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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Last of the Wright Story?

posted by on April 29 at 13:35 PM

Don’t bet on it—even with Obama’s strong denouncement today of Wright’s spotlight-grabbing silliness at the National Press Club in D.C. on Monday.

First of all, Wright has yet to respond to Obama’s denouncements. Maybe he won’t, and the story will stop here, but it’s not in the nature of the vindictive narcissist—which Wright has proven himself to be over the last few days—to go quietly.

Second, there was no way for Obama to break with Wright without opening up several uncomfortable lines of questioning. That may be why Obama waited so long to, as Dan likes to put it, DTMFA, but now that Obama has finally D’d the MFA… well, now those lines of questioning will be opened up:

Why did Obama maintain a 20 year relationship with such a person? What does it say about his judgment? Why didn’t Obama sever ties with Wright sooner? Why do we all now have to sit through the uncomfortable drama of watching him break up with this guy?

Obama wants to be seen as the candidate of superior judgment, the candidate with reflexes quick and tough enough to take on the Republicans, the candidate who will stop the drama that’s associated with the Clintons and bring the Democrats back into the White House via a new politics that rises above old divisions and debates.

In publicly ending his relationship with Wright, Obama somewhat burnished those new politics credentials. “The reason our campaign has been so successful is because we had moved beyond these old arguments,” he said. “What we saw yesterday out of Reverend Wright was a resurfacing and, I believe, an exploitation of those old divisions.”

But he also tarnished them by having to resort to the old-style political tactic of calling a big press conference to smack down a former associate who had gotten out of hand and, perhaps more damagingly, he opened the door to those questions about his judgment, quickness, and drama factor.

That last one, the increased drama factor, is going to be hard to put back in the bottle. Dramatic story-lines soon to come: The reaction from Wright, the reaction from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and the reaction from Clinton and McCain.

RSS icon Comments


Maybe Hillary will "weigh in" when she visits Bill O'Reilly tomorrow. I'll bet she'll be ready to ride this horse as hard as she can.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | April 29, 2008 1:39 PM

oh i get it! YOU'RE obama's new preacher! it all makes sense now.

Posted by Emily | April 29, 2008 1:41 PM

I see that Al Sharpton has already criticized Obama for, er, Dumping TMFA. Apparently The Big O is now not "black" enough.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 29, 2008 1:42 PM

I'm sorry. Why does Obama have to find a new congregation? Wright is the former pastor.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 29, 2008 1:45 PM

he's black enough. now he's white enough.

he doesn't need to leave the church - wright is RETIRED.

Posted by max solomon | April 29, 2008 1:46 PM

There's an election coming up?

Posted by 99.99999% of America | April 29, 2008 1:48 PM

This was all so avoidable, as of the Feb 2007 Rolling Stone article.

Posted by chicagogaydude | April 29, 2008 1:49 PM

I agree with your perspective, Eli. This is a valid issue, because it seems to say something real about Obama's character. I'm glad he is distancing himself from Wright, and my opinion is that he probably is genuinely disgusted with what Wright believes. And isn't character what this whole Obama vs. Clinton thing is basically about? I think most would agree that the ideological differences between the Democratic candidates are relatively minor, so what we have left are quibbling over character and experience.

Posted by PJ | April 29, 2008 1:50 PM

Oops! Thanks 4 and 5 — I reject AND denounce my forgetting that Wright is no longer the pastor at Trinity.

Posted by Eli Sanders | April 29, 2008 1:53 PM

@7, for those of us who don't read Rolling Stone, can you tell us what the heck that means?

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 29, 2008 1:53 PM

am i the only one who just doesn't give a flip what the ex-pastor of obama's church has to say? i mean, he sounds like he's gone off the deep end with all the attention that's been given to him. i know many people that while their hearts are in the right place regarding community service, community involvement, etc, well.. they're kinda nuts. i don't think that this says anything about obama's character. i'm ready for this conversation to be over.

Posted by socialarsonist | April 29, 2008 2:09 PM

11: Of course it doesn't matter on a substantive level. It only matters because of the fabricated appearance of scandal. I guess Americans really are still scared of angry black men, or at least the mainstream media has been pushing that message. Any liberal who is in any way scared of Wright has no balls and should just give up and become a white flight conservative, because that's what they are.

Remember all that good will for Obama after his big speech on race? Apparently, no one actually listened to him because they continued to harp on the non-issue after it was put to rest.

It certainly wasn't very bright of Wright to stoke that flame by making these ridiculous public appearances. But quite frankly, none of this should have been controversial to begin with, and it's a testament to Obama's race speech in that America still has not grown up yet.

Posted by Jay | April 29, 2008 2:26 PM

How about a dialogue about Obama's political enemies combing through the sermons of his pastor for tar to paint Obama with, by taking comments out of context. How about a dialogue about a media who so failed this country in the run up to the war, now spending so much time on the words from the pulpit instead of the ones coming from the White House. How about a substantitive dialogue about matters that will ACTUALLY effect our lives every day, instead of all jumping on the hysteria band wagon about what gets preached in black churches on Sunday and who sat and listened. Sit through the sermon broadcast to the entire nation on TBN some Sunday - and then deal with the impact of THAT on our political system. This country will get the leadership it deserves, as usual, and four years from now, when gas is $8 a gallon, and we are still losing our people in Iraqi, we'll wonder why we didn't do something about it.

Posted by Stella | April 29, 2008 2:27 PM


It's been obvious since that article that Wright would give Obama headaches, to say the least.

An excerpt:

"Fact number two: Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!" There is thumping applause; Wright has a cadence and power that make Obama sound like John Kerry. Now the reverend begins to preach. "We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS. . . . We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. . . . We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. . . . We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!" The crowd whoops and amens as Wright builds to his climax: "And. And. And! GAWD! Has GOT! To be SICK! OF THIS SHIT!"

Posted by chicagogaydude | April 29, 2008 2:28 PM

My only question is: how much longer are smart people going to have to coddle the rest of the American public? Because real democracy is not going to ever emerge from the republic experiment if the concerned saps of mainstream America can't get over this shit and need everything comfortable spinned for them.

Posted by Jay | April 29, 2008 2:29 PM

As an African American, whose father was a reverend, I am glad Obama did this. Wright seems like some of the old preachers I knew back in the day; they became senile. Unfortunately, the damage to Obama is done. SUSA's latest NC poll shows his lead is down to 5 (49 - 44). Hillary will win the nom, then lose to McCain. AAs will NOT vote for her. That will hurt her in FL, OH, PA and MO.

Posted by Fitz | April 29, 2008 2:32 PM

You know, a president of the U.S. has to be completely vetted. His backround, his character, his judgement are all valid subjects so we can know what kind of man he is and what kind of a president he will make. He didn't DTMFA and I admired that when this whole Wright thing first surfaced.
I can understand black resentment and anger.
It has legitimate roots. But Wright went on to blame all white people by inference and that is just wrong. He's very self-righteous
and cock sure and just unpleasent. Many people will ask if this is the kind of friend they think a president should choose and what this says about him. It raises questions Obama doesn't need right now. Most unfortunate.

Posted by Vince | April 29, 2008 2:35 PM

you know, obama started his political career as a "community organizer." where could he interact with the greatest percentage of that community? at trinity.

so why was obama a member of trinity for 20 years? networking.

nice bonus of community networking from within a christian congregation? christian bona fides.

a simple answer to the questions could be "i have been a member of trinity for 20 years because that is my community, those are the people of my community--we may not all agree with wright, but we all gather together as a christian community nonetheless. i may be denouncing wright the individual for his latest performance, but i cannot and will not denounce an entire community over the words of one man." yadda yadda. ahem.

but i suppose even that is too nuanced for the american idiots.

Posted by chops | April 29, 2008 2:38 PM

i predicted this post earlier.

Posted by infrequent | April 29, 2008 2:41 PM

Thet there George Bush, is he runnin' agin? He seems like a real nice feller, ceptin' for when he throw'd up on the Japs.

Posted by 99.99999% of America | April 29, 2008 2:41 PM

@14: Thanks! Great article; it should be required reading for everyone.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 29, 2008 2:51 PM

I thought we had a provision in the US Constitution prohibitting a religious test for public office? It was a nice though.

I really hope Obama can overcome this but he is toast. He could survive the first Rev. Wright outrage but this is too much. Clinton gets the nomination and loses the general election.

I suggest we all figure out how to move to Canada.

Posted by Andrew | April 29, 2008 3:11 PM
23 has a photo of Obama looking angry, denouncing Wright on its front page right now. It may well loose Obama the race. Soft spoken, thoughtful, well-dressed black man = popular, makes white people feel good. Angry black man = makes white people run.

Posted by David Wright | April 29, 2008 3:19 PM

I can't think of anything--ANYTHING--more important facing this country right now that who Obama's pastor is. It may be THE MOST CRITICAL issue the American people have ever faced. We are truly blessed to be witnesses to what is surely a turning point in the history of civilization.

Posted by kk | April 29, 2008 3:20 PM

"My only question is: how much longer are smart people going to have to coddle the rest of the American public? "

Until we starve to death.

Posted by AMB | April 29, 2008 3:22 PM

it bothers me that the person that set up the recent Wright debacle is a strong Clinton supporter. she is apparently unaware of Google cache, and tried to delete the blog post. fail.

i say conspiracy. like JFK style.

why did she try to delete it?

Posted by cochise. | April 29, 2008 3:29 PM

i was so into the primary for so long, and it was exciting and engaging and i debated with my friends and family the nuances of policy and personality... and then this whole rev. wright thing made me lose all interest. i have completely emotionally disengaged from the race since i realized that we were going to have to talk about this shit forever. because while i'm not a conspiracy freak, and i'm not religious, and i'm not black, i have yet to hear rev. wright say one thing that i find even mildly offensive. i'm not saying that to be obnoxious or to pretend to be open-minded, but seriously, what the fuck? america's foreign policy is needlessly oppressive and violent, and is the reason al qaeda gave for killing our citizens. why do we have to pretend like we were just sitting around feeding the poor and clothing the naked and then WHAM! some bitches came out of nowhere to fulfill a prophecy on our ass? why do we act like the black community doesn't have the right to think the government might be trying to kill them when we have thousands of documented cases of them doing just that? why can't a preacher tell his congregation that god is angry at their government? it's his fucking job to put god into the context of people's lives. i didn't hear rev. wright say anything that i haven't heard other people say before, and now it's the biggest fucking news of the century? please.

Posted by anna | April 29, 2008 4:00 PM

anna @ 27,

Well said, thank you.

And since Obama's busy denouncing black people, can he please do something about Chris Tucker? That fuckah's insufferable.

Posted by Original Andrew | April 29, 2008 4:21 PM

anna has a point @27.

look, if you actually listen to his speeches in non-clipped non-repeated-until-your-eyes-bleed fashion, he makes a lot of sense.

A lot better than the 700 club fool that said worse things on 9-11 and 9-12 ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 29, 2008 5:42 PM

23: That's because they think he's a big dicked buck who's going to jump over the fence and rape their daughters.

Posted by Jay | April 29, 2008 6:35 PM

some ideas for Obama preceded by some responses to questions posed by @27:

1. "america's foreign policy is needlessly oppressive and violent, and is the reason al qaeda gave for killing our citizens."

No excuse for murdering innocent viciliams. Also when have we been violent to Saudi Arabia? Just having military basis in the middle east is hardly vioent per se. There's plenty of other times we have been criminally violent but every other country has been, too, so do we get to go kill 3000 of their civilians?

Shit when is Denmark going to apologize for invading England and enslaving so many people, let's all go bomb Copenhagen, that's the kind of logic you are using.

2. "why do we have to pretend like we were just sitting around feeding the poor and clothing the naked and then WHAM! some bitches came out of nowhere to fulfill a prophecy on our ass?"

Whatee rour ration of beneficient to evil works, no excuse for 9-11.

3. "why do we act like the black community doesn't have the right to think the government might be trying to kill them when we have thousands of documented cases of them doing just that?"

no one has a "right" to be wrong and spread lies and falsehoods like the USA govt. invented HIV.

we have a huge history of slavery and racism and spreading falsehoods isn't going to help. what might help are things like getting ex drug offencders their voting rights back -- that's a pretty racist system -- getting cops to stop shooting 50 bullets at anyone anytime -- or actually enforcing the fucking laws so schoolkids in Chi-town don't need a neighborhood vigilante group to walk to school safely.

4. "why can't a preacher tell his congregation that god is angry at their government?"

he can. no one is preventing him from doing it. many people do not agree and that is their right too.

you are avoiding the real issue which is how evil is the usa I suggest "not as bad as most huge superpowers" eg balance the good of ww2 against the bad of iran '52 guatemala '53 and you come out WAY far ahead of hitler, stalin, mao etc.

5."it's his fucking job to put god into the context of people's lives. i didn't hear rev. wright say anything that i haven't heard other people say before,"

huh? as long as others say something that makes it okay?

" and now it's the biggest fucking news of the century? please."

it's important to many people that the us president not hate america. Um, you will find this in most nations I believe. And with everyone getting a vote, not just coastal elites who think the way you do, this means this rev. wright stuff is news. Deal. Your compalint is really with democracy itself.

Sorry to be so blunt but really.
Now as to Obama.

What sucks is he'll win the nomination but be damaged.

Glad his supporters sseem to have taken up my suggestion posted this weekend that he take some action to get REv. Wright to STFU. Obama obviously agrees more with me or the 95% of the nation who disagree with @27 (all due respect etc.) because today Obama said Wright was basically a loony ingrate.

Other steps so he can win:

1. get a fucking economic plan together like right now. That gas tax holiday at least tells real people the government cares. So if you don't want that think of womething conrete and immediate to show everyone you "get it" everyone is a hurtin.'

2. get an electability plan together asap and stop lyign that the data shows OBama is doing just fine.

Start huge registration drives in 15 swing states get all these thousands of volunteers to start working now on it say you will increase voter reg. by 10 million or so and change politics forever.

3. get more specific about al queda and foreign policy. Give us a plan to go get or kill OBL. A tough, smart, plan. Sure, employe our soft power too. Totally denouncet those who think like @27 which basically leads you to the conclusion that using us power is verobten and OBL justified, etc.

That's how he can win those swing voters and win the presidency. And a huge Bill Cosby type speech on race wouldn't hurt, too. You can talk about slavery and racism and how we need to deal with their effects AND hold African Americans to the same standard as anyone else regarding telling the truth, parenting, being responsible, etc. Rev. Wright does not get a free pass nobody gets a free pass but yes people in need get a hand up. If they play by the rules. Something like that.

Posted by unPC | April 29, 2008 7:04 PM

oh yes and dream ticket and seat FL MI too.

What's this about denying voting rights?

RCP national averages have HRC moving ahead another half point in just a day:

National Obama +1.5 Clinton +3.5

IOW CLinton bests Obama by 2 points now, a few days agao he was about 2 points better than her

Pennsylvania Tie Clinton +5.2

5.2 -- she does much better

Ohio McCain +2.6 Clinton +5.0

a 7.6 point diff she does MUCH better.

Florida McCain +11.7 McCain +0.3

Wow she does MUCH MUCH better.

Wisconsin Obama +4.3 McCain +3.3
Yes Obama does better in MN WI IA we know.

Um, since Obama is not so Godlike any more in his judgement? And since thiw Wright thing is going to last about another 7 months? And since the two candidates appeal to different constituencies? And since everything I said about Obama is coming true esp. the part about how his negatives will come out eventually and limit his electability? There should be some CHANGE in his strategy for winning such as

put her on ticket as VP, duh.

How else we gonna get unity?

Posted by unPC a/k/a ITYS | April 29, 2008 7:11 PM

@11 - You aren't the only one, but we might be the only two. As a practicing Catholic, I find it completely credible that a decent, sensible person would stay at a church where the priest/pastor/pope occasionally espouses ridiculous, offensive out-of-date notions. I have a hard time swallowing the idea, however, that a person with any judgment and character could spend even a day on the board of directors of Wal-Mart. I'd never even heard of Wright until a few months ago, but Wal-Mart has actually fucked over a large segment of the country that HRC is currently pandering to for votes.

Posted by Mary F | April 29, 2008 7:46 PM

. . . And if you don't think exactly the way I do, you're worse than Hitler.

Posted by The Kool-Aid Kid | April 29, 2008 8:32 PM

unPC at 31: other steps so he can win #3 = brilliant

Posted by cochise. | April 29, 2008 10:04 PM

I'd like to denounce unPC for his un-American attitudes. May he take one for a pigeon ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 30, 2008 1:20 AM

If people wise up and he gets past this, he's got the nomination - and a whole lot more.

Big 'if', but I'm hoping.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | April 30, 2008 1:29 AM

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