ABC News took a closer look at the Barack Obama speech on race yesterday and found curious discrepancies from past positions. Brian Ross and Avni Patel also note similar contradictions in Obama’s positions on Tony Rezko. It looks like some of the media has finally begun vetting the Democratic front-runner for the nomination:

Buried in his eloquent, highly praised speech on America’s racial divide, Sen. Barack Obama contradicted more than a year of denials and spin from him and his staff about his knowledge of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s controversial sermons.

Similarly, Obama also has only recently given a much fuller accounting of his relationship with indicted political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a longtime friend, who his campaign once described as just one of “thousands of donors.”

Until yesterday, Obama said the only thing controversial he knew about Rev. Wright was his stand on issues relating to Africa, abortion and gay marriage. …

His initial reaction to the initial ABC News broadcast of Rev. Wright’s sermons denouncing the U.S. was that he had never heard his pastor of 20 years make any comments that were anti-U.S. until the tape was played on air.

But yesterday, he told a different story. “Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes,” he said in his speech yesterday in Philadelphia.

The ABC interview prior to the speech gives another datapoint on the claims of New Politics on behalf of Obama. Just as with Rezko, Obama tried minimizing his exposure to Wright’s sermons. Only after finding that a losing proposition did he acknowledge that he had listened to Wright’s incendiary speeches against America, but somehow failed to challenge him until other people began hearing the rhetoric for themselves. That followed within days of Obama’s acknowledgment that he had underreported Rezko’s financial contribution to Obama’s campaigns by a factor of five.

That initial reaction hardly commends Obama as a courageous statesman. It shows him as a politician of the usual stripe — one who attempts to spin out of a jam with half-truths and at best a graduated honesty dependent on how much evidence gets made public. Obama’s claim to conduct himself to a higher standard; indeed, because of his singular lack of experience and accomplishment, it’s the only claim he has for election to the nation’s highest office. If he doesn’t have that, then he has no basis for election at all.

Even the contradictory attempt to distance himself from Wright’s statements failed to make the case. He argued in the rest of speech that we need to put an end to divisiveness, and that Wright’s rhetoric belongs to the past, not the present or the future. Having said that, what did Obama ever do to make that case at his own church? Wright expounds these incendiary and unacceptable themes, as Obama himself admits, to the present and future generations at Trinity. Obama’s own children sit in those pews, as well as a large number of children from other families. Did Obama ever speak out even once to challenge Wright’s views?

If Obama can’t bring change he says is necessary to his own church, why should we trust him to bring change to the nation?

Tags: Barack Obama