Obama issues statement repudiating Wright, may appear on Hannity & Colmes; Update: Wright leaves Obama’s campaign; Update: “You can get kind of rough in the sermons”
posted at 5:34 pm on March 14, 2008 by Allahpundit
Not sure about the H&C rumor but DU looks to have picked it up from Hannity’s radio show. Gateway Pundit says Major Garrett’s going to do the interview, which makes me wonder when it’ll be on. I’ll update once I know.
Here’s his statement, posted appropriately enough at HuffPo. A three-pronged defense: (a) he didn’t know, (b) he condemns what Wright said without reservation, and (c) the guy’s retiring anyway.
Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue…
Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
That’s a nice, lawyerly dodge. Is he suggesting that in 20 years’ time he never heard Wright say anything along these lines? Or is he merely suggesting that he was never personally in attendance when Wright said it, as if that would matter remotely to his decision to stay with the church once he heard about it secondhand? Note how he limits the scope of the matter, too, to only the statements Fox and ABC discovered in going through tapes of Wright’s sermons. That’s not the issue; the issue is whether Wright has a habit of spitting poison like this and whether Obama was happy enough to let him do it so long as there weren’t political consequences. If the media starts going through old sermons week by week, with new and ever more nuanced conspiracy theories emerging periodically, is he going to roll out weekly statements to the effect of, “Nope, never personally heard him say that, or that, or that either”?
Oh, and is he saying that he would have quit the church over this rhetoric if not for the fact that Wright was retiring? The media’s task is simple, then: Go through his old sermons systematically, pick out the ones that were especially, ahem, “fiery,” and check them against Obama’s old schedules to see if he was there. Or, failing that, interview some parishioners and find the earliest sermon you can where Wright said something nutty so that we have some gauge of just how recent this purportedly recent habit of crackpot remarks is. Who wants to hold their breath with me?
Update: Johnny Dollar says in the comments that the Major Garrett interview will be on H&C and Greta, in separate parts. We’ll have video later, I’m sure.
Update: Like Geraghty, I question the timing.
Update (Ed): I think this is about as good as Obama can do with this, but there is at least another glaring problem apart from AP’s excellent analysis above. Here’s a portion of the statement from HuffPo today:
In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor.
And here’s Obama in the Chicago Tribune in January 2007:
Obama says that rather than advising him on strategy, Wright helps keep his priorities straight and his moral compass calibrated. …
Though Wright and Obama do not often talk one-on-one often, the senator does check with his pastor before making any bold political moves.
Last fall, Obama approached Wright to broach the possibility of running for president. Wright cautioned Obama not to let politics change him, but he also encouraged Obama, win or lose.
Those two statements clearly conflict, so the question becomes this: is he lying now, or was he lying then?
Update: Now that we’re into “what did the Messiah know and when did he know it” territory, watch for the left to move the goalposts by wondering what it is, precisely, that’s so terrible about what the old man said. So he thinks America’s responsible for HIV. A lot of people think a lot of things, y’know? Can’t “an old black man have his anger in the privacy of his church”?
Update: Hiroshima, Sharpsville, and “white folks’ greed”: Rich Lowry reads from Obama’s memoir.
Update: It’s a media barnstorm as Johnny Dollar e-mails to say he’ll be on Olbermann’s show tonight too, where he can expect the sort of tough questions that only a man who donates to his interview subjects’ charities on camera can provide. Or can he? J$ notes that Alison Stewart’s scheduled to sit in for Olby tonight. Will Kayo stay home, raising hopes for a substantive segment? Or will he show up and give Obama a warm bath before he faces Major Garrett?
Update: Did he jump or was he pushed? Either way, formal ties between Obama and Wright are at an end.
Update: Sweetness & Light digs up an old chestnut from the Times about what Obama knew:
Mr. Wright said that in the phone conversation in which Mr. Obama disinvited him from a role in [his presidential] announcement, Mr. Obama cited an article in Rolling Stone, “The Radical Roots of Barack Obama.”
According to the pastor, Mr. Obama then told him, “You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we’ve decided is that it’s best for you not to be out there in public.”