Jeremiah Wright, class act

He’s cutting short his 15 minutes and passing up the chance to vindicate himself. The beneficiary is Barack Obama.

Jeremiah Wright has cancelled public appearances and isn’t giving interviews.

He has done so although he is being widely, and not very accurately, vilified. In particular, he has been identified as a racist. Nothing he has been quoted as saying justifies that charge, and there is lots of evidence that it isn’t true. None of the loudmouth political preachers to whom Wright has been likened since the controversy broke would have voluntarily cut short his own fifteen minutes of fame.

I have no special insight as to why Wright has made this choice, but the big beneficiary is the most famous member of Wright’s former congregation, and the natural interpretation is that Wright is sacrificing both camera time and the opportunity to vindicate himself against slander either for Obama’s sake or for the sake of the larger purposes that would be served by Obama’s election.

I wish Wright hadn’t said that silly, ugly stuff about AIDS and drugs, but the more I learn about him the more I admire him.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: