Wright Again

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So, I didn't want to immediately comment on Obama's renunciation of his pastor yesterday. In my initial post I expressed shock that folks were so incensed by Rev. Wright. That said, I want to be clear that I thought Wright acted a fool on Monday. There's a lot of chatter out there claiming that Wright was trying to sabotage Obama. I don't buy it. Like I said yesterday, I think Wright just wanted  to say whatever he felt. But he made a few mistakes. Chief among them, as my friend Jelani Cobb has said, was not recognizing the difference between his pulpit and the lion's den. This press lives to expose these sort of performances, and Wright just gave them low-hanging fruit.

Why he would do that, given what he's been through the past few months, just boggles the mind. You can't, on the one hand, attack the press for distorting you, and then go right to the press to communicate who you are to the American people. The saddest part of this to me, is that I don't think Wright understood what was going on. There's a lot of reporting now suggesting that Bill Clinton's biggest problem is that he simply doesn't understand how much media has changed since his White House days. His gaffes are not the product of a decline in skills, as I've written before, but the result of a fundamental misunderstanding of what the press has become--a gaggle of cynics who sit around waiting for people say something stupid. Gotcha journalism rules the day. Wright's mistake was much the same--he simply had no understanding of the press.

Frankly, I don't know how Barack Obama goes back to Trinity. The one thing he said that caught me in that press conference was that he goes to church to pray, not to be a distraction. How is that possible now? Any appearance by Obama there would immediately turn the church service into a charade.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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