Patterico's Pontifications

3/18/2008

My Two Cents about Obama’s Race Speech

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:51 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I read the transcript of Barack Obama’s speech at Drudge, and I think it’s a masterful speech. It identifies the concerns of diverse elements of the Democratic Party and persuasively argues that only Obama can unite them. However, I also see some drawbacks:

At one point, Obama said of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.” That’s a powerful statement that will make an excellent soundbite but, if he were debating online, Obama’s argument would be immediately exposed. No one asked Obama to disown the black community, just one incendiary slice of it. The fact that Obama believes he can’t disown Wright without disowning the black community says a lot about Obama and the black community.

Obama’s refusal to distance himself from both the message and the messenger, instead of just the message, may come across as tolerant but what it means in practice is that Obama will never be able to distance himself from Wright’s incendiary rhetoric. Obama has given his adversaries a visual and audio soundbite that will affirmatively connect him to Wright’s inflammatory statements throughout the campaign. In my opinion, that statement may be a short-term winner in the public opinion battle but it will be a loser in the long-term war.

Many will be impressed by Obama’s message of uniting, not dividing, and see Obama as both a literal and figurative example of that message. Obama uses that message to emphasize that he is a messenger of hope and positive change. Nevertheless, even though Obama emphasizes that his goal is to talk about what Americans can do, his examples and his core message are primarily about what Americans can’t do. In this speech, Obama’s focus was largely on how America and Americans have failed: Failed to bridge racial divides, failed to educate our children, and failed to provide meaningful opportunities to poor and disadvantaged Americans.

Obama may have channeled Abraham Lincoln in the introduction to his speech but his text was straight out of John Edwards’ “Two Americas.” That may be a winning combination for Obama but it wasn’t for Edwards.

[EDIT NOTE: Paragraph 3 edited for clarity to add the phrase "instead of just the message". Thanks to Aplomb for noting it in comment #4.]

UPDATE: James Taranto adds related thoughts.

– DRJ

104 Responses to “My Two Cents about Obama’s Race Speech”

  1. No one asked Obama to disown the black community, just one incendiary slice of it. The fact that Obama believes he can’t disown Wright without disowning the black community says a lot about Obama and the black community.

    Who, exactly, is asking Obama to “disown” the reverend? And what good would that do?

    If there’s one thing that either speaks to you, or loses you, about Obama, it’s a willingness to disagree with someone without “disowning” them. In blogland, much of the time someone either agrees with you, or they’re insane. There’s no “well, we disagree on some things, but I think we can learn from each other and find common ground.”

    That’s what’s so refreshing about Obama to those of us who are tired of hearing people “disown” everyone who they disagree with.

    I disagree with a huge number of Obama’s policies. But, thank God, Obama isn’t interested in disowning/bombing/spying on/jailing/deporting those who disagree with him.

    That, in itself, makes me more inclined to vote for him than I would for someone who I agreed with on a few more issues, but who was pro torture/bombing/jailing/deporting/disowning lots of people.

    In other words, I’d rather have a politician who I disagree with more, but who doesn’t mind me disagreeing with him, then someone who I agree with on most things, but fear for my privacy/rights/life because I disagree on some things.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  2. I think this flap – and these are really recycled revelations – has already cost Obama white males in numbers he can’t make back. Hillary wins PA next month and the Michigan re-vote. FL’s delegates are divided (roughly) equally. He’s pretty much had his last hurrah, I believe. And the political obituary will not be pretty.

    steve (b9762a)

  3. You may be right, Steve. I have no idea at this point.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  4. “Obama’s refusal to distance himself from both the message and the messenger” . . .

    Read the speech again. He quite strongly and emphatically distanced himself from the message by rejecting it outright. That he didn’t throw his old friend and pastor under the bus in doing so shows character.

    Aplomb (770d80)

  5. Phil,

    In light of your comment, are you willing to find common ground with George Bush? I’m sure he doesn’t mind if you disagree with him.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  6. Aplomb,

    I said he wouldn’t distance himself from both the message and the messenger.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  7. Ah, I see, DRJ. Misunderstood your point.

    Aplomb (770d80)

  8. Aplomb,

    It’s hard to convey in writing what would be apparent in a face-to-face conversation, so I appreciate your bringing that up and letting me clarify it. I’m going to edit the post to make that more clear.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  9. In light of your comment, are you willing to find common ground with George Bush? I’m sure he doesn’t mind if you disagree with him.

    Why would you think I wouldn’t be willing to find common ground with George Bush?

    As for George Bush “minding” if I disagree, that’s not the issue. The question is, does he care about why I disagree, and does he want to see if we could find a policy that both of us can agree on, despite our disagreements? Or is he going to dismiss me as “evil” or “hating America” because I disagree? The latter is the case rather often, in my observation.

    That problem isn’t conservative or liberal. I see it from both sides, way too often. Which is why Obama is refreshing.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  10. The fact that Obama believes he can’t disown Wright without disowning the black community says a lot about Obama and the black community.

    DRJ,
    Would you elaborate on what you mean by says a lot about the black community?
    Have you read Come on People by Cosby? I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to get a very good insight as to why some in the black community feel the way they do. Most of it is based on factual things that have occurred in history. The book certainly isn’t written to encourage acting like a victim (for a black reader) or to feel sorry for (if a non-black reader) but if a person really wants to understand in terms of recognizing where the bridges might be, I’d recommend it highly.

    voiceofreason2 (590c85)

  11. I’m not religious, but I think if I were, I’d have a hard time disowning the person who brought be to God, no matter his other flaws. I’d disown the flaws, but not the person.

    stef (6108f6)

  12. Imus – call your office. The Black community now supports racist hate mongers.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  13. VOR2,

    I meant whatever Obama meant by the term. Those were his words, not mine, and that’s why it was interesting.

    Anyway, I don’t think there is a “black community.” Like the white and Hispanic people I know, the black people I know come with many different beliefs and from many different backgrounds.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  14. The Black community now supports racist hate mongers.

    So if Obama doesn’t “disown” this guy, he’s “supporting” him?

    Do you see the complete logical fallacy there? Do you really “support” everyone you don’t “disown”?

    If so, that would explain why George “you’re either with us or with the terrorists” Bush is so popular.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  15. Underneath it’s just good old socialism in a new package. The only difference is he uses race to promote it.

    bill-tb (26027c)

  16. The real sore that Obama has opened up is that it is now fair game — in fact its necessary — to explore Obama’s views on a whole range of social and racial issues such as the African Nationalism Theology.

    That is the dominant socio-religious doctrine of Wright and the Trinity United Church.

    Obama can try to deflect questions about Wright’s style and disavow his more obnoxious comments on an anecdotal basis, but he must accept the overall doctrine of the Church because he clearly believes in it.

    If this was purely a matter of religious theology — like some of the more curious aspects of the Mormon religion — then I think the subject would be a little more out-of-bounds based on freedom of religious belief.

    But it isn’t a question of religious theology — its a question of public policy that is based upon religion. African Nationalism Theology weds public policy to a particular view of religion. Once that’s on the table — and Obama has now put it on the table — there are a myriad of questions about how those views inform Obama’s public policy positions that are fair game for asking.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  17. Senator Obama’s speech was all fine and great, but when this came out he said he had never heard one of these sermons. Today he admitted he was there but didn’t agree. I have a problem with this.

    Jean (a335a2)

  18. Phil at 14:

    So if Obama doesn’t “disown” this guy, he’s “supporting” him?

    Do you see the complete logical fallacy there? Do you really “support” everyone you don’t “disown”?

    He “supported” him last year to the tune of $22,000.

    He “supported” him by having his children in their formative years sit in his church and listen to his hate-filled diatribes.

    Its one thing for Obama and his wife, two well-educated adults with independence of thought, to sit and listen to Wright.

    But to have children listen to an authority figure discuss their country of birth in this fashion is ANALOGOUS to the indoctrination Muslim youths receive at a madrassa.

    There it is — I said it.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  19. DRJ…
    “…I meant whatever Obama meant by the term…”
    But, what did he mean? If you agree with his meaning, you must know what he meant? I have no idea most of the time what he really means.
    And, since he says very little (if anything) that is concrete, I find it difficult to believe in anything that he advocates.
    Classical conservative/liberal conflict:
    They feel – We think!

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  20. Should have written “liberal/conservative” to prevent mixed sequential metaphore.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  21. “He “supported” him last year to the tune of $22,000.”

    I thought he supported the church.

    stef (23c2b4)

  22. He “supported” him last year to the tune of $22,000.

    Obama rightly compared the guy to his white grandmother who utters racist statements and is afraid of black men. Does he have to disown her to prove he doesn’t support her racist beliefs?

    Do I want Obama to attack his pastor’s ideas? Damn right, and he has. Do I think it’s sadistic and useless to attack his pastor because of his pastor’s ideas? Yeah. But apparently a lot of folks here don’t.

    Once again, the problem here is the mentality here that if you disagree with someone, you have to attack them, not the ideas you disagree with. There is so much personal attacking going on in politics that has nothing to do with ideas — it’s just sadistic personal attacks. That’s what Obama’s refusing to do, and I respect him for it.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  23. Senator Obama claims to bridge the gap. This speech shows how, he bridges the gap between the far left and the ultra left.
    Oddly there are many black Americans who have made it to a very nice life in the USA. Many of them speak from the left, as Oprah, Rev. Jackson, etc. Strangely, though, they mostly live very conservativly. It is much like the Democrat’s “tax cuts for the rich” which always seem to leave the wealthy paying a higher percentage of the total national tax bill.

    Peter (d671ab)

  24. DRJ:

    At one point, Obama said of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.” That’s a powerful statement that will make an excellent soundbite but, if he were debating online, Obama’s argument would be immediately exposed. No one asked Obama to disown the black community, just one incendiary slice of it. The fact that Obama believes he can’t disown Wright without disowning the black community says a lot about Obama and the black community.

    [...]

    Obama’s focus was largely on how America and Americans have failed: Failed to bridge racial divides, failed to educate our children, and failed to provide meaningful opportunities to poor and disadvantaged Americans.

    You are somewhat correct in this first point. BUT, Obama isn’t saying that someone asked him to disown the black community, he’s saying that asking him to disown Wright would be tantamount to disowning the black community. There is a lot of anger and bitterness in the black community. What do you expect? Are you really surprised that the most downtrodden race in this country sometimes veers into loony conspiracy theories about HIV or hatred of America? I for one don’t feel comfortable lecturing blacks on the precise level of anger they should feel toward America, as some have done (not you, DRJ).

    Your second point–are you prepared to argue that this isn’t actually true? Or are you saying that it’s not a good strategy politically?

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  25. On a related note: This speech shows how, he bridges the gap between the far left and the ultra left.

    And: Underneath it’s just good old socialism in a new package.

    Can we all admit that there is no such thing as “the ultra left” in this country? Socialism’s corpse was beaten to dust fifty years ago in this country. The most “far left” candidate in this country would be considered conservative in Europe. You’d think that Obama and Hillary are harmonizing to “The Internationale” reading these threads.

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  26. Russell, the black community veers into looney conspiracy theories because people like Wright lead them there.

    I’m comfortable condemning that even if you want to play white guilt games.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  27. Correction to #25: I meant “far left” presidental candidate, whoops.

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  28. Russell, the black community veers into looney conspiracy theories because people like Wright lead them there.

    So you would say that the legacy of slavery and racism have absolutely nothing to do with the willingness amongst segments of the black population to accept such ideas? And I’m not saying it’s wrong to condemn those ideas (I do as well), I’m saying that when Obama says that he won’t disown Wright because he’s said ridiculous shit because it’s part and parcel of the black community, it makes sense, and moreover, it’s somewhat understandable–not justifiable, but understandable.

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  29. That’s nice, Russell, but tell me why any sane person would make this guy Commander in Chief of the military forces of The United States.

    nk (34c5da)

  30. “Russell, the black community veers into looney conspiracy theories because people like Wright lead them there.”

    I’m finding it odd that people are surprised that someone in a church would say something loony and fictional.

    stef (709655)

  31. “The fact that Obama believes he can’t disown Wright without disowning the black community says a lot about Obama and the black community.”

    Those are your words DRJ. Doesn’t sound like you are referring to a term.

    voiceofreason2 (db13df)

  32. Stef, I don’t see a need to express any bigotry against religious people. Feel free yourself however. First amendment and all that.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  33. That’s nice, Russell, but tell me why any sane person would make this guy Commander in Chief of the military forces of The United States.

    WTF? Perhaps you might want to clarify. I thought we were talking about race issues.

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  34. At first I was simply disgusted with Obama’s personal religious mentor spouting racist, bigoted hate speech however, now I am disgustingly sickened to hear Obama, an American who earns twice as much as I and holds a lot more political power than I, lecture to me about how I and my country are failures.

    Stick a fork in Obama, he’s not American Presidential material.

    syn (1017f1)

  35. I’m finding it odd that people are surprised that someone in a church would say something loony and fictional.

    No s__t, Sherlock. What we’re talking about is someone who wants to be President paying the loony to keep on saying it for twenty years.

    nk (34c5da)

  36. Sticking with David Duke shows character.

    M. Simon (c12757)

  37. Only for Phil, M.Simon, only for Phil.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  38. At first I was simply disgusted with Obama’s personal religious mentor spouting racist, bigoted hate speech however, now I am disgustingly sickened to hear Obama, an American who earns twice as much as I and holds a lot more political power than I, lecture to me about how I and my country are failures.

    He’s not saying you and the country are failures–if you disagree, please point out where he says such things. He’s saying that America has failed in some respects to live up to its own standards. That seems self-evidently true.

    Obama often says “in no other country on earth is my story even possible.” Hardly sounds like he’s calling America a failure.

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  39. If we are to go by history Jews ought to be the angriest people on earth. And yet in my 60+ years of being Jewish (since I was born) I have never heard anything like Wright’s Wrants.

    M. Simon (c12757)

  40. “No s__t, Sherlock. What we’re talking about is someone who wants to be President paying the loony to keep on saying it for twenty years.”

    I dated someone that in their 20′s contributed thousands of dollars a year to their church. Was on church council, etc… And disagreed with the church’s views on a few important things. I understand that for most people church is more than the words that are said, no matter how fictional. Maybe it is actually because the words are fictional and loony.

    stef (d34331)

  41. I know what Obama can do. Ask me. Ask me.

    Stop taking his daughters to that church.

    M. Simon (c12757)

  42. If we are to go by history Jews ought to be the angriest people on earth. And yet in my 60+ years of being Jewish (since I was born) I have never heard anything like Wright’s Wrants.

    Well, other Jews have said otherwise:

    As an Orthodox Jew, I have heard pulpit rabbis say some offensive things — and I’m not talking about things that are part of normative Jewish law like rules regarding gentiles — but all sorts of thoedicy-type claims about why God allowed particular tragedies to occur, usually involving very Jew-centric views of the world and often ascribing the worst of intentions to gentiles or non-Orthodox Jews. Nonetheless, I never felt the inclination to walk out mid-speech or cut my ties to my synagogue or the rabbi himself. Maybe I am applying a double standard here, but to me my rabbi’s political views are just one narrow aspect of a broad relationship I have with both him and the institution he leads. Based on Obama’s statements, I assume that this is Obama’s view of his relationship with Wright.

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  43. VOR2 and AD #19-20:

    I don’t know exactly what Obama meant but I think his statement could be interpreted at least two ways:

    First, it could mean that, because Wright is Obama’s friend and spiritual advisor and so much a part of the way Obama found his black Christian identity, Obama can’t reject Wright. If that’s what Obama meant, however, I think he would be more likely to say something like “I can no more disown him than I can disown my own father or my best friend,” but that’s not what he said.

    Of course, later in his speech, Obama also compared Wright’s statements with the prejudices of Obama’s white grandmother — as if they were the same peas in two racially-opposite pods. I think this comparison was designed to portray Wright as a good black person whose prejudices are no different than those of a good white person. However, as James Taranto points out, Wright is not a private person like Obama’s grandmother. He is a well-known preacher at a large black church who chose to speak publicly (and issue a DVD!) setting forth his extreme beliefs. In that context, if Obama can’t disown both Wright and his message, who could he disown?

    Second, it could mean that Wright is so much a part of what Obama thinks is mainstream black thought that for Obama to reject Wright would be the same as Obama rejecting the mainstream black community. To me, that sounds like what Obama said.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  44. I know what Obama can do. Ask me. Ask me.

    Stop taking his daughters to that church.

    You do realize that Wright is no longer the pastor at that church? Check him out.

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  45. VOR2 #31,

    It might have been more accurate to say “The fact that Obama believes he can’t disown Wright without disowning the black community says a lot about Obama and the way he feels about the black community.” But I think the original sentence got my point across anyway.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  46. Although Obama halfheartedly denounced his pastor’s racist rants this past week, Obama’s speech today really just paraphrased his pastor’s racist message. basically today, Obama said the same anti-white rhetoric, blame America, blame whites, yada yada yada….. I think the American people are getting pretty sick of hearing it.

    Mrs. Smith (6462d7)

  47. Russel,

    I don’t think my parents would have joined such a synagogue. The fact that I never heard such stuff is an indication of that. BTW I was raised Orthodox.

    We heard about the evils of others against the Jews but the attitude was one of sadness. More like: look what you are doing to yourselves, rather than look at what you are doing to us. Our attitude was that we needed to help the Gentiles who needed it find redemption and offer a hand in the process.

    Now about Obama’s daughters learning at the feet of Wright.

    M. Simon (c12757)

  48. Russell,

    Start with: why were the daughters of the Great Healer attending a racist church.

    End with: Wright’s replacement is from the same mold.

    M. Simon (c12757)

  49. Russell #24,

    “There is a lot of anger and bitterness in the black community. What do you expect? Are you really surprised that the most downtrodden race in this country sometimes veers into loony conspiracy theories about HIV or hatred of America? I for one don’t feel comfortable lecturing blacks on the precise level of anger they should feel toward America, as some have done (not you, DRJ).

    Your second point–are you prepared to argue that this isn’t actually true? Or are you saying that it’s not a good strategy politically?”

    1. At times, we all feel anger about our lot in life but, as a general rule, it doesn’t do much good. However, loony conspiracy theories embraced by even a few people – let alone a segment of society – can do a lot of harm. If you want to consider that lecturing, so be it. I’ll even do it for free.

    2. My second point was that the “Two Americas/America is a Failed State” theme is not a good political strategy. I also don’t think it’s true but that was not my point.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  50. #46: Although Obama halfheartedly denounced his pastor’s racist rants this past week, Obama’s speech today really just paraphrased his pastor’s racist message. basically today, Obama said the same anti-white rhetoric, blame America, blame whites, yada yada yada….. I think the American people are getting pretty sick of hearing it.

    The speech today:

    Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

    [...]

    Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding. [Emphasis mine]

    Boy, as a white man, I sure am astounded by that steaming mass of virulent anti-white rhetoric. Dear god, this is like a Malcolm X/Louis Farrakhan hybrid, only worse.

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  51. It’s the “Life Sucks in the Two Americas” message, Russell.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  52. DRJ…
    Thanks for fleshing that out.
    Taranto nailed it in his post.
    Personally, I believe that the Senator from Illinois is actually from Oakland!

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  53. Do I want Obama to attack his pastor’s ideas? Damn right, and he has.

    The only reason, the only reason he “rejected” the controversial statements (note how he did not specify) is the fact that it is now a political liability.

    He had an opportunity to practice his own themes of hopeyness and changeyness in his own community, but he just sat there, nodded in agreement, and kept on writing checks to his Church and spiritual advisor.

    The current rejection is like when Linsey Lohan issued a public apology for getting caught snorking Peruvian Gold off the bathroom countertop in the Viper Room.

    Had he done it when it happened, my opinion of Baracky would be quite different. That it took those views to become a polical liability in a presidential race for him to denounce them is also quite telling. Yet another example of Baracky voting present.

    JD (6a0a0b)

  54. “Or is he going to dismiss me as “evil” or “hating America” because I disagree? The latter is the case rather often, in my observation.”

    This from the guy who constantly accuses illegal immigration opponents of being racist.

    Patterico (11c3dd)

  55. Having integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is watching.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  56. DRJ: At times, we all feel anger about our lot in life but, as a general rule, it doesn’t do much good. However, loony conspiracy theories embraced by even a few people – let alone a segment of society – can do a lot of harm. If you want to consider that lecturing, so be it. I’ll even do it for free.

    Absolutely. I think Obama would agree, which is why he said about Wright’s comments:

    Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

    Obama has said time and again that these race-based flame wars are distraction from the real issues, for both black and white. Also note that I specifically said you weren’t lecturing. His point is that you can’t just jettison someone like Wright because those theories, crazy though they may be, are common in the black community, and they are somewhat understandable (not, I say again, justifiable, but understandable). Obama wants to bring those people along because they’re shooting themselves in the foot (much like poor white racists) by being wrapped up in these sorts of dogmas.

    Would you care to explain in more detail why the Two Americas strategy is a bad one?

    Russell (5ecf4a)

  57. These “race based flame wars” are all of his choosing. He chose Rev. Wright to be his spiritual adviser, Russell. He donated tens of thousands of dollars. He chose Wright to perform his wedding. He chose Wright to baptize his children. He chose Wright’s Church to attend for 20 years.

    Now, we all understand that you are in the tank for the libs, and that is fine. But quit trying to polish a turd and tell us its a diamond.

    Russell – Help me out, here. God Damn America. Let’s all sing it. Ah-one, ah-two, ah-three …

    How is that idea “understandable”?

    In re. jettisonning Wright … he could if he wished. However, with past behavior being the best predictor of future actions, it is likely that he did not throw him under the bus because he agrees with much of the message Wright preaches.

    JD (6a0a0b)

  58. To those using the fact that Wright is no longer the senior Pastor at the church as some form of cover for Obama are missing the point that for 20 years Obama was closely aligned with that pastor and he provided substantial support for the church that kept that man in the pulpit.

    And if in 20 years of closeness with Wright, Obama was unable to open the pastor’s mind and heart, what does that say about Obama’s effort or intent to create healing between the races and unity in this society? Instead he just kept writing checks and attending services filled with vitriol…

    in_awe (cde03b)

  59. “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”

    Barack couldn’t disown him because no one believe it. Twenty years of calibrating Obama’s moral compass, serving as a mentor and spiritual guide, becoming a member of the church, having Wright officiate at your wedding and the baptism of your children doesn’t get dismissed as easily as a bone-headed mistake of a land deal with Tony Rezko. There were plenty of opportunities for Obama to walk away during the course of the relationship and the fact that he didn’t can’t just be waved away and then have everyone’s attention shifted elsewhere to focus on other issues. As usual, Barack avoided specifics and tried to spin his way out of a relationship that has become inconvenient in the light of day for an aspiring politician.

    What’s next?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  60. From Hot Air, Allah P pegs it:
    Our commenters laughed at me the other day for calling him a spectacularly shrewd politician.
    .

    jdm (05b268)

  61. I dunno Daley, but I’m starting to lay provisions and stockpile ammo and a few handguns for the the Left’s Special Police come to ensure I’m complying with any one of the several dozen new “for your own good” laws they will pass when either Sen. Clinton or Obama win.

    If McCain wins, that just means I’ll have another 4 years, because he sure wouldn’t win a second term, and then Obama WILL have the White House.

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  62. Phil #1,

    It’s hard to know where to start but it sounds like your view of Obama’s platform is “Why can’t we all just be friends?” Admittedly, it’s hard to argue with the sentiment but I don’t see that as a good job description for an American President.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  63. “I dunno Daley, but I’m starting to lay provisions and stockpile ammo and a few handguns for the the Left’s Special Police come to ensure I’m complying with any one of the several dozen new “for your own good” laws they will pass when either Sen. Clinton or Obama win.”

    Make sure to get a “is your church ATF approved” bumper sticker.

    stef (034065)

  64. Regardless of the lip service he pays to this faux pas, 20 years of affiliation with such a parochial,hate-filled individual speaks to a certain tolerance of the messages and the messenger.
    When considering a run at the presidency, such a glaring problem wasn’t evident to Candidate Obama?
    Doesn’t the arrival of this problem, so late into his run, speak to his ineptitude as a leader?
    This business with his church, the Rezko deal are foreshadows of problems he will face on our time as the leader of our country.
    What other problems are we going to tolerate simply because he is the country’s first Black candidate?
    Gerry Ferraro was right. He needs to make some real political Chops (something to show other than his charm and Race.) As well as get the rest of his ducks in a row. The Dems should be smart enough to understand, Barack has got to go back to the Minors for a little more seasoning before the bring him back to “the show”
    (It is Spring Training here in Fl.)

    paul from fl (47918a)

  65. After the speech one can conclude that the term “BLACK COMMUNITY ” is monolithic with greedy corporations dividing the majoritywhites into haves and have notsad nauseum…Under any culture what obligations are ownned by the minority to the majority so that the entire group can survive.You have oneclear answer from the good pastorand one from MR.Obama.Bothare rejected by most Americans.

    mike191 (c2b063)

  66. Am I missing something here? Why doesn’t McCain have to disown Hagee’s support, which McCain wanted, but Obama is suppose to disown Wright?

    Is it because McCain’s Hagee think’s Catholics are whores and should be destroyed; while Wright thinks America has, and still has, very bad behavior toward groups of non-whites?

    Maybe we should get some advice from American Indians.

    James (97f4db)

  67. James – Yes you are missing something. My guess is that you are doing so intentionally.

    JD (6a0a0b)

  68. First off, Jimmie, McCain did disavow Hagee. You see, I know you are being intentionally obtuse, because that kind of stoooopidity would hurt. The Left went bananas when Hagee endorsed McCain. You do understand the difference between some random preacher living 1000′s of miles away endorsing you, and your chosen spiritual advisor whom you endorse by means of attendance, utilization, and fundraising/donation?

    while Wright thinks America has, and still has, very bad behavior toward groups of non-whites?

    That is the biggest pile of bullshit dropped around here today. How long did it take you to condense all of Wright’s spittle flecked hate down to that sentence?

    JD (6a0a0b)

  69. So let’s be clear with the rules of Obama:

    1. His granny was racist for being scared because a black bum on the bus threatened her for money.
    2. Imus can’t say a racist thing and must be disowned and fired (Obama demanded he be fired).
    3. Rev God Damn America must not be disowned because Black Racism and hatred is OK.

    OK.

    McCain takes 49 states, Obama and Rev. God Damn America take IL.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  70. I’m confused…

    If I am friends, confidants, advisors, mentors, to people who believe that whites are the enemy of blacks, and that whites must be destroyed, and those are the beliefs of God, the Father of Jesus….

    And, I want to be President of the United States….

    That my friends are just “average” Americans???

    reff (59b2ad)

  71. Anyone know hot to find a Jesse Jackson interview from the mid 90′s (I think it was right after the ’94 election) when he said it was embarrassing for his own congregation that when he checks to see who else is on the street late at night he is always relieved to find white people approaching him instead of black people ? Barak’s grandmother and Jesse Jackson seemed to have reached across the racial divide.

    Barak’s speach seems to be targeted not to those who may be wavering but to the MSM – basically a “back off or else”.

    seePea (1b7002)

  72. Speaking of Jesse and Al, where were they today? Usually they are front and center, gobbling up the mics when an incendiary opportunity arises, yet I haven’t seen them anywhere….perhaps they are trying to figure out the best way to play this?

    Dana (af09b0)

  73. Barack Obama is an arrogant ass. He who sits idly by listening to this type of poison gets to tell me that I’m not enlightened enough—NOT.

    F*** him, and his wife and his pastor.

    Law (62ca0c)

  74. seePea – Plus the Superdelegates. Don’t forget about them.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  75. I never am failed to be amused by Phil’s whining and moaning about his treatment on this blog when there is only one person at fault for it – PHIL. His inability to argue in good faith, lies, circular logic, sheer ignorance, and ad hominem attacks on other commenters have all contributed to the exalted position he holds. It takes a considerable effort to be that stupid on a consistent basis. I find it hard to understand why he is complaining about himself in a public forum.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  76. If Senator Obama truly is striving for unity among white and black Americans, why doesn’t he STOP using the “African-American” terminology?

    A hyphen DIVIDES, it doesn’t unite.

    You are either an American, period, or you think of yourself as something else FIRST. He calls Caucasian Americans “whites” so why not call “Negro” Americans blacks?

    And having those such as Jackson, Sharpton and now Wright constantly bringing up past wrongs only keeps the racial embers of anger and hatred burning.

    ALL immigrants to this nation suffered discrimination and endured unfair treatment. They all paid their “dues” before being accepted. They may not have come here as slaves but many were treated as such and worked just as long and hard. Many of their children had no chance for schooling and worked in terrible and unsafe conditions for very low pay. And what of the “share holder” farmers? Many of these were treated worse than slaves!

    The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt for 400 years and had their male children thrown to the crocodiles in the Nile BUT you don’t hear Jews constantly referring to this unfair and horrid period in their history, which lasted centuries longer than slavery in America.

    Then, even more recently, Jews suffered confiscation of their possessions, enslavement, torture, genocide and death at the hands of the Nazis. There are still many alive today that carry the tattoo-I.D. of this horror on their arms! But again, they have gone on with their lives. And those in America refer to themselves as American Jews, NOT Jewish-Americans.

    So WHY can’t blacks in America, none of whom were ever slaves, get over this PAST historic episode of our nation’s history and stop blaming people that indeed had nothing to do with that time? And most blacks have never even visited Africa, let alone lived there. They were born in THIS nation, not Africa.

    They should be grateful that their ancestors came to America, survived slavery and were granted emancipation so their descendants now have opportunities they would NEVER have known in AFRICA. Africa is still a continent of rebellion, genocide, famine, poverty and fatal illnesses, including AIDS. Billions of dollars and thousands of volunteers going to Africa for centuries have not made any major changes in these things. The majority of African governments are corrupt and the cruelest dictators have flourished there.

    Whereas in America, through Civil-Rights, Affirmative Action and Political Correctness, blacks have made tremendous gains in all areas. However, what their slave ancestors endured cannot be made right by continually granting present day blacks more and more concessions, such as reparation.

    After the Civil War blacks were given the opportunity to return to Africa and many of them did, resulting in the nation of Liberia. Today’s blacks are the descendants of those who CHOOSE to remain in America. Thus their complaints, should be directed to those ancestors and not their present day fellow white citizens! And if those, such as Wright, hate America so much…why don’t they move to Africa?

    NOTE: It is ironic to learn that although Americo-Liberians had been denied their freedom in America, many did not think to extend their new liberty to the native Malinke tribes living in this new nation. Liberians treated many Malinke like second-class citizens and denied them voting rights under their US-based constitution. Natives were also used as forced labor until an admonishment from the League of Nations in 1931 halted the practice. The indigenous population and women received the vote as late as 1951. So they were just as guilty of the practice of enslaving others as their former “masters” in America had been!
    There is a great diversity of people in our nation today. The only way we will ever achieve unity is to put being an AMERICAN before our ethnicity, cultures and religions.

    And if we are ALL to communicate effectively, we need ONE official language, English. Our slogan “United we Stand, Divided we Fall” is a truth ALL need to recognize.

    Jo Holland (885bb2)

  77. Barack Obama’s address on Race today in Philadelphia was a desperate bid to save his presidential prospects in the light of release of videotapes of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright’s sermons. While much of the mainstream media has tried to downplay the story, Obama had obviously come to the conclusion that it was major news-and it was threatening to kill his campaign. While reactions to the speech are still playing out, I would like to comment on my reaction at this time.

    Without repeating the various lines in his speech, suffice to say that, like most of his speeches, Obama’s prepared remarks today were typically eloquent-especially in contrast to when he is answering questions on uncomfortable topics-as he was this week on the TV news circuit. The problem with the speech was, as I see it, that he tried to appeal to everyone, and, in the process, may have alienated everyone with the obvious exception of those who choose to believe and accept whatever he says because he is their guy.

    Obama, while condemning Wright’s remarks, stated that he could no longer disown the pastor any more than he could disown the black community. Personally, I am not sure the two are linked. I sure hope not although Wright’s parishioners have spoken out loud and clear in their support of him. Is Obama the only member of the church who rejects Wright’s sentiments?

    Obama also reiterated the racial grievances of black Americans and made the usual calls for racial healing. Obama obviously felt he had to give something to his black listeners and speak of injustice. No question, Obama is walking a very thin tightrope here, trying to hold on to wavering white voters while not alienating black voters who may conclude he is an “Uncle Tom” (a ugly term also used by Wright in some of his sermons).

    Obama spoke of Wright’s good works and good qualities, stating that he will not turn his back on him. He also referred to his white grandmother, who allegedly referred to her fears of encountering black men on the street. He also acknowledged that he had, indeed, been in the pews on occasions when Wright made “controversial” statements. This is an apparent contradiction from statements he had been making just in the past few days to the effect that he had not been present during these particular diatribes. (Is it possible Obama realized that there may be some video out there showing him in the audience on these occasions-perhaps doing what everyone else was apparently doing-standing, clapping and cheering?)

    It appears that Obama’s theme is that, yes, he disagrees with Wright’s statements about whites and America, but that he will not turn away from his spiritual mentor and his church. America must deal with black historical grievances and present-day “real anger”, but he wants to bring about racial conciliation. In other words, Obama’s speech had something in it for everyone, just what a politician’s speech is supposed to be.

    I still am left with serious questions about Mr Obama:

    First, how could you sit there in that church for two decades and listen to this rhetoric and racial diatribes. Senator Obama, when Minister Wright was railing about white people, he was talking about your mother-and grandmother. Did you never take offense at that?

    You talk about your love of this country. Yet, you sat there and listened to the worst things being said about your country by Wright. I don’t know about you, sir, but I would have gotten up and walked out of my church and never gone back if the pastor talked like that about America-or about other ethnic groups not my own. But you, sir, are a sitting US Senator. If nothing else, as a US Senator and aspiring presidential candidate, what kind of judgement does this show? The same kind of judgement that allowed you to do business with a character like Tony Rezko?

    Already, many news commentators sympathetic to Obama are raving about the eloquence of his speech. It is spin. The fact of the matter is that in attempting to please all sides, in my view, Obama has hurt his cause only more. As I acknowledged above, Obama is caught squarely in the middle of the racial divide in this country. He doesn’t want to be regarded as simply the “Black Candidate”, rather one who cuts across racial barriers. Sadly, that is going by the wayside very quickly. I don’t know how the senator is going to reconcile these issues. Certainly many white voters who are wavering wanted Obama to cut his ties to Wright and the church in strong and forceful terms. To do so, however, would have alienated many black voters. So he tried to cut it both ways. I don’t think it will work.

    I don’t know if Obama secretely sympathizes with Wright’s views; I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. His continued membership in such a church and association with Wright would make any reasonable person suspicious. What is really sad and ironic is that the candidate and the campaign that held out hope of advancing black-white relations in America to so many, even among his opponents, is now turning into something that, in the end, may only set relations back.

    All of the above, of course, is written from the perspective of a white male in his 60s who probably doesn’t understand what goes on in black churches and has possibly deluded himself into thinking that over the course of his life, he had seen dramatic racial progress. All I can say is that if Jeremiah Wright is typical, then we have made very little progress. If there is actually someone out there who can bring Americans together, that person is not going to come out of the Trinity United Church of Christ of Chicago.

    So is there a secret side to Mr Obama that he has tried to hide from the public? I don’t know, but one thing is becoming more obvious every day.

    Barack Obama is just another politician.

    gary fouse
    fousesquawk

    fouse, gary c (7b7c7c)

  78. The binladen family gave millions to Harvard after Harvard made Obama president of the Harvard Law Review.

    Does anyone know who financed Obama’s education?

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  79. j curtis, that’s beyond the pale. There’s plenty of meat on this issue, let’s not confuse things with post hoc fallacies and groundless speculations.

    Steverino (459829)

  80. following up on my #71:
    Tom Mcguire

    Has it cited. Though I thought it was an interview, the link is to USNews in March 1996.

    seaPea (1b7002)

  81. I want to know if the Branch Davidians were one of stef’s ATF Approved Churches?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  82. After looking through all the comments posted above (took as long as the speech itself), I am profoundly worried by the fact that almost none of you understood what Obama was trying to say. This speech, while decades late, may still be ahead of its time.

    Obama rejected Rev Wright’s position but accepted Rev Wright’s *feelings*. This acceptance of basic human nature–that we have antisocial emotions–is really a commonsense starting place for resolving differences peacefully. If your response to someone you disagree with is to paint them as the enemy and hope that enough people come to your side so that you prevail over the infidels with force, well, you can’t expect to heal any wounds that way. Mostly what we have done in this country is stigmatize the expression of hurt, which means that it continues to lurk within us, waiting for an excuse to be aired.

    Judging by the comments I’ve seen here and elsewhere, today’s speech is just such an excuse. I imagine that those who find racism in it were never going to vote for a black man anyway, so no votes will be lost there; however, the polite tone of let’s-pretend-race-is-not-an-issue is gone now. I fear the fall election is going to be nasty and divisive.

    I admire Obama’s courage in tackling this issue head-on, but it looks like he overestimated the American public’s capacity to understand nuance. Please let me be mistaken on this, but maybe people just aren’t capable of rising above their petty natures, simply won’t walk a mile in another person’s shoes, or just cannot recognize that everyone has complex natures comprising elements we do and do not like.

    But even if you disregard his nuanced view, you may still appreciate how bigotry distracts people from their true adversaries. A masterful aspect of Obama’s speech is how he creeps up on the theme that it is the modern economy that holds people down. Might the fear of being taken advantage of outweigh the impulse to racism?

    I was reminded throughout the speech how true it is that Obama’s candidacy could not have happened at any other time. Not because we’ve made such progress in race relations, but rather because of the internet. It isn’t corporations or even political parties that swell Obama’s coffers–they are counting on race to divide and distract Americans; it is the ability of the internet to collect the donations of so many essentially powerless individuals that has permitted this to happen.

    And since the distributive power of technology doesn’t seem to be waning, I can retain hope that the Obamas of the world will keep getting another chance until one breaks through. The hunger is there, and the distractions of race and politics are being worn thin by the melting pot and cynicism. America is getting younger, and it’s about time.

    Jeff Glass (2408fd)

  83. Jeff Glass, we understand Wright’s feelings. They are hatred. We question Obama’s actions in the face of a preacher who sermonizes hatred.

    The rest of your comment is just full of feelings of changiness and stuff. And devoid of substance, which has always been my main criticism of Obama.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  84. Barack couldn’t disown him because no one believe it. Twenty years of calibrating Obama’s moral compass, serving as a mentor and spiritual guide, becoming a member of the church, having Wright officiate at your wedding and the baptism of your children doesn’t get dismissed as easily as a bone-headed mistake of a land deal with his friend of almost twenty years Tony Rezko.

    Fixed.

    M. Simon (c12757)

  85. #82:

    the modern economy that holds people down

    What are you talking about? This “modern economy” where in the supposed midst of a recession, my local WalMart (!) has problems keeping HD TV’s that cost over a grand in stock? This “modern economy” which has enabled people who desire to run their own jobs to do so with a amazingly low capital requirements? This “modern economy” were more people of all shades of color and religion can obtain employment with livable wages – and a lower percentage of same are unemployed? This “modern economy” were people of all classes have the chance to join the highest tax bracket?

    This “modern economy” is keeping people down ?!

    And you claim that others can’t see the truth?

    seaPea (1b7002)

  86. Am I missing something here? Why doesn’t McCain have to disown Hagee’s support, which McCain wanted, but Obama is suppose to disown Wright?

    OK I’ll bite.

    1. McCain did not attend Hagee’s Church for 20 years
    2. McCain did not donate 10s of thousands of dollars to Hagee’s Church every year
    3. McCain did not title a book after one of Hagee’s sermons.
    4. McCains children did not attend Hagee’s church regularly when they were minors.

    That ought to give you something to chew on.

    Let me add that the Great Healer of the Racial Divide could not Change his close friend and confidant despite 20 years of contact. If he gets to be President how in the heck is he going to manage for 250 million plus lost souls?

    M. Simon (c12757)

  87. #82 – this country fell for Bill Clinton’s evocation of “feelings”, hopefully it won’t fall for it again so quickly with Barak – who had to suffer being raised by a racist grandmother.

    seaPea (1b7002)

  88. j curtis, that’s beyond the pale. There’s plenty of meat on this issue, let’s not confuse things with post hoc fallacies and groundless speculations.

    Comment by Steverino — 3/18/2008 @ 8:38 pm

    Look, I’m just asking to learn. Your comments say “stop learning”.

    Now, tell me how the hussy bomb’s education was financed.

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  89. Jeff – It seems like you are the one who saw Obama’s speech through the cracked lenses.

    “Mostly what we have done in this country is stigmatize the expression of hurt”
    That would be what Rev. Wright and Black Liberation Theology seem to be all about, the perpetuation of grievances and racial divisions. Do some research.

    “I admire Obama’s courage in tackling this issue head-on”
    He didn’t tackle the most important issue, why he didn’t do anything to change Rev. Wright or TUCC’s views or switch churches during the past 20 years, instead exposing his daughters to a continuing sycle of hate. He has a history of avoiding taking a stand on controversial issues.

    “the theme that it is the modern economy that holds people down”

    This one always gets big laughs. The solutions – more famously efficient big government nanny state programs and intervention. We will tax our way to greatness. Socialism has done wonders for Europe.

    “the distractions of race and politics are being worn thin”
    But racists like Rev. Wright are there to keep fanning the flames and Obama is there to remind us as he did in his speech today that white racism is bad, but that black racism is justified.

    Did you listen to the same speech I did today, Jeff? He’s a great orator but still a smarmy politician who doesn’t say a whole lot when you look for the beef.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  90. j. curtis – Why don’t you compare the year Obama graduated with the year of the contribution before bothering people with crap like that. Have you ever heard of scholarships?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  91. j. curtis – Why don’t you compare the year Obama graduated with the year of the contribution before bothering people with crap like that. Have you ever heard of scholarships?

    There are bin laden fellowships at harvard. I want to know if there is a connect with Obama.

    Is Harvard publicizing the bin laden fellows anymore after 9/11/01?

    How dare I want I know about my next president’s history?

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  92. j curtis, you are being offensive.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  93. 93 spqr

    Inquisitive equals offensive to a certain type ( you ).

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  94. No, j curtis, you are not being inquisitive, you are making an insinuation disguised as a question. An insinuation that you have absolutely no evidence for, and in fact not even a rational chronology.

    And don’t start telling me about being a “certain type”, as you are clueless about what “type” I am – its just another insinuation you cannot back up.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  95. spqr

    There are bin laden fellows at Harvard ( will you agree? ). Do you think it should disqualify them from becoming POTUS some day?

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  96. j curtis – You unfortunately have this blog confused with Harvard, don’t you?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  97. 96

    No. I’m sure everyone is as interested as I in learing why you’d ask something so strange.

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  98. J curtis- the way it usually works here is IF you have a fact, you post it here with some sort of substantive links, post etc. Why don’t you research your ‘question’ and get back to us? Jo Hollands #76, while lengthy, supported his question with historical reference. Through this Blog and commentary you’ll find the accomplished commentors referencing outside sources and links. Try it. Or do as I do, state your opnion and take whatever hits come like an adult.

    paul from fl (47918a)

  99. “I want to know if the Branch Davidians were one of stef’s ATF Approved Churches?”

    Certainly don’t look like it.

    stef (688568)

  100. After looking through all the comments posted above (took as long as the speech itself), I am profoundly worried by the fact that almost none of you understood what Obama was trying to say. This speech, while decades late, may still be ahead of its time.

    I understand perfectly.

    He’s had that speech, or one much like it, ready since the day he announced. He knew Wright would be a problem, and was just hoping no one would notice. Had he given this speech at the START, then yeah, I’d buy it. Waiting almost a year? Not so much…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  101. I strongly encourage everyone to download a copy of Obama’s speech (see Drudge) and read it. Carefully.

    Stripped of his oratorical skills, his written words are not very comforting or unifying as some heard them to be. If you really have to, grab a highlighter and mark his topic sentences and conclusions and see what he was really saying. It is disturbing that a man possibly 9 months away from becoming the President can really believe these ideas and can apply such illogical methods to arrive at them.

    He is not made of Presidental timber.

    in_awe (cde03b)

  102. Scott–Yes, I have read that he knew someday he’d have to give that speech. To do it as a defense against the Wright controversy took away some of its thunder.

    J Curtis–Are you deliberating misunderstanding my statement? How does “Black Liberation theology” does “stigmatize the expression of hurt”? The point is that you have to accept that the other party is hurt before a dialog to repair the relationship (“perfect the union”) can even begin.

    Seen this way, it was not Obama’s job to disassociate himself from a church in which people expressed their anger. Clearly he felt a duty to remain in contact.

    I don’t know where you people get off blaming Rev Wright for perpetuating a cycle of hate when his “side” clearly was not the initial offender. Yes, it would have been nice if he’d turned the other cheek, but if you can’t do it then why expect him to do so? Try practicing what you preach. So yes, “black racism” is more justified than white racism. If you weren’t so proud of your racism you wouldn’t be offended by that.

    Jeff Glass (aeeea9)

  103. So yes, “black racism” is more justified than white racism.

    Rather than wasting my time arguing that statement with a person dumb enough to make it, let’s just say that I’d love to hear Obama defend that view publicly.

    Xrlq (b71926)

  104. Jeff, did this sentence actually make sense to you: “I don’t know where you people get off blaming Rev Wright for perpetuating a cycle of hate when his “side” clearly was not the initial offender.” ?

    Because if it did, I think you need to revisit it until you realize just how self-contradictory it is – and I think that this really typifies the problem with your whole point.

    SPQR (26be8b)


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