04/29/2008 - 2:12pm
Trying to move toward putting the issue to rest, Barack put more mileage between himself and Reverend Wright on Monday:
"He does not speak for me," Obama said. "He does not speak for the campaign, and so he may make statements in the future that don’t reflect my values or concerns," the senator told reporters who strained to hear him on the loud tarmac.
Okay. We know who we're not supposed to see as a reflection of what Obama thinks. At the same time, the Boston Globe points out that Barack doesn't speak that well for himself. How's this for a Barackian title:

"On affirmative action, Obama intriguing but vague"

This is Barack in a nutshell, and this is why the Harvard crowd finds him so appealing. He knows you can impress left wing loons at places like the Globe by saying nothing, but doing it in a lovely manner. Being articulate, for them, is an end unto itself, rather than a tool one can use to say something!
So when ABC's George Stephanopoulos, in the waning minutes of the Pennsylvania debate, asked Obama for his views about affirmative action, Obama's answer was a microcosm of the strengths - and some of the recently apparent weaknesses - of his campaign: The Illinois senator's reply was intriguing but fuzzy, responsive to voters' underlying concerns but not really specific in policy terms.
The Globe feels obliged to call Barack's response to the question "A fine answer." Judge for yourself:

Obama began, "Well, I think that the basic principle that should guide discussions not just of affirmative action, but how we are admitting young people to college generally, is how do we make sure that we're providing ladders of opportunity for people? How do we make sure that every child in America has a decent shot in pursuing their dreams?"

Acknowledging that "race is still a factor in society," Obama nonetheless suggested that his own daughters, who've had "a pretty good deal," might not be deserving of special treatment.

But he added: "I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination, but I think that it can't be a quota system and it can't be something that is simply applied without looking at the whole person, whether that person is black, or white, or Hispanic, male or female. What we want to do is make sure that people who've been locked out of opportunity are going to be able to walk through those doors of opportunity in the future."

Very fine, eh? Really grabbing the issue by the you know what's and carrying it away from the hazards of the old kind of politics to the safety of hope. The Globe isn't being critical, really - it provides cover by saying that Ronald Reagan had the same ability and used it often. Instead, it offers a warning for Barack, pointing out that some 'bitter' voters might actually want to know something about what he has in mind for the country:
But as Hillary Clinton seems to have discovered, Obama's references to values and principles may be elevating, but to some voters - particularly skeptical blue-collar types - they can also be distancing. In Pennsylvania, Clinton took to reciting various specific programs, from special education to veterans' benefits, to point up the contrast between her groundedness and his high-mindedness.
Can you believe they called the bitter class skeptical blue-collar types. Are they coining a new phrase? Is this like calling immigrant farm workers wet-backs?

This is the tripe that the intelligentsia offers up on a candidate with no experience and no record of leadership when he won't outline specific policy ideas in a debate, then refuses to do any more debating. Imagine what they'd say about a republican who did this.
04/28/2008 - 9:44pm
Dan Balz of the Washington Post makes a good argument that runs counter to mine, below, suggesting that there's no way that the return of Wright was coordinated with the Obama campaign:
Wright's speaking tour was clearly not authorized, sanctioned or prepped by the Obama campaign. Wright is speaking for himself, not for Obama, defending the traditions of the black church, which he sees as totally misunderstood by white America, and his own reputation. He has been dismissive of Obama -- describing him pejoratively as a politician who distanced himself from his pastor merely for political reasons.

Barack, he points out, can't afford to put it in neutral and coast to the nomination.
The last thing Obama should want is to back into the nomination. He can do that by winning those states where the demographics favor him -- North Carolina and Oregon, for example -- and by playing the numbers game in the other states by assuming a respectable showing will prevent Hillary Clinton from overtaking him in the battle for pledged delegates.
Good point. Barack wants to go into the convention in August with a good head of steam and his wheels on the track. Reverend Wright isn't helping.

However, Wright had to reemerge eventually, and its much better for Barack to go through this now than in October.
04/28/2008 - 1:10pm
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 - 4:30am
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 - 2:24pm
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 - 1:51pm
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 - 2:50am
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 - 2:13pm
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 - 1:57pm
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 - 4:48am
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.
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