04/30/2008 - 12:30pm
Barack Obama made a deal with the devil when he joined the church of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He got a political career in exchange for turning a blind eye to the devil behind the pulpit.

When Wright's opinions became front page news in mid-March, Barack did his best to distance himself from the comments without distancing himself from the devil. He was keeping his part of the deal.

But with his re-emergence over the weekend, the devil went too far. Wright confirmed for the world that Barack had covered-up for him when he reiterated the comments that had supposedly been taken out of context. The funny thing about Reverend Wright is, the more context he's given, the worse he looks.

On Monday, Wright essentially called Barack a liar:
“Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls,” Wright said to the National Press Club.
Barack hadn't distanced himself for real, said Wright, he had just pretended to for political reasons. That was not something that Barack could allow to stand, nor was he inclined to. Barack's co-conspirator had turned on him. Barack's chickens were coming home to roost.

Now we know, despite both men's attempts to mislead us, that Pastor Wright believes what he believes. Barack was forced to do what he should have done in mid-March, but lacked the leadership skills to do - to stand up and say this guy is a nut, and I severe all ties. "I don't know how I missed it for all these years," he should have said back then, "but I did, I missed it, and I'm embarrassed."

Instead, he said:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
That paragraph reeked at the time - but the stench it leaves now is unshakable.

Watch out black community. What out grandma.

The reason yesterday's press conference can't put this story to rest is that in terms of Reverend Wright's comments, there was nothing new yesterday other than a political imperative. All of the comments that Barack listed as being problematic from Wright's weekend media foray were repeats, blasts from the past, his greatest hits.

So when Wright said Barack was being politically expedient in what he said about him before, he's been proven correct. The whole race speech in Philadelphia was a ruse, a distraction, to take America's eye off the ball.

The trick failed, and Barack was forced to do yesterday, for political reasons, what he didn't have the backbone to do 6 weeks ago.

"I actually did vote for Pastor Wright before I voted against him."

Here we go again.
04/29/2008 - 8:14pm
Throwing his grandmother under the bus didn't do the trick. Today Barack threw his favorite Pastor under the bus. He should have let his grandmother be and gone after Reverend Wright in the first place.

In an early afternoon press conference, Barack said he was outraged by Reverend Wright's comments yesterday. What took him so long? There was nothing new during Wright's talk yesterday. Rational Americans have been outraged by Wright from the first time they heard his voice:
Obama said, "I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday."
But a man with leadership instincts would have walked away from Wright years ago, and certainly wouldn't have stumbled around looking for excuses for the angry Preacher, finally settling on deflecting the focus with a race speech on March 18 instead of dealing with Reverend Wright head-on.

Barack looks more pathetic everyday... more like John Kerry all the time.
04/29/2008 - 7:40pm
Last time Reverend Wright threatened to destabilize the Obama campaign, he changed the subject to one of race.

Now, the Reverend is back, proving that Barack was deflecting - this is about how radical and contemptuous of this country Barack is that he sat around for 20 years listening to a guy who hates America.

Politico.com is reporting in a rather incoherent posting, and Drudge is linking, that Barack said at a campaign event that he's going to give another Wright speech.

A 'big press conference' on Wright

Obama is asked about Wright by a woman in Winston-Salem who tells the audience to watch his PBS interview, which will quell their concerns.

"I’m going to be having a big press conference afterward to talk about this Obama says, then refers back to a story the woman told about a mother having to borrow month to get to work.

"This is diverting attention from the first story that you told," Obama says.

04/29/2008 - 4:13pm
The New York Times goes front page today with an attempt by TV reporter Alessandra Stanley to minimize the effect of Jeremiah Wright by turning him into Billy Carter. President Carter's brother happily played the family's black sheep when he realized he could turn his red neck status into money via exploits like Billy Beer.
Mr. Wright revealed himself to be the compelling but slightly wacky uncle who unsettles strangers but really just craves attention.
He's just a silly, endearing old guy who you have to chuckle at, isn't he? This attempt to gloss over the impact and importance of Reverend Wright is cynical and completely off the mark.

Wright is important for two reasons - first, for the reason he claims - he is our conduit to the "black church" in America, and now that the door has been opened, the nation gets to see the racism and contempt for the country that is routine behind those doors.

Second, Wright is important because he provides a vivid opportunity to see the core discomfort with this country that is foundational for liberals. Many of the Wright views, outrageous to most, elicit only shoulder shrugs from the liberal establishment. Move-on.org has no problem with his statements, as his name doesn't even appear on the site's front page today. The dailykos.com angle is "Still bashing Obama on Fox."

Yup. Its all the Fox News Channel's fault.

The outrageous portrayal of Wright that Barack and Wright have both claimed was the result of poor context has now been shown to be entirely accurate, not the result of a sound bite war against him.

Wright gave context to those sound bites yesterday when speaking to the National Press Club yesterday in Washington:

But for the third time in four days, Mr. Wright made a high-profile public appearance to discuss and repeat some of his more controversial statements, this time at the National Press Club in Washington. Mr. Wright suggested that the attacks of Sept. 11 were at least in part a response by terrorists to terrorism practiced by the United States abroad. “You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you,” he said.

He stood by his suggestion that the United States might have invented H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. He defended the Rev. Louis Farrakhan — whom he referred to at times just by his first name — noting his large appeal among African-Americans.

In his appearance Friday with Bill Moyers (what a poor excuse for a journalist this guy is), Reverend Wright was presented in context from the same sermons that were so upsetting out of context. Moyers was apparently biased enough to think that showing a longer segment would make things better, but my blood was boiling watching this:

As for context, Bill Moyers played a long clip from the post-9/11 "America's chickens are coming home to roost" sermon. Wright said that America had taken its land by terror from the Indians; had enslaved Africans; had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki (weren't we in a death struggle with Japan, which had attacked Pearl Harbor?); had bombed Iraq, Sudan and Panama; and had backed state-supported terrorism against the Palestinians.

Remember Barack's first, half-back statement rejecting Wright's comments when the clips hit the news cycle in mid-March? These are from the Keith Olbermann interview:

But these particular statements that had been gathered* are ones that I strongly objected to and strongly condemned. Had I heard them in church, I would have expressed that concern directly to Reverend Wright. So, I didn't familiar with these until recently.

But I have to say that the comments that have been played are ones that are contrary to what I believe,** what I think of this country, the love that I have for this country and, you know, are ones that anger and distress me.

But Wright cannot be pushed into the closet as a familial embarrassment. While the news stories of recent days try to make this look like bad news for Obama because Wright is stealing the news cycle, its much worse than that. It demonstrates clearly, as does Barack's friendship with William Ayer, that Obama is quite comfortable traveling in the circles that these guys travel in, and we can rightly infer that he's quite comfortable with their disdain for this country.


This is Barack's problem with Reverend Wright. The record is clear - there's no where to hide.


* "that had been gathered" - This phrase kills me - it shows Barack trying to confuse with odd tenses as well as putting himself into the position of being victimized by those who did the gathering, rather than being a victim of his own poor judgement.

** "the comments that have been played are ones that are contrary to what I believe." Again, some tricky use of the language to make it appear, quite falsely we now know, that these clips are anomolous outrages rather than the standard Wright radicalism.
04/29/2008 - 1:12pm
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 - 8:44pm
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 - 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.
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