Barack Obama denounces Jeremiah Wright's 'ridiculous' notions
The break between Barack Obama and his onetime pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is now official.
In comments in North Carolina today, Obama noted that he had given Wright the "benefit of the doubt" when the furor over the preacher first erupted in mid-March, based on YouTube snippets from past sermons in which his incendiary comments included a condemnation of America.
No more, the Democratic presidential contender stressed, following Wright's remarks Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.
Obama began his response today by saying that a belief in racial reconciliation "is in my DNA" (and given his biracial bloodlines, of course, that resonates as more more than just a symbolic phrase).
"Yesterday, we saw a very different vision," Obama said of Wright's Washington appearance, which at one point he termed a "performance."
He could hardly have distanced himself farther from the man who officiated at his wedding ceremony and baptized his two children.
Obama described himself as "outraged" by many of Wright's remarks and "saddened" by what he termed "the spectacle of what we saw yesterday."
He characterized as "ridiculous" Wright's notion that the AIDS epidemic may have been a conspiracy inflicted on blacks by the federal government and that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan should be considered a leading voice in modern times.
Such views ...
"offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. They should be denounced."
And in line after line, he did so.
"When I say I find (Wright's comments) appalling, I mean it," Obama said.
And during a Q & A with reporters following his statement, Obama came back -- unprompted -- to Wright's opinions on AIDS and other matters, calling them "rants that aren't grounded in truth."
Obama really had no choice but to take this step. Asked why he did not do it on Monday, in the immediate wake of Wright's latest remarks, Obama said he had not seen the widely televised event.
He probably should have. But for his political hopes, better a day late than never.
Two questions immediately loom: How will Wright respond? And, more importantly, to what degree will the Wright controversy, given Obama's link to him, undercut his presidential bid?
-- Don Frederick