2. Mickey Kaus blogs on "Obama's Pastor Disaster:"
Old CW: Not Black Enough; New CW: What's All This Black Business? Tom Maguire wonders why Jodi Kantor's front-page NYT piece on Barack Obama's pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, hasn't generated more controversy. Having now read it, I tend to agree. I'd certainly be more comfortable with a presidential nominee whose main spiritual man 1) hadn't visited Col. Qaddafi (even back in '84); 2) talked less about "oppression" and "this racist United States of America;" 3) when discussing the solution to poverty, talked more about individual achievement and less about the role of "community"—including maybe even celebrating "middleclassness" instead of using it as shorthand for selfishness; 4) in general wasn't so obsessed with race--as evidenced most negatively in talk of "white arrogance" and derogatory reference to the "Great White West." ... I suspect Rev. Wright is going to be a bigger problem for Obama's campaign than has been conventionally perceived. When Obama declared "we worship an awesome God in the blue states," were voters expecting this?...
That the Rev. Wright has been Obama's "spiritual advisor" for the last 20 years is the equivalent of a white candidate having, say, the Rev. Bob Jones III, who got in so much trouble for banning interracial dating on his campus, as his spiritual advisor. "Wait a minute," you say, "The difference is that white people have power and black people don't, so racialism is bad when whites do it but fine when blacks do it!" Well, sure ... except that Obama wants to be the President of the United States and that's as powerful as you can get.
This paradox that Mickey identifies — that Obama isn't very black by upbringing but is very black by avocation — isn't terribly hard to explain. It's precisely because he's a preppie from paradise, and thus his black street cred is always in question, that he's searched out black racialist organizations like the Rev. Wright's church. If he was as culturally black as, say, James Brown, Don King, Charles Barkley, etc., he'd be more "comfortable in his own skin" and feel less of a need for a racialist community to validate his authenticity as a black man.
3. By the way, why has it become such a commonplace that Obama is "comfortable in his own skin" that there are 1,690 references to this clich?© on Google, when the man himself wrote 442 pages about precisely the opposite? Wouldn't a more plausible explanation for the gap between his autobiography and his current media image be that Obama is a talented actor? Cary Grant, for example, sure seemed comfortable in his own skin, but he wasn't, at least not until the last eight years of his tremendous career, after psychoanalysis (using LSD, which was perfectly legal in 1958) helped him come to grips with his rampant insecurities.