There's Something Not "Wright" About That Obama Boy,...
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright grabbed the spotlight for the fourth day in a row Monday with a taunting and mocking speech that once again cast a shadow on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
Wright, the former pastor of the Chicago church where Obama is a member, provoked and chided a group of journalists gathered in Washington on Monday during remarks and a question-answer session at the National Press Club.
And he mocked people from the moderator — a USA Today reporter — to the vice president as he criticized the national media for not understanding the black church, and as he re-expressed his criticism of the U.S. government’s culpability for the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and other points of contention.
Obama, in a widely praised speech in Philadelphia on March 18, tried to put to rest questions over his relationship with Wright, but Wright on Monday likely provided new fodder for Obama’s detractors.
In response to a question about Obama’s speech, Wright said, “Several of my white friends and several of my white, Jewish friends have written me and said to me. They’ve said, ‘You’re a Christian. You understand forgiveness. We both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected.
“Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever’s doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they’re pastors. They have a different person to whom they’re accountable.”
In response to a question over whether he owed the American people an apology over his saying “God damn America,” Wright wrapped in an aside to say he would not let Obama off the hook, either, if he becomes president.
“I said to Barack Obama last year, ‘If you get elected November the 5th, I’m coming after you, because you’ll be representing a government whose policies grind under people.’ All right? It’s about policy, not the American people.”
Wright continued: “And if you saw the Bill Moyers’ show, I was talking about — although it got edited out — you know, that’s biblical. God doesn’t bless everything. God condemns something — and d-e-m-n, ‘demn,’ is where we get the word ‘damn.’ God damns some practices.”
And, asked if he was disappointed that Obama put distance between himself and Wright, Wright said: “He didn’t distance himself. He had to distance himself, because he’s a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was anti-American. He said I didn’t offer any words of hope. How would he know? He never heard the rest of the sermon. You never heard it.
“I offered words of hope. I offered reconciliation. I offered restoration in that sermon, but nobody heard the sermon. They just heard this little sound bite of a sermon.”
When moderator Donna Leinwand of USA Today followed up with a question about whether Obama was a regular attendee, or if he dozed during services, Wright aimed his response back at the moderator.
“He goes to church about as much as you do. What did your pastor preach in the last week? You don’t know?” he said.
University of Virginia Center of Politics director Larry Sabato said Wright is dragging down Obama’s campaign.
“This is not helpful to them. Remember, Barack Obama is trying to run a post-racial campaign because after all, he has to win tens of millions of votes among whites, Asians, Hispanics, in order to get elected president,” Sabato told FOX News. “African American votes are a good base. That will be maybe 10 percent of the overall turnout, but it’s not nearly enough.”
Sabato said Wright represents one of the “worries” for the Obama campaign that can lose him votes.
“I think he (Obama) has to distance himself further, probably continuously, between now and the November election if he’s the nominee. … Obama has to hope that Jeremiah Wright enjoys this time on the stage and then maybe takes a long trip abroad in September or October,”“I think when politics doesn’t work for people its because its become about that politicians ambitions. When you become—when politicians are most passionate about their political survival, that’s when they get really fired up, is because they’re worried about losing, that’s when you end up losing your focus, that’s when you go astray, that’s when you start being willing ot say anything or do anything, and that’s what I’ve been trying to guard against and my faith helps me do that.”
Democratic strategist Bob Beckel tells FOX that Wright’s moment in the spotlight serves to improve his image.
“I think it softens his edge, but I think enough is enough,”“I think when politics doesn’t work for people its because its become about that politicians ambitions. When you become—when politicians are most passionate about their political survival, that’s when they get really fired up, is because they’re worried about losing, that’s when you end up losing your focus, that’s when you go astray, that’s when you start being willing ot say anything or do anything, and that’s what I’ve been trying to guard against and my faith helps me do that.”
Beckel said, agreeing that time out of the spotlight for Wright would aid in improve Obama’s chances.
Wright also said:
– American soldiers in Iraq have died “over a lie” and called the war “unjust.”
– In response to a question on his patriotism: “I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did (Vice President Dick) Cheney serve?”
– Regarding his comments after Sept. 11 that “chickens have come home to roost”: “Jesus said do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic, divisive principles.”
Click here to read a full transcript of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s remarks and question-answer session at the National Press Club.
But during his remarks, Wright also sought to put space between what he called “attacks” on the black church and possibilities for racial harmony.”The most recent attack on the black church, it is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright, it is an attack on the black church,” Wright said.
He frequently criticized the press, but also said the heightened scrutiny of him and the black church could serve as a bridge for reconciliation and a decrease in the kinds of racial hatred that were exhibited during slavery, apartheid and by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
“Maybe this dialog on race … can move the people of faith in this country from various stages of alienation and marginalization to the exciting possibility of reconciliation.”
Obama’s association with Wright came into question after media reports this spring examined speeches over the years by Wright. At one point he bellowed, “God damn America,” and he has referred to the United States as the “U.S. of KKK-A.” Wright recently retired as senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where Obama has attended for the past 20 years.
The pastor has set out to set the record straight, last Friday appearing on Moyers’ PBS program, Wright’s first interview since the controversy erupted. Over the weekend, Wright gave two sermons and made an appearance at an NAACP event Sunday night in Detroit.
On Monday, his address in Washington was part of a two-day symposium on the African-American religious experience being hosted by Howard University.
On the Campaign Trail
But the controversy isn’t appearing to go away.
On Monday, Obama largely avoided the subject. Facing a question about religion at a town hall event in Wilmington, N.C., he did not mention Wright’s name, saying “when politicians are most passionate about their political survival, that’s when they get really fired up, is because they’re worried about losing, that’s when you end up losing your focus, that’s when you go astray, that’s when you start being willing ot say anything or do anything, and that’s what I’ve been trying to guard against and my faith helps me do that.”
And even though last week, Republican presidential candidate John McCain condemned the North Carolina GOP for focusing on Obama and Wright’s relationship in a new advertisement, another ad — this time in Mississippi congressional district race — has surfaced.
The ad comes from Republican candidate Greg Davis, who is running against Democrat Travis Childers.
The ad says: “Obama says Childers will put progress before politics, but when Obama’s pastor cursed America, blaming us for 9/11, Childers said nothing. When Obama ridiculed rural folks for clinging to guns and religion, Childers said nothing. Travis Childers: He took Obama’s endorsement over our conservative values. Conservatives just can’t trust Travis Childers.”
Click here to see the ad on YouTube.
In an interview with “FOX News Sunday” this weekend, Obama admitted his relationship with Wright is a political issue. The title of Obama’s best-selling book, “The Audacity of Hope” is borrowed from one of Wright’s sermons.
“I think that people were legitimately offended by some of the comments that he had made in the past,” Obama said. “The fact that he is my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue. So I understand that.”
But, Obama said, “it is also true that to run a snippet of 30-second sound bites, selecting out of a 30-year career, simplified and caricatured him, and caricatured the church. And I think that was done in a fairly deliberate way.”
While McCain has denounced the North Carolina GOP ad, he was critical of Wright on Sunday, criticism that drew a rebuke from the Obama campaign.
McCain told reporters that after seeing newly surfaced Wright speeches comparing U.S. Marines to Roman legions that killed Jesus and a comparison between Al Qaeda and American flags, “I can understand why Americans, when viewing these kinds of comments, are angry and upset.”
“By sinking to a level that he specifically said he’d avoid, John McCain has broken his word to the American people and rendered hollow his promise of a respectful campaign. With each passing day, John McCain acts more and more like someone who’s spent twenty-six years learning the divisive, distracting tactics of Washington. That’s not the change that the American people are looking for,” Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugnan said.
On Monday, when reporters sought comment from Hillary Clinton on the Wright’s latest remarks, she said, “I regret the efforts by the Republicans to politicize this matter, and I believe that if Senator McCain were serious, he would do more than send a letter” to put a stop to the North Carolina ad.
“I think he could very clearly tell the North Carolina part, tell the Mississippi party, that he would not tolerate those kinds of advertisements. And I’m waiting to see whether he does that,” Clinton said.
Clinton also repeated her stance that she would have not kept Wright as her pastor with the remarks he has made.
“I would not have stayed in that church under those circumstances,” Clinton said Monday.
The TrekMedic meditates:
Gentle readers, all racial stupidity and Rosie O'Donnell-esque foot-in-mouth histrionics aside, just what sort of "man of the cloth" uses the Lord's name to damn the very country that allows him the freedom to practice his faith without fear of government reprisal?