Shelby Steele in today's Wall Street Journal:
nothing could be more dangerous to Mr. Obama's political aspirations than the revelation that he, the son of a white woman, sat Sunday after Sunday -- for 20 years -- in an Afrocentric, black nationalist church in which his own mother, not to mention other whites, could never feel comfortable. His pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a challenger who goes far past Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in his anti-American outrage ("God damn America").How does one "transcend" race in this church? The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own mother. And what portent of presidential judgment is it to have exposed his two daughters for their entire lives to what is, at the very least, a subtext of anti-white vitriol?What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn't thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to "be black" despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity. And anyway, wasn't this hatred more rhetorical than real?But now the floodlight of a presidential campaign has trained on this usually hidden corner of contemporary black life: a mindless indulgence in a rhetorical anti-Americanism as a way of bonding and of asserting one's blackness. Yet Jeremiah Wright, splashed across America's television screens, has shown us that there is no real difference between rhetorical hatred and real hatred.
And today's New York Times suggests something to listen for:
Five weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, Mr. Obama had hoped to be refining his strategy to win over the support of white male voters a demographic that began to slip away in his Ohio defeat. Instead he is facing his second straight week of negative news coverage. In a television interview with PBS on Monday, Mr. Obama called his pastors remarks stupid and conceded, it has been a distraction from the core message of our campaign.If his earlier appearances in the day were any guide, he is making a few subtle alterations to his routine on the campaign trail.In his many months of stumping, Mr. Obama has rarely bid farewell to an audience the way he did at a morning event in Monaca, Pa. God bless you and God bless America! he proclaimed.