Video: Obama's ex-pastor speaks out

By Clint Van Zandt
updated 4/30/2008 1:32:16 PM ET 2008-04-30T17:32:16

Rev. Jeremiah Wright continued a string of appearances Monday in a speech to the National Press Club. There, he said that criticism of his fiery sermons is an attack on the black church and he rejected those who have labeled him unpatriotic.

This follows an appearance on Bill Moyers' show on PBS Friday. News reports of his speech Monday describe him as relishing “the chance to speak out after weeks of being derided in the press.” In NBC's political blog, First Read, the writers talk about what Wright in terms of the Carly Simon song, “You’re so vain, you probably think this campaign is about you.”

Rev. Jeremiah Wright has apparently suffered a devastating emotional wound that could be characterized as a narcissistic injury. In my experience and education as a former FBI profiler, such an injury can radically alter the thoughts, actions and statements of someone who has otherwise achieved and maintained a position of high public profile where he may have been virtually unchallenged for years. 

Some news commentators have been so bold to suggest the same thing: Wright, although the pastor and friend of presidential candidate and Sen. Barack Obama, may in some way be attempting to sabotage Obama’s race for the White House. Wright has now apparently turned to the public lectern as he criticizes the media for the alleged wrongs they have committed against him and, by virtue of his position and race, against the black churches of America and African-Americans in general.

When someone with the Wright’s background of achievement and position experiences a significant personal or professional disappointment or perceived socially embarrassing slight, he may overreact and set out to “figuratively harm or wound” the person or institution he believes responsible. A narcissist may perceive any disagreement with him as criticism, and any critical remark as rejection, and, therefore, may react defensively, this by becoming indignant, aggressive and attempting to devalue or hold in contempt anyone who criticizes him.

Some believe that Obama initially attempted to capitalize on his personal relationship with Wright even taking the title of his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” from a sermon credited to the pastor.  It was Obama who once approved of Wright’s appointment to the candidate’s African-American Religious Leadership Committee, a group of almost 200 black religious leaders who stand with Obama in his run for the presidency. 

In early 2008, Obama began to distance himself from Wright when his racist and anti-American sermons became known to the public. Although Wright’s recent speeches were thought to be an attempt to explain his position and his statements, he has apparently chosen to use such opportunities to beat his chest. It has been left to Obama to try to further distance himself from Wright’s comments and statements that many see as divisive, with Wright now suggesting that “(blacks) do it differently, and some of our haters can’t get their heads around that.” 

It would appear that anything Rev. Wright says at this point, short of some type of renunciation of his comments, can only hurt his former friend and presidential candidates’ political chances. 

For many, it may have become time to look behind the veil of rhetoric that has been offered by Obama and to carefully consider what type of change he actually wants for this country.  Does he offer the type of change that the majority of Americans seems to seek, to include a coming together of people of all colors, or is there some hidden agenda that needs be flushed into the daylight for all to see?  The next few weeks and months will tell and Wright will likely continue to suffer from his narcissistic injuries and blame the media and anyone who disagrees with him with sewing the discord currently laid at his feet, this while his “wounds” continue to infect the candidacy of the Senator from Illinois.

Clint Van Zandt is a former FBI agent, behavioral profiler and hostage negotiator as well as an MSNBC analyst. His Web site,, provides readers with security-related information.

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