There's an old classic rock chestnut by the group Free that's been going through my head this morning, although the spelling's a bit off:
"All Wright now....baby, it's alllll Wright now..."
Ever since yesterday, the cable news channels have been running virtually non-stop the comic stylings of the Artist Formerly Known as Barack Obama's Pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In other words, a man whose claims to fame are a low-degree of separation from a presidential contender and an ability for mixing good deeds and occasional common sense with outrageous statements and even spreading deliberate untruths (America deliberately caused AIDS) is getting the kind of airtime that even presidents of the United States rarely get.
No, President Bush doesn't get all the TV airtime that he wants, but that doesn't seem to be an issue for the man who's suddenly become a public figure: LPOTUS -- the Loony Pastor of the United States. To be fair, it's not clear today whether Bush or Wright has the lower approval rating.
But that's not the issue. The issue is whether this man who, regardless of what you think of his provocative ideas, clearly enjoys calling attention to himself -- now to the political detriment of his former congregant (Wright is now retired from the Trinity United Church of Christ) -- deserves wall-to-wall coverage over two days in a time of war, record gas prices, a global food crisis, and more. Isn't the supposed big issue with Wright whether Obama was aware of his more outlandish and anti-American statements (uh, I believe he is by now) and how Obama himself viewed and dealt with those views, to the extent that he was aware of them?
While most agree that's a legitimate conversation -- you may recall this speech by Obama that it inspired last month -- I also think that train has already left the station. In other words, what Wright said last night in Detroit or this morning to the National Press Club doesn't advance that political issue at all. It is sheer reality show "Deal or No Deal"-style entertainment -- what off-the-wall thing will come out of Wright's mouth next. You can just see America's living rooms..."Oh my God, Martha -- you gotta see this! He's doing JFK now!"
And CNN, Fox, and MSNBC are outstanding at providing this type of electrifying television coverage, and making it highly entertaining. The only thing they're terrible at doing is telling us what -- in the context of electing our 44th president -- it all means at this stage of the game, now that Wright's past statements have been aired thousands of times and been analyzed and properly rejected and denounced by Obama in his own nationally televised speech.
That's because frankly, they don't know what it all means anymore, just that millions of us are still watching.
Ironic, isn't it, that the all-Wright-all-the-time news coverage commences on the very day that Elizabeth Edwards published this in the New York Times:
News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve.
And make no mistake about it -- Jeremiah Wright sells! In fact, I wonder how long before MTV or maybe even one of the networks offers him his own reality show, except it wouldn't differ much from the one that's already airing. Frankly, I think that combatting this kind of news coverage is an argument that the American electorate can't win, so would I would propose is this:
Let's not wait until August, but immediately declare Jeremiah Wright the Democrats' fall candidate for LPOTUS, and then let's annoint the Rev. John Hagee as the GOP nominee, and have the two of them hold a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates. Can you imagine the ratings for that? I know the perfect moderators!
Blogger's note: Fixed some typos and changed the original headline, which I decided was off-target and grating