Obama speech: Effective for a narrow audience

posted at 12:02 pm on March 18, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama has delivered his major speech on race — and in some parts, he spoke effectively. His observations on the ongoing anger and frustrations in both white and black communities will resonate to some degree, but other portions called into question the behavior of his own campaign in the last couple of weeks. It was probably enough, however, to succeed with its target audience.

First, let’s focus on the main reason for the speech. Obama needed to distance himself from the incendiary remarks of Jeremiah Wright, his pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ for the last 20 years. Did he do that? Not really:

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

It’s essentially a non-distancing distancing, akin to the non-apology apology. He excuses Wright’s anti-American rhetoric with a mixture of rationalizations. Wright gets a pass because he served in the military, because he grew up in another generation that apparently hated America, and because he does good work in other areas. Obama also makes the curious claim that rejecting Wright means rejecting the entire black community — something other black churches might see as rather presumptuous. Obama essentially argues that the same kind of anti-Americanism can be found in all black churches, and speaks at length about how the legacy of racism and Jim Crow makes this incendiary rhetoric ubiquitous.

Is that true? Hardly. Black ministers have flocked to the airwaves over the last few days to vehemently deny that kind of argument. However, Obama has little choice but to argue this, because he needs to cast his situation as having little choice in spiritual venues.

The nadir of the speech came in this passage about Geraldine Ferraro:

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

Some have dismissed Ferraro? Perhaps Obama needs a reminder that it was his campaign that shrieked for Ferraro’s scalp for pointing out how his ancestry has affected the primary campaign. Ferraro didn’t say anything that Obama didn’t say in this speech. And yet the Obama campaign demanded that Hillary repudiate Ferraro in exactly the manner that Obama decried in his speech — and that just happened last week.

Hypocrisy? You bet, and by the cartload.

Other parts of his speech were more effective, especially in describing the black perspective on the continuing effects of racism and segregation. The lack of economic opportunities during Jim Crow did handicap black families from gaining wealth and passing it along to their children. Even with the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s and their subsequent enforcement, the black community still faced a large disadvantage in education, resources, and access. Affirmative Action turned out to be an imperfect way to address those disparities, and they created a great deal of legitimate resentment among whites who had never offended, which Obama also acknowledges. It’s a nuanced and incisive look into the heart of the racial divide we now face.

Did Obama succeed with this speech in containing the damage? It depends on the intended audience. This speech appears aimed at 795 specific individuals — Democratic superdelegates. Obama needed to show that he can address the racial issues in an inclusive manner, and walk the highwire with Wright by scolding him without alienating the black community. While the delivery was uncharacteristically lethargic, the content probably made the sale.

Unfortunately, he left himself still vulnerable by stubbornly refusing to ‘disown’ Wright; if anything else more incendiary comes up, he will have to address this all over again. He didn’t inoculate himself against future revelations, which is one of the main purposes of these kinds of speeches. We’ll see if that gamble pays off.


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How did such a shallow unaccomplished scumbag get this far without Liberal guilt and a compliant semi-conscious MSM?

I’ve never heard such mealy-mouthed nonsense masquerading as deep political thought.

TexasJew on March 18, 2008 at 12:07 PM

( by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS)

Didn’t we hear that someone by the name of Osama bin Laden was do the same thing?

Just askin’

x-wing on March 18, 2008 at 12:07 PM

In a week that began with Obama’s decades-long support for a deeply racist pastor and ended with a hyped speech on race, the Illinois senator has accomplished what Bill Clinton began in South Carolina. He has turned himself from a “Democratic candidate” into a “Black candidate.”

Toast.

Exurban Jon on March 18, 2008 at 12:07 PM

The only thing that stands between him and the presidency is, unfortunately for him, another candidate.

mymanpotsandpans on March 18, 2008 at 12:07 PM

I didn’t hear or read the speach. Just got out of school. But I understand he blamed me for being a racist and even threw his own grandmother under the bus for being a racist.

peacenprosperity on March 18, 2008 at 12:07 PM

The far left will give him a break, but he needs more than them to be a real threat to win in November. AS for that much larger group of voters, they’ve seen and heard a lot about Rev Wright in the last few days. That bell can’t be unrung.

james23 on March 18, 2008 at 12:08 PM

and even threw his own grandmother under the bus for being a racist.

That would be the grandmother who supported and raised him.

peacenprosperity on March 18, 2008 at 12:08 PM

He did not separate himself from the White Hatred of J. Wright and those who feel the same way. He justified Wright and the White Hatred so prominent in our society.

elraphbo on March 18, 2008 at 12:10 PM

I don’t think the gamble paid off. He still is a hate white America liar.
L

letget on March 18, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Will McCain disavow Pastor Hagee’s rantings about the inevitable destruction of the Middle East and the eternal damnation of disobedient (to Christ) Jews? Not holding breath.

Drum on March 18, 2008 at 12:11 PM

I have some ancestors that were Catholic under Elizabeth I and lost their wealth, some Irish during the Hunger that barely made it out alive, and some Italian in the US at the turn of the last century, and not considered White. We all have ancestors that were screwed, mistreated and abused. We can move on and succeed or we can hate and stall. Obama has affiliated himself with a nest of Black racists that need to be exposed. Racism is ugly and evil in Black or White.

His claim that he knew none of this went on at his church is as weak as all the Germans who knew nothing of what was going on under Hitler.

Hening on March 18, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Who was it that yesterday called Obama’s church the, “First Chicago Church of Blame Whitey and Damn America”? That’s a keeper.

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Prey on the guilt, insecurity and self loathing of the people and you can achive greatness.
Raphael Canton 3/18/2008

elraphbo on March 18, 2008 at 12:13 PM

I for one could care less what color or gender a person running for President is. What I do most passionately care about is the “outlook” the “philosophy” the “honest beliefs” of the individual.

Barack is an empty suit period looking to gain money, prestige and power. Nothing to do with race, but certainly with ego!

Hillary is a female, not a woman and what she was willing to put with and support and her belief systems based on Marx are so way out there that she should never be our President.

sharinlite on March 18, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Will McCain disavow Pastor Hagee’s rantings about the inevitable destruction of the Middle East and the eternal damnation of disobedient (to Christ) Jews? Not holding breath.

Drum on March 18, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Hagee is McCain’s pastor of twenty years, moral guidance counselor, baptizer of his children, pastor who married him and his wife, former member of his campaign’s African American spiritual committee, and was responsible for the title of his best-selling book?

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:13 PM

I don’t think that most of the country is going to go for Obama’s “Yeah, Wright is an America-hating racist, but I’m not going to disown him because you’ve got to understand the context” argument.

cool breeze on March 18, 2008 at 12:15 PM

I don’t care how Obama spins his damage control, it’s obvious what his mentor and spiritual leader Mr. Wright is all about, he’s all about blaming “whitey” and hating America pure and simple. For Obama to say he’s never heard or been in church when Mr. Wright was spewing his hate-filled “sermons” proves two things in my opinion; Obama is a liar and he has a hidden agenda that does not place America and its people first!

Anyone that votes for this fraud will get what they deserve, and if he’s elected the rest of us that see through this empty suit for what he is will unfortunately suffer right along with the fools that voted him into office!

Liberty or Death on March 18, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Or is Hagee just a guy with a following who decided to endorse McCain over the two pro-choice Liberals?

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:16 PM

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity;

This coming from the great “unifier” .

4shoes on March 18, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Didn’t Osama bin Laden build day care centers,hospitals, help the needy? Just sayin’

x-wing on March 18, 2008 at 12:18 PM

x-wing on March 18, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Not sure about OBL, but Hezbollah does all the time.

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Clearly not ALL black Americans attend this sort of church. That is false (a lie) on its face.

I am for example an Episcopalian. It is patently racist to assume black Americans are not Catholics, Episcopalians, Protestants, Evangelicals, Baptists, even Quakers, and Mormons, and Jews! Turn on your TV and you’ll see many black faces in the congregation of any white televangelist.

Part of the lie is that J Wright is not out of the main stream. Evangelicals, Baptist etc. are getting on the same page, focused on Revelation theology vis-a-vis Islam (right or wrong).

J Wright is a throw back to irrelevant racism theology, just as the Nation of Islam (an apparent influence on him) is out of the main steam (of radical and moderate) Islam, still talking about race instead of jihad.

Agrippa2k on March 18, 2008 at 12:19 PM

He didn’t inoculate himself against future revelations, which is one of the main purposes of these kinds of speeches. We’ll see if that gamble pays off.
Obama is presented with a shot to salvage his campaign. If this situation subsides, he will have weathered the storm without doing the irreparable damage to his campaign that would have resulted from a full-throated repudiation of Wright. If the situation does not subside, nothing Obama said here could have made any difference, so it doesn’t matter whether he repudiated Wright or not.
So it is not really a gamble so much as a strategy that embraces the only possible winning scenario and hopes (audaciously, no doubt) for the best.

gridlock2 on March 18, 2008 at 12:20 PM

He doesn’t get any points for critiquing “radical” Islam and chiding the Frances Fox Piven ‘welfare is wonderful’ philosophes on the far-left?

Gerard on March 18, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Complaints that Obama is indicted by the sermons of Wright are a fallacy. As Obama himself pointed out, and as anyone who’s ever been in a church knows, preachers often say things you disagree with. Some may or may not be “Crazy” to you, but the point is that you remain your own person, and can leave the unwanted stuff at the pulpit. You stick around out of tradition, family/community ties, or love of the community, or because the other 95% of the time your preacher makes good sense.

I don’t notice a lot of churches where it was preached that 9-11 and Katrina were God’s punishment for gays, abortion, and porno being vaporized and losing all their constituency, and ruining the sanity and decency of anyone that liked them on any grounds or went to their church just by association. Churches still preach this country will suffer God’s wrath for these sorts of social/legal “sins”, and their congregants are still viewed as normal humans, and their preachers are even treated as credible and mainstream leaders of American Christianity.

There are crazy people all around us, even racists. But sometimes you like them in spite of their faults. He could have disowned his own grandmother, for instance.

grey_hawk on March 18, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

That’s so incredibly offensive that I think it will be the paragraph that sinks him. It’s even worse than slandering the grandmother that raised him after he was abandoned by his African father and whackadoo angry liberal mother.

funky chicken on March 18, 2008 at 12:21 PM

Can’t wait to hear David Gregory’s take on this speech on his new show on MSNBC (replacing Tucker Carlson). Ironically, the name of gregory’s new program is called …… wait for it ….. wait ……

Race for the White House.

Heh.

fogw on March 18, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Ed, be honest. Disowning Wright wouldn’t of “Innoculated” against anything. If he did that, the same “Questions about Judgement” we’re hearing now from the Wright would still be voiced.

Typhonsentra on March 18, 2008 at 12:22 PM

There are so many forward thinking honorable Americans that could better serve the black people of our society. Hopefully this will be the decade that the Democrat party is revealed as the enemy of equality and purveyor of discord. Let Steele, Rice, Thomas and others rise up to defend Conservatism or we may suffer greater losses in the battle of perfecting a more perfect union.

elraphbo on March 18, 2008 at 12:22 PM

I want to know where he stands on reparations for slavery?

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on March 18, 2008 at 12:23 PM

First, let’s focus on the main reason for the speech. Obama needed to distance himself from the incendiary remarks of Jeremiah Wright, his pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ for the last 20 years.

No, his goal is to make sure that “Obama hates the whitey” and “Obama hates America” are simply not believable propositions. We’ll see if he’s accomplished that.

freevillage on March 18, 2008 at 12:24 PM

I think he showed his true colors. He is a lite version of Jesse and Al IMO. He just lacks the overt race baiting.

One part that particularly made me cringe was early in the speech where he was going on about how blacks may not say certain things in the presence of whites (paraphrasing), but it gets talked about in barbershops or hair salons, and churches. Let me tell you, my father and brother’s shop talks about sports, movies, etc. My hair salon, we talk about each other’s lives and families, and we watch Lifetime (cringe). I hate that he made it seem like there was some profound difference, and that these convos happen in secret. He’s a jerk!

And the little white Ashley story and the old black man. What a tool this guy is. When I was a freshman in college about 6 yrs ago, my roommate & I lived on Ramen noodles. They were 10 for 5 bucks or something like that; even added eggs and other cr@p to it to keep it exciting. Cheaper and has to be more nutrious than mustard and ketchup bread. I do not buy his story.

Dubn8tr on March 18, 2008 at 12:24 PM

And this will be mostly forgotten when the general election rolls around. At least the image of him as a Savior is somewhat dimmed.

Still, I’m glad that this keeps Hillary in the race. For once the Clinton machine works in our favor. And I’m not sad that Bill loses a little more of his luster every time he opens his mouth on the trail.

Asher on March 18, 2008 at 12:25 PM

I can understand the history of racism in the US, and Black anger about it, but shouldn’t a minister be calling us to better ourselves, rise above petty hatred and work toward a better future, rather than he himself wallowing in the bitterness? Rev. Wright is not demanding that his congregation dance with angels but rather to continue consorting with the devil of racism.

rbj on March 18, 2008 at 12:25 PM

Clearly not ALL black Americans attend this sort of church. That is false (a lie) on its face.

I am for example an Episcopalian. It is patently racist to assume black Americans are not Catholics, Episcopalians, Protestants, Evangelicals, Baptists, even Quakers, and Mormons, and Jews! Turn on your TV and you’ll see many black faces in the congregation of any white televangelist.

Part of the lie is that J Wright is not out of the main stream. Evangelicals, Baptist etc. are getting on the same page, focused on Revelation theology vis-a-vis Islam (right or wrong).

J Wright is a throw back to irrelevant racism theology, just as the Nation of Islam (an apparent influence on him) is out of the main steam (of radical and moderate) Islam, still talking about race instead of jihad.

Agrippa2k on March 18, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Thank you agrippa….I attended some “black” churches in New Jersey because I loved the music and the spirituality of the services. A couple of times I walked in alone and was the only white person in the service. There was ZERO hatred in the sermons, and among the congregation.

And, NO the pastor didn’t just toss his “real” sermon in the trash and pull out some fake thing and stammer over it or anything.

funky chicken on March 18, 2008 at 12:25 PM

The only thing that stands between him and the presidency is, unfortunately for him, another candidate.

And you can bet next week’s mortgage payment with no fear of losing it that even as we speak, that other candidate has her staff burning the midnight oil pouring over this speech letter for letter, word for word, for any plagiarisms, any misquotes, quotes taken out of context, ANYTHING they can get their hands on that they can use to turn this speech of B.O.’s against him.

pilamaye on March 18, 2008 at 12:25 PM

The only way a Marxist can gain power is to make sure victim mentality stays alive. It doesn’t matter if it’s blacks are victims of whites or the middle class is a victim of the corporations – just make sure everyone thinks they are victims of something.

In all fairness, it was Hillary who used the “middle class as victim” strategy first. Even McCain has made such statements in the past.

Connie on March 18, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Will McCain disavow Pastor Hagee’s rantings about the inevitable destruction of the Middle East and the eternal damnation of disobedient (to Christ) Jews? Not holding breath.

Drum on March 18, 2008 at 12:11 PM

John McCain is from Arizona. John Hagee is a pastor in Texas. Does John McCain attend Hagee’s church? No? Did McCain write a book with Hagee’s commonly used phrase? No? Is or was Hagee on McCain’s staff or listed as a ‘spiritual advisor?’ No?

Then what are you bringing up this orange into a discussion of apples?

wise_man on March 18, 2008 at 12:27 PM

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not.

I nominate this for LIE OF THE DECADE. Just before this he was saying how his “white grandmother” used racial stereotypes. So it’s ok for the black man just as much as it’s ok for the white woman… He is absolutely trying to justify this “Man of God”‘s current HATESPEECH with his aged grandmother’s old stereotypes. No Sir, I do not accept that. The double standard is GLARING.

B. Hussein Obama also said originally he wasn’t there for the HATESPEECH, but now says he was not only there but “agreed fiercely” with some of what Wright said. I want to know exactly with lines Obama agreed with.

HotAirExpert on March 18, 2008 at 12:28 PM

No, his goal is to make sure that “Obama hates the whitey” and “Obama hates America” are simply not believable propositions. We’ll see if he’s accomplished that.

freevillage on March 18, 2008 at 12:24 PM

That’s why I said that this paragraph will be the one that has the best chance of sinking him:

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Got that rednecks? You are all just as hateful as Jeremiah Wright. That ain’t gonna sell in Peoria or in Pittsburg or in Tuscaloosa.

funky chicken on March 18, 2008 at 12:29 PM

I want to know where he stands on reparations for slavery?

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on March 18, 2008 at 12:23 PM

“If we make the investments and understand that those are our children, that’s the kind of reparations that are really going to make a difference in America right now,” he said.

That’s from CNN Politicker.

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:30 PM

I tried to link and take the quote, but my comments wouldn’t show up.

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:30 PM

Unfortunately, he left himself still vulnerable by stubbornly refusing to ‘disown’ Wright; if anything else more incendiary comes up, he will have to address this all over again. He didn’t inoculate himself against future revelations, which is one of the main purposes of these kinds of speeches. We’ll see if that gamble pays off.

Politics as usual, a politician speaking out of both sides of his mouth, trying to cover his arse.

Chakra Hammer on March 18, 2008 at 12:31 PM

Time has exposed Obama as the fraud and phoney that he is. He may be okay for Chicago, maybe even Illinois, but no way will the Great U.S. of A. imprimature this man as its leader. I forsee his seat in the Senate weakend and an opportunity for Republicans to win it (if they get their head out of the sand)

elraphbo on March 18, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Sorry Barack, you and your closest family, friends and advisors hate this country WAY too much for you to be POTUS.

EJDolbow on March 18, 2008 at 12:33 PM

I tried to link and take the quote, but my comments wouldn’t show up.

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:30 PM

I have tried to link to CNN before here i don’t think its possible, it must be blocked.

Chakra Hammer on March 18, 2008 at 12:33 PM

What I don’t quite understand is how the Obama enthusiasts can simultaneously claim that Wright is a “mainstream” preacher and that he was an iconoclast who took on the black Baptist ministers who allegedly control Chicago.

Gerard on March 18, 2008 at 12:34 PM

How is it he blames whites for keeping blacks down, but doesn’t skewer the “acting white” bit thrown, by their peers, at black kids that try to climb any of the many “ladders” that already DO exist? Why is socialism the only answer?

Argh.

Maquis on March 18, 2008 at 12:34 PM

Hagee is McCain’s pastor of twenty years, moral guidance counselor, baptizer of his children, pastor who married him and his wife, former member of his campaign’s African American spiritual committee, and was responsible for the title of his best-selling book?

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Hagee is the wrong comparison here for alot of reasons, not least of which what you mention as the biggest distinction. Aside from that, the type of hate from Wright is alot closer to Phelps and the Westboro baptist cult that the media loves to report on.

jp on March 18, 2008 at 12:34 PM

Obama admits that welfare programs have often promoted a destructive culture of dependency — yet he wants more of them. He admits that Affirmative Action and Racial Preference programs breed racial resentment — yet he wants more of them. Obama says he wants his children to live in a country that is not crippled by racial divisions — yet he chooses to take his impressionable young children to a church where racial hatred is preached from the pulpit, to whoops and cheers of approval from the black congregation.

Does he really not see the contradictions?

AZCoyote on March 18, 2008 at 12:35 PM

Obama proves himself again to be very good at dodging the issue, piling on the fluff and avoiding talking about specifics of his own views and plans. So much of the speech was about how other people, even his grandmother, think and behave, and why – but hardly really touched upon HOW voting for him, as opposed to Clinton or McCain, would in any way bring more positive CHANGE on race relations in America. Other than MORE MONEY FOR SKOOOOOLS, of course. Obama is well-versed in double-speak – while all the while decrying divisiveness (which I guess is people not completely agreeing with him), there were plenty of implications of blame tossed around, at conservative pundits, at “segregated schools,” etc.

jsingood on March 18, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Thank you agrippa….I attended some “black” churches in New Jersey because I loved the music and the spirituality of the services. A couple of times I walked in alone and was the only white person in the service. There was ZERO hatred in the sermons, and among the congregation.

And, NO the pastor didn’t just toss his “real” sermon in the trash and pull out some fake thing and stammer over it or anything.

funky chicken on March 18, 2008 at 12:25 PM

That’s the rub. Black America must choose the party that at least nominally says it’s the content of your character that counts, or the party that says it’s the color of your skin that counts. Martin Luther King’s message wasn’t sufficiently listened to by black America. However, it looks like that is changing. This will hopefully be the big bang as the door shuts on 20th C. divisive racial identity politics. Obama’s destruction might lead to resurrection after all, not for him personally, but for others.

JiangxiDad on March 18, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Got that rednecks? You are all just as hateful as Jeremiah Wright. That ain’t gonna sell in Peoria or in Pittsburg or in Tuscaloosa.

funky chicken on March 18, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Who are you calling a redneck?

*smiles and tips hat*

txsurveyor on March 18, 2008 at 12:37 PM

The bleeding has been stopped. Every talking head on TV (all probably vote in the Dem primary) is gushing about this empty platitudinal nonsense. He needed to distance himself from his pastor without appearing to throw him under the bus and abandon him out of political convenience. As far as the talking heads are concerned, he did just that. It will be interesting to see how Hillary deals with this. Will she say, “nice speech as usual now lets talk about what your pastor friend specifically said…”? Will she ignore it? Will she dig up more dirt? I’m guessing she will opt for the latter.

Zetterson on March 18, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Again no real solution presented that America can get behind

Obama does fine in describing the resentments held by Blacks and Whites. But again he offers no real solution that America could get behind.

There is no indication of any personal responsibility among the Black community for the problems in inner cities where Black mayors and administrations have been in charge for many years. All the reasons listed are external… nothing internal needs to change by implication. A more liberal, government is the entire solution implication… One that allows us to just sit around and wait for someone else to do the dirty work.

I don’t have any evidence that Obama would “move to the center” to come up with solutions… I suppose he believes he himself is the solution: ‘Vote for me and unity will just follow?’ He has little or no history of backing bipartisan solutions.

Is it sufficient for Sullivan and company for Obama just to raise the issue? I want someone I can trust to implement a solution America can actually get behind… one that limits government to things it can actually do well (and should do)… but by implication would require both Blacks and Whites to take on some personal responsibility and not just wait around for someone else to fix things.

Different words… same liberal result

Still-A-Neocon

stillaneocon on March 18, 2008 at 12:39 PM

If he eventually wins the presidency I’m sure he’ll name Mr. Wright stuff to a newly created position as Secretary for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Mr Farrakhan could be the under secretary showing true religious outreach.

This episode does indeed show that religion is at least the root of some evil.

Annar on March 18, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Was there any leadership in this speech? Or was it a string of justifications for the status quo?

RushBaby on March 18, 2008 at 12:40 PM

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

If no one can pin down Obama on what specific comments he heard from Wright, he can just try to wiggle his way out of it by saying “he never heard those comments before”.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/obama_talks_to_major_garrett_o.html

GARRETT: So, quick yes or no. If had you heard them in person you would have quit?

OBAMA: If I had heard them repeated, I would have quit. I mean, obviously, understand that — understand that, you know, this is somebody who is like an uncle. If you have — to me. He’s somebody who helped me find Christ. And somebody who always talked to me in very powerful ways about relationship to God and our obligations to the poor.

If somebody makes a mistake, then obviously, you recognize — I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. If I thought that that was the repeated tenor of the church, then I wouldn’t feel comfortable there.
But, frankly, that has not been my experience at Trinity United Church of Christ.

GARRETT: Senator — in the time we have remaining you said that, in your statement today, “When I first heard these I was beginning my campaign.” Yet, you did not begin your campaign on December 4, 2007, when in a press release your campaign announced that Reverend Wright was a part of a quote, unquote, “African-American religious leadership committee.”

I’d like you to try to help me understand the inconsistency there. Because obviously, if you knew about them at the beginning of your campaign and you put him on this committee later, you would have been aware.

OBAMA: No, no, no. Wait, wait, Major. I didn’t know about all of these statements. I knew about one or two statements that had been made. And, as a consequence, as I said, if it was just a function of one or two statements, then that’s not something that would lead me to distance myself from either my church or my pastor.

gumble on March 18, 2008 at 12:40 PM

I want to know where he stands on reparations for slavery?

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on March 18, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Read the last sentence of the 3rd paragraph. I think that will tell you.

What kind of man publicly disowns his grandmother that raised him.?? Not one that should be President.

stenwin77 on March 18, 2008 at 12:41 PM

Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

So why haven’t you left that church, dude?

Caricatures?

Who put those words into Wright’s mouth? Commentators?

Which parts were cited out of context?

Give me a break.

drjohn on March 18, 2008 at 12:42 PM


that anger is not always productive; indeed , all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition

Too invested in the victim mindset.

“the immigtrant experience-as far as they’re concerned, no one handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch.”

Time to stop always blaming everyone else for their lack of progress. The great ones play hurt.

If obama can get the black community to look themselves in the mirror and take responsibility for their owm behavior, he will be greater the MLK. Ebonics, welfare, ignorance, and excuses do not endear the American people’s support.

The Lord helps those that help themselves.

saiga on March 18, 2008 at 12:43 PM

BO trashed the Constitution. It was originally written to say “life, liberty and property”. Benjamin Franklin, an abolitionist insisted that they change it to the way it is written. His reason was he didn’t want the South to take the use of the word property to mean their slaves.

Birds of a feather, flock together. If he went there for twenty years and was oblivious to what was going on, he’s stupid. Or he thinks we’re stupid. I think it’s because he thinks we’re all stupid.

John Cunningham on March 18, 2008 at 12:44 PM

Obama speech: Effective for a narrow audience

Very narrow, it is full of flaws.

allrsn on March 18, 2008 at 12:45 PM

J Wright cannot be accepted partialy, espcialy when he uses his pulpit to espouse those views. Shame on Wright for abusing, the position of leadership, title of Reverend/Pastor and clasification of Church. The chickens will come home to roost for Obama due to his relationship with Wright and he will fall. Or The chickens will come home to roost on Americans if they are ignorant and surrended and they will fall.

elraphbo on March 18, 2008 at 12:46 PM

If obama can get the black community to look themselves in the mirror and take responsibility for their owm behavior, he will be greater the MLK. Ebonics, welfare, ignorance, and excuses do not endear the American people’s support.

saiga on March 18, 2008 at 12:43 PM

This would mean giving up the ‘sanctification of victimization’ as the single unifying approach of the Democratic Party (apart from the inalienable right to have sex with someone you do not want to have children with).

stillaneocon on March 18, 2008 at 12:46 PM

Time has exposed Obama as the fraud and phoney that he is. He may be okay for Chicago, maybe even Illinois, but no way will the Great U.S. of A. imprimature this man as its leader. I forsee his seat in the Senate weakend and an opportunity for Republicans to win it (if they get their head out of the sand)

You are kidding, right? Republicans here in Illinois get their head out of the sand? The Republican party in my state is so strewn with corruption right now, it is not even a joke! We just had one of our former Republican Governor’s use the full strength of his own law office to try and keep another former Governor from going to the slammer for political corruption, and he almost succeeded. We have a multimillionaire Republican dairy owner here who has tried running for public office 6 times and each one utilized some of the dirtiest negative ad campaigning you have ever seen in your life. Some of our top Republican committeemen leaders are in the same tank with their equally corrupt Democratic counterparts to the point they practically flaunt it in public. I can only say this much. If the late great legendary Senator Everett Dirksen were alive today, he would be traveling up one end of this state and down the next by train, plane or automobile to condemn the current Republican leadership we have in this state for the corrupt rascals they really are, and then have them thrown out of the party, with good old Everett physically throwing them out the door himself. That is how bad things are in this state!

pilamaye on March 18, 2008 at 12:47 PM

x-wing, and Mussolini made the trains run on time and Hitler built the autobahn.

John Cunningham on March 18, 2008 at 12:48 PM

- a view that sees white racism as endemic

Show me an example of a white racist on video acting in anyway close to being equal to how Wright acted. Prove “a view that sees white racism as endemic”. Prove it!, SHOW ME an example of a white person acting anywhere close to how Wright acted. I want someone to show me a white person publicly preaching racism in anyway close to the examples seen in Wright’s sermon. The “racism as endemic” lies in the hands of those accusing others.

KCtheKat on March 18, 2008 at 12:49 PM

This speech will work for Obamas core constituency, but it will not pass muster with the wider audience he needs to win in November.

I read his specch and to me there seemed to be several non-verbal “winks and nods” throughout it. definitely a non-apology apology. but the speech did what it had to do, which is give the press a reason to completely drop this story altogether. From now on, further mentions of it by anyone will be described as “swiftboating” Obama and the Rev.

As is evident by Sullivan’s entirely predictable reaction, nothing Obama says or does will move even one of his supporters off the kool aid. Obama could be pulled over in a stolen car with the severed heads of a dozen cub scouts in the trunk, and the MSM and Dems would find a way to blame the Scouts, then the Bush administration and then the cops who pulled him over.

Did ONE single Democrat anywhere come forward and condemn the Wright remarks in the same way the GOP came down on Trent Lott??? Short answer: No.

Would the Dems and the MSM and the nutroots be so quick to move on dot org if it was McCain who had a 20-year friendship with the Fred Phelps psychos??? Short answer: Eff no.

For that matter, what is the difference between Fred Phelps and Rev. Wright? Short answer: No difference.

Mike D. on March 18, 2008 at 12:49 PM

the declaration of independence … was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery

GD Declaration of Independence

faraway on March 18, 2008 at 12:49 PM

Clearly not ALL black Americans attend this sort of church. That is false (a lie) on its face.

J Wright is a throw back to irrelevant racism theology, just as the Nation of Islam (an apparent influence on him) is out of the main steam (of radical and moderate) Islam, still talking about race instead of jihad.

Agrippa2k on March 18, 2008 at 12:19 PM

I absolutely agree with the comment that not all black Americans attend this type of church, if somehow some of the comments here come across as ALL Black Americans attend churches that spew this sort of hate-filled ideology I would say they are absolutely wrong.

However, to characterize Mr. Wright’s racist theology as “irrelevant” I would have to disagree, to you and me his racist theology is irrelevant but for the members of this church that have attended for many years (20 years or more for Barack and Michelle “first time in my adult life I’m proud to be an American” Obama) his sermons must be relevant and ring true considering they have attended this church for so many years, and to say otherwise is a flat out lie.

I for one would get up and leave any church (including one I attended for 20 years or more) and never come back as soon as this type of hate-filled anti-American and racist rhetoric left the minister’s lips!

Liberty or Death on March 18, 2008 at 12:50 PM

Can’t wait to hear David Gregory’s take on this speech on his new show on MSNBC (replacing Tucker Carlson). Ironically, the name of gregory’s new program is called …… wait for it ….. wait ……

Race for the White House.

Heh.

fogw on March 18, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Didn’t I read somewhere that Gregory gave the max$ to the Obama campaign?

Connie on March 18, 2008 at 12:50 PM

Rev Wright has become America’s Greatest Racist and Obama is a cult follower.

faraway on March 18, 2008 at 12:50 PM

And here’s the media spin, this time by Mark Halperin:

Obama blows away the chattering class with Philadelphia speech.

Delivers historic remarks on race in address that was wide-ranging, personal, and (at times) passionate.

Oy.

amerpundit on March 18, 2008 at 12:51 PM

The victim blames Whitey yet again.

Later, you loser!

omnipotent on March 18, 2008 at 12:52 PM

Hillary should ask foe equal time to talk and give a speech.. lol

Chakra Hammer on March 18, 2008 at 12:52 PM

Obama got All this for FREE.. Hmm..

Chakra Hammer on March 18, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Now we know where he lives……… on Black Street. (as in the Arab Street).

Seven Percent Solution on March 18, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Was there any leadership in this speech? Or was it a string of justifications for the status quo?

RushBaby on March 18, 2008 at 12:40 PM

I saw none. I would hate for him to make a important speech at any important gathering, national or global.

Wow would I love to be the one sitting accross from him in a neogation!!!!! whoo hoo – a hopping good time!

allrsn on March 18, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Did BO hear the racist comments of Rev Wright or not? I thought he had previously said that he had not heard them.

d1carter on March 18, 2008 at 12:53 PM

This spin is ridiculous. So he’s fine w/his daughters and wife sitting under a pastor that believes they’ll never get more than what their body allows them? That’s merely a “controversial” statement? He’s fine w/his daughters being exposed to a guy who says “did a Lewinsky” from the pulpit? And while he’s sitting there soaking it all in, let’s donate $22k?

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

Notice how he doesn’t mention the out-of-wedlock birth rate as well as the abortion rate as harmful to “black family structures.” There’s shame in not being able to provide for your family, but no shame in being a 35 yr old grandmother? Got it, Obama.

Dubn8tr on March 18, 2008 at 12:54 PM

so BO abated those supporters that never questioned him, but now those who wanted more have got it. he talks out of both sides of his mouth with the best of them. to those who needed more, he is now damaged goods, forever.

jimmer on March 18, 2008 at 12:55 PM

I’ll read some of the comments and analysis of the speech, but I have no reason to read or listen to it. I can’t imagine that I am too different than the rest of middle America. All I had to do was hear the words of Rev. Wright and know that Obama associated himself, his family and his campaign with this racist and America hater for 20 years to know all I need to know about the situation. Did he really believe and agree with his pastors vitrol? If the answer is no then the only conclusion is that he is a member of the church only to get elected in Illinois. Either way there is nothing he can say to shine any more light on the subject than is already shone.

Spider79 on March 18, 2008 at 12:55 PM

Did BO hear the racist comments of Rev Wright or not? I thought he had previously said that he had not heard them.

d1carter on March 18, 2008 at 12:53 PM

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

The Above is a transcript from the Obama Speech from today.

Chakra Hammer on March 18, 2008 at 12:56 PM

I cannot distance myself from the IRAN’s REGIME who hate America because they are
housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, and reaching out to those suffering

I must have open talks with them.

PrezHussein on March 18, 2008 at 12:57 PM

I posted this at the other thread, but I am going to reference it here too because IMO it is very important.

Obama threw his elderly grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, under the bus by claiming she made racist comments which made him “cringe”. What he failed to tell us was this:

Both Dunhams were upset when their daughter Ann married Barack Obama Senior, partcularly after receiving a long, angry letter from the graduate student’s father in Kenya who “didn’t want the Obama blood sullied by a white woman.” [5].

Barack Obama needs to be asked about this! Moreover, I’m wondering if that falls into the “original sin” category.

Buy Danish on March 18, 2008 at 12:57 PM

neogation!!!!! whoo hoo – a hopping good time!

allrsn on March 18, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Correction: negotiation

allrsn on March 18, 2008 at 12:58 PM

B.O. Now admits to hearing controversial comments, before denying it..

Obama didn’t hear controversial comments before he listened to them. huh?

Chakra Hammer on March 18, 2008 at 12:58 PM

While the delivery was uncharacteristically lethargic, the content probably made the sale.

Yup. The reason it was “uncharacteristically lethargic” though was that he very carefully dropped the sing-song cadence of the black preacher that has been so much a part of his campaign oratory style.

You could even see him start to slip into it a few times and pull back.

Of course, he couldn’t very well use it today, and he can’t really go back to it from here on in either. And without it, my guess is Chris Matthew’s leg will be free of sensation and the girls in the crowd will stay on their feet.

Yeah, he made his sale. But there’s no recapturing Obamamania. It’s deader’n disco.

Typhoon on March 18, 2008 at 12:58 PM

Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely

Did you disagree with the “controversial” views?

maybe this a clintonian thing..

Chakra Hammer on March 18, 2008 at 1:02 PM

Time has exposed Obama as the fraud and phoney that he is. He may be okay for Chicago, maybe even Illinois, but no way will the Great U.S. of A. imprimature this man as its leader. I forsee his seat in the Senate weakend and an opportunity for Republicans to win it (if they get their head out of the sand)

elraphbo on March 18, 2008 at 12:32 PM

I have to agree with pilamaye. Illinois is not the only state with a feckless GOP. California it seems is full of wimps unwilling to communicate the conservative agenda/ideology, save Tom McClintock.

Obama can be the Ted Kennedy of Illinois, that seat is his as long as he wants it…

Theworldisnotenough on March 18, 2008 at 1:02 PM

And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

Good to know Detroit and Philadelphia have risen to the challenge.

a capella on March 18, 2008 at 1:03 PM

Obama Lied, People Cried

faraway on March 18, 2008 at 1:04 PM

I want to know where he stands on reparations for slavery?

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on March 18, 2008 at 12:23 PM

He is gonna call up his African ancestors and make them pay for selling blacks into slavery.

historian on March 18, 2008 at 1:04 PM

I wonder if the same hypocrites condemning Obama right now said the same to John Kerry and Rudy Guiliani and every other Roman Catholic politician when the priest were raping little boys and the church was paying them off?? I don’t recall hearing cries of “denounce the church… leave the church”.. Hmmm..

Americans more offended by the opinionated words of a Reverend (of which his allegations may be proven to be true or not one day in the future, just like the syphilis experiments of days gone by on black males BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT)… not offended by the RAPE OF CHILDREN (well if Rudy and John were black then it would have been an issue)…

Hypocrits R US strikes again

TOPV on March 18, 2008 at 1:04 PM

So how will the the MSM cover Obama’s latest feckless piece of oratory? Will it be the Messiahs Mt. Sinai speech where we now can add Healing to the Hope and Change moniker? Will we hear comparisons to Kennedy’s Berlin speech, “Ict bin ein weiber”, or GW’s “I’m a uniter not a divider”. Given most of the MSM gave Obama a pass on this whole episode I’m very curious as to how they will frame the context and content, can’t wait to see the spin!

dmann on March 18, 2008 at 1:05 PM

But there’s no recapturing Obamamania. It’s deader’n disco.

Typhoon on March 18, 2008 at 12:58 PM

That was awesome!

Boo-yah Grandma!!!

omnipotent on March 18, 2008 at 1:05 PM

MSNBC has an online vote about the effectiveness of the speech.

Ex-tex on March 18, 2008 at 1:05 PM

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