As the old saying goes: With friends like these, who needs enemies?
After weeks of keeping a low profile, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright — the recently retired pastor of the Chicago church frequented by Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama — has come back with a vengeance.
Sen. Obama might have thought he’d weathered the storm over controversial comments his pastor made from the pulpit, many of which were shown on national television and repeated on YouTube. One of his more colorful rants caught on camera saying "God damn America" instead of "God bless America."
But after staying on the sideline for a few weeks as the matter died down, the Rev. Wright has resurfaced and succeeded in rekindling the entire issue. Over the past four days, the Rev. Wright has thrust himself back in the spotlight, attempting to defend himself by arguing that inflammatory comments critical of the United States were taken out of context.
It didn’t help that he then proceeded to embrace some of the very statements he claimed had been somehow misconstrued.
For instance, at a Washington news conference on Monday, the Rev. Wright repeated his assertion that the U.S. government invented the virus that causes AIDS as a means of killing African-Americans.
"Based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything," he said.
The Rev. Wright also equated criticism of him with attacks on African-American religious traditions.
Sen. Obama succeeded in partially defusing the controversy last month when he delivered his well-received speech on racial issues. At that time, he said he disagreed with many of the Rev. Wright’s remarks, but refused to repudiate the man himself.
Given the recent turn of events, though, Sen. Obama has now embraced a stronger stance.
"I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday," Sen. Obama said Tuesday. "What became clear to me was that [the Rev. Wright] was presenting a world view that contradicts what I am and what I stand for."
None of this can be good news to an Obama campaign struggling to clinch the Democratic nomination. But if the candidate can’t put a muzzle on his former pastor, he might at least win some points for finally condemning in no uncertain terms the paranoid, fantastical rhetoric of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.