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Monday, April 28, 2008

The Rev. Wright Media Tour

posted by on April 28 at 12:50 PM

Video of Wright speaking at the National Press Club here. Admission from top Obama strategist David Axelrod that this is probably “not helpful” (understatement of the day) here. Offer by Rev. Wright to be Obama’s vice president here.

Joe Klein:

Wright’s purpose now seems quite clear: to aggrandize himself—the guy is going to be a go-to mainstream media source for racial extremist spew, the next iteration of Al Sharpton—and destroy Barack Obama.

Obama is in a bad spot on this one. If he now forcefully throws Wright under the bus, he only encourages more TV-worthy reactions from Wright—along with questions about why Obama didn’t throw Wright under the bus earlier. And if Obama ignores Wright’s recent statements (attacking him is attacking the black church, the U.S. government might well be behind the HIV virus, etc.) then Obama looks like he’s coddling a kook.

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Well, the good reverend didn't get to where he is by having a small ego. Sigh.

Posted by seattle mike | April 28, 2008 12:55 PM

No matter what, I blame HRC.

Posted by superyeadon | April 28, 2008 12:56 PM

Check back at this thread in a month or two. You will read that elenchos predicted that everyone who wants to exploit Reverend Wright is going will eventually overreach and unintentionally reveal their own racism. It will hurt them more than it hurts Obama.

Ask Bill Clinton. You'll see.

Posted by elenchos | April 28, 2008 12:56 PM

Looks like Obama's chickens have come home to roost.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 28, 2008 12:56 PM

This will eventually set up the stereotypical Sister Souljah moment where Obama formally and loudly disowns the man.

Posted by just my prediction. | April 28, 2008 12:59 PM

I watched Wright on Bill Moyers. I think what we're seeing from notoriously lazy Joe Klein and others is a few quotes that fit into their already manufactured worldview.

I didn't see any "racial extremist spew". But don't take my word -- watch the whole thing, it's on line at PBS:

Posted by mistermix | April 28, 2008 1:05 PM

Coddling a cook? Is Wright a chef AND a preacher? Haven't seen one of those on The Food Network yet.

Or did you mean "kook"?

Posted by COMTE | April 28, 2008 1:07 PM

@2 wins.

Hils would have thrown him under the bus in fake outrage by now. Just like she sold us out on the WTO, NAFTA, and FTAA, FWIW.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 28, 2008 1:07 PM

Ohhh, I just SLOG'ed this comparison, I feel pretty validated... for a dumb guy.

Do people really like this guy outside of his parish? I mean, Sharpton has a civil rights background, his approach is dated and he's embarrassingly sensationalist, but there was a time the man SEEMED to be fighting the good fight, and he's a brilliant speaker. Rev. Wright doesn't seem to posses either of these qualities.

Posted by Dougsf | April 28, 2008 1:08 PM

I am so done with this primary. Wake me up in the Fall when/if there's a Dem nominee and I'll decide then whether to vote for Nader.

Posted by jesus christ, enough of this | April 28, 2008 1:08 PM

Coddling a cook? Did you mean kook?

Posted by ivan | April 28, 2008 1:09 PM

I'd say that Wright will either help Obama or end up being a zero-sum distraction. He's now outlining the politics and faith of black liberation on national platforms. I think that, unlike what many in the classist press want to assume and propigate, a lot of middle class and evangelical voters will find themselves addressed by and reflected in Wright's words. That is, if the mainstream white media acts responsibly and stops portraying Wright as some sort of "extremist." And if people are driven away by Wright's very legitimate message, we'll only be losing people unwilling to confront the racism in America -- I have faith that this is a smaller percentage of people than the Republicans and the press would have us believe. In other words: either it will help Dems by appealing to values voters, or it won't matter because we weren't going to get those voters, anyway (and if we're serious about this election, we CAN win without them).

It's telling that the mainstream press so often label advocacy for the rights of the oppressed as "racial extremist spew."

Posted by pbaitch | April 28, 2008 1:11 PM


If he now forcefully throws Wright under the bus, he only encourages more TV-worthy reactions from Wright—along with questions about why Obama didn’t throw Wright under the bus earlier.

I think he could handle that, if he were so inclined. If anyone could say "You helped my family and inspired me at a rough time in my life, sir, but you're just gone over the edge now" in a manner that would persuade people, it would be Obama. And he may wind up needing to do that, whether that's fair or not.

Posted by tsm | April 28, 2008 1:12 PM

All this tells me is that a Martin Luther King could never rise to prominence in the United States we now live in. I mean, King would be characterized as a dangerous socialist and racist in this political climate. Nothing Wright said here is particularly extreme (the craziest thing he ever said was the AIDS thing, but that's a commonly held belief in the black community), but he's characterized as an insnae bigot. He's actually less radical than King was.

Meanwhile, McCain's personal religious adviser John Hagee is an out and out bigot who believes half the country is going to Hell, rants and raves against gays, Catholics and Jews, and believes we should attack Iran to initiate the apocalypse. Yet somehow his extremism has gone largely unchecked by the supposedly liberal media sources like the NY Times.

It seems that the moderate left has taken on the pathologies and insecurities of the right, vetting its own with extreme prejudice instead of taking the war to McCain, by you know, publicizing his bullshit in editorial after editorial, blog after blog.

Posted by Jay | April 28, 2008 1:19 PM

Well, at least Wright talked about how society should be inclusive. And, yes, he specifically mentioned atheists and gays. I guess that doesn't help Obama with middle America either. Can't win for losing. Oh well... I'd listen to Wright any day over Hutcherson.

Posted by Yes, really | April 28, 2008 1:22 PM

Omg, kook, kook! Not cook. Kook! Thanks all. Haven't had lunch yet today... Obviously was expressing my own interior wish that I could be coddling a cook right this very moment.

Posted by Eli Sanders | April 28, 2008 1:40 PM

@14 - Exactly. McCain is getting a free pass on Hagee because they're stuck on covering HRC and Obama's intra-party bickering. That's why I'm glad that the DNC has released some attack ads against McCain, because let's face it, SOMEBODY needs to start calling him out on his bullshit, and right now our two candidates are stuck on fighting each other (and by the way, I do blame Hillary for dragging this primary fight as far down the political gutter as it has reached).

Posted by Hernandez | April 28, 2008 1:43 PM

Wright believes, it seems, that the US government created not only the AIDS virus but pumps crack into the inner city. These believes seems to put him on a level of crazy comparable with 9/11 "truthers" and holocaust deniers. I just can't believe that people are excusing his ugly and insane ideas.

Posted by PJ | April 28, 2008 1:47 PM

After watching Rev. Wright on Bill Moyers, it is evident that, in context, there is nothing radical, anti-patriotic, etc. in his comments, and certainly little for Obama to renounce.
Wright is intelligent, and his world view is perfectly understandable from this interview, including virtually all of the statements that were "excerpted" from his sermons. He would be doing Obama a service to expose the breadth of his beliefs to America, but how many people will sit still for the hour that it requires to really absorb and understand complex explanation and argument. So much easier to excerpt "God Damn America" and replay it on an endless loop. Sigh............

Posted by art | April 28, 2008 1:47 PM

the real problem we've got here is that all these people are MONOTHEISTS.

"God" doesn't damn or bless shit.

Posted by max solomon | April 28, 2008 1:53 PM

18: Well since the CIA was involved with drug trafficking, I would say the belief is at least partly warranted. Just as there is a difference between distrusting the government and being a conspiracy theorist, there's a fine line between trusting and government and being stupidly credulous. It's not like the US government was uniformally against testing drugs on civilians and smuggling them to pay for its covert operations at all times during its history.

Posted by Jay | April 28, 2008 1:59 PM

The Republicans can absolutely take this one to the bank. Because there's not a single right-wing religious figure who's ever said anything as outrageous as "God damn America." Well, except for Jerry "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve" Falwell (on September 13, 2001). But that's completely different.

Posted by kk | April 28, 2008 2:06 PM

PJ@18: You may call Wright a crazy conspiracy theorist regarding his comments on crack and AIDS. And so would his congregation and every other sane person, if it weren't for insane shit like this that actually happened.

In 1932, the Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, began a study to record the natural history of syphilis in hopes of justifying treatment programs for blacks. It was called the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male."

The study initially involved 600 black men – 399 with syphilis, 201 who did not have the disease. The study was conducted without the benefit of patients' informed consent. Researchers told the men they were being treated for "bad blood," a local term used to describe several ailments, including syphilis, anemia, and fatigue. In truth, they did not receive the proper treatment needed to cure their illness. In exchange for taking part in the study, the men received free medical exams, free meals, and burial insurance. Although originally projected to last 6 months, the study actually went on for 40 years. . . .

The men were never given adequate treatment for their disease. Even when penicillin became the drug of choice for syphilis in 1947, researchers did not offer it to the subjects. The advisory panel found nothing to show that subjects were ever given the choice of quitting the study, even when this new, highly effective treatment became widely used.

Posted by kk | April 28, 2008 2:15 PM
King would be characterized as a dangerous socialist and racist in this political climate.

I don't know about the racist bit, but he certainly was characterized as a dangerous socialist in his day.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 28, 2008 2:18 PM

PJ @ 18, have you ever heard of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment? Maybe you should do some research. AAs, especially older ones, have a reason to be suspicious of the government.

Posted by Fitz | April 28, 2008 2:19 PM

OK, so "insane shit" like the government doing some very evil stuff has happened in the past. Of course. This proves nothing about the specific claims made my Jeremiah Wright, which I think are absolutely fair to characterize as insane.

Posted by PJ | April 28, 2008 3:03 PM

You can think he's insane, PJ, but it doesn't carry much weight when you offer no reasoning to support it. If anything, it suggests you're the one who believes things without touching reality.

Posted by elenchos | April 28, 2008 3:19 PM

elenchos, if someone claims that HIV was purposefully created in laboratory by scientists it suggests they are out of touch with basic facts about the world we live in. Care to provide link to a credible scientist or researcher who, like Wright, believes HIV was created in laboratory to kill people?

Posted by PJ | April 28, 2008 3:33 PM

I wish that I'd been with Hillary. This is the end of Obama. It is all about Wright now, and that is exactly how the Reverand wants it. At this point McCain would be better then Hillary in my opinion, though. Can't stand the Hill Dog.

Posted by jeff | April 28, 2008 3:37 PM

PJ, you just don't get it. It's all about perception. You can call folks names, but that doesn't mean that some (older) folks do not trust the government because of things that happened in the past. Unless you are one of those whose race (AAs, Native Americans, Jews, etc.) has been oppressed in the past, you don't understand. And the sad part is you're not trying to. You simply resort to name calling.

Posted by Fitz | April 28, 2008 3:42 PM

If it's Hillary/McCain, I will join my fellow African American family and friends, and stay home. She won't win.

Posted by Tony | April 28, 2008 3:44 PM

It is not insane to take the step from the Tuskegee experiment to suggest that HIV was a repeat of the same act. He is reasoning that what has happened in the past will be repeated. Yet the fact that it was in the past is the only criticism you offer. Asking for a link to a scientist who thinks HIV is man made suggests you don't grasp the basic facts that everyone is talking about. Wright's statement at that time might have been wrong, but it was much closer to the mark than the majority of Americans who thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.

You're a silly person, PJ.

Posted by elenchos | April 28, 2008 3:48 PM

You're right, Fitz, I don't understand. I just imagine if I was an educated and articulate person, like Jeremiah Wright obviously is, I would want my ideas to be dealt with on the same playing field as anyone else even if I came from one of the groups you mentioned. I see no difference between 9/11 truthers of any racial or ethnic background. They are all misinformed at best. Same goes for AIDS conspiracy theorists.

Posted by PJ | April 28, 2008 3:57 PM

OK elenchos, I understand what you're saying about what has happened in the past being repeated, but I just don't think that's a good enough reason to say what Wright said. This guy isn't just some idiot off the street who thinks that Sadaam was behind 9/11. He's preaching to hundreds (or thousands) of people every week. Don't you think he should at least have some halfway decent reasons for believing what he does before going public with it? My point was that AIDS being a man made is not something that is seriously debated amongst scientists. So why should Wright claim to know? Doesn't that strike you as even a little insane?

Oh, and fuck you too.

Posted by PJ | April 28, 2008 4:19 PM

i hope elenchos @2 is correct. this seems to be what is happening. the one who criticizes in terms of race or gender has ended up looking worse. that's why obama's high road has been working so well.

unfortunately, there are many people who don't think there is even a little truth to wright's view. in most cases, this type of person wouldn't vote for an african american regardless. but obama may have passed in their minds, so to speak, up until this point.

Posted by infrequent | April 28, 2008 4:26 PM

So it's totally acceptable at black churches for "black power" to be preached? Gee, if there were a predominantly white church anywhere in this country that was preaching a mantra that "white privilege" is nothing but a bunch of crap and that white people should throw off the shackles of guilt forced upon the press would label that church the biggest white supremacist organization outside of Idaho! There has been such a crazy double standard here it is unbelievable. Where was anyone backing up Geraldine Ferraro when what she said actually had merit whether or not anyone could bear to hear it. It's really sad. Obama can call working class whites bitter and clingers to religion and think it's no big deal, but nope if it's someone like Ferraro who states the obvious OH SHIT she is a member of some skinhead organization!

Posted by marty | April 28, 2008 5:04 PM

marty, you are proving elenchos right @2. maybe you can't see it, but those reading you can. just like ferraro couldn't see it, yet she had to resign because most everybody else could.

Posted by infrequent | April 28, 2008 5:10 PM

36: Maybe because blacks have been historical victims of large scale institutional racism and discrimination the likes of which you, who I'm guessing is probably not black, have never been burdened with. And maybe you're a fucking idiot too. Hmm, you think so?

Posted by Jay | April 28, 2008 5:59 PM

24: I think he would be considered a racist now, because conservative white Americans now believe that any expression of discontent with the way things are on the part of blacks is reverse racism. The "disenfranchised" southern white voters certainly saw King that way in the 1960s, though they didn't have access to the rhetoric of "reverse racism" to work with yet. The "dangerous socialist" bit went hand in hand with it.

Now, Martin Luther King would be tagged a radical bigot by Fox News and that would the end of it. You know the song: "Oh noes, a black guy says that blacks are discriminated against! He must be a racist!"

Posted by Jay | April 28, 2008 6:04 PM


LAtest realclearpolitics poll averages show huge movement toward HRC in head to heads against McCain:

National Obama +1.5 Clinton +3.0
This had Obama besting HRC the last few weeks, steadily, but how it's flipped.

And RCP shows that the Obama campaign statements that he does just as well in OH and PA are, um, a gross, big, fat, ovious lie:

Pennsylvania Tie Clinton +5.2
Ohio McCain +2.6 Clinton +5.0

Clinton besting Obama by 4.2 or 7.6 points respectively is not Obama doing the same as Clinton. Saying so is a lie.

And in Florida McCain beats Obama by 11.7 while McCain beats HRC by just 0.3 -- that is, Clinton (a) is competitive and Obama's not and (b) Clinton is doing a whopping 11.3 points better than Obama.

So, again: who's more electable?

You know, a CO here and a WI there and throw in a few ND's and you just don't get up to FL + OH + PA very fast.

Posted by unPC | April 28, 2008 7:16 PM

Why is ANY of this relevant? The leap from Wright's kookiness (or culinary skills, depending on your mood) to Obama's fitness to be president is a non sequitor, and I am incredulous that more people don't realize this based on personal experience. My own priest once claimed in a sermon that God intervened to make sure the pet store had exactly the right size fish tank he needed. Does that make ME crazy? Does it mean I have to leave a parish full of friends and family if I ever want to run for office without having my sanity questioned? In fact, after this bizarre campaign between, not Clinton and Obama, but Wright, Ferraro, and Ayers, can anyone with political aspirations be friends or even acquintances with someone with which they do not entirely agree?

Posted by Mary F | April 28, 2008 7:29 PM

Why is any of this relevant?
WTF? Are you out of your mind???
It's relevant because it makes people not want to vote for Obama when the whole basis of his campaign was he'd be Vastly More Electable than HRC.

Another realclear politics item today (ie based on a poll before the latest shit hit the fan):
"Clinton holds a 9-point lead over McCain in a national general election matchup poll by AP-Ipsos, outpacing Obama by 7 points in terms of winning margin. Obama and McCain are statistically tied.
Clinton 50 - McCain 41
Obama 46 - McCain 44."

You gotta get the votes to win. That's why it's relevant.

Oh btw in my personal ideal universe? This wouldn't be "relevant" -- and I'd like the unicorns to have golden horns also -- guitars to always be in tune -- no lines for ferries...oh and one more thing, no one who doesn't think or vote the same way I do ....

Posted by unPC | April 28, 2008 7:49 PM

Yeah, let's all talk about votes and how it's all a big numbers game and forget about having any fucking positions, viewpoints or ideas. Let's just follow the numbers and play the pathetic polls game some more. Fantastic. It would be a non-issue, except every politician in the country has to dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator. But hey that's ok, politics is just a game and nothing will ever get fixed. We'll just become a country of frivolous poll-takers with out-sized opinions about topics no one understands.

Posted by Jay | April 28, 2008 9:41 PM

Gallup Poll Daily tracking April 25-27 shows them tied with 47% for Obama and 46% for Clinton -- IOW a 9 point spread of about a week ago is gone.

Posted by unPC | April 28, 2008 9:59 PM

42 i don't see why 41 merits such an explosion of condescension (and punctuation.) all she's doing is pushing back against the argument that obama = wright. do you beleive that there is no use in trying to de-link obama from wright? gore made the mistake of not challenging things as the media morphed him from boy scout to liar, just as kerry failed to respond to the swift boat ads. obama has to put distance between himself and wright in order to impact all those numbers you have posted. one element of that strategy has got to be making the point that just because wright said it, doesn't mean obama believes it.

Posted by Quincy | April 29, 2008 12:10 AM

Wright says Farakkhan is OK with him because he never had his people in chains. Well damn then, the KKK is okay with me, they never did anything to my people, unlike Nation of Crackwhores.
What a selfish man to be so bitter about racism while surrounding yourself with homophobes and anti-semites simply because there persecution doesn't affect you.

Posted by jane doe | April 29, 2008 1:45 AM

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