Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Obama on Wright

Wright is wrong, he says. Here’s the transcript of his press conference, in which he tries to put as much distance as possible between himself and Rev. Wright.

I’ll have more later, after I get back from some parental duties.

Update: Enjoyed a swim meet, dinner, and family time, with nary a thought for Obama and Wright. I think that the people Julie has been listening to are correct (no more punning on Wright). The ground will shift from whether Obama disagrees with the Rev. to why it took so long for the scales to fall from his eyes. This is clearly not a new or changed Wright. And while I’ll concede that you can’t size up a pastor all at once (especially if you’re as innocent of the ways of the church as Obama was twenty years ago), who he is and what he believes ought to have been clear enough long before now. So Obama’s judgment indeed becomes the issue.

And he will continue to be distracted by questions about Wright, either putting him off message or making it difficult for him to pierce the fog of this particular political war.

I also agree with Steve Thomas that Obama has an opportunity, not without political risks, to precipitate, not a national conversation about race, but a conversation among African-Americans about the burdens of history. I’m sure he’d rather do that from the Oval Office, but I doubt he’ll have the luxury.

Finally, there’s the politics of all this. I’ll be interested to see whether and how much this hurts Obama in the remaining primaries and in the general election (if it comes to that). For some portion of his supporters, he has probably said all that needs to be said. For some other portion, he may have said too much. (How many divisions does Rev. Wright have?) The latter surely won’t vote for HRC. What happens in North Carolina and Indiana if they stay home? I have a hard time seeing any fence-sitters breaking in Obama’s direction, though it’s also not as if Clinton is a big draw. Perhaps, then, some measure of the effect of this brouhaha will be whether turnout is down in N.C. and Indiana in comparison to previous states.

Barring a total Obama collapse in the remaining races, the superdelegates will still, I think, have a hard time refusing him the nomination.

In the general election, this becomes part of the general picture that I hope the McCain campaign paints about Obama’s character and (in)experience. Too much exclusive focus on it would, I suspect, be counterproductive.

Discussions - 6 Comments

I just watched the whole National Press Club speech and the Q and A following the speech. It is an occasion that turns from interesting to unsettling to ugly, as Wright plays the crowd (which is not a press crowd) and winds up humiliating the young female moderator. Wright is - or could become - the demagogue that some have accused Obama of being, and he wants the black crowd that he fears/imagines might choose Obama over himself. With Obama's comments today directed against Wright's National Press Club speech, we have a big and important fight within the African American community.

That's assuming Obama gets the nod, which looks like a 50/50 proposition.

It was fractures in the Democratic coalition very similar to this which led to Giuliani becoming Mayor in NYC. That's an encouraging precedent for the GOP, if depressing for conservatives.

Steve Thomas is insightful to note the abusive manner in which the Rev. Wright dealt with the moderator at the NPC. That was painful to watch. I think it's possible that Obama has learned NOT to do that from watching Wright, because decent people find that sort of thing distasteful and--more important--they find it unpersuasive. But the fact that Obama's method and manner differs so strikingly from Wright's does not mean that the underlying substance and assumptions of their respective messages are equally distant from one another. This is not to say that there is an obvious connection between the two--and it may turn out that there's no substantive connection at all. But I will say that there is enough smoke now to warrant an investigation for the fire. I will say that I am not going to believe there's no connection just because Obama says there isn't. I see no reason to trust what he says now. He has demonstrated a willingness to say whatever he "has" to say.

Yes, Obama is totally untrustworthy.

My favorite political historian likes to point out Obama's main problem: he does not have a long record and an established profile or identity from longer exposure. So it's hard to tell about him, and everybody tries to fill in the blanks. Yes, Obama is totally untrustworthy, says David Frisk. Does Wright's "performance" fairly discredit Obama? If Obama were a fully fleshed out public figure the answer would be less ambiguous. This is why Obama must now move away from his "beyond polarization" posture and fight for substance (opposition to the gas tax holiday is, perhaps paradoxically, a good start). It will help him fill in his own blanks --without so much help from those who don't trust him.

The Contortionist Barack Obama

"I can no more disown Rev Wright and my church than I can my own white grandmother who raised me."

"I was not present when these statements were made."

"Was I present in the pew when some of those statements that many would consider controversial were made? Yes."

"I was not present during those statements, Larry."

"I am outraged. I am saddened by the spectacle we saw yesterday."

(I am quoting these words by Barack Obama by memory, not from text. They may or may not be word for word, but I am confident that there is no distortion or taking out of context.)

Today, in the wake of Jeremiah Wright's appearances before the NAACP in Detroit and the National Press Club in Washington, Barack Obama has spoken out strongly against Wright. In reality, Obama had to do this in order to keep his viability as a candidate. No longer could he (or Wright) claim that the pastor's statements were taken out of context-or in sound bites. Both appearances have been shown in their entirety. Wright has confirmed the content of the sermons that we had previously witnessed in "sound bites". At this point, with Wright seemingly going on a speaking tour and a book coming out in October, Obama had to speak out.

Today, Obama stated that he is saddened, outraged, and that his relationship with Wright has now changed. Wright is not the person he met 20 years ago, according to Obama. He stated that he had only seen Wright on TV last night. (I assume that means I saw the Detroit performance before he did.)

I have to say in Obama's defense that he is obviously caught in the middle of two constituencies, just as he has lived his life between two worlds-white and black. Yet, Obama cannot have it both ways as he has tried to do. He has carefully measured his responses to Wright.

Having said that, Obama, in my view, is not credible. Say what you will about Jeremiah Wright, he is consistent. For Obama to maintain that, over the course of 20 years, he had no idea that Wright held these views is disingenuous, to say the least.

At this point, Obama is literally tying himself in knots trying to maneuver his way through this morass. He had to know that his pastor had gone to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan to meet Moamar Khadafi. He knew the tenets of his churches' "Black Value System". Originally, he claimed that he had never been present when the controversial statements were made. Then he admitted in his Philadelphia speech that we was, indeed, present during some of those comments. Within days, he was on Larry King's show again denying he had been present. Contradiction? Absolutely.

In his Philadelphia speech, he tried to walk the tightrope. He disavowed the comments, but stated that he could "no more disown Rev. Wright and the church than he could disown his white grandmother"-whom he then described to America as a prejudiced person (later referred to as a "typical white person"). Now he is disowning Wright, again trying to convince the public that he had no idea what this man was really like.

Of course he knew. Twenty years ago, when he was a "community organizer" in the south side of Chicago, he joined this church because it represented a base from which he could build his career. Fair enough. But when Obama went on to become a state senator, a US Senator and now, a presidential candidate, membership in this church and association with Wright became no longer appropriate.

If Obama has only recently come to see what Wright represents, why did he dis-invite him to speak at the event by which he declared for the presidency? Wright's views had recently been featured in a Rolling Stone article. Obama knew.

Obama has always known.

He has known of the damning statements made against America, the race-baiting, the links with Louis Farrakhan, the trip to Libya and on and on and on. When he was a "community organizer" (whatever that means), the church and Wright suited him just fine. But now, he needs to appeal to the entire country-not just blacks, but whites, Hispanics, Jews, and Asians. He should have seen this situation coming years ago. Yet, he didn't see it until it hit him in the face. That speaks volumes about his judgement.

As for Wright, he has added a couple of new adjectives to his personal description. Man of God? Perhaps, but he is also a self-centered, self-promoting demogogue who clearly cares little for what he is doing to his parishioner's presidential campaign. Obama can be excused for being angry. Privately, he must be boiling.

By the way, who were those menacing-looking guys flanking Rev. Wright at the National Press Club yesterday? Is it true, in fact, that Wright is being guarded by the Fruit of Islam? What does Mr Obama think about that?

And by the way, what say you, Mrs Obama-in light of your recent comments about the country? How come the mainstream news media is not asking her for comments on Wright?

And by the way, now that Obama has "disowned" Wright, I wonder if the good pastor will strike back at Obama and clarify whether Obama was, indeed present, during his fiery sermons.

From Jeremiah Wright to William Ayres to Tony Rezko, there are so many suspect associations that Obama needs to explain. He is not doing a very good job of doing that, but then again, the mainstream news media is not doing a very good job of digging into it. Why is that? They would rather not-that's why.

gary fouse


Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL:

Warning: include(/srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/sd/nlt-blog/_includes/promo-main.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/2008/04/obama-on-wright.php on line 592

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/sd/nlt-blog/_includes/promo-main.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/sp/php7.2/lib/php') in /srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/2008/04/obama-on-wright.php on line 592