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In D.C. appearance, Jeremiah Wright remains controversial

David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Barack Obama, gets credit for understatement of the month with his comment on MSNBC this morning before the Rev. Jeremiah Wright wrapped up his media blitzkrieg of the last few days with an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

To the extent that voters attribute to Obama statements and opinions that aren't his, Axelrod said, "it's obviously not helpful."

Now, in the wake of a feisty Q&A session that followed a speech Wright delivered (see video below), Obama and his top aides can only sit back and gauge how "obviously not helpful" the man who was the candidate's pastor for many years continues to be to his presidential hopes.

Our colleague Christi Parsons of the Chicago Tribune was among those covering Wright today, and she reports that in his address, he provided "a learned lecture on the black experience in America and on the African American faith tradition, an attempt to put into context the controversial sermon snippets that have been airing in recent weeks."

But, as he answered questions after his talk, Wright did nothing to quell the controversy ...

that has enveloped him and, by extension, Obama.

Wright stood by a sermon he delivered at his Chicago church shortly after 9/11, in which he said “America’s chickens are coming home to roost” for supporting "state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans.” Snippets of that discourse have been among those making the rounds on YouTube.

Today, Wright repeated his payback argument, saying "“You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back to you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic divisive principles.”

Similarly, he said there was a biblical basis for the sermon in which he said "God damn America" due to the stain of racism.

"God doesn't bless everything," said Wright. "God damns some practices."

As he did in his interview with Bill Moyers that aired on PBS on Friday night, Wright seemed dismissive of the much-hailed speech Obama gave in mid-March in which he denounced the preacher's catalog of inflammatory remarks as objectionable and not reflecting his own views.

"If Sen. Obama did not say what he said, he would not get elected," Wright said.

Defending his relationship with Louis Farrakhan, Wright said the Nation of Islam leader "is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains. He did not put me in slavery."

Wright may have done Obama one small favor, casting himself as someone who will keep offering scathing political criticism, regardless of the outcome of this year's election.

Wright told his audience: "As I said to Barack Obama, if you get elected, Nov. 5 I'm coming after you, because you'll be representing a government whose policies grind under people."

That's probably small solace to Obama as the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana approach.

As political analyst David Gergen summed up on CNN: "I'm sure Rev. Wright has many virtues. Loyalty to his former parishioner is not one of them."

-- Don Frederick

Comments () | Archives (104)

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Thanks to CNN for airing the whole keynote address. It is most certain that Fox news or ABC would pick a part of it and blow it out of proportion. I am among a host of others that would never take Fox or ABC news seriousely anymore.

plans within plans...... Hillary is busy making sure Obama gets the nomination and then loses to McCain so she will be the only one around in 2012....

...and now Wright is making sure Obama cannot win this nomination......his is more devious see, if Obama is elected president, whites in this country will consider any debt to black america paid in full. Wright cannot have that. Wright (as well as sharpton et al) make a living off the division and blame. Wright is purposely sabatoging Obama so that he can go on forever blaming the white man.

"Even the angry comments of Jeremiah Wright have to be read as the bitter complaint of a spurned lover. Like millions of other blacks, Wright was willing to serve the country while suffering rejection. He surrendered his student deferment in 1961, voluntarily joined the Marines and, after a two-year stint, volunteered to become a Navy corpsman. He excelled and became valedictorian, later a cardiopulmonary technician and eventually a member of the President's medical team. Wright cared for Lyndon B. Johnson after his 1966 surgery, earning three White House letters of commendation.

Dick Cheney, born in the same year as Wright, received five deferments--four while an undergraduate or graduate student and one as a prospective father. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush used their student deferments to remain in college until 1968. Clinton did not serve, and Bush was on active duty in the National Guard for two years. If time in uniform is any measure, Wright, much more than Cheney, Clinton or Bush, embodies Obama's ideal of "Americans [who] have shown their love of country by struggling and sacrificing and risking their lives to bring us that much closer to our founding promise."
Michael Eric Dyson...

Wright wants to make sure that every single person in America hears him! And Obama wants America to believe that he NEVER knew what Wright was really preaching! Well, this proves he knew! And Obama has made plenty of comments on his own! Even Wright says noone says anything bad about his Grandma, but Obama called his Grandmother a "typical white person." Pretty racist comment. Obama is out. And the faster his campaign quits spinning this and Obama accepts this, the faster we can get along with winning in November with Hillary Clinton; who now leads McCain in the General Election by 10 points. Obama must leave the race. He is hurting the Democrat Party. He is the most polarizing candidate ever. He must leave the race. If not, he will take this whole party down with him.

After reading this, I fail to see the controversy. The media has taken the 30+ year career of a man, trashed it, and then people expect him to remain quiet or apologize for what he believes?

The majority of people who are choosing to link the words, thoughts and deeds of Rev. Wright to Barack Obama were not going to vote for him anyway, so their opinions matter little.

What is most frustrating are those who continue to be interested only in the inflammatory and are content only knowing pieces of the entire story.

Those who know Rev. Wright, including professors, his 8000+ church members and other ministers (including my own father-in-law) consistently speak highly of him and his works in the community. That should mean much more than the words of those who have never had any personal contact with him.

On Wright's quote of " is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains. He did not put me in slavery." Why did you leave out this last line? "and he didn’t make me this color."?

The only reason Wright is able to get by with this stuff is because he is black and the media is afraid of him. And that sickens me. If I, a white male or a brown or yellow male, were to give a speech to the national press saying that a black child's brain is biologically different than other children, it would take more than Lewie's boys to get me safely out the door. What a seperatist. Wright is another Jim Jones. Probably Obama too. Just no good.

Do some research on Wright's background. His life and experience are not what either Barry O or Wright would have you believe. Add in Wright now moving into a million dollar home in a gated "white" community. The man is a for profi race baiter Case closed

These posters Rock...
Posted by: Bob | April 28, 2008 at 10:38 AM
Posted by: Michael | April 28, 2008 at 11:42 AM
Posted by: Po Wiin | April 28, 2008 at 11:47 AM
Well done!! Excellent points, analysis and questions!!

The Rev. is on his knees to his GOD; power, ego and $$$.
His ranting is ideology not t theology and he will go to Hell for his sins, vanity and pride. His chickens will come home to roost. His chickens are hate, lies, evil, and greed. You have to ask, if he hates whites and the USA so much why he is still here spewing hate and being the victim. GO on and leave Rev. !! Go away for good.

The speech before the National Press Club this morning was a must-hear. His historical knowledge and delivery was captivating. If each family would listen to one entire uninterrupted speech, and cast their guilt and conscience aside, they might learn something.

When I think of the tens of thousands of meals they've served to the poor, the number of children they've helped educate, the job skills given, I'm humbled. It should remind churches that there's plenty of work yet to do. Instead we have more churches being built, more self-appointed 'bishops', more teenage pregnancy and more crime.

Something is missing. It's probably confidence, honesty, prayer, fasting, integrity and guts. And this from a black Republican.

To Keith and the others who like to trash the Clintons, those "phonies" gave more money, supported and sponsored more programs for the black community than any other sitting President. Check the history.

What do they get for payback? Meaness, nastiness, and ungratefulness from liberals that are supposed to be their friends.

Obama has given dems like me the green light by saying that McCain will be a better than Bush.
As long as Wright keeps guiding the Obama Titanic to the iceberg, decent democrats like myself will either turn to McCain or not vote at all.

Someone who seriously believes "the government," that nice catchphrase of the common conspiracy theorist, deliberately invented AIDS to suppress a portion of it's own population should just give up now and surrender to the loony bin. It's certainly a position that has nothing to do with "the black church" but is instead something that tends to cast doubt on anything else he might have to say.

For Republicans, Wright is the gift that just keeps on giving, an obvious nutbar with mouthings that might sound swell to the farthest reaches of the left wing but is a stunning turnoff to the common, reasonable, American.

And he's Obama's guy. Big, big mistake.


The Left has increasingly nurtured a culture of exaggerated accusation and self-righteous condemnation. Now those chickens are coming home to roost. Watching the Left eat itself has become a national sport.

Face it conservatives, if you voted for Bush, YOU helped damage this country. YOU sent our sons and daughters into harms way. YOU destroyed our reputation around the globe. YOU made the world less safe.

Don't try to hide your guilt. Accept your mistake, drop the paranoia, and get on board so we can heal our nation. Please don't put ALL OF US through it again.

Wow. His ego is even bigger than Obama's and I didn't think that was possible.

This buffoon has a lot of nerve professing to speak for “The Black Church”.

He lives in a multi-million dollar mansion in a white, gate-guarded neighborhood and has never worked a day in his life unless you consider ranting and dancing to be work.

Just look at him. The guy is maybe 10 percent black, maybe. I know white guys that spend a little time sailing or at the beach that are darker than Jerry Wright.

Puh-lease. Jerry is a black man wannabe out to prove his street creds by acting like a fool.

What does that say about what Jerry really thinks of black Americans?

Obama is finished. Finished, I tell you! FINISHED!

I find it refreshing to hear someone speak from the heart, with sentences that have clarity, feeling, passion - words that are unsettling but hopeful. Words that aren't carefully cribbed, nuanced, or designed to obfuscate the truth. Which makes me wonder....Is America able to hear the truth about the racial divide that still exists in this country, which we go to great lengths to deny, repress, and ignore. Maybe finally, we will have a schoolmaster who will talk cold turkey to us, and lance the wound of the sore that keeps our country the un-United States.

The refutation has been made over and over: if you listen to Rev. Wright's sermon in context, you'll see that the media has taken his statements out of context. Well, I listened to his "God damn America" speech, his "Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost" message and yesterday's NAACP message. Whether this man's speeches are "in" context or "out of" context, his words of hatred for America are as clear as a bell.

In his NAACP Rev. Wright tried to build a case for Western European music vs. African/Black music and how the rhythms are different. That's true and that's what makes music so unique and easy to appreciate. Why does he have to turn it into a racially divisive issue? His main point was that "we are different but not deficient." I can grasp that. I am Jewish and Jewish music is different than European music and black music. However, I am able to say that never in the history of Jewish music have we produced a classical genius like Mozart, Beethoven or Bach. Yes, we had Felix Mendelsohn. But can't I recognize the musical ability of my culture without having to mock the talent of another? Look at the tape of Rev. Wright in yesterday's speech when he mimics European music. He's like a schoolboy smirking and mocking classic European rhythm.

This immature but educated man should be ashamed of himself. He's filled with his own racial superiority, and it's not a pretty picture.

Barak Obama should eschew his relationship to his former pastor just based on the simple fact that this reverend is a man not filled with the spirit of Christ but the spirit of man - a man filled with pride and self-love and disdain for others not like himself. When he mentions the name of Christ and uses his pulpit for his anti-American hate speech, I cringe.

Wright speaks about revenge creating more revenge as he quotes the prophets. Well, Rev. Wright 's posture is that he alone will take revenge through his preaching against a country that once enslaved his people and eventually through the sacrifices of human lives (white and black) freed his people. And Rev. Wright's going to do it all by himself until one day he'll realize he himself has ruined Barak Obama's chances to be president of the country his pastor hates!

If I were a black American, I would give a hearty "Amen!" to Jeremiah Wright's vindictive derisions of white America. It deserves to face the bitter truth of what it has done to its people of color. For shame!

As a white American, I sense that Reverend Wright deeply relishes the spotlight he now shares with Barak Obama (watch the current video as take note of how much he smiles for his cleverness). This is wrong. He is too clever by half.

Most importantly, I think many of Reverend Wright's remarks are every bit as divisive as the American culture he seeks to reride.

Two wrongs will never make Wright right.

We are a nation of cowards. And fine cowards we are. McCain will certainly finish the job Bush has started. Oh... and God Bless America.


OH MY GOD, you guys are obtuse!


I, like may others, were quick to dismiss Mr. Wright’s comments. I’ve never wanted to admit it before, but my parents said things in the past that were & still would be considered racist. Racism is present people! It might not be as direct as in the past, but it’s still there. And I’m usually one to dismiss someone even mentioning racism, as if the lack of acknowledging is an automatic delete button. There is no delete button, and we are passing the same incorrect information to our children. Lets learn together!!!!

I guess the




was lost on a bunch of people here.

pro-black does not equal anti-white.

Jeremiah Wright (apparently) believes that the government invented AIDS to infect African Americans.

If you think America is a racist white country, you're certainly entitled to your opinion. But if you make utterly false statements, you should be mocked. Obama supporters quaking in rage about some "republican" conspiracy theories are equally laughable. Can you laugh at George Bush and a stupid pastor at the same time? I think so.

The Clinton camp has been VERY subtle in their attempts to portray Obama as a glorified Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. The GOP will take that route also. Obama's afraid of losing far left vote and fears "he's sold out black people" accusations to denounce Wright outright. Sir, you are losing momentum.

This is not an attack on the Black Church this is an attack on Barak Obama, based on sound bites from Rev Wright. Does the media understand the black church? NO. Does the black church care? NO.

That being said: Rev Wright‘s opinions are his alone. He is not the authority for the black church nor is he the authority for black people. While his so called intention was to defend his words, I believe it was nothing more than his moment on camera. What serious Rev gives a Q-Dog sign after addressing the nation in a press conference? PLEASE !

Rev Wright continues to exhibit poor judgment and timing. He is not helping Barak Obama. Instead he is fueling the fire for Clinton.

Wake up and Shut up Mr. Wright!

wow, after all these years of the Democrats and liberals holding hands with the black community and singing kumbaya, it seems that many of them are really unprepared to deal with a viable black candidate and the nitty gritty details of black society - kinda surprising huh? Maybe all that kumbaya was a bunch of BS. Maybe Hillary could propose funding a liberal Washington think tank billion dollar research program to find out if there is a difference between being white or black in Amerika to get to the bottom of what's really going on. Jeremiah Wright, Obama and the black community have nothing to apologize for or disown here.

Remind me again. What does that have to do with anything? Good-bye Rev. Wright. Your 15 minutes are now over. Thanks for helping our candidate with you explanations.

To: forparity

Wow, thanks for bringing Rev. J. Wright's comment about Bill Clinton to light!

That was such an obnoxious and indecent thing to say about Bill's presidency! As eloquent as this man is, he can be just as devious & obscene!

"he said that those who reacted only to the sound bites were "stuck on stupid" i agree with him ... and just like his statement that "America's chickens have come home to roost" ... he must know, that what comes from his mouth is what he is! ... and so it goes with those who agree with him!

Enough of this! He is not representative of any black church I have ever been in ... and I have been in many; Dr. O. C. Smith's City of Angels in Los Angeles, T.D. Jakes in Texas, and Creflo Dollar's ministry in Georgia ... none of these great ministers have ever spoken in this way!

"Rev." Dave states "...We are a nation of Cowards..."

Dave, does that include the millions of Men and Women
who have so selflessly served (and currently serve)
our nation?
Then again, My beloved, late Pop, taught me to never
speak disrespectfully of the departed, because they can't
defend themselves, it would be an act of Cowardice.

So Dave, I guess you're right, on at least one count.

The whole story is B-O-R-I-N-G and amounts to nothing more than manufactured controversy. The news media needs to do its job, mainly educate and inform, and stop with this inflammatory "infotainment" that passes as news. Can we move on to real issues, please? If McBush is elected, Big Media will share in some of the blame for LAZY JOURNALISM.

Mr. Wright, Obama and the "black" churh need to find the God in the Bible and stop preaching the petty self serving god of Mr. Farakan.

This guy is so full of himself and hate.

Wright is not soft pedaling his message. He is not accomodating the apologist for white privilege or media amnesia. But he is honest and truthful.

In a country where one-fifth of the people believe the sun revolves around the sun and is obsessed with what people do with their right to privacy, it is not surpising that the pundits will spin his ripping off the emperor's new clothes as shocking. It make you almost want to be a repugnantcan and support lowering the fuel efficiency standards. I mean my god is blind to hypocrisy, greed, and exploitation that is a part of the dominate culture. We are truly blessed.

Obviously Wright believes that in courting working white class voters Obama was moving away from his "blackness". He's reminding Obama that he belongs to the "black man" and better not forget it. What a angry, nasty man this guy is. Anybody tired of Black Liberation Theology yet?

In my view Rev Wright is NOT hurting Obama by speaking publicly. Wright had no choice but to defend himself thanks to corporate media stoking the fire over the last several weeks. This proved to help Clinton as we saw in PA. The corporate media played a two part attack on Obama. One being the obvious Obama - Rev Wright association and the other being that Obama 'as a newcomer to the Senate' is not as well known as Clinton and needs to be fully disclosed to Americans. Wright is basically stomping on the fire by allowing all Americans a personal view into his life while diffusing the issue from the Republicans in November. Wright is also becoming human for all those who choose not see him as human (Invisible Man, Ellison). At the same time Wright is providing full disclosure on his thoughts and ideas for everyone to exploit. This means corporate media will have to rewrite the headlines and spin it in a new direction (for better or worse).

I live in France, and I don't understand why there is a lot of excitation around Rev. Wright.

Question 1.: America is, I guess, a free and democratic country. Rev. Wright if free to say what he believes (true or not)?
Question 2. Is Obama responsible of Rev. Wright speech?
Question 3. Is Rev. Wright an 'alibi' for those who were not Obama supporters?
Question 4. If Obama is not the nominee, will it mean that Rev. Wright is right in the sense that a black can never be elected as a US president?

Your answer will be appreciated. Thanks.

In my experience there are people who cannot admit that they might have screwed up. This is especially true if they see themselves as a wisdom figure. I'm afraid Rev. Wright is like this. Too bad.
I just wish he'd sit down and shut up.

Now, Don and Andrew, if you would give the same coverage to Pastor Hagee, and his offensive comments, and treat him with the same outrage that you treat Wright, I'll believe then that the media isn't in the tank for the Clinton-McCain campaign and trying to paint Obama as an "angry black man". Let's see you do it.

Obama has to win at least some moderate votes. He cannot be elected by the radical left alone. Wright is destroying Obama's campaign by making him unelectable.

Wright and his supporters will then blame others instead of taking responsibility for his outrageous and destructive speeches.

The real question is: WHY? Why is Wright doing this?

Incredible - and sad.

Storm clouds continue to gather over America.

You guys have been royally duped for the last 8 years (once...ok, but twice?) and still real issues continue to be buried under the rubble of sound bites, diversions and sensational headlines.

America will continue to be a major player in the world order, but Lady Liberty sure is looking tired. Innovation and far sightedness have always been your strong points, but there is nothing innovative about hot button topics overriding common sense, and from this vantage point you seem to be staring at your shoes.

History has marked the rise and fall of many civilizations. The internal mire you seem destined to sink into leaves the rest of us wondering who you'll drag down with you.

People need to quit blaming the media for covering Rev. Wright's speeches and comments. Remember that the reverend is writing a book, and he loves the free publicity he is getting. He will make millions from his book, and I don't believe that he wants the coverage to stop -- only Obama supporters want that.

This guy is a total Victocrat !!!
Slavery was 100+ years ago, and I never had or new any slaves. - However it still is common in many Muslim Countries !!
He is another one of the black racists that make a living by trying to convince blacks that the white man is thier problem.
How about 70+% unwed mothers - kids with no fathers - and Wright & his cronies totally ignore it !!
I am very sick of this BS !!!
Perhaps he would have had a much better life if he lived in Zimbabwe !!


So here’s the real story:

The person who was supposed to be dangerously buddy-buddy with Obama just went on a 4 day, high-profile media tour criticizing Obama, angering Obama’s campaign staff.

So Obama isn’t dangerously close to Rev. Wright after all.

Bye-bye, manufactured Washington controversy.

Can we talk now about Clinton’s Cold War style plan for a nuclear umbrella / NATO-style agreement with US allies in the Middle East. How much will it cost? Will it raise tensions in the region? Will it still allow the US to leave Iraq, as Clinton has promised? What do foreign policy experts think about this?

Please, NY Times, enough with the scandal-chasing gotchya games; MORE, MORE, MORE with substantive information and analysis.

You helped lead this country blindly into Iraq only five years ago; I’ll personally be very peeved if you help now to lead the US into an economy crushing, 50 year Cold War with Middle-eastern and African nations, as Hillary Clinton seems to be recommending.

Where are all the supposedly “tough” questions?


Wright's comments ARE hurting Obama.
(because white's collectively are scared to trust ANY black man with power...PROOF.--The MEDIA,chooses to play wright's snippet's OVER & OVER again--MAKIN A POINT EH MEDIA?)--enter the public linching by the debate-controller's...WHOA! So evident!

the media?...the clinton's?

The power's that be are playin the RACE CARD,because they know that ( GUILT,KARMA?,UNCERTAINTY, FAKE PATRIOTISM,BLANKET JUDGEMENT'S WITHOUT determine the vote of the white male!)

What a tangled web!

For the last week I'd been emailing back and forth with Roland Martin of CNN. I told him I thought he was defending this clown, Rev. Wright(I am black) and that if Wright continued, he'd single-handedly sink Obama's campaign,
Wright's an egomaniac and is in it for himself, just as Sharpton and Jackson are. He needs to go away and take his segregationist sermons with him. How the hell you gonna practice unity and preach anger and bitterness.

There should be lots of democrats today gratful to Hillary for NOT withdrawing from the primaries as it's inconceivable that Obabma can now end up being the party's standard bearer after hearing 3 days of Rev. Wright's tirades.

jojoju - Here's a stab.
Question 1.: America is, I guess, a free and democratic country. Rev. Wright if free to say what he believes (true or not)? Absolutely. And others are perfectly free to critque the Rev. Wright for his comments - and Obama and his wife for being a part of that for some 2 decades. One might note that Michele Obama is a very bitter adn angry woman.
Question 2. Is Obama responsible of Rev. Wright speech? Your questions become silly.
Question 3. Is Rev. Wright an 'alibi' for those who were not Obama supporters? Everything works this way in politics - nothing unusual here.
Question 4. If Obama is not the nominee, will it mean that Rev. Wright is right in the sense that a black can never be elected as a US president? Absolutley not. Many of us may have actual concerns with Obama's views, his lack of experience, his limited accomplishments while a senator, and his want to try to sell the entire ship, without any understanding of how to make it work - just exactly what he says he is running against.

I find it interesting that racist people seem to get much respect from certain individuals, such as the ones praising Wright on this message board.

As an Alabamian I can draw parallels between Mr. Wright's supporters and those of Mr. George Wallace.

I guess if you ARE racist then these a very great people to you indeed.

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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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