04/28/2008 - 12:10pm
Yup. It sure looks like the return of Reverend Wright is something orchestrated by the Obama campaign. Barack used the weekend of his Pastor's reemergence as an opportunity to end his ducking of Fox News Sunday. In a lengthy interview with Chris Wallace, Barack gave his approval to those who question his relationship with Wright:
"The fact he's my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue," Obama said. "So I understand that."
McCain accepted the permission granted by Barack and immediately started voicing his concerns about Wright - in contrast to his objection to the controversial Wright ad being run in North Carolina:
...McCain took a different approach when he criticized Wright for, as the senator paraphrased him, "comparing the United States Marine Corps with Roman legionnaires who were responsible for the death of our savior, I mean being involved in that," and for "saying that al-Qaida and the American flag were the same flags."

McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, said he did not believe Obama shared those views and he was still against the ad in North Carolina. But he suggested the Democrat from Illinois had made the subject fair play.

In a sign of the sort of excitement to come once Barack gets the nomination, his campaign forgot all about its promise of a new kind of politics:

The Obama campaign said McCain had crossed the line of propriety he drew himself.

"By sinking to a level that he specifically said he'd avoid, John McCain has broken his word to the American people and rendered hollow his promise of a respectful campaign," spokesman Hari Sevugan said.

What morons.
04/28/2008 - 3:30am
People have been wondering over the past few days why Jeremiah Wright chose this period of time to return to the limelight. Its not the right time, we've been saying, to do this to Barack.
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the embattled pastor of presidential candidate Barack Obama, gave a 45-minute sermon on Sunday that included a reference to his "public crucifixion" for past comments from the pulpit.

Wright received a standing ovation from the 4,000 worshippers at Friendship-West Baptist Church, the Dallas Morning News reported.

But when would be a better time for the spotlights to swing back on Wright? Barring some new drama, like the media suddenly focusing on the shady land deal with the Rezkos, Barack is assured of the nomination, and it could be his wish to have Jeremiah perform his encore during a period of time when he can afford to take the hit.
DETROIT (AP) — The outspoken former pastor of Barack Obama told an audience of 10,000 at an NAACP dinner on Sunday that despite what his critics say, he is descriptive, not divisive, when he speaks about racial injustices.

"I describe the conditions in this country," the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. said during the 53rd annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner held by the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
In the fall, Barack would like to be able to say, "Haven't we heard enough about Reverend Wright? Can't we focus on the issues that the American people care about?" when George and Charlie ask him about it during a debate with McCain. Perhaps the extra exposure the Reverend is receiving now will earn Barack the prerogative to do just that a few months from now.
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP, said at a news conference before the dinner that he was excited to invite the "hottest brother in America right now."
Come fall, I suppose Barack would like to reclaim the title of "hottest brother," as long as no one calls him that. For now, it's in his best interest to share the moniker with Wright.
04/27/2008 - 1:24pm
Barack sees the picture that he has painted of himself.

You combine tape of Reverend Wright with the tape of Barack not saluting the flag with a clip of Michelle Obama saying she's never really been proud of this country with a clip of Barack laying out his reason for ceasing his practice of wearing a lapel flag, and the result is powerful:
Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest.
Wow. "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest."

Perhaps the Obama campaign has made their own version of the ads that will play over and over this fall, that will be circulated far and wide over the internet, and they understand that your heart drops when you see the cumulative evidence that Barack is a different man than he portrays himself to be. That he doesn't feel that great about this country. That the angry rantings of Pastor Wright, if they haven't filled Barack's heart, apparently have permeated the heart of his wife and had some kind of influence on him.

Maybe that's why Barack now feels that he has to lie about the lapel pin and revise the remarks he made in October:

"Then I was asked about this in Iowa," Obama said. "And somebody said 'Why don't you wear a flag pin?' I said, well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I said, although I will say that sometimes I notice that they're people who wear flag pins but they don't always act patriotic. And I was specifically referring to politicians, not individuals who wear flag pins, but politicians who you see wearing flag pins and then vote against funding for veterans, saying we can't afford it."

Then, to give his lie more credibility, Barack goes so far as to accuse those who accurately report his prior comments of being liars!
Obama continued, saying "so I make this comment. suddenly a bunch of these, you know, TV commentators and bloggers (say) 'Obama is disrespecting people who wear flag pins.' Well, that's just not true. Also, another way of saying it is, it's a lie."

I understand that Barack is scared. He can look back now and see that there was a time during this campaign when he could say whatever he wanted, and the more unusual it was for a candidate to say, the more that fed his story as the outsider looking to change the way Washington does business.

He thought he could get away with calling people who respect the flag unpatriotic. When you're a niche candidate catching fire, you have a lot more leeway than when people are suddenly looking at you as the leading candidate - you have no experience to justify the lofty heights you've reached, and folks start scrutinizing every detail available that provides insight into who you are and what you truly believe.

But because of the sales pitch he used to get where he is, it's extremely deflating when Barack lies like any other presidential candidate. We all expect better of him, even those of us who may have felt the emotional tug of his pitch but are grounded enough not to fall for it.

Barack is where he is because he argued that America should be held to a higher standard. It is by this higher standard that he will be judged.

Like a magician whose tricks inspire awe only when seen from the proper angle, Barack's magic dissipates once the viewer's angle is adjusted.
04/27/2008 - 12:51pm
Hillary is keeping the pressure on over Barack's refusal to debate.

Clinton took the debate dispute to a new level, challenging Obama to face off with her in a debate without a moderator, Lincoln-Douglas style.

"Just the two of us, going for 90 minutes, asking and answering questions, we'll set whatever rules seem fair," Clinton said while campaigning in South Bend.

Her campaign made the offer formal with a letter to the Obama campaign.

Obama aides said he had already debated Clinton 21 times, "the most in primary history."

Considering that his refusal to debate follows his worst debate performance yet, wouldn't he be better off to do another?

And considering that this looks like the politics of old from Barack (don't debate when you've got the lead - why risk blowing it?), isn't this a violation of his brand?

And finally, considering that Hillary will haunt him with requests like this that make her look good, why is it worth it to take the heat?

Because in Barack's mind, and in reality, he's already won. It's time to play a conservative game, and fantasize about remodeling the white house.

On the other hand, Barack's refusal to debate Hillary gives him time to finally make good on his commitment to Chris Wallace to appear on Fox News Sunday.
04/27/2008 - 1:50am
The timing is unfortunate for Barack. A man sounding alot like Reverend Wright is threatening to shut down New York City in retaliation for a court decision he doesn't like.
NEW YORK (AP) - Hundreds of angry people marched through Harlem on Saturday after the Rev. Al Sharpton promised to "close this city down" to protest the acquittals of three police detectives in the 50-shot barrage that killed a groom on his wedding day and wounded two friends.
Another black preacher stirring up racial divide is not good for Barack right now, which likely adds to Al Sharpton's delight at being handed the Sean Bell verdict while primary season is still in full swing for the dems. Ah, the limelight!

All this is especially pleasing as some speculate that the reason dems can't get them selves to commit to Barack is due to race.
The composition of Clinton's support – or looked at another way, the makeup of those voters who have proved reluctant to embrace Obama – has Democrats wondering, if not worrying, about what role race may be playing.
Pardon me if I've used this clip in a previous post, but the idea that dems are now concerned about their own racist tendencies is just too funny.

04/26/2008 - 1:13pm
They're back at it again, those democrats, staying in their comfort zone, trying to keep talk of race front and center in the presidential campaign.

Bill Clinton chided for race comments

The highest-ranking African-American in Congress became the latest black leader to scold former president Bill Clinton over his comments and conduct during the campaign.

James Clyburn of South Carolina, the House majority whip, said in yesterday's New York Times that "black people are incensed" over Clinton's "bizarre" behavior. While blacks stood by the former president during his impeachment, Clinton's conduct might have caused an irreparable estrangement, Clyburn said.

Clinton was pilloried for comparing Barack Obama's sweeping victory in the South Carolina primary to Jesse Jackson's win there in 1988, a comparison that many black leaders saw as a dismissal of Obama's historic candidacy. On Monday Clinton told a Philadelphia radio station that the Obama campaign had played the "race card" against him, then later seemed to deny he had said it, even though it was on tape.

Asked about Clyburn's comments, Obama said yesterday that he does not believe in "irreparable breaches. "I am a big believer in reconciliation and redemption," he told reporters in Indiana.

While it might help mobilize their base, isn't this the same base that's already mobilized? And doesn't the strategy of talking about race all the time risk turning Barack into someone who the rest of the country views as unsettling? With 90% of the black vote already going to him, do they really want Barack's very image to remind regular folks of forced busing and affirmative action?

The blurb is from today's NY Times.
04/26/2008 - 12:57pm
The New York Times announces today a major turning point in the presidential election year. The GOP, which had faced this season with some level of depression, now are buoyed by the idea that they'll be running against a classic liberal who wears his disdain for working folk, and the country, on his sleeve.
In a sign that the racial, class and values issues simmering in the presidential campaign could spread into the larger political arena, Republican groups are turning recent bumps in Mr. Obama’s road — notably his comment that small-town Americans “cling” to guns and religion out of bitterness and a fiery speech by his former minister in which he condemned the United States — into attacks against Democrats down the ticket.
That's when you know that a candidate has come to symbolize something that a good chunk of the country considers to be bad - when the candidate or one of his liabilities is used to create guilt by association in lower level campaigns - as we're seeing in the controversial North Carolina ad, where Reverend Wright is being used to taint democrats running for governor.
The growing Republican emphasis on Mr. Obama could also help Mrs. Clinton plead her case that she is more electable, bolstering her argument to superdelegates that Republicans are poised to pounce on her relatively untested opponent.
While the Times manages to blame Obama's problems on race in the beginning of the story's second sentence, quoted above, the topic isn't mentioned elsewhere in the story, It's a throwaway line, apparently, meant to sooth the psyches of hardcore Barackies and cover up the reality of just how flawed a candidate he is.
04/26/2008 - 3:48am
I'm not a big PBS guy, so the Reverend Wright interview with Bill Moyers was a nice chance for a refresher course on why tax dollars support PBS.

Moyers makes one thing clear. He has a unique ability to take the biggest "get" for an interview and turn it into something that's tough to sit through. One of the most tedious interviews I've watched in years. A love-fest, yes, but one in which Moyers fails to mine anything from his guest that is of interest to Americans. We are pleased to know, of course, that Moyers and Wright have a history together - one that goes back to Moyers' career as the spokesman for President Johnson.

Almost over. Praise the Lord.
04/25/2008 - 12:46pm
For days, everyone I talk to has been asking, "what's wrong with the Pastor Wright ad in North Carolina? And why is McCain saying that it should be taken off the air?

Regarding the first part of the question - there's nothing wrong with the ad unless you believe that blacks in North Carolina are such an oppressed group, and are so damaged by that oppression, that special standards must apply to them in political discourse, and that failure to treat them with kid gloves, even in conversations that are non-racial in nature, equates to racism. In their perpetual undermining of minorities, this is the strategy that democrats cling to.

Brian Montopoli, writing for CBS News, doesn't call the ad racist, just misleading:
"For 20 years, Barack Obama sat in his pew, listening to his pastor," an announcer says as the ad opens. That controversial pastor, Jeremiah Wright, then appears onscreen, saying, "No, no, no. Not God Bless America. God Damn America!" (The ad, which you can watch here, has been called "misleading," since, according to Obama, he was not sitting in his pew when this particular sermon was delivered.)
It is Obama, of course, who is being misleading when he claims not having been in the pew for any particular comment clears him of an awareness that this is how Wright speaks. Obama deliberately muddied these waters, first saying he wasn't aware of such comments, then saying he'd become aware of them only recently, and claiming that he'd been there for outrageous comments but not these in particular. That leaves him without credibility on the issue - why should anyone believe him when he says he wasn't there for any particular Wright comment?

Regarding John McCain and North Carolina, why does he jump on board and give credibility to a claim of racism when the ad addresses a non-racial issue of Barack's judgment? Here are the possible explanations I've come up with.
1) He wants to increase his share of minority votes by appearing to be properly cowed by the PC movement.
2) He wants to reinforce his reputation as a maverick by showing that he does his own thinking, and isn't trapped in a traditional, insensitive, republican box.
3) He wants to show that he is the real Obama - that while Barack talks about working together, Barack's never actually done any work, while McCain has been reaching across the isle and bonding on policy with democrats for decades.
4) He gets to be nice on race on the surface while doing his best to keep Pastor Wright's name in the headlines. McCain wins both ways.
The possible pitfall for McCain is that he puts himself in the middle of an escalating fight with himself on the wrong side.

This may look bad on the surface, but remember that it's the same thing he did on immigration. While immigration almost killed McCain's candidacy, it now puts him in the strongest position a republican candidate for president could be in this year to hang onto some of the large hispanic tally garnered by George W. And remember, W wouldn't be president without the support he received from hispanics.

McCain has been quietly and cleverly positioning himself as friendly to the have-nots with his recent Edwardsian tour of the 'forgotten America.' This feeds a natural symmetry that benefits McCain, as the Clintons become the race demons of America, a role that would normally fall automatically upon the republican nominee.

Hillary is the woman who seeks to kill the chance for the first black man to make it to the White House, an opportunity that black Americans didn't believe possible just a few months ago. And her husband is the man who is blamed with brazenly injecting race into the conversation after Barack had done such a good job of being a post-racial candidate.

This makes the Clintons serious dream killers, a dream that applies not just to the hope that Barack represents at this moment, but a dream that reaches back to the archetypal dream speech of Martin Luther King.

This reality renders the standard pundit back and forth over "Is Hillary helping John McCain?" to the silly level.

The real assistance that Hillary is providing to McCain is beyond measure. In this unconscious dance they're doing, Hillary is taking the masculine role that traditionally goes to the republican, being distasteful on race. McCain, following, gets to show his feminine side. While Hillary plays the lead role, campaigning visibly and aggressively in primary states with the media in tow, McCain quietly courts favor with minorities as he tours their scuffed up dance halls. The choreography is beautiful.

By the time Barack collects the nomination in August, America will realize that he is a fringe candidate with no chance of winning. And, ironically, it won't be John McCain's fault, nor will it be the fault of the evil GOP. It will be the Clintons, fellow democrats, who have beaten down the hopes and dreams of black America. This is not a new role for democrats, but being blamed for it will be new.
04/25/2008 - 11:58am
How kind of Reverand Wright to reemerge at this critical moment in the presidential campaign season. Just as his protege is trying to rekindle the magic in his image, Wright decides to come out of hiding in a big way with an interview on PBS with Bill Moyers that will air today followed by a speech Sunday in front of an expected crowd of 10,000 for the Detroit NAACP's annual fundraiser. Then, on Monday, he'll speak at the National Press Club. How Sweet It Is!!!!!!!!!!

But the clips are looking good from today's interview with Moyers:
"He's a politician, I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they're two different worlds," said Wright, who recently retired from Trinity United Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago, where Obama has attended services for 20 years.
What a true statement about Barack. He says what he has to say as a politician.

And the liberal media says what it has to say. This is from the Detroit Free Press today. Check out the remarkable phrase here:
Wright, a retired United Church of Christ pastor, has been under fire because sound bites of past sermons -- containing language some consider divisive and inflammatory -- have surfaced in recent months.
Some consider divisive and inflammatory? Could we have a show of hands of anyone who isn't quite sure if this is divisive and inflammatory?

Wright delivered his most notorious sermon the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001, when he suggested that the U.S. had brought on the attacks by committing its own acts of terrorism. "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," he said in the Sept. 16 service.

A 2003 sermon became another flashpoint. "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," Wright told the Trinity congregation. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

Perhaps Pastor Wright feels he's done enough for Barack and its time to start rebuilding his own reputation, but the timing couldn't be worse for the Obama campaign.

In excerpts available in pre-release, Reverend Wright blames the usuals suspect - context - for the misunderstanding.

Wright defended his sermons, telling Moyers, "the persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly ... those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic."

He said his critics' motives are clear: to undermine Obama. "I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I am un-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at Trinity United Church of Christ. And by the way, guess who goes to his church, hint, hint, hint?"

Its reassuring that Wright is intelligent enough to understand that our goal is to properly link Barack to the people he's chosen to partner with in his personal life and his career. But I've watched many of Wright's sermons in full, and while viewing more provides a fuller understanding of the man behind the sermons, greater context doesn't mitigate the dramatic shock that is the inevitable response to Wright's rage.

Lord knows why he's coming back now, but it is certainly a public service for a nation that thought it was love at first sight when it picked Barack up at the bar but is having a different sensation now that the sun is coming up.

Thanks to Pastor Wright for shining more light on the truth about Barack. It is a preacher's job, after all, to shed light.

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