In the April 25 column for the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer said, "...Obama understands that the real threat to his candidacy is less Hillary Clinton and John McCain than his own character and cultural attitudes. He came out of nowhere with his autobiography already written, then saw it embellished daily by the hagiographic coverage and kid-gloves questioning of a supine press. (Which is why those "Saturday Night Live" parodies were so devastatingly effective.) Then came the three amigos: Tony Rezko, indicted fixer; Jeremiah Wright, the racist reverend; William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist. And then Obama's own anthropological observation that "bitter" working-class whites cling to guns and religion because they misapprehend their real class interests."
That was before the raging storm over the weekend brought on by the rehabilitation tour of Rev. Wright.
Today Senator Obama, after giving a tepid response on a tarmac yesterday to Wright's bombastic, ego-stoked performance at the National Press Club, made a formal kind of statement of his opinion of Wright's remarks and had a bit of a q&a with some reporters from his podium.
Let me preface this with complete honesty: there is absolutely nothing that Senator Obama could say that would make me sympathetic to him as a Presidential candidate. I support Senator McCain. A match-up between these two men in November is one I heartily anticipate. The contrast could not be more stark.
The problem for Obama remains the same as when all of this over his associations began. It is a simple matter of judgement. As a political rookie, with very little to show for his only full year in the U.S. Senate before deciding he was ready for the Oval Office after a stint in the Illinois State Senate, he has asked the voters to trust him. As Michelle famously said, "just feel, don't think." So, he invites the voter to trust his judgement, that he would make sound decisions in office.
Personal associations speak to this very request. We are known by the company we keep. To say now, now that so much is public knowledge, that he is shocked and disgusted by some of the utterances from Rev. Wright just do not seem honest. Obama is a product of the southside of Chicago, the political machine there. That is why his whole premise of being a new kind of candidate, a post-partisan, post-racial candidate was so unbelievable to any observer of national politics. Come on. Young voters are gullible, though, and he has benefited by the enthusiasm and turnout of large campaign crowds. More public involvement is terrific in the political process. Kudos to him on that. But now what does he tell them?
He said he didn't "vet my pastor before I decided to run for the presidency." That's simply a lie. He disinvited Wright to be with him as he announced for the presidency in Springfield. Wright prayed with the family in the basement before they went out for the announcement. Wright was asked to stay behind, as Obama admitted he knew Wright's presence would be controversial.
Now he denounces the remarks most offensive to the non-church member. The church is one of Black Liberation Theology. Obama says, "I'm not a theologian." Well, ok. But he is to be considered a decent human being and those not subscribing to the radical agenda of Black Liberation Theology would not sit for 20 years in those church pews, contribute $25,000 the past year alone, be married by the pastor, and have his children baptised and raised in the church. To be expected to think otherwise is ridiculous.
Obama now says Wright was never his "spiritual advisor". He says he is only his pastor, the one who brought him to Christ as an adult. He was, though, listed by the campaign as a spiritual advisor team member. Wright is a man Obama said he considered like family. Wright mentions him by name from the pulpit. Obama credits him with the title of his last book.
Just be honest.
Obama seemed most upset that Wright referred to him as just a politician saying what needs to be said to get elected. So, again, it isn't the remarks that are racially divisive and bash our country that were so bad. It was the calling of Obama a politician. Which he is, isn't he? He's a U.S. Senator. He's running for President. That makes him a politician by definition. And, no, he is not a different kind. Unless you take into consideration that he was pronounced the most liberal Senator by the National Journal. And his church is the most liberal of black churches, according to Juan Williams. Williams is a black, liberal, NPR correspondent and author of a book on black families in today's world. Williams said only about 10% of today's black churches are this radical. So, yes, that makes him a different political but I don't think that is what Obama meant.
That is what continues to trouble me. I visited black churches as a young person. I was born and raised in what is referred to as the "deep South" and the black church is very prominent and important. Obama said today that he thought some of the problem was that people seeing and listening to Wright were put off by his loud voice, his yelling during his presentations. No, that wasn't the problem as far as I could see. Who doesn't know that church services can be exciting and raucous even? It's what black churches are known for and it's what makes them special. No. The problem is what Wright was screaming, not that he was screaming to begin with. Obama knows that.
Obama said he is still a member of the church and that the new pastor is a wonderful young preacher. Otis Moss has been shown in video clips praising Wright and defending him to the public. He is a protege of Wright and his rhetoric is the same high octane stuff. We are told that this is the rhetoric of Black Liberation Theology.
Obama said the remarks by Wright that Farrakhan is a good person, doing good work, were wrong. Obama, however, knew his church and Wright presented a lifetime achievement award to Farrakhan recently. The Nation of Islam is providing security for Wright now.
So, I am left thinking all of this would never have been acknowledged if the sermons were not sold at the church gift shop and those in the media purchased them and aired them. I think Obama hoped to keep Wright in the background while crediting him with guiding him on his spiritual journey. I think it is not credible to expect regular Americans, even 'typical white women' to believe that the most liberal Senator in the Senate today and a member of the most radical wing of the black church is anything other than extreme in politics and religious thought. Where is the evidence otherwise?
Had Obama not based his candidacy on the premise that he is different. He is black but post-racial. He is far left liberal but post-partisan. He is just a member of a church on the south side of Chicago. All of this may have played out differently. He would have been able to come out right away and denounce Wright and leave the church. But, as a character judgement, that is not possible for him. To leave the church now, the church he joined to give him access to the community he wanted to serve, would cause him a huge hit to his credibility in that very community. He threw Grandma under the bus, and now Wright, but how can he do that to the 8,000 church members, potential voters.
I am not saying that Obama believes every nutbag remark Wright makes. I do not believe that to be true. If Obama had done all this even during The Speech in Philadelphia on race, which fell short by most opinions other than the media quacks like Chris Matthews, then it would be over and done. As it is now, this will continue to be an issue until November. The questions of character and judgement remain. There is no way any but the most ardent supporter will believe that Obama sat in that church for 20 years, used it as a springboard for his political career, and didn't know exactly what was being preached.
Too little, too late. Close but no cigar.