More than anything, it's the smile. Is it benign, beatific, self-satisfied or all of the above? As the Rev. Wright, with the help of the media he excoriates, does inestimable damage to Barack Obama's campaign, the smile tells more than his words do. The preacher is center stage.
In 1960, when John F. Kennedy assured voters that, as the first Catholic president, he would not be taking instruction from the Vatican, neither the Pope nor the Archbishop of his diocese held press conferences to contradict him.
Obama has not been so lucky. Rev. Wright feels compelled to correct the image of him spread by YouTube, which he interpreted today as "an attack on the black church."
Moreover, Wright recalled to the National Press Club today that he told Obama last year, "If you get elected, November the 5th I'm coming after you, because you'll be representing a government whose policies grind under people."
Unlike JFK, Obama will have to deal with questions about his religion until voters go to the ballot box.
His response today is a sample of what's to come. At a tarmac press conference, Obama told reporters, “He’s obviously free to speak his mind, but I just want to emphasize that this is my former pastor. Many of the statements that he has made both to trigger this initial controversy and that he’s made over the last several days are not statements that I’ve heard him make previously. They don’t represent my views and they don’t represent what this campaign is about.”
But that won't wipe the smile off the Rev. Wright's face.