The Reverend Jeremiah Wright

Every pun has been taken, so I'll just straightforwardly point you to Prof. K's round-up of Wright's odd foray into the public eye at the moment Obama needs him to recede. One item he links to is this analysis of the interview Wright granted Bill Moyers.

Two of those excesses, saying Goddamn America, and blaming 9/11 on America, did seem a bit more defensible when more of the preceding sermons were included. All Wright had to say was something like this: as someone who loves America, I hold her to a very high standard; as a preacher of the gospel, I am duty bound to remind her of her sins. For both reasons I sometimes get carried away and say things that I do not mean and do not really believe. That wouldn't have entirely gotten him off the hook, or made everyone feel better, but I think it would have let most of the air out of this balloon.

Instead, Moyers presented Wright as a Biblical prophet, on the same level as Martin Luther King (to whom Wright repeatedly compared himself), if not Jesus. Neither Moyers nor Wright found fault with one word of the infamous sermons. They blamed the scandal entirely on wicked people who produced sound bites from the sermons, taken out of context.

He goes on from there and I agree with his analysis, but I dunno that anything can ameliorate Wright's damn America comment in my mind. Patriotism certainly can coincide with strong condemnation of things this country does. I think of Jefferson's remark regarding slavery:

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.
Or Lincoln's suggestion in the Second Inaugural that the extreme bloodiness of the Civil War may have been God's retribution for it. But it is one thing to contemplate what meaning present trials may have for eternity or to warn that just punishment is at hand if the people do not repent. It's another thing entirely to be the man who calls down the curse upon his own nation. I don't think there's any amount of torsion that can convert that act into anything decent.

Update: WaPo's Dana Milbank writes:
Should it become necessary in the months from now to identify the moment that doomed Obama's presidential aspirations, attention is likely to focus on the hour between nine and ten this morning at the National Press Club. It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered - and added lighter fuel.
Excerpts here.
Update: Here's the transcript, about which Prof. K. has more to say.