

There is a great commercial on housing discrimination that makes your point very well: when the caller impersonates racial-minority sounding accents (I believe he used India Indian, Hispanic, broken English, and rapper-lingo), he is told that the apartment in the ad is already rented, but when he calls and sounds like Ted Koppel, he is invited over to see the place.

Your other point on blacks who deride other blacks is also correct, I’ve heard it about Republican conservative Congressman J. C. Watts, columnist Thomas Sowell, and others, who are all called “Uncle Toms” and ‘sell-outs’ by such illuminated organizations as the NAACP and by spokespersons like Al Sharpton and others.  Bill Cosby makes this point often and loudly, as well.

Peace!
Jim Elliott <><

April 29, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
16. John Wilkins wrote:

Herbert might be right that this is a “I’ll show you!” tour.  Pastor recently retired, getting a national stage.  Herbert might be onto something in his analysis of Wright’s psychology.  But I don’t know.

What I do believe is that Wright’s continued self-definition will work to Obama’s advantage.  It will be harder and harder to put Obama and Wright together, given that it is pretty obvious that Obama doesn’t believe the same things wright does.  Those who want to attach the two probably wouldn’t vote for Obama anyway.  I think people will give Obama the benefit of the doubt - just as he gave his pastor the benefit of the doubt. 

I continue to think that Wright’s views on many issues are correct.  His views on AIDS and Farrakan, however, wrong.  What is probably true is that Obama, being pretty secular, more interested in the fellowship and ministries than in the sermons, just wasn’t paying attention to the more radical stuff. 

Now, fortunately, early in the campaign, Obama has a clear contrast.  Fortunately, Wright offered it to him:  by mocking the term “spiritual mentor,” suggesting himself as vice-president, and then saying he’d go after Barack Obama.  In fact, the more he goes after him, the more Obama looks like a centrist he is.

April 29, 4:50 pm | [comment link]
17. David Hein wrote:

No. 16: “the more Obama looks like a centrist he is”

Do you mean in the center of the left wing of his party?

April 29, 4:55 pm | [comment link]
18. Andrew717 wrote:

I think he means the center of John’s heart.  to John, Obama can do no wrong.  If you think differently, you’re a rascist.

April 29, 5:03 pm | [comment link]
19. Dave B wrote:

John Wilkins Obama’s problem is that he sat for TWENTY YEARS and listened to Wright.  Obama titled one of his books after A Wright sermon. Wright Married the Obamas.  Obama appointed Wright to his African American Religious Leadership Committee.  Then Obama stated Wright was like a relative whom he could not renounce when the controveries started erupting.  Obama and Wright are joined at the hip PERIOD!!!  Now Obama is throwing Wright under the bus for a little political expediancey?  Obama’s campaign is dead!!

April 29, 5:28 pm | [comment link]
20. Larry Morse wrote:

Actually what you say isn’t true. JFK’s speech mannerisms were the object of regular parody, and they were more than once called elitist. I can’t remember obviously who said what so long ago, but I remember the charge. LBJ’s accent was also parodied but not a strongly as JFK’s because it wasn’t so marked and did not attach itself so strongly to class. And I do remember hearing Carter’s mouth-full-of-feathers accent parodied over and over. Moreover, the political cartoonists ridiculed their political enemies all the time and there was no color issue here. Political cartooning is the visual equivalent of criticizing accent, after all. You charge here simply doesn’t hold water and suggests a very stong bias.

  Moreover, the trouble with Wright is that, whatever you may say, his ego is the issue, and a monstrous ego it is, and Herbert makes this clear. We are simply looking at another American exhibitionist, another tiresome creature who will do whatever is necessary to get his face in front of a TV camera. This has been obvious from the outset of this whoop-de-do. If Obama finds him worthy of being a mentor, we need to question Obama’s judgment.  Larry

April 29, 5:32 pm | [comment link]
21. magnolia wrote:

yes, irenaeus #7, that is precisely why we should not make the same mistake again.

April 29, 5:52 pm | [comment link]
22. Alta Californian wrote:

I can’t stand all this blatant and hateful partisanship, I’m going back to reading about the state of the Episcopal Church….....oh, dear.

All I can say is I’ve known plenty of parishioners who have sat in the pews for 20 years, and adored their “spiritual mentor”, without paying any more heed to their priest’s words than to the posted speed limit on the nearest interstate.

April 29, 7:24 pm | [comment link]
23. libraryjim wrote:

Alta, that’s truly sad.

Really, though? You know plenty of parishoners who have had spiritual mentors?  I know of few priest/lay relationships that go into the ‘spiritual mentor’ or ‘spiritual director’ phase at all.  It’s a very special, disciplined relationship that goes way beyond the usual priest/lay relationship of seeing the priest oh, maybe once a week in the church, and maybe going in for counselling once in a blue moon when a crisis is looming.

And frankly, I’ve been looking for a priest I can trust enough to lead me into a spiritual mentoring relationship.  So far, I’ve not built that relationship with a priest or fellow laity.  IT’s a very vulnerable situation to trust someone to that extent.

April 29, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
24. Alta Californian wrote:

Very sad, indeed, and discouraging to the clergy and lay leadership.  To see their words go in one ear and out the other.  Has no one else seen this?  Or am I just a cynic?  I’ve had people praise my preaching and teaching, and gaze at me adoringly, then in the next breath fawn over the likes of Jefferts-Schori, Spong, and Marcus Borg, leading me to wonder if they were ever really listening to me at all.

As for “spiritual mentor” I mean that in the casual sense I think Obama does.  I’ve seen no evidence that Wright was a spiritual director in the formal sense.  Perhaps, but not necessarily.

April 30, 3:34 am | [comment link]
25. rob k wrote:

AC - Did you see my addition to your comment on the shortage of food in pantry organizations of a few days ago, regarding PG&E;?

April 30, 4:34 am | [comment link]
26. Larry Morse wrote:

On Wright, see today’s NY Times, Op Ed section, Maureen Dowd. Larry

April 30, 7:27 am | [comment link]
27. Billy wrote:

The problem is that Obama is in a no-win situation.  He is claiming that he didn’t know about Wright’s views.  But after 20 years, either he is lying - which makes him not the politician of change, which is the total essence of his whole campaign - or he has such poor judgment in not knowing, that he can’t be trusted to be the President and negotiate with the leaders in the Middle East and N. Korea.  Either way, his credibility his gone.
Now - has anyone noticed that Episcopal Life is “advertising” how wonderful it is that Wright is going to once again (after several years apparently of doing it) be the revivalist at an Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.  Isn’t that wonderful!!!???

April 30, 11:10 am | [comment link]
28. Shumanbean wrote:

Alta, I don’t think you’re being so cynical…all too often people disagree the message that’s given, and stop listening. Or can’t begin to find interest in the message given. Or even worse, they apply the message to others, but not to themselves…“That’s telling ‘em, Father!” Obama no doubt heard plenty of messages that were based in what’s called Black Liberation Theology, no doubt plenty that weren’t. (Some folks insist that the great majority of Wright’s preaching falls well within the bounds of orthodox thinking.) Some of each probably sank in. Most he probably ignored. I honestly think that this was his, Obama’s, church home due to political expediency. If so, it isn’t the best reason…but not so unusual. I know people who attend cathedral churches where they deplore the preaching, absolutely cannot fathom why the theology is so far off track, but can’t bring themselves to leave a church that so enhances their community standing.  And I wonder, was Obama even in attendance all that much in those twenty years? As to his faith, or for that matter, I won’t speculate.

April 30, 11:43 am | [comment link]
29. Dave B wrote:

Shumanbean- The hard part for Obama is had to be listening becuase he titled one of his books (The Audacity of Hope) after a Wright sermon!!  Black liberation theology as far as I understand it, based on Marxism. Obama liked Marxism from his college days and hence has a background that is resonent with black liberation theology.  This produces a lot of questions about Obama’s political philosophy that he will now have to spend time answering.

April 30, 12:09 pm | [comment link]
30. John Wilkins wrote:

Andrew 717 - I think has me confused with someone else.  Of course I think Obama can do wrong.  The person is a human being.  I do think most people are hunting for things he’s done wrong.  I still think he’s the best candidate out there, but if Andrew had been paying attention, I’ve also said that Obama won’t be the leftist some progressives desire.  If you look at the evidence - he’s smart; he’s likable.; he’s pretty non-ideological; and has a political sensibility that combines hard community organizing with Chicago Style politics..  His model is Harold Washington, who had a reputation for being “fairer than fair” while also combating the virulent white racism in Chicago.  Hie seems to surround himself with very competent people who know policy well.  This includes Sam Nunn, David Boren, economists from the University of Chicago (where Milton Friedman reigns), and individuals from the left.  That’s what I see.  Can he do wrong?  Well, he’ll do no worse than any of the other candidates. 

Dave B argues that they are joined at the hip, even though Obama has made it pretty clear they they think different things- and this even is evinced in his book where he describes how Wright and Him disagree on the declining significance of race.  Obama was mature enough, and generous enough, to recognize that he could have a pastor who’d done some pretty phenomenal work in the community.  I just don’t think Obama was so calculating that he considered vetting Wright. 

Given what Obama has said for many years - from interviews dating back to 1995, to people’s experiences of him in college and law school, it’s pretty clear Obama doesn’t live in the militant black world the way Dave B thinks he does.    I just think we’re holding Obama up to different standards than other politicians. 

Trinity is a pretty big church, and I suspect lots of people are there who barely know Pastor Wright.  What we might see is Wright begin to attack Obama, which will, of course, define Obama as NOT being militant. 

There is simply no evidence to show that Obama believes the ridiculous things Wright does.  Unless you want to.  Then believe whatever fantasy you’d like.

April 30, 12:11 pm | [comment link]
31. Andrew717 wrote:

John, if some malicious person has hacked your account in order to defend Obama from any naysaying, often implying that those who disagree with him are “out of touch with the black community” or wouldn’t disgaree with him if only they weren’t white (thereby implying racism), then I appologize.

April 30, 1:12 pm | [comment link]
32. gdb in central Texas wrote:

John,
The question is two-fold: If Mr. Obama doesn’t believe the things that his pastor says and if voters believe that Obama fundamentally rejects Wright’s views, they might question Obama’s judgment in remaining close to Wright for 20 years. But if voters believe that Obama secretly agrees with Wright but is putting on another face to win an election, then voters will believe that he is duplicitious and just a politician and his audacity of hope is just show.

Based on all his long term relationships it is clear to me that he holds those views and the face he has put on for this campaign is just a show. The advisors he now brings close are but a part of a calculating facade.

April 30, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
33. John Wilkins wrote:

David B - Black Liberation theology isn’t based on Marxism. Marx is one of Liberation theology’s talking partners, shared in the prophetic witness to the poor.  Black Liberation Theology is based upon Exodus.  It is also a response to the attack of black nationalism that asserted that Blacks could not be Christian. 

You will find, of course, a few aspects of Marxism in Black Liberation theology, especially the concept of “consciousness.”  Of course, I’m not sure how you are using the term “Marxism.”  (Are you referring to the Labor theory of Value?  The Communist Manifesto?  His theory of Alienation?  His historical determinism?  His materialist understanding of Hegel?) 

But Obama is not a Marxist.  Given what he’s been saying about the gas tax, his understanding of regulation, and his many corporate backers, I’d need to see more evidence.  His community organizing work is very third sector oriented:  churches provided a counterbalance between government and business to serve local communities.  It’s actually a view that the RC church has.  He’s shown some

But Andrew717 - I think there might be good critiques of Obama.  I hear plenty of ones that make sense (he’s in the hands of corporate America; he’s pandering to Fox).  Others (he’s a secret Muslim, he’s a communist) just don’t have lots of evidence.  I’m not sure who I called a racist.  I’m pretty sensitive about using that word.  I do think - however, - we should have evidence for our views, and be willing to change our mind. 

GDB - you have pretty high standards for your politicians.  A cursory Examination of McCain wouldn’t make him much better looking, in my view.  Here’s a story: Obama was attracted to the social gospel at Wright’s church, and made lots of friends and connections there:  its 10,000 members.  As a politician he probably went to services once in a while.  Most likely he shared many of the views:  a concern for the poor, for example.  He probably disagreed with others, but like many church goers, had other things in his life to worry about.  Wright probably did not preach about AIDS and Hamas and Farrakhan every Sunday - in fact, in most of his sermons, he would end with reconciliation.  And that is probably what Obama remembers - selective memory - but I will say that most of the time people in the congregation hear what they want to hear.  I think Obama didn’t think Wright’s crazy views were the Modus Operandi of the church - and I doubt the church would have gotten very far if that were the case. 

But you seem to think that Obama has a facade - but you don’t offer any evidence.  I’m willing to listen to some.  I do think he is a politician.  I do think he makes mistakes.  And I disagree with some of his policies.  I

April 30, 3:31 pm | [comment link]
34. David Keller wrote:

I was out of the office when this came, but thanks to Kendall and his forwarding system, all of you will get this.  This thing about Wright is that his views are shared by a vast majority of the leaders of TEC.  I reminded my wife this morning of the events of 9/11.  She called me at work on 9/11 and I got the news.  I “jokingly” told her that I couldn’t wait to read Louis Crews’ HoBD web page (I was a deputy to GC at the time) because I was sure they would be blasting America.  She said I shouldn’t say such things.  Well, I was wrong. The comments were much WORSE than I thought.  It pretty much sounded like the Rev. Mr. Wright on steroids.  Anti-Americam, pro Islamic extremist, we deserved what we got, teh chickens have come home to roost George Bush should be impeached etc. ad nasuem. The point is, the clues to where we were/are heading were there all along, we just couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

April 30, 3:40 pm | [comment link]
35. Andrew717 wrote:

John, I didn’t say you’d called anyone racist, but implied it several times.  Perhaps I am wrong, but it has seemed to me that when backed into a corner the “you’re white and can’t understand” or “you don’t have an open mind towards Obama due to his race” tropes seem to come out.

April 30, 4:13 pm | [comment link]
36. gdb in central Texas wrote:

Dear John,
The NY Times - one year ago today (April 30, 2007) - http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/30/us/politics/30obama.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Mr. Obama knew all about his spiritual advisor. From the article: “Few of those at Mr. Wright’s tribute in March knew of the pressures that Mr. Obama’s presidential run was placing on the relationship between the pastor and his star congregant. Mr. Wright’s assertions of widespread white racism and his scorching remarks about American government have drawn criticism, and prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February.”

John, in several years of posting you have never answered a direct question about one of your assertions. Instead, through obfuscation and straw men you try and change the subject. Mr. McCain’s views are not on trial and yet you try to change the subject.

I stand by my point. Mr. Obama is a puerile, egoistic politician of no accomplishments or experience.

April 30, 4:27 pm | [comment link]
37. Dave B wrote:

John Wilkins, this is an excerpt from Wikpidia-“Dr. Robert A. Morley is one widely quoted paper citing specific criticisms of black theology. He states that black theology turns religion into sociology, and Jesus into a black Marxist rebel. While making statements against whites and Asians, it promotes a poor self-image among blacks, and describes the black man as a helpless victim of forces and people beyond his control. Black theology calls for political liberation instead of spiritual salvation. Fundamentally, it is not Bible-based, Christ-honoring theology from this critical viewpoint. [18] Anthony Bradley of the Christian Post interprets that the language of “economic parity” and references to “mal-distribution” is nothing more than channeling the views of Karl Marx. He believes James Cone and Cornel West have worked to incorporate Marxist thought into the black church, forming an ethical framework predicated on a system of oppressor class versus a victim much like Marxism.[19]”.  I am not a theologian, obviously, but I have heard and read several referances to black liberation theology and it’s mother, liberation theology of the sixties.  I know wikpidia is not a great referance but it does show that I am not alone in my thinking.  Obama has a hugh problem as do the democrates.

April 30, 5:53 pm | [comment link]
38. John Wilkins wrote:

Andrew 717- I can’t control what people hear.  However, it does seem you’ve been offended. 

GDB - I urge you to take a critical eye toward that story on several fronts.  Obama may have known where Wright stood.  I don’t think it was that important to him.  I think he was impressed by the social ministries and took Wright’s sermons as drama.  He filtered out what he didn’t like.  This, to me, is human nature.  As far as egotistical and puerile, I guess I just see a different sort of person.  I do think it takes a pretty strong ego to be a national politician, in any case, but I’m not sure what you mean.  As far as a lack of experience goes, I think his experience is as good as George Bush’s was, and it is becoming clearer to me that he has the temperament to be an unusual leader. 

I also want to note, GDB, that your attacks seem personal.  If I’ve attacked you personally, I’m sorry.  I didn’t see you ask a question, but you did assert that Obama’s advisers are a calculated facade.  I’m not sure what your reasons are - except you’ve made firm character judgment upon him.  Perhaps you are right.  I just need some evidence. 

Dave B: I hate to pull the theology card on the table, but I’ve actually read black liberation theology.  I’ve read Dwight Hopkins.  I’ve read James Cone.  I’ve read Cornel West - and not just one book of each.  Not only that - I’ve read Schubert Ogden, Sharon Welch, and liberation theology from all sorts of perspectives.  As I said in my earlier post, Marx is an important conversation partner in Liberation Theology.  It is not the only one.  There is a strong anarchic element in some liberation theology as well. (I’m hoping you have some understanding of the anti-Marxist elements of anarchism).  Not all liberation theology gets is strength from Marx. 

I’ve never read such a misunderstanding of Black Liberation Theology in my life.  If anything, Black Liberation Theology is precisely about finding power in surviving what has happened to black people.  It is about rejecting the false gods of inferiority and finding glory in seeing through the eyes of the crucified one.  There is a strong identification with the people of Israel, the poor and with Jesus Christ.  Look - I don’t want to diminish the fact that Marxism did inform , especially, Liberation Theology.  But that’s the pretty simplified, media soundbite view of it.  If anything, it is based in the idea that the response of poor people reading scripture together in small communities is the real location of God’s work. 

I’m worried that ANdrew, GDB and David might be taking my defenses personally, given their tone.  I don’t know Andrew, or if he is a racist.  I don’t remember if I’ve not answered GDB’s questions.  I do think that Dave B needs to flesh out his understanding of Black Liberation Theology.  It’s not a personal thing:  but I think its probably good practice to know what you are criticizing (and I don’t agree with everything in Liberation Theology at all.  My tastes run along the lines of David Bentley Hart.)

April 30, 6:22 pm | [comment link]
39. Dave B wrote:

John Wilkins, I do not take your defenses personally.  I am after an exchange of ideas, opinions, and thoughts.  My area of expertise is anesthesia.  I am a christian, perhaps not as well informed as I should be, but willing to share my ideas, opinions and thoughts.  I can not read or study as much as I should or like, but I do try to be informed about the issues in the Episcopal Church and of the politics of the day.  I was informed of the liberation theology of the 60’s ( there was a college professor and some Nuns who were involved in it in south America at the college I attended) and the problem of placing people(rich versus poor)  in oppositon to each other instead of seeing them as brothers in Christ.  Obama needs to explain his attraction to this brand of Christianity (BLT) having spent twenty years as a member of Wright’s Church and naming a book after the title of one of Wright’s sermons.  In my thinking that Black Liberation Theology has some Marxist underpinnings I am not alone.  As I said Obama had a flirtation with Marxism and so this brand of Christianity may have had a resonance with him.  Obama will spend his next few days, (precious time before the primary) trying to get all this sorted out, and it is going to hurt him. Working blue collar people do not like America being trashed.  Laney Davis quoted a pol yesterday that showed McCain beating Obama in Massachusetts of all places!

April 30, 8:41 pm | [comment link]
40. Dave B wrote:

John Wilkins- there is a reason this is important.  During the Obama Clinton debate, Obama was asked about capital gains tax and revenue.  Obama rambled on about the top hedge fund managers income etc.  If you are Marxist socialist his answer made sense in terms of income redistribution, if you want to raise revenue for the government it made no sense. So what is Obama’s philosophy of the government and it’s pupose?

May 1, 5:15 am | [comment link]
41. John Wilkins wrote:

David B - you seem to imply that any sort of income transfer is Marxist.  The evidence, however, is that democracy depends on the existence of a middle class of some sort. 

It is almost like saying that those who oppose “income redistribution” are actually people who support monarchies - that those with inherited wealth should be running the country. 

Obama seems to have a libertarian paternalist view of economics, and a view of the state that encourages 1) people who play by the rules to get ahead (rather than say, monopolies - who tend to get most of the benefits) 2) the independent “third sector”  of society - churches, not-for-profits, unions and cooperatives (those that aren’t motivated by primarily by greed).  In fact, the rules that often organize businesses aren’t much different than those that organize the “third sector.” 

Libertarian paternalism uses psychology to guide people to make better decisions for themselves and the country.  For example, people can opt out of organ donation if they choose - rather than opt in.  People still have a choice - but they have to choose NOT to rather than choose to participate.  His economists, for example, advocate doing the same for savings plans. 

Most people say that they want to eat fruit - but they choose to eat fruit in a week.  But today, they always choose chocolate.  Unfortunately, because we are sinners, we often make bad choices today.  What we can do is make it easy for people to choose well instinctively rather than the opposite.

Some income redistribution is good for the country because it inhibits the growth of a plutocracy.  David B- there’s a lot inbetween the fantasy of a free market and the dictatorship of the proletariat.  Distributivism, Georgism (eg Henry George), Cooperativism and the like.

May 1, 4:53 pm | [comment link]
42. Dave B wrote:

John, you are going to fast to far, the question in the debate was ” A reduction in capital gains taxes increases revenue, would you favor a captial gains tax cut?” Senator Obama proceeded to discuss how weathy hedge fund mangers had become, as if that were wrong and needed to be taxed.  So it seemed as if Obama wanted to raise tax reguardless of what it did to federal revenue. This was strange answer and approach.  It only made sense if, as I said, you think one of the jobs of government is to limit the accumulation of weath and the redistribution of wealth with out respect to an increase in government revenue, and this during record defecits. Did you watch the debate?

May 1, 9:35 pm | [comment link]
43. John Wilkins wrote:

I did not watch the entire debate.  Obama - fortunately - has economic advisers around him, however. 

My impression is that you accused him of being a Marxist.  You should substantiate that claim.  What is your evidence?

May 1, 9:44 pm | [comment link]
44. Dave B wrote:

John, I have never claimed Senator Obama is a Marxist.  I do question Senator Obama’s philosophy of government. Obama seems to think that the role of government is to insure “fairness”.  If I work hard, risk my time effort, intellegence, ability and money, and gain wealth someone, for the sake of “fairness” is intitled to the money and a lower tax rate.  I know you worked hard to be a professor but I think in the sake of “fairness” I should be allowed to utilize some of your class room time to expose my ignorance, it is only “fair”.  This has really implications in what happens to America.  The Govenor of Montana was talking about converting coal to gas.  The investors are hesitating because they don’t know if government will regulate and tax them to the point where it is no longer economically fessible or not.  We have coal reserves that can last us over a thousand years. Why invest money when the rewards for you risks of time, money and effort are minimal.  People are ignorant in that “RECORD” Oil Company profits are touted, yet the rate of return for oil companies is about 8%, I have mutual funds that do better than that.

May 2, 9:39 am | [comment link]
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