Wright Clarifies

I don't know if it helps. The idea that "Zionists" are keeping Obama from talking to Wright strikes me as, well, false. I'm willing to bet Valarie Jarrett doesn't want them talking either. I'm willing to bet more that Michelle Obama doesn't want them talking. And, for what it's worth, Obama's a man. If he hasn't called, that's on him. Not on Axelrod.

I don't want to pile on here. And I don't want to be opportunistic. But I've never understood the impulse to defend yourself when you make a blatant mistake. I didn't understand it in Bush, and I don't understand it here. Some of you will argue that it wasn't a "mistake." Fair enough.

But the question I'm asking is, assuming that folks are sincere, what really is so hard about saying, "I am sorry. I didn't mean to say it. It's not what's in my heart. But it was wrong and I am sorry." Why the invocation of Hillary? Why does her (presumed) lack of candidness give you the right to be equally obtuse? Why the dodging? Why the inability to just man up and admit the error?

Again, I wonder if it's the result of having been hardened. I wonder if its about feeling like you're constantly besieged, and to apologize is to surrender something. So, instead, you become more aggressive. The crazy thing is that the aggression only feeds the cycle. It only makes it for more controversy, and more headlines. Why not just kill it? Say "I was wrong" and then stop talking to reporters. Just stop.

This makes me think about Obama's response to Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment. When he came out and said, "Well, I think she'd agree that was poor phrasing," people were wondering if his admission gave ammo to his adversaries. In fact, it just stole their oxygen. He recognized that it wasn't a point worth defending. Why fight it? What do you gain?

Same thing here. What is Jeremiah Wright trying to achieve?

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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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