While on one hand, Barack Obama's supporters continue to try to put distance between Oh-Oh-Obama and his controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright and his hate-speech, the church itself is defending itself and its former minister. Read the church's statement here.
The funny thing is, the issue is not really whether or not Wright's statements are abhorrent. Obama has already admitted they are. Let's remember that Obama came out quickly and stated:
"Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue."
So, once again, the question is not whether or not Wright is a vile, venomous preacher--Obama has clearly repudiated the statements that are the subject of controversy over the past view days. The question boils down to whether we really believe Obama could have been a member of this church for 20 years, been married there, had both kids baptized there, and still be blissfully ignorant of Wright's true agenda.
Thus, the issue is squarely now whether anyone can peg Obama to his presence at one of Wright's fiery sermons, and thereby catch Obama in a lie. The Chicago Tribune may be ready to forgive Obama for his association with Tony Rezko, since Obama (in a transparent attempt to redirect attention from the Wright controversy) finally appeased the Tribune editorial staff with a lengthy interview, but they will find it a lot harder to let Obama off the hook once he is finally caught.
Obama has already somewhat hurt his credibility by stating that "The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation." But, as early as February 2007, Obama had already dis-invited Wright from delivering the invocation for the announcement of his presidential campaign. Obama reportedly told Wright, ‘You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what we’ve decided is that it’s best for you not to be out there in public.’
Is it obvious to you that "rough" is a very polite way to say racially charged hate-speech? So, it seems that Obama's statements that, for 20 years, he had no idea that Wright was a radical race-based hatemonger, but rather, that except for the few videos we've happened to see on YouTube, Wright was always teaching people to love each other, seems a huge stretch. The good news is, the Trinity church itself (as you might expect) doesn't think there is anything wrong with its teachings, and is out there defending its dogma while Obama is now trying to condemn it. This makes a certain amount of sense, as the videos that I have seen don't seem to show a lot of people looking on in shock and horror as Wright launches into his racial and anti-American tirades. No, it seems pretty obvious that not only were the parishoners in that church not surprised by Wright's fiery statements, that's what they came to hear, and that's what they EXPECTED (otherwise, why would they be clapping and cheering?). Would the Obamas have been the only ones to walk out in horror had they managed to hit Wright on one of these supposedly rare hate speech days when he was not (according to Obama) preaching the gospel of love, as he usually did? If they had, you get the impression from the videos that they would have been among only a few.
If anyone doesn't think this thing hasn't gone genuinely viral on the Internet, the main Fox News article cited above had almost 1000 comments by itself, as of 9:00 on Sunday night. The article about the church firing back had around 600 comments.
Well, get strapped in, campers, as we have five or so weeks to continue discussing this until Pennsylvania, assuming Obama lasts that long.
UPDATED: Obama on Wright: He's Just This Guy, You Know? Well, Obama continues to back away at the speed of light from a man whom he has identified as his moral compass and who provided religious, if not political, guidance (although with Wright, it is almost impossible to separate the two) to Obama and his family for over 20 years. In Indiana yesterday, Obama said the following, according to Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times:
“Most recently, you heard some statements from my former pastor that were incendiary and that I completely reject, although I knew him and know him as somebody in my church who talked to me about Jesus and family and friendships.”
So, let's analyze this statement. First, Wright is Obama's 'former pastor'. Well, yeah, but he's a former pastor only because he retired from his full time preaching job at the Trinity Church. It's not quite the same in my book as repudiating the personal religious/moral relationship that Wright had with Obama personally, or as if Obama actually quit the church and that's why he's a 'former pastor." And, it's not as if Wright was some kind of cancer that the church had been trying to eradicate for years. He WAS that church. And, his replacement, Otis Moss, can be seen running up and apparently clapping Wright on the back in a video that shows one of Wright's most incendiary moments.
Next, he knows him as "somebody in my church." Come on, Barack. He's not just SOMEBODY. He was the center of that church and built it into a religious and political powerhouse in Chicago. According to the church's own statement over the weekend, "Dr. Wright has preached 207,792 minutes on Sunday for the past 36 years at Trinity United Church of Christ." He's not just the radical old guy that cornered you after church at coffee hour and wanted to talk to you about the history of racial divides and struggles in this country. He was the LEADER. He was YOUR leader, Barack. As you have said yourself, good judgment is a hugely important trait for a prospective leader. What does following Wright, or perhaps worse, being duped into thinking Wright was a goody-goody all these years, say about your judgment???
But, again, the issue is no longer whether any of us folks think Wright is good, bad or indifferent. Obama has clearly repudiated Wright as a bad, hateful man, someone Obama utterly rejects. But Obama has stated that this is all news to him, and had he only known, things would have been different....Well, as as soon as someone finds that video with you (or even your wife) clapping at one of the speeches where Wright is selling his usual hate-filled message, it's all over for ya, buddy. The Blogosphere is already zooming in on Obama's purported attendance at a July 22, 2007 Wright sermon in which he made some of his trademark statements. See more on that here. That's a good start, but not nearly as effective in this day and age as some good video. We'll see if any turns up.