The best analysis I've seen of the hypocrisy of Barack Obama's longtime membership in the church of hate-mongering Reverend Jeremiah Wright was Shelby Steele's oped piece in The Wall Street Journal last week. Steele called Obama a "bargainer."
"Bargainers," Steele wrote, "make the subliminal promise to whites not to shame them with America's history of racism on the condition that they will not hold the bargainer's race against him. And whites love this bargain — and feel affection for the bargainer — because it gives them racial innocence in a society where whites live under constant threat of being stigmatized as racist."
But Obama broke his part of the bargain when he chose to remain a member of Rev. Wright's church all these years, hoping that the whites he was comforting with the bargain never would find out.
Once the public saw what Obama's pastor had been saying for more than 20 years about whites and about America, the senator's hypocrisy was plain even to liberals.
When he was confronted with his violation of the "bargain," Obama continued to express support and admiration for Rev. Wright and decided that we needed to have a conversation about race after all. His speech attempted to explain the hate his pastor expressed. Obama said whites shouldn't be surprised that black people such as Rev. Wright still were angry about past racism.
To me, Obama sounded a lot like those who have invoked Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton's grievances against local government in trying to rationalize his murdering five people in Kirkwood. Obama tried to defend the indefensible and in the process suggested that he actually might have been culpable for his pastor's ravings after all.
Obama will pay a price for defending his relationship with Rev. Wright and, thus, abandoning his bargain. Once he stops being a "bargainer" and becomes a "challenger," as Steele describes Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton — people who seek to intimidate whites with charges of racism — white liberals will turn on him.
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So go ahead and vote Democratic this year if you want to wallow in racial recriminations for the next four years. Whether it's Obama or the wife of our first black president or Missouri attorney general Jay Nixon, who's running for governor, or St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Democrats come to the table with heavy racial baggage they just can't or won't put down.
In contrast, notice that black Republicans aren't race hustlers. From Colin Powell to Amy Holmes; from Condi Rice to Kenneth Blackwell and Shelby Steele, there's no bargaining and no guilt, just excellence in search of opportunity.
Think about how much better that is for America than the alternative. Even if you're a liberal.