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Is Obama wrong or Wright? Vote here

In his highly praised and closely critiqued speech on race in America in Philadelphia last month, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama took 37 minutes to dissect his views on race in America and the need for improved dialog and his controversial relationship with his outspoken pastor of two decades, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ.

As the leading candidate for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Obama was under extreme and mounting pressure to distance himself from the inflammatory remarks of Wright.

They included denunciations of America, appearing to suggest the United States invited the 9/11 attacks and charging that the federal government invented the AIDS epidemic to commit genocide against people of color.

Obama said he had not heard the worst comments and did not specify which Wright remarks he was describing, but "condemned" the "statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy." So proud is the Obama organization of that now partially inoperative address that as of last night it was still offering a DVD of the speech in return for a minimum $30 campaign donation.

At the same time Obama also said of Wright: "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community."

Tuesday, after Wright's speech and news conference in Washington, Obama did just that. "The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.

"They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs.

"And if Rev. Wright thinks that that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either."

Obama's complete news conference remarks are published below after the jump, along with a third poll question. And as always on The Ticket, the comment line is open for dialogue.

Click on Read more.

--Andrew Malcolm

Complete Text of Sen. Barack Obama's Statement and News Conference on Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Winston-Salem, N.C. April 30, 2008.

Before I start taking questions I want to open it up with a couple of comments about what we saw and heard yesterday. I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people.

That’s in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That’s who I am. That’s what I believe. That’s what this campaign has been about.

Yesterday we saw a very different vision of America. I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday. You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Rev. Wright for almost 20 years.

The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs.

And if Rev. Wright thinks that that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either.

Now, I’ve already denounced the comments that had appeared in these previous sermons. As I said, I had not heard them before. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church, he’s built a wonderful congregation, the people of Trinity are wonderful people, and what attracted me has always been their ministry’s reach beyond the church walls.

But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the United States’ wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me, they rightly offend all Americans, and they should be denounced. And that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.

Let me just close by saying this, I — we started this campaign with the idea that the problems that we face as a country are too great to continue to be divided; that, in fact, all across America people are hungry to get out of the old, divisive politics of the past.

Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ in happier days before Wright's recent remarks and Obama's denunciation of them

I have spoken and written about the need for us to all recognize each other as Americans, regardless of race or religion or region of the country; that the only way we can deal with critical issues like energy and healthcare and education and the war on terrorism is if we are joined together. And the reason our campaign has been so successful is because we had moved beyond these old arguments.

What we saw yesterday out of Rev. Wright was a resurfacing and, I believe, an exploitation of those old divisions. Whatever his intentions, that was the result. It is antithetical to our campaign, it is antithetical to what I am about, it is not what I think America stands for, and I want to be very clear that, moving forward, Rev. Wright does not speak for me, he does not speak for our campaign.

I cannot prevent him from continuing to make these outrageous remarks, but what I do want him to be very clear about, as well as all of you and the American people, is that when I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. It contradicts everything that I’m about and who I am. And anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who has read my books, who has seen what this campaign’s about, I think will understand that it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country.

Last point, I’m particularly distressed that this has caused such a distraction from what this campaign should be about, which is the American people. Their situation is getting worse. And this campaign has never been about me. It’s never been about Sen. Clinton or John McCain. It’s not about Rev. Wright.

People want some help in stabilizing their lives and securing a better future for themselves and their children, and that’s what we should be talking about.

And the fact that Rev. Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage for three or four consecutive days in the midst of this major debate is something that not only makes me angry, but also saddens me. So with that, let me take some questions. Yeah, go ahead.

Q: Why the change in tone from yesterday when you spoke to us on the tarmac yesterday?

A: I’ll be honest with you, because I hadn’t seen it yet.

Q: That was the difference?

A: Yes.

Q: Have you heard the reports about the AIDS comment?

A: I had not. I had not seen the transcript. What I had heard was that he had given a performance and I thought, at the time that it would be sufficient to reiterate what I had said in Philadelphia. Upon watching it, what became clear to me was that it was more than just a — it was more than just him defending himself.

What became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that — that’s — that contradicts who I am and what I stand for and what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion, somehow, that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I’m about knows that I’m about trying to bridge gaps and that I see the commonality in all people.

And so when I start hearing comments about conspiracy theories and AIDS and suggestions that somehow Minister Farrakhan is — has been a great voice in the 20th century, then that goes directly at who I am and what I believe this country needs. Jeff?

Q: What do you expect or what do you plan do about this right now, to further distance yourself? Do you think you need to do that? What does that say about your judgment for superdelegates who are trying to decide which Democratic nominee is better? Your candidacy has been based on judgment. What does this say?

A: Well, look, as I said before, the person I saw yesterday was not the person that I had come to know over 20 years. I understand that I think he was pained and angered from what had happened previously during the first stage of this controversy. I think he felt vilified and attacked, and I understand that he wanted to defend himself. You know, I understand that, you know, he’s gone through difficult times of late and that he’s leaving his ministry after many years.

And so, you know, that may account for the change but the insensitivity and the outrageousness of his statements and his performance in the question-and-answer period yesterday, I think, shocked me. It surprised me.

As I said before, this is an individual who has built a very fine church and a church that is well-respected throughout Chicago. During the course of me attending that church, I had not heard those kinds of statements being made or those kinds of views being promoted.

And I did not vet my pastor before I decided to run for the presidency. I was a member of the church. So, you know, I think what it says is that, you know, I have not — you know, I did not run through — run my pastor through the paces or review every one of the sermons that he had made over the last 30 years, but I don’t think that anybody could attribute those ideas to me.

Q: What affect do you think it’s going to have on your campaign?

A: That’s something that you guys will have to figure out. Obviously we’ve got elections in four or five days. So we’ll find out, you know, what impact it has. Ultimately, I think that the American people know that we have to do better than we’re doing right now. I think that they believe in the ideas of this campaign. I think they are convinced that special interests have dominated Washington too long. I think they are convinced that we’ve got to get beyond some of the same political games that we’ve been playing.

I think they believe that we need to speak honestly and truthfully about how we’re going to solve issues like energy or healthcare and I believe that this campaign has inspired a lot of people. And that’s part of what, you know, going back to what you asked, Mike, about why I feel so strongly about this today.

You know, after seeing Rev. Wright’s performance, I felt as if there was a complete disregard for what — for what the American people are going through and the need for them to rally together to solve these problems. You know, now is the time for us not to get distracted. Now is the time for us to pull together, and that’s what we’ve been doing in this campaign and you know, there was a sense that that did not matter to Rev. Wright. What mattered was him commanding center stage.

Q: Did you have a conversation with Rev. Wright?

A: No.

Q: What’s going to happen with the distraction?

A: I want to use this press conference to make people absolutely clear that obviously whatever relationship I had with Rev. Wright has changed, as a consequence of this. I don’t think that he showed much concern for me. I don’t — more importantly — I don’t think he showed much concern for what we’re trying to do in this campaign and what we’re trying to do for the American people and with the American people

And obviously, he’s free to speak out on issues that are of concern to him and he can do it in any ways that he wants. But I feel very strongly that — well, I want to make absolutely clear that I do not subscribe to the views that he expressed. I believe they are wrong. I think they are destructive. And to the extent that he continues to speak out, I do not expect those views to be attributed to me.

Q: I’m wondering, I don’t know what — I’m wondering — [inaudible]

A: Well, the new pastor, the young pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, is a wonderful, young pastor. And as I said, I still very much value the Trinity community. This — I’ll be honest, this obviously has put strains on that relationship, not because of the members or because of Rev. Moss, but because this has become such a spectacle. And, you know, when I go to church, it’s not for spectacle, it’s to pray and to find — to find a stronger sense of faith. It’s not to posture politically.

It’s not to — you know, it’s not to hear things that violate my core beliefs. And so, you know, and I certainly done want to provide a distraction for those who are worshiping at Trinity. So as of this point, I’m a member of Trinity. I haven’t had a discussion with Rev. Moss about it, so I can’t tell you how he’s reacting and how he’s responding. OK? Kathy?

Q: Senator, I’m wondering to sort of follow on Jeff’s question about why it’s different now. Have you heard from some of your supporters, you know, you have supporters who expressed any alarm about what this might be doing to the campaign?

A: Look, I mean, I don’t think that it’s that hard to figure out from if it was just a purely political perspective. You know, my reaction has more to do with what I want this campaign to be about and who I am. And I want to make certain that people understand who I am.

You know, in some ways what Rev. Wright said yesterday, directly contradicts everything that I’ve done during my life. It contradicts how I was raised and the setting in which I was raised. It contradicts my decisions to pursue a career of public service. It contradicts the issues that I’ve worked on politically. It contradicts what I’ve said in my books.

It contradicts what I said in my convention speech in 2004. It contradicts my announcement. It contradicts everything that I’ve been saying on this campaign trail. And what I tried to do in Philadelphia was to provide a context and to lift up some of the contradictions and complexities of race in America of which, you know, Rev. Wright is a part, and we’re all a part, and try to make something constructive out of it. But there wasn’t anything constructive out of yesterday.

All it was, was a bunch of rants that aren’t grounded in truth. And you know, I can construct something positive out of that. I can understand it. I, you know, the — you know, the people do all sorts of things and, as I said before, I continue to believe that Rev. Wright has been a leader in the South Side. I think that the church he built is outstanding. I think that he has preached in the past some wonderful sermons. He provided, you know, valuable contributions to my family.

But at a certain point, if what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally, and then he questions whether or not you believe it in front of the National Press Club, then that’s enough. That’s a show of disrespect to me. It’s — it is also, I think, an insult to what we’ve been trying to do in this campaign.

Q: Did you discuss with your wife after having seen Rev. Wright …

A: Yeah, she was similarly angered. Joe?

Q: Rev. Wright said it’s not an attack on him but an attack on the black church. First of all, do you agree with that? Second of all, the strain of theology that he preached, black liberation theology, can you explain something about the anger and the sentiments, how important a strain is liberation theology and why …

A: Well, the -– first of all of all, in terms of liberation theology, I’m not a theologian. So I think to some theologians there might be some well-worked-out theory of what constitutes liberation theology versus non-liberation theology. I went to church and listened to sermons, and the — in the sermons that I heard — and this is true, I do think, across the board in many black churches — there is an emphasis on the importance of social struggle, the importance of striving for equality and justice and fairness, a social gospel.

So a lot of people would, rather than using a fancy word like that, simply talk about preaching the social gospel and that — there’s nothing particularly odd about that. Dr. King, obviously, was the most prominent example of that kind of preaching. But you know, what I do think can happen, and I didn’t see this as a member of the church, but I saw it yesterday, is when you start focusing so much on the plight of the historically oppressed that you lose sight of what we have in common, that it overrides everything else, that we’re not concerned about the struggles of others because we’re looking at things only through a particular lens, then it doesn’t describe properly what I believe in: the power of faith to overcome but also to bring people together. Now, you had a first question that I don’t remember.

Q: Do you think [inaudible]

A: You know, I did not — I did not view the initial round of sound bites that triggered this controversy as an attack on the black church. I viewed it as a simplification of who he was, a caricature of who he was. And, you know, more than anything, something that piqued a lot of political interest.

I didn’t see it as an attack on the black church. I mean, probably the only aspect of it that probably had to do with specifically the black church is the fact that some people were surprised when he was shouting. I mean, that is just a black church tradition. And so I think some people interpreted that as somehow, wow, he’s really hollering and black preachers holler and so that, I think, showed a cultural gap in America.

The sad thing is that, although the sound bites I, as I stated, I think, created a caricature of him and when he was in that Moyers interview though there were some things that, you know, continued to be offensive, at least there was some sense of rounding out the edges. Yesterday, I think he caricatured himself and that was — as I said, that made me angry, but also made me sad. Richard?

Q: [inaudible] talk about giving the benefit of the doubt or the Philadelphia speech and trying to create something close to that. Did you consult with him before the speech or after the speech in Philadelphia to get his reaction?

A: I tried to talk to him before the speech in Philadelphia. Wasn’t able to reach him, because he was on a — he was on a cruise. He had just stepped down from the pulpit. When he got back, I did speak to him and the — you know, I prefer not to share sort of private conversations between me and him.

I will talk to him perhaps someday in the future. But what I can say is that I was very clear that what he had said in those particular snippets, I found objectionable and offensive. And that the intention of the speech was to provide context for them but not to excuse them because I found them inexcusable.

Q: on Sunday you were asked to respond [inaudible]

A: There’s been great damage. You know, I — it may have been unintentional on his part, but, you know, I do not see that relationship being the same after this. Now, to some degree, you know, I know that one thing that he said was true was that he was never my, quote/unquote spiritual advisor, he was never my spiritual mentor, he was my pastor.

And so to some extent how, you know, the press characterized in the past that relationship, I think was inaccurate. But he was somebody who was my pastor and married Michelle and I and baptized my children and prayed with us when we announced this race. And so, you know, I’m disappointed. All right? thank you, guys."

                                                                             Photo Credit: Trinity United Church of Christ, 2005.

Comments () | Archives (71)

The comments to this entry are closed.

It was obvious this was a painful press conference for Sen. Obama. For me, throughout this Rev. Wright controversy which has been perpetuated by the media, I continue to look at the character and integrity of Sen. Obama, and his message to unite the country. Nothing about this controversy has changed my mind with re: to the fine person I believe him to be. I judge him on how he has lived his life and what he offers our country as a potential president.

Obama still has not explained to my satisfaction how he could personally know Rev. Wright, think of him as a mentor and be a member of his church for 20 years yet claim to not know the pastors beliefs or ever heard such disparaging remarks as we heard from Wright at the Press Club. Something doesn't ring true here.

REMEMBER, in comparing Obama's Philly speech to yesterday 'denounce' and 'renounce' of Rev Wright, OBAMA CLEARLY said he gave Rev Wright THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT when he gave his speech back in March.

Here is the REAL TIME LINE comparison the media should consider (rather than, again, applying a double-standard on Obama by excusing it as "being the front-runner". Obama acknowledges a "friendship" and "fellowship" with Rev Wright the past 20 years. HILLARY AND BILL have been married for 20 + years. PRES CLINT WAS IMPEACHED, DISBARRED, AND CHEATED IN HIS MARRIAGE TO HILLARY, so WHY DOES HILLARY CONTINUE TO STAY WITH BILL?


No human being is perfect, and its about time we see some flaw with this candidate. At this point what our country needs is a qualified president. But I am sad to see how his campaign is runned, especially with his supporters always, saying that its about having a black presiden. I know I will not vote for him, because this country is not about a color representing us. I want and my country needs a qualifed candidate.t

Why to speak as Rev. Wright does about the social issues of this country should Obama have to "distance" himself? Wright is the who person who help establish and form many of Obama's religious believes and understanding. Why did the country not "distant" Kennedy from his Catholic preist. To conquest a mans believes and those close associtates of a black man is to show how unsure he really is. That's in old trick of whites to "distant" a black man from those who give the true facts of his exist in RAW form as Rev. Wright has done. Obama will have to "distant" himself from many to please those few that will find fault with his long faithful assocates and outspoken friends. Truth of the issues can not be "distant" away.

Does one really need a poll for either question? The obvious answers to both are Yes, except to folks who are so blindly for Obama that they reject even Obama's "Yes" answer, earlier this week, to the second question. (Obama was addressing whether the NC GOP ads highlighting his Wright relationship were out of bounds.)

And anyone who'd answer No to the FIRST question -- a vote I must understand as meaning that "Wright is correct about America" -- is living on another planet.

It is time for the media to stop perpetuating this circus of Reverend Wright. Time to address the real issues of this election..the war, the economy, health care, the environment. I want news, not entertainment.

Now that this chapter in over. It is time for us to get back to work and finish winning the primaries. As Obama said before, “dust it off”. Because friends like Rev. Wright; he does not need any enemies.

I really doubt there is anyone left who hasn't made up their mind about whether this whole Rev. Wright controversy is a problem or not for Obama. The people who are still unconvinced by Obama's distancing himself from Wright and his denunciations of Wright are never going to be convinced; they had never planned to support Obama in the first place and little would change their minds. Even if Obama doused Wright in gasoline a lit him on fire on the Washington Mall, they'd still have a thousand other reasons why they wouldn't vote for him.

Maybe it moved a few older folks from Obama's side into Hillary's, but she will be all but eliminated from the race soon. The only way this affair could hurt Obama in the general election is if there is some big blow up later in the fall that contains new revelations that the media runs 24x7. Given how ridiculous Wright made himself look the last few days, I think it's safe to say Obama will emerge unscathed.

We all fell in love with Bush right after 9/11 (90%), now we can't get away fast enough. Obama is now doing the same with Wright. Most of us have disavowed someone who turned out to be less than we expected.

I never once doubted the integrity and intentions of Barak Obama. It amazes me as a Christian myself who attends church every Sunday, that I myself might be held accountable over a 20 year period for everything my Pastor says. I felt he did a great job of making it clear that he disagreed with the inflammatory remarks the Pastor made. To take it a step further, Pastor Wright seems to have his own agenda by going public and somehow attempting to justify his words and actions. Well, nobody's buying it...for sure the Senator from Illinois isn't buying it either. Barak Obama has handled this in the only way possible, by completely cutting all ties to the Pastor he once admired for all the right reasons, but must now step back from for all the right reasons, therefore carrying out "his own" agenda of insuring the American people that his is ready on "day one" to be the next President of the United States!

Something is not smelling right.

Obama the helpless victim to the ego of Wright...much like how Obama is the victim of Clinton's ego...

Obama is damaged good snow, I wouldn't even want him on the ticket as VP.

Heck, if I was Clinton and got the nom....I'd pick Powell...He's SOOOOOO much a better choice.

A Clinton supporter was responsible for the Wright speech over the weekend per the comments of Larry O'Brien, former DNC chairman.

Just as it was a Clinton supporter who induced the 'bitter' comments question, with tape recorder and all.

Obama comes out of this stronger than ever before.

You know what Obama hasn't done here is try to make it into the kind of us vs. them think that the GOP uses to divide and rule. I don't know about the rest of you, but to me it's refreshing to have someone speak to an issue without having the type of demagoguery and triangulation that we are used to in these campaigns.

Are you kidding me?! Obama has perfected the trick of speaking out of both sides of his mouth--first he states that he cannot disown Wright, then he turns around and does exactly that. And who exactly does he think he's fooling with all of this? NO ONE can attend church for TWENTY YEARS with a hate-spewing pastor at the pulpit and not have a clue what he espouses. NO ONE can miraculously be absent EVERY time the pastor gives a hate-filled sermon against whites, America, Jews,'s just impossible. Besides, since oBLAHma had a close relationship with his "uncle"/spiritual advisor/mentor, Wright, it's even more unbelievable that he had no clue what Wright is all about. Perhaps if you drink enough Obama Kool-Aid you can buy into his latest Academy Award-worthy performance, but those of us with functioning brains see Obama for what he is...and we DON'T like it.

It hard to believe that he went to this church for 20 years and never heard Rev Wright make these kind of Comment before?, it makes you wonder if he even attend the church or weather his wife holds the same views? Let's face it the only reason he came out against the Bad rev wright is all the bad press he was getting about not coming out against Rev Wright.
Maybe it the blacks who need to get over there racial hate? You sold them as slave first there own people and second America was not even a country when it happen! They are not the only race sold in slaver
Rev Wright forgot that the Gays got AIDS long before it became a major problem for everyone

Wright is a fitting albatross around the neck of the junior Illinois senator of ever-so thin credentials. Express all the politic outrage he may, Obama cannot account adequately for a twenty-year close association of "lamb" to "shepherd" (i.e., synonym for "pastor") with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Voters are not idiots. And they know what Obama and Wright know, that you are known by the long-term company you keep.

Can someone please tell me what Rev. Wright said that was different than the videos we saw (other than calling Obama a politician)?

I get why Obama distanced himself from Wright, but I don't know why he did it now versus when the videos came out. What we saw at the press club is that Rev. Wright was not taken out of context. Given how outspoken he is, I simply do not believe that Obama did not know about his pastor's outlandish views.

I truly think Barak Obama and his Pastor have recently met privately, and decided to stage this ‘falling out’ so he could distance himself further from him for the election. This all seems too contrived, and part of some political playbook to me (call me cynical). Even if it is not, Barak should remove himself from the race as his candidacy is too tainted by this issue, and it will harm the Democratic Party in November. This whole debacle is a complete distraction to the real issues facing America today! I do not believe he agrees with Reverend Wright, but his judgement on this isue definitely calls his ability to lead this nation into question. He says that this elections is not about him, he should prove it!

In everyone's life, past and current, there are people who have radically different views. Usually, those positions are not publicly aired. In the case of Rev. Wright's speeches the last few days, he is taking advantage of the fact that someone he knows well is in a very public position. Wright certainly seems to be enjoying being the center of so much attention and using Obama's campaign platform to position himself in the public eye and sell his upcoming book. Shameful and sad. Obama has conducted himself in an honorable way and this fiasco has only increased my support for his candidacy.

Twenty years sitting in a church listening to a man he admires and respects with no effect? Get out of your dream world folks.

The Obama campaign brought race into this campaign, not the other way around. Closing your eyes to the obvious is just that closing your eyes.

His reverend friend said it best "politicians will say whatever they need to say to get elected, will follow any poll." He gave great advice to Mr. Obama.

For those thinking he will win in November---he won't.

Obama just got a big dose of Karma. How could he sit in this Wright's church for 20 years, have him baptise you and your children and marry you. Then ncall him like an Uncle, name a book after one of his sermons, and now throw him under the bus just like you did to your white grandmother. Who is next? Polls were sinking and advisors obviously told Obama to get rid of the guy and slap him i public. Obama is a wimp, I'm sorry he is. He's doing what others are telling him. Deep down he loves Wright. I thought Obama was different. I'm so glad we are finally seeing what Obama is really about. The MSM hid it from us for so long. If Obama is the nominee I will cast my vote in November for John McCain.

Didn't Obama Say: "I can no more denounce Reverend Wright than I can denounce black America" ???? ...but Barack is an honorable man. (et tu Brute)

Well done, Barack!

Now can we possibly have a similarly public, complete and merciless vetting of the other candidates in this campaign for their past associations? I've lived in Arizona for 37 years and am thoroughly familiar with some of McCain's. And those people were outright criminals who ended up in jail right here in AZ!

As for the Clintons--their past and present associations make this thing with Barack and his Pastor look as insignificant as Snow White's relationship with Dopey. So can we start to get real now?? I truly don't understand why the media keeps blasting away on this one guy when much more devious and dangerous associations from the past swirl around the others.

This is so clearly and utterly calculated it’s ludicrous. The only plausible explanation for Obama allowing Wright to sound off so brazenly last weekend was that the strategy, yet again, was to have Rev. Wright inflame the race issue during the run-up to an important state primary, then have Obama step forth, ‘messiah-like,’ from his cloud at the opportune moment to deliver yet another of his carefully crafted speeches about how he (by virtue of his half-black/half-white DNA) is the only one who can possibly ‘save’ America from the so-called ‘racial divide,’ which, BTW, he and Wright appear to be trying to turn into a chasm for their own personal gain. That’s exactly what Obama and his strategists tried before the Pennsylvania primary, and that’s exactly what they’re trying now, coincidentally, one week before the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.

Obama’s remarks Tuesday, supposedly severing his connection with Wright, have no meaning whatsoever, since he and the man whom he has frequently called his ‘spiritual mentor’ agreed to this arrangement up front, as Wright has admitted. Denouncing Wright or a few of his more incendiary comments now doesn’t erase the fact that Obama knew of, then repeatedly lied about ever hearing, such views expressed by Wright, despite listening to his sermons for 20 years. It doesn’t erase the fact that, even though Obama was fully aware of Wright’s views, he continued to attend Wright’s church, donated more than $25K to Wright’s church, had his marriage performed by Wright, had his daughters baptized by Wright and brought them Sunday after Sunday to hear Wright’s hate-filled, radical leftwing black ideology masquerading as Christian religion. By demonstrating acceptance of Wright’s hatred and divisiveness through his continued attendance and support, Obama helped Wright spread that hatred and divisiveness, which Obama now -- in the ultimate act of hypocrisy -- says he wishes to help heal. If Obama were truly a person of strong character, integrity and judgment, at some point well before now, he would’ve withdrawn from Wright’s church in protest, for example, last year, when the church bestowed its highest social achievement award on Louis Farrahkan, the notoriously racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-American head of the Nation of Islam.

By ‘sin’ of omission (not denouncing Wright’s views before now, or withdrawing from the church in protest of them) Obama became as guilty of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism as the Rev. Wright and his hero Farrakhan. Whether Obama continued his attendance and support of Wright’s church out of weakness, poor judgment, a calculated plan to gain political power, outright agreement, or a combination of all those pathetic reasons doesn’t matter, nor do the obligatory excuses he continues to put forth, including those in his clever speeches. His obvious acceptance of those views, at whatever level, makes him unfit to lead this diverse country.

As his Pennsylvania speech made clear, and as his current strategy demonstrates, the only one allowed to make an issue of race in this primary is Obama himself, and he’s playing that card to the hilt whenever it suits his ambitions, like the shrewd political poker player he has shown himself to be since launching his men's-only Senate poker night when he first became a junior Senator. The many problems of this country are grave and complex, but they are not – by any stretch of specious reasoning or rhetoric such as that in Obama's Pennsylvania speech, his recent denouncement of Wright or views advanced by the radical black left and guilt-ridden apologists – all solely the result of the so-called ‘racial divide.’ What about, for example, the ongoing damage to our country from pernicious sexism, homophobia, ageism and an array of other prejudices? The arrogant, chauvinistic Obama very clearly cares virtually nothing about these and many other important issues, which his campaign continues to marginalize because they don't serve Obama's immediate ambitions quite so well as the so-called 'racial divide' that he continues to use to his advantage. His sudden so-called ‘outrage’ and ‘anger’ at Wright appears motivated more by Wright’s remarks about Obama than by any righteous indignation over Wright’s bigotry and anti-Americanism.

BTW, those who’ve been guilted into considering Rev. Wright’s radical views as somehow justifiable or acceptable have been doubly duped by the Obama campaign, which has misled the public about Wright’s background in efforts to rationalize such over-the-top remarks as “God damn America.” During his Pennsylvania race speech and recent interviews, Obama deliberately mischaracterized Wright as a man who harbors anger and bitterness from living through racial discrimination, segregation, violence and a lack of economic opportunity. In fact, Wright grew up in a nice, middle-class, multi-ethnic Philadelphia neighborhood. His father was a pastor and his mother was a high school vice principal. Wright attended an exclusive high school that accepted only top students, where 90 percent of the students were white, and where Wright was highly regarded by his classmates and teachers. That’s hardly the picture of an upbringing beset by discrimination.

Wright must be grateful that the strategy called for Obama to wait until Tuesday to throw him under the bus, giving him an extra day after his weekend rant to seal more multi-million-dollar book deals. But of course, the pair had already agreed up front that this would be necessary in order to advance both Wright's and Obama’s ambitions. Obama is an old school ‘politician’ in the worst sense of that word, saying whatever he knows an audience wants to hear at any given moment, so long as it serves his personal agenda (which may be far more sinister than even the Rev. Wright or Tony Rezko connections would imply). Obama must be grateful to his many crafty apologists at the L.A. Times for once again trying mightily to help him deceive the public into believing he is anything other than a greedy political opportunist with a gift for flippancy and glibness, but totally lacking the necessary experience, temperament, judgment and strength of character necessary to lead this diverse country.

As a politician, Obama said what he had to say, and he did what he had to do!

That about says it all. For all his message of change and hope, we finally have proof that he is indeed, after all, just a politician. Which is worse!

Obama needs to recognize that his bid for the presidency is dead in the water. All those polls prove is, the Republicans' mouths are watering for him to be the nominee.

They're just waiting to go for the kill in November. This an early Christmas present for John McCain, if Hillary doesn't get nominated.

Obama supporters may want to fool themselves, but all they're doing is falling for a Republican trap.

Why are so many so eager to hold Mr Obama responsible for the choices, words, and behaviors of other people? Why does a major newspaper participate in this pointless distraction from responsible citizenship?

We demean ourselves and make foolish our nation in the eyes of the world when we glue ourselves to the TV watching bobbleheads blathering round the clock about such non issues, when we should be facing growing worldwide economic crisis, war, famine, and pestilence.

This is not Survivor. This is not Inside Edition. This is not Deal or No Deal. This is the nomination of the Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States! Let's grow up and take this responsibility with the seriousness it deserves!

I feel that Wrights "Rants" and childish behavior negate anything he has to say!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I kid I loved listening to X-Clan, BDP, and Public Enemy. I loved their black power/fight the power message; their references to Marcus Garvey and Farrakhan. It sounded strong, strident, determined. But, that was high-school. Looking back I recognize how hostile and racist the ranting lyrics were. And often how nasty the songs would be towards other blacks who weren't as bitter calling them sell-outs, uncle toms or even "house n...." There was hate in those songs, anger in those beats. Grand Verbalizer Brother J (X-Clan) was spouting singularly separatist, racist lyrics. I grew out of it all by 19 years old, almost ashamed at myself and the time I wasted "licking shots" at "the man". Black Liberation Theology would be childish if not so warped, dangerous, and widely sympathized. It is an infantile, jingoistic dogma that really has no place whatsover in America. NO PLACE. Obama is indeed tainted by this stuff. If me, a 19 year old kid can figure out it's all garbage, surely a man like Obama should have figured it out. He didn't. And he now deserves the stain these Wrights and Farrakhans leave on him. Obama's campaign has been his biography and now his supporters are angry people are investigating that biography.

I must say, Obama is very consistent in stating his core values and principles, and his handling of this very personal betrayal by Rev. Wright has impressed me. He could have "cut and run" from Wright after the first controversy was made public. He could have done what many politicians do and just completely disowned the guy, but he didn't: He showed his loyalty to his old friend and mentor, and to his principles. Even now, when the Rev. Wright made things worse, Obama continues to be fair and understanding while making clear exactly where he stands. I don't see why this should be damaging to his career. Isn't he demonstrating the kinds of values we want in a leader?

Painful Press conference for Obama, my behind!
A day late and a Dollar short Obama, you have been with him for TWENTY years listening to this poison.....not 20 minutes or 20 days but 20 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, married you and your wife, prayed with you upon your derision to run for office, and was your"spiritual" adviser. This is a man Obama said had "profound influence over him". I doubt the apple's fallen too far from the tree. Now all the sudden the great Obama, the great uniter, has an epiphany!?! Yeah right. Wright isn't pretending to be anything he hasn't been leading up to this moment. It's hard to explain away that all of a sudden you're hearing a philosophy that is foreign to you.

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, or radio gig no doubt.

You're a joke Obama, and all of you frigging apologists or reverse racists (you know who you are) can go crawl back in the hole from which you came. This campaign is over. The man is not the man that was sold to us way back in Iowa.

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..Hell, at this point, I would not be surprised to hear Rev. Wright call Obama an "Uncle Tom."!

what a joke..

Mr. Wright has publcly stated that way back in 2007 he told Obama that if Obama made it into the primaries, there would come a time when Obama would have to publicly separate himself from Wright, and Obama responded, that yes, he knew that.
So all this anger posing is expected and agreed upon between them from back in 2007. It's political posturing.

Why does the media not ask the question, and deak with the reality?

It seems to me that Sen Hillary Clinton and Sen.John McCain are on the same bandwagon as far as Sen. Obama is concerned. J. Carville named Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as the judas to Sen. Hillary Clinton. I name Rev. J. Wright as the judas to Sen. Obama. and the other judas is the black women in the Hillary campaign who prodded Mr. Wright into doing this grand media performance.

Why is it that I hear hardly anything about Sen. John McCain and his support from Rev. John Hagee (in my view is of bigotry too)? My what 'Timing" for this media spectacle. I am ashamed of Rev. J. Wright. All black people do not hate white people and all white people do not hate black. We need to learn to live together in peace with respect for each other. I believe that Sen. Obama is the candidate who will to that for this country. We need to stop the bleeding and promote healing, for the nation's sake. Our children and young adults are watching; what are we teaching them?

It is about time that we, as true Americans, come to the realization that, as one of the previous writer said, "No one is perfect." However, that is not to say that Senator Obama has not lived up to his beliefs, profession, constituency, the country, the his fight to obtain the Democratic Party's nomination. First, the negative entities and especially certain new media outlets, have decided to literally rip to shreds the life of an intelligent, professional, upholding, and responsible citizen in an effort to twart the election. Second, the past lives of the other candidates have not even been called to question, especially when we all know of some of the most unfavorable decisions that have been made throughout the course of their careers. Finally, the other candidates have not been questioned, demoralized, nor falsely painted in the media to the degree that Senator Obama has.

As far as Reverend Wright is concerned, remember Reverend Wright does not aspire to be President of the United States of America. Mr. Obama seems to have done everything imaginable to distance himself from an issue that is being employed to create a distraction is this election. Mr. Obama cannot be held responsible nor control the words and deeds of others; he can only control himself. In addition, I do not think that Mr. Obama and his family were afforded the privilege of attending every church service every Sunday for the past twenty years. His name may have been "on the church roll" for twenty years, but that does not indicate that he attended every service every Sunday. That, to me, seems too far-fetched and totally impossible, as his job as a congressman could not possibly afford the opportunity to be present each and every Sunday to attend church.

As far as I know, the United States of America is still referred to as one of the leading countries in the world and continues to set very high social, economic, and political standards for other countries, large and small, to follow because of its foundation of democratic principles. Since the media has tried to make a spectacle of Mr. Obama's religious affiliation, "connections" to his pastor, and even joked about his family background, the ultimate question seems to be: When will the other candidates have their show-down and/or media blitz concerning their "ties" to their religious leaders? Who are they? Why is there a lack of concern for the religious affiliations of the other candidates? Why is there not a questioning of each and every aspect of their lives?

Finally,in order to maintain the integrity of the principles of a democracy, let us not forget that we must at all times, regardless of who is running, maintain a level playing field. We cannot afford to let the world, that is watching very closely, see repeated and blatant acts that deminish the true meaning of a Democracy. Elections are not complicated; we make them so. As of now, the field is totally TILTED! WE CAN DO BETTER .....for I am A TRUE AMERICAN!

Obama totally sold out by disavowing Rev Wright although I understand why he had to in order to save any chance of being elected because the population is completely ignorant of the US government and defense agencies diabolical history.

If you people would stop bickering about these minor issues and actually look up the very government documents yourselves you would see that there is a lot of validity behind what Rev Wright was saying about AIDs as a race specific biological weapon.


NSSM 200
(National Security Study Memorandum 200) by Henry Kissinger was a study calling for the need to depopulate third world countries.

House Resolution 15090
A resolution to provide funding to the military to develop a biological weapon that destroys the immune system in 1969. Sounds a lot like AIDs don't it?

And this is just scratching the surface. Follow the links further and you'll learn a lot more.

These are not conspiracy theories. These are government documents. Straight from the horse's mouth not from crazy tinfoil hat wearing kook. Do your damn research people!

All of this, which has nothing to do with the ISSUES, started as some kind of Karl Roveian dirty trick to sling mud. What a waste of the voters time. Does anyone seriously think Barak Obama agrees with "damn America"? I must remind myself that , by definition, half the people in this country have below average intelligence. Clearly, the media plays to that lowest common denominator.

It is sad that this need of the mainstream media to jump on the kind of stories that should be in The National Enquirer, has made this a campaign of personal attacks rather than issues. Where are the old Chief Editors who used to tell reporters not to waste their time on such drivel and to go for some meat. Personal interest stories sell too, if they're good enough.

Let's let this fade into ancient history, please. Let's hear them talk about the issues, not the mud.

Too little too late... and just sad. Rev. Wright has become Sen. Obama's " tar baby " no matter what he says or does from now on he is stuck to Rev. Wright. He should have seen the good Reverend's ego trip years ago and not just now that it is a problem. I do not believe Sen. Obama can over come this problem of guilt by association. It has already taken hold. Experience counts Sen. for better or worse. Lack of experience lead to the first speech to gloss over the Sen. association to Rev. Wright. But the tar baby stuck on and has dragged Sen. Obama into the " briar patch " where he will stay.

Rezko relationship will be the next to draw fire!.. It's a judgement issue..20 yrs a relationship w/ Wright #1, then #2 denouncing him after Wright stands by his original political expediency! Wronged Wright is right. Obama is just another typical politician. No real news.

I suspect this hate-speech preacher does not want to have a black man win the US Presidential this would show how far the US has come in race relations and this, of course, would contradict his very teachings. He does not want to be proved wrong...only Wright.

Jim Campbell

for those who wonder how sen. obama may have known rev. wright for 20 yrs and never known rev. wright's beliefs, i ask "does it really matter?"...i've many friends whom i've known for a long time, i don't know everything about them, nor do they know everything about me...esp. when it comes to issues where we disagree--we respect one another too much to try to force our beliefs down the other's throat...besides, we'd rather spend what moments we have on this earth in harmonious friendship, doing things that we enjoy together--like catching a football game or is disingenuous for folks who don't like sen. obama (for whatever other reason) to try to justify their dislike of the senator by looking to his relationship w/rev. wright...why aren't people as outraged by gov. schwarzenegger's relationship w/a former member of the nazi party (his father)? or sen. mccain's acceptance of sen. hagee's endorsement? or hillary clinton's friendship w/convicted criminals jim and susan mcdougal? or george w. bush's relationship w/conficted criminal i. lewis "scooter" libby? frankly, instead of criticizing sen. obama for his own beliefs, his critics are pinning the sins of sen. obama's friends on him because they're either too inept or too lazy to scrutinize senator obama's personal beliefs...

Chris Matthews said it best when he said if anything like the 9/11 remarks had been said in his church the weekend after he would certainly have know. I know that's true. In 20 years you have never heard anything inflamatory? It just isn't believable. He initally lied the when ABC first aired the tapes. The next night he was asked by three different news medias and he said he did not hear nor did he know of any of these remarks. Then the following Tuesday, he acknowledged he had heard about them before he announced his candidacy and that's why he asked him not to come out. Too wierd!

Sad day for everyone. People like Rev. Wright is consdiered as a leader of black liberation theology, and Sen. Obama has been a memeber of that church over 20 years and running for the president of United States.
Where's all that good men gone. Are we so short of good men to lead us in this time of national crisis? How I miss statemens like Churchil, Roosevelt...

For such a perfect man, the "chosen one", the uniter, the hope, the messiah, the savior of the world, the "great orator", the "great communicator" to not have a clue for 20 years of the racist, divisive undertone of Rev. Wright's sermons simply does not make sense.

You mean to tell me in their private conversations that Rev. Wright never, not once, expressed to Obama what he's saying in public now? Yeah right.

Maybe he can deliver another speech. For someone who's considered one of the greatest orator of our time, he sure does stumble, stutter a lot without a teleprompter.

Obama is done. He has a lot of shady dealings with people, J. Wright, Rezco, Bill Ayers. We cannot really trust him. We need a smart choice who can solve the mess that we are in, that is HILLARY CLINTON!

I took particular offense at Rev. Wright at his press conference when he attempted to score points by embarrassing the young woman who was simply relaying questions written by others. "Have you heard my entire speach? No? Well, that nullifies that question." Such behavior brings to mind a bodily orifice whose name begins with the letter "A".

Doretha Atkins wrote, "Why is it that I hear hardly anything about Sen. John McCain and his support from Rev. John Hagee (in my view is of bigotry too)?"

Perhaps it's because Hagee
- hasn't been McCain's minister, confidante and spiritual advisor for 20 years, as Wright was to Obama. (Indeed, McCain's never attended services in Hagee's church.)
- didn't officiate at McCain's wedding, as Wright did at Obama's.
- has never preached one sermon, let alone an entire young life's worth, to McCain's children, as Wright has done to Obama's young daughters.

Gee, other than that, the situations are TOTALLY analogous.

Ok people. How many of you have gotten rid of parents, siblings, spouses, friends, mentors, assciates or any other person who did or said the wrong thing? Lots of us have and continue to do so. So what is the big problem with Obama and Pastor Wright? Obama did what some of us have done, gotten rid of the venom in our lifes. Second, you say that after 20 years in his church, Pastor Wright had to have said something about his opinions there. This is not necessarily so, and you wouldn't know if he did or didn't if you have never attended his church. There are lots of pastors out there who say and do one thing on the pulpit and another when no one is around. I have been in churches where the pastor says one thing and then as soon as church is over, they are in their offices with the door closed talking about things that have nothing to do with religion. If these issues were said around Obama, fine, as long as he didn't participate in them. The bottom line is, I am still going to vote for Obama and some of you are too. Some of you are trying to use this against him, but in reality you will either not vote or vote for McCain. Get over it! What is done is done. Base your decision on the what the candididate is trying to do for this country, not what was said by someone they know. Get a grip and move on. This week it is Obama, next week Hilary or McCain.

I just want to know who's running for president? If it's Wright then let's continue this conversation. It it's Obama then let's talk about the economy, war, health care, and the environment. Let's vet Hillary's pastor, just convicted of child molestation. We know Bill's and Hillary are liars are they child molestors too? Come on America, aren't we any better than this in 2008? And by the way, what's McCain's pastor's name? What did Hagee and Parsely and all the other right winged pastors say about Blacks, Jews, Gays, poor, etc.? Did Hillary really tell Bill to "screw em" referencing the poor in America? We should be ashamed!

divide and conquer. why does obama have to bow down to the critics and disavow his friend & mentor of 20 years and denounce the totality of his speech as angry and divisive. please! politics suck.

Don't forget Wright's anti-Semitic rants, too. His church gave an award to Farrakah, too. Those of us who go to church as regularly as Obama says he does, we know what our pastor stands for. If a minister or priest says something you disagree with, you either leave or if the behavior warrants it, you vote him out. You cannot go to a church for 20 years and not know where your pastor stands. Wright's comments are not biblical and are hate speech, but since his congregant is a Liberal, then Obama's minions are quick to sweep it under the rug.

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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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