Was Jeremiah Wright's speech set up by a Clinton supporter?
Well, here's a most interesting connection we just came across.
Everybody is talking today about how much the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's latest unrepentant militant remarks hurt his most prominent parishoner, Sen. Barack Obama, and his chances to win the Democratic presidential nomination and the general election. So much so that the Obama camp realized the latent danger overnight and the candidate was forced to speak out publicly a second time today, as The Ticket noted here earlier today.
There was little doubt left in today's remarks by Obama, who recently said he could no more disown Wright than he could the black community. He pretty much disowned Wright today. Obama described himself as "outraged" and "saddened" by "the spectacle of what we saw yesterday."
But now, it turns out, we should have been paying a little less attention to Wright's speech and the histrionics of his ensuing news conference and taken a peek at....
who was sitting next to him at the head table for the National Press Club event.
It was the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, a former editorial board member of USA Today who teaches at the Howard University School of Divinity. An ordained minister, as New York Daily News writer Errol Louis points out in today's column, she was introduced at the press club event as the person "who organized" it.
But guess what? She's also an ardent longtime booster of Obama's sole remaining competitor for the Democratic nomination, none other than Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York. It won't take very much at all for Obama supporters to see in Wright's carefully arranged Washington event that was so damaging to Obama the strategic, nefarious manipulation of the Clintons.
Their supporter, Reynolds, helps arrange a speech by the outspoken and egocentric Wright which receives blanket national coverage to the disadvantage of Clinton's opponent. As Louis writes: "The Rev. Jeremiah Wright couldn't have done more damage to Barack Obama's campaign if he had tried. And you have to wonder if that's just what one friend of Wright wanted."
Reynolds has not returned e-mails or phone calls seeking comment, but Louis notes the obvious conflict between her political allegiance and her press club arrangements. He quotes a February blog entry of Reynolds saying, "My vote for Hillary in the Maryland primary was my way of saying thank you" to Clinton and her husband for his administration's successes.
In another entry, Reynolds notes critically of Obama, "It is a sad testimony that to protect his credentials as a unifier above the fray, the senator is fueling the media characterization that Rev. Dr. Wright is some retiring old uncle in the church basement."
Louis notes himself about the Wright appearance: "It's hard to exaggerate how bad the actual news conference was. Wright, steeped in an honorable, fiery tradition of Bible-based social criticism, cheapened his arguments and his movement by mugging for the cameras, rolling his eyes, heaping scorn on his critics and acting as if nobody in the room was learned enough to ask him a question."
(UPDATE: Sylvia Smith, the press club president, confirmed today that Reynolds is on the club's speakers committee. She told Michael Calderone on Politico.com that she still doesn't know whom Reynolds supports for president, adding, "Rev. Wright is newsworthy, period.")
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