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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

Comments () | Archives (133)

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I don't know how this will all play out, but, I know how it *should* all play out.

Obama should be judged by his own actions first, and his own words second. He should not be judged by the words of his pastor.

For example, Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich are teaming up to talk about the environment. Do we judge Gingrigh by all the words Pelosi has ever said? No. They are temporarily united on an issue of mutual importance.

Similarly Obama and Wright. Both care passionately about the plight of the inner city.

WAY too little & WAY too late. Rev. Wright said it best. Obama's a two bit Chicago politician and just does what he has to do to get elected. So much for being a breath of fresh air...a new kind of candidate...above the political fray...

Obama must cut ties with Wright or face certain defeat.

I am a born-again christian,and I have an AIDS.

I have seen enough of extreme christians who abuse Bible and bully on other religions,and Catholic Clerks are the examples of all: pandemic sex scandals, pandemic corruptions,preaching mainly hatred to other people who are under terminal illness/life-disasters.

this proves one size doesnt fit all.
Rev.Wright never scolded of Ted Haggard,Jimmy Baker...

My bible is good for my own betterness, not for preaching to others.

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Christians must stop preaching Hatred!

Rev. Wright did not say in the past few days nearly as much as Obama has heard him say in the past 20 years. Obama had no choice but to distance himself from Wright now because he thinks that by claiming to cut out Wright the Americans will vote for him.....but most of us are wise enough to know that this is a political move and nothing has changed.....Obama did sit and listen to these sermons with his 2 young daughters for years and only now that white folk will not vote for him has he realized that Wright was wrong......Oh come on!!!!!!!! VOTE HILLARY 08

PS..........Obama did not stand up for the 3 black men shot by police on their way out of Sean Bell's bachlor party. None of the 3 black men had a gun and the police shot more than 50 shots wounding 2 of them and killing Sean Bell just hours before his wedding. Obama said the court has ruled and don't get violent. That is about what he will do for the 90% black people voting for him.....nothing!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, Wright did have one thing right. Obama is a politician so he will "say" whatever he needs to say to win. Regardless of what he "did" for 20 years (attended the Wright's church). My momma taught me that when what you "say" and what you "do" don't match, you are lying.

That person Senator Obama met "20 years ago" traveled to Libya with Louis Farrakhan for an audience with Quadaffi. At the time Libya was branded a terrorist state.

"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)."

The parenthetical remark is racist. There is no such thing as race in human biology. Blood is blood. There are no racially-differentiated blood lines to mix. Obama being the product of white woman from Kansas and a black man from Africa gives him no intrinsic insight on racial reconciliation.

Indeed, reconciliation only comes after confrontation with reality. Obama doesn't want to confront the racial conflict in America; he wants to gloss over it, to dissimulate it. His purpose is to make white people believe that our racist past is behind us.

Rev Wright is nothing but a "SHAME." While I may not know what Rev Wright has done [ the good stuff] he was like a lunatic and mad person, that deserve no respect and he should be ASHAMED. I'm a Republican but gave Rev Wright a pass for not knowing the good stuff he has done, but after watching him yesterday, I felt he was crazy and stupid. Obama should further dennounce and cut ties with this mad man.

Too late, Obama.
Thanks god, too late!

Senator Obama should have thrown the Reverend under the bus the first time. Now it just makes Mr. Obama seem silly and ineffectual. Certainly, voters are no better off than they were previously as regards Obama's positions on the Reverend's "goofy" assertions. I just hope that Senator Obama can hang in there and drag this out as long as possible. The more broke all the candidates are, the less apt the are to carry this crap into the general election.

Thank God he threw him under the bus - The Rev is just shopping a Book deal, and he will get it.

Will this mean Barak will stop going to that Kill Whitey church he has been going to for 20 years?

Hi, My name is Barack Obama, I strongly denounce my mentor of 20 long years and the man I consider my spiritual adviser of 20 long years, Reverend Wright..... I make the right choices.... because I know what I am doing..... oh and it's not my fault, Hillary is a racist too........ Reverend Wright was going to be my running mate, I guess I will just choose Louis Farrakhan now instead for VP....... GD America!!!

Let's turn the spotlight off Rev Wright and onto the candidates who aspire to lead this nation for the next four years. A LA Times editorial suggested some questions that should be put to all three candidates; rather than continuing to give Rev Wright his 2-minutes of fame, let's find out how the candidates would respond to those questions. Their responses are relevant - what Rev Wright says is not.

Is he going to disown his grandmother next?

Only in our country with our 24/7 news hysteria cycle would this statement by Obama be necessary. In the civilized and reason-based world, nobody would try to hold Obama responsible for the showmanship and bombast of his former pastor. Anyway, this should end it. Can we now move on from "guilt by association" to something that matters to saving our country?

"Hillary Clinton can't be sorry to have Jeremiah Wright back in the news. So it’s interesting that the pastor’s defiant speech and press conference yesterday was scheduled and organized by Barbara Reynolds, an ordained minister, ex-USA Today editor, and ardent Clinton supporter. Reynolds wrote on her blog that by voting for Clinton she was “saying thank you” for her husband's administration." from Newser 04/29/2008

I think he's cleared it up.

There was a time when I thought the Catholic school that I grew up in as a child was the finest school, that the Priests that I knew in suburban New York were the very best men of God in the entire world.

That is, of course, until I became an adult, took off the shades, and realized that many of my classmates had been sodomized by the very men I greatly revered and tried to emulate in my life.

Always know, no matter how much good religious men do, that they are still just men with all of the faults and failings of those that go to the tavern on Sunday instead of the church.

I've learned, in my middle age, that one is no more holy than the other.

Thank GOD I was not one of my classmates. Little did I know that as I was sneeking into an Irish pub as a young kid that I was actually making myself much safer than being on school grounds in the late afternoon!

Obama is learning the same lesson I did. God is GREAT. Religious people, even when they help you to find God, may not be at all!

Saw it happen at Compton Sr. High School in Compton, California in 1959. Everyone got along great, no mention of racist beliefs not ever in my white homelife, lots of team spirit at school, leading CIF and supporting our teams in a more innocent time. And then it happened. We, and I mean all the blacks, whites, hespanics, asians, jewish peps pratically unanimously voted in a homecoming queen, she was Phillipino/Black mix and we all loved her! The blacks went out of control and our school became a quiet war zone with the blacks doing alot of aggressive things against the white girls and the age of innocents lost its veil. Instead of being happy and excited the racist issue (I guess it was under the surface all the time - I really don't know) became ugly. I guess "they" couldn't handle a success because all that happened was a "chip-on-the shoulder attitude" which brings me to the narcissistic chip on the shoulder Rev. Wright. I hate to think that one black reverened can jealously bring down the vote of millions of people that support Obama. Wright needs to check his bible in James about murdering with his tongue. He has a choice to preach the love, forgiveness and reconcilliation of the Word but instead his words are terriost in nature in that his words are not the words of God Word but from the dark places where dwelleth unspeakable things. Righteous indignation is one thing but Wrights paycheck getss bigger with the hate messages of self-righteousness and true Christians know the difference. So journalist publications have a field day with the Wright circus. I rebuke him for the murderer he is born out of jealousy and scorn. He fools himself into thinking he's really something based on the number of his congregation which must be very angry, mad twisted sistas and bros. Shame on Wright for not nourishing his congregation to health and shame on Wright for keeping his church patrons in slavery, slavery to him and is murderous words, shame on Wright for puting Jesus back up on the cross everytime he teaches unforgiveness and there is no help for narsisstic people like Wright. in fact the law says if a shrink detects he/she is counselling with a narsisstic tthe shrink cannot continue therapy and cannot collect any more money from them because there is no help for them and its against the lawto counsel further.Mighty is the fall of the prideful. Timberrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, is coming soon.

Too little and far too late!!!

I think Senator Obama's denunciation of Reverend Wright is more for the benefit of his presidential campaign. There's not much of a difference between the Reverend Wright of today and the Reverend Wright of several weeks ago that he could not denounce or disown then. Now that his campaign is slowing down and threatened by a backlash against his preference to stand by his pastor even as he disagreed with his words, it seems convenient that Reverend Wright appears again so Senator Obama can re-position himself. What I see is that his campaign needs to regain the lustre of a tarnished character, since without this, it is clear that he has nothing to offer the American public to justify his quest for the presidency. He neither has the experience, the political fortitude and concern for middle America that Senator Clinton clearly possesses. Senator Obama's "denunciation" is not too little too late. It is another ploy to hoodwink the American people that he is better than the other presidential candidates.

Thank you Obama for finally setting the record straight. I am the grandmother of 5 beautiful grandsons that happen to be both black and white, same as Obama. For their sake and the sake of our country, it's time to put our differences aside and get on about our "Father's business" which is to love one another. Pray for the country of Zimbabwe, bless those that curse us and let God be God. Stand up for the truth, know that we are not a perfect country, but realize that our nation is founded on Godly principals and have corrected many of the injustices in our Nation...together. Why do people ship themselves in crates, cross our boarders and long for the American dream? Let's be a thankful people and praise the Most High God for the foundation of this blessed country.

It will hurt him alot in North Carolina !

You are kidding, right? Obama's been one of his flock for 20 years, heard numerous sermons by the Rev. preaching this same message, married his wife by a ceremony officiated by Rev. Wright, AND his children were baptized by Jeremiah Wright and NOW he's distancing himself from the preacher? Either he doesn't know the Rev. Wright very well after 20 years or he's trying to hide the fact that he does indeed believe in the teachings of the pastor but knows he cannot be the President in doing so.

I am not one of Obama's supporters, but he cannot control what anyone else says and his reaction was exactly what it should have been. I will be very disappointed if anyone in the Clinton camp tries to use Wright's recent publicity campaign in any way against Obama. Unfortunately, I don't feel I can expect such scruples from the Republican side if Obama goes on to be the Democratic candidate.

Umm isnt he like his uncle and he can no more disown him then he could the black people?
Obama knew all along this guys views and now that he knows it will hurt him he is distancing him self.
I dont mind having Hillary or McCain but Obama would be a disaster.

Obama scares me. He should scare American Jews everywhere. His agenda is hidden, just like he tried to keep the true views of Wright hidden.

The press needs to let this story go. Rev. Wright does not represent or speak for Barak Obama. Senator Obama has never spoken like Rev Wright...the outrageous statements by a inflammatory paster are not part of the Obama message. It is a sad day when the press misses all the good qualities of this presidential candidate and has to wallow in inflammatory side issues. Shame on you.

I am so happy about Barack responding in such a straight line! It must be hard for him to have to say such things about a man that used to mean so much to him. And even though I feel like Barack had to distance himself away from this radical man, I'm sorry for Barack and his family. They are really trying to do the right thing!

A little bit late in the day. You had all those years to decide we was offensive. Now your nomination is on the line, you cut him off.

I question your judgment. You are not fit to be president. would have been better if he had let it lie for a while after the new interviews, by using terms i like "i gave him the benefit of the doubt", after wright was in front of him by choice for all those years, mr obama's spiritual leader...kind of spooked me...Aloha

This is amazing. He's known the man for two decades, and only NOW does he find Wright's remarks horrifying? When he sat week after week in the pews hearing this, and never objected before? When he knew for a year that this would be a problem (in April 2007 having the conversation with Wright himself about how he might have to "distance" himself? When he was confronted in November 2007 about Wright, his mentor and friend? This looks like nothing more than Obama's desire that no-one would notice, that this would all blow over, and that this is a political last-ditch effort to save himself from a long-running spate of extremely poor judgement.

Good for Obama. I hope we can all now leave this stupid Wright business behind us once and for all and get on to what really matters--which is undoing the damage that the current administration has done to this country both at home and abroad.

Now that Obama has officially denounced Rev Wright, what ever will the Clinton campaign have to keep harping on now?

Everytime she's pressed with something negative she used to be able to redirect it back to the issue of Obama's pastor.

Can we start talking about the real issues now?

I am so saddened by how the so called pastor acted. I agree with Obama to cut his ties with him. Shame on you Rev. Jeremiah Wright Shame on you..

A day late and a Dollar short Obama, you have been with him for TWENTY years. You claim you were not present when he made the most ugly comments, even though you were a member of the church, you broke bread with the man who baptized your kids, was your"spiritual" adviser. Now all the sudden the great Obama, the great uniter, has an epiphany!?! Yeah right.

The Rev. made a joke of himself yesterday along with his hooting and hollering fan base. Auditioning for a yet to be disclosed TV show, book, or radio gig. no doubt.

You're a joke Obama, and all of you friggin apologists or reverse racists (you know who you are) can go crawl back in the hole from which you came. This campaign is over.

Pity, I was actually looking forward to a black man in office. It would finally put to bed all this victim hood and cries of unfairness so we can move on to the more important issues. But leave it to you crybaby whining victims to shoot yourselves in the foot. Hmmm, perhaps that's why the good Rev. is throwing Obama under the bus. Rather than emphasizing keys to success, men like him like to use a ready excuse for failure – racism – even as this racism seems not to affect his own life's success.

Why ?? First, he obviously understands the power of playing the race card. He can see that most Americans despise being accused of racism...Simply put, charges of racism create fear that keep a power play in his favor..Especially to the hooting and Hollering flock who pays tithing to the ringleader, er, um Reverend.

Second, being a victim, even to those who seem successful, is a difficult temptation to pass up. Being a victim is not only an ego-boosting badge of honor, it also supplies a ready excuse whenever one fails. Even if he has to be a victim against a man of his own skin color like Obama..

what a joke..

I've had several bishop's help lead and shape my spiritual beliefs. I never agreed 100% with any of them, and we are talking 10+ people here. In fact I'd say I disagree with them more then I agree with them, yet we all get along and have incredibly deep conversations. I only wish the media could engage every American in these conversations.

Frankly I don't care about Rev. Wright anymore. I do care about Barack Obama, though, and I would like to know more about his actual policies....

Young people like me, under 30, care more about policies then "GOTCHA!" politics. I think it's because I've been on the Internet since age 8 and am well aware that the MSM loves GOTCHA! while they ignore anything of real substance.

Twenty years of not knowing who or what Rev Wright was talking about; give me a break!

I thnk this RECENT apperence of Mr. Wright and today's "cut bait" is all staged. He is trying pull fast one on us.

Finally, now maybe the pundits who have made this non-issue into an issue will enable the Obama campaign to focus on the issues that voters really care about.

Obama scares me. He should scare American Jews everywhere. His agenda is hidden, just like he tried to keep the true views of Wright hidden.

This whole episode really puts the question of Obama's judgement into serious question. We don't have another 20 years to wait for him to realize that there are people in this world who, given the chance, would cause us harm.

How could Obama possibly condemn Wright since most everyone has been taking everything he's said out of context. This is a beauty.

This is amazing. He's known the man for two decades, and only NOW does he find Wright's remarks horrifying? When he sat week after week in the pews hearing this, and never objected before? When he knew for a year that this would be a problem (in April 2007 having the conversation with Wright himself about how he might have to "distance" himself? When he was confronted in November 2007 about Wright, his mentor and friend? This looks like nothing more than Obama's desire that no-one would notice, that this would all blow over, and that this is a political last-ditch effort to save himself from a long-running spate of extremely poor judgement.

Too late.

He is done. Period. End of report.

Obama will not be able to recover from this, it is too deep within the fabric of his core values. This statement comes too late, and sounds way too political.


You said Obama "...could hardly have distanced himself further..." WHAT?

Oh, perhaps any SANE human, let alone American, would not only denounce the "AIDS" and "Calipso-Loui" comments by wright... but would simply say anyone who believes that conspiricy theory BS is either mildly retarded or NUTS!

You also say "...he should have." with regards to Obama "...not have seen the WIDLY TELEVISED EVENT." Do you believe that for one minute given the 24/7 media outlets and that he at all times has access to newspapers, tv's, blackberry's, radio, Obama never saw the "event" visa vie Wrights "sermons?"

No... the kitchen just got HOT....!

Wright is a wack job nut and that is what Obama must admit!

Too late.

He is done. Period. End of report.

Obama will not be able to recover from this, it is too deep within the fabric of his core values. This statement comes too late, and sounds way too political.

I am a blind Christian who was planning to vote for Obama until my pastor told me he actually not a Christian but a Muslim. When I found out the entire Rev Wright church was defending Obama, I asked my pastor what to do, he told me to pray to God that Hillary does not get elected, or that Obama does not do something extreme when he is not choosen. Now I am home alone and I don't know what to think. I can not watch TV, only listen to it. I need MacinTalk to use a computer, and God is not answering my prayers for Obama to drop out and for something bad to come to light about Hillary. I wish President Bush would tell me what to do.

This is the end times. We are living in the rapture.

I hear squeaking bus brakes! Obama is absolutely pathetic. If he acts this way as President we are in real trouble. While I understand he felt he had to have this news conference today to save what's left of his campaign of yada yada, yada I was a little put off by the harshness of his remarks. I wonder how other black people will feel. By now his modus operandi should be clear; every time he gets into trouble he gives a speech on race or tolerance or whatever to calm the liberals who adore him. I don't think this is the end of the Wright business because now Wright will have to respond and so on and on. Not good for Wright, Obama or the country.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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