Remember Joe Btfsplk, the Li’l Abner comic-strip character with the rain cloud always hovering overhead? That’s what the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is to Barack Obama.
No matter where Joe Btfsplk meandered, that consummate jinx was forever inflicting calamity-by-association upon others. There is no longer a hamlet or metropolis in the United States where Obama can campaign for president that the image of his witch-doctor pastor won’t follow, drenching him in his unshakable curse of racial bigotry and anti-American hatred.
Don’t blame Jeremiah Wright (alias Joe Btfsplk). He wouldn’t be there, haunting, poisoning Obama’s presidential prospects, bit by drizzly bit, day by gloomy day, if Obama hadn’t sought him out from the onset of his political career, when he so desperately needed him.
Now that it’s suddenly too late, Obama desperately no longer wants to be affiliated with Wright. Apparently the feeling has become mutual.
Instead of Obama’s exploiting Wright – which was the original plan – it’s now Wright’s exploiting Obama.
Memory fails as to how Li’l Abner ever managed to shake off Joe Btfsplk, but he did somehow. That’s where the similarity between comic strip and real life ends. There’s nothing Obama can do anymore to get Wright off his back.
The two are hopelessly bonded, like an entanglement with flypaper. The more Obama tries to explain away this race-hater Svengali, the worse his fingers become stuck to the wacko Wright.
The longer Wright continues to perform his self-revealing speaking exhibitions, the more odious and lasting he makes his association with Obama in voters’ minds. The more Obama issues those artless-dodger field communiqués, trying to pull the Wright flypaper off one hand, the more it adheres to the fingers of his other hand.
Obama is like a doomed prisoner being electrocuted. He knows it’s killing him, but he can’t stop gripping the chair.
You can tell Wright relishes all this, wallowing in his new-found notoriety. He never had so much attention. Obama must be wishing himself on some other planet far, far away.
Listening to Obama struggling, yet once again, to explain the inexplicable brings to mind the poor fellow with a big, ugly wart growing on the end of his nose. He felt compelled to troll the sidewalks of Main Street, stopping everyone he encountered and saying: “See this big, ugly wart growing on the end of my nose? Well, it’s not as big as everyone says it is . . . Besides, this isn’t really my nose . . . At least, not anymore . . . What are you looking at?”
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright has already decided the bigger, the uglier the wart he is, the better he likes it. He’s made it clear he intends to stick around, nose-wart or no nose-wart, longer than Barack Obama can.
Will this terminally derail Obama’s campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination? Not necessarily, judged by the caliber of recent recipients of that tarnished distinction.
If Obama receives the nomination, will the Joe Btfsplk effect cause him to lose the presidential election?
The answer depends on how big, how ugly, how festering, how drippy a wart you want to have to look at on the end of the nose of the president of the United States for the next four, maybe eight, years.
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com.
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