Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hurt

The politician was doing what he had to do, but Barack Obama's personal pain yesterday was palpable as he cut his ties to Jeremiah Wright.

“Whatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright has changed as a consequence of this,” Obama said. “I don’t think that he showed much concern for me."

Behind the politician's voice was the anger and disappointment of a man who barely knew his own father but wrote a book about him, bearing a title inspired by a paternal figure who had now betrayed him.

Searching for substitute fathers has been common for a long time now in an era of mobility, psychological desertion and divorce. Throughout his life, Obama has found more than one, not only Wright and the disreputable Tony Rezko but, among others, two figures from the Kennedy era, Abner Mikva and Newt Minow, who helped and advised him along the way.

The Wright psychodrama, and how Obama handles it, will almost certainly be a turning point in this campaign and beyond. Yesterday he seemed dazed and hurt in making the break.

“The fact that Reverend Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage for three or four consecutive days in the midst of this major debate is something that not only makes me angry, but also saddens me,” he said in dealing with his pain publicly.

The coming days will be a test of his capacity for recovery and renewal.

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