I had never heard of Father Michael Pfleger until I saw Hugh Hewitt’s blog post, but he made a memorable first impression in his sermon (Obama campaign speech?) at Trinity Church in Chicago.
At one point he mocked Hillary Clinton’s now famous campaign trail tears, sobbing loudly and theatrically into a handkerchief. This was rather overdoing the parody, since the closest Senator Clinton actually came to tears was a choked voice and eyes that glistened a little but never overflowed. What was truly remarkable about his mockery however was the reason he gave for Clinton’s tears. “I don’t believe it was put on,” Pfleger said. “She just always thought, ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife, I’m white, and this is mine.’ Then along came Barack Obama . . . And she said, ‘Oh, damn! Where did you come from? I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealin’ my show!'”
The congregation of Trinity roared their approval of this bit of political psychoanalysis, but it’s so obviously off the mark that it almost defies belief. Yes, of course Hillary thought she had the nomination in the bag, and of course she was stunned and furious when someone else came out of nowhere to pluck the brass ring right out of her fingers. But do Father Pfleger and the Trinity congregation actually believe that she’s angry because the man who took her nomination is black? Do they think Hillary would have smiled and said, “Oh, sure, go right ahead,” if the New Kid in Town had been a young and charismatic white man? Or a white woman? Or an Asian or Hispanic or fill-in-the-minority-of-your-choice man or woman? Do they really think Hillary would have been a graceful loser to anyone? Either Pfleger is not very intelligent, or he’s shamelessly pandering to the prejudices of his audience.
My guess is the latter. The style of his sermon suggests obvious pandering, so why not the substance as well? The cadences of this white priest’s sermon echoed those of a fiery black southern preacher so perfectly that I was curious if this was really the way he spoke, and did a bit of searching. I found another YouTube video of Father Pfleger from August 2007, in which he was excoriating President Bush in particular and Republicans in general for their mismanagement of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The same vitriol was there, but the Deep South inflections were nowhere in evidence. Listen and compare: