Religion Gap

Benedict Bush.jpgFor those of us (and if we aren't legion neither are we a tiny few) who have shouldered the burden of tracking religion in the current campaign, the, ah, Godsend that was the Obama/Wright affair has just about run itself into the blogground, leaving in its wake a discernible absence of news. This may be remedied by the visit of Pope Benedict, who (according to Peter Steinfels) will provide at least a little grist for our mills.
In the meantime, a couple of uncommented-upon Wright matters are left to be tidied up in this space. First, I'd say there was a bit less than met the eye in Obama's comment on "The View" last Friday that he'd have left Trinity United had Wright not retired and acknowledged making comments that "deeply offended people." There's no question that Obama had long known that his tie to Wright could hurt his candidacy, and my guess is that he figured the retirement would make it easier to weather the storm (as it probably has). Were Wright still in the pulpit, he very likely would have been compelled to speak up on the subject, instead of keeping mum. And though it would not have come easily to him, an acknowledgment that he had "offended people" might well have been forthcoming.
Kantor.jpgThen there's the letter of Wright's to Jodi Kantor of the New York Times of a year ago, complaining that Kantor had misrepresented her intentions in an interview she did with him. Kantor had represented herself as working on a story about Obama's spiritual development but, according to the letter, the story that appeared focused solely on the fact, revealed by Wright, that Obama had decided that Wright not be present when he announced his candidacy. Wright thought this was dirty pool. In fact, as Times political editor Richard Stevenson has pointed out in a letter to the Time magazine political blog The Page, the paper did get around to publishing an extended article on Obama's spiritual development. But Wright's revelation was news, and so the first order or business had been to run out a quick story on the Wright non-appearance.
Wright's distress is understandable, but anyone who has spent time in the journalistic trenches would immediately see that his cause for complaint was minimal at best. If you talk to a reporter on the record, then whatever you say is fair game. I would have done the non-appearance story in a heartbeat.