MUST READ: Obama steps to The Huffington Post to address the Wright debacle. At a quick glance, his defense will be ripped as BS - he seems to be pretending Wright has made a few awful comments, not twenty years worth. Here we go:
Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.
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. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
If Obama wanted to loose the hounds, this should do the trick - not even the Times will be able to ignore this now, ancient footage and interviews with Wright will surface, and Obama will be pretending that he never heard any of it. Get Claude Rains to close the church!.
This Rolling Stone article from Feb 2007 titled "The Radical Roots of Barack Obama" looks like a gold mine. Lots of material on Wright (but nothing on Ayers). This next passage gives a flavor of what Obama is pretending he did not hear in church [but do note my confusion following the excerpt]:
Wright takes the pulpit here one Sunday and solemnly, sonorously declares that he will recite ten essential facts about the United States. "Fact number one: We've got more black men in prison than there are in college," he intones. "Fact number two: Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!" There is thumping applause; Wright has a cadence and power that make Obama sound like John Kerry. Now the reverend begins to preach. "We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns and the training of professional KILLERS. . . . We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. . . . We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. . . . We care nothing about human life if the ends justify the means!" The crowd whoops and amens as Wright builds to his climax: "And. And. And! GAWD! Has GOT! To be SICK! OF THIS SHIT!"
This is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr. Wright is not an incidental figure in Obama's life, or his politics. The senator "affirmed" his Christian faith in this church; he uses Wright as a "sounding board" to "make sure I'm not losing myself in the hype and hoopla." Both the title of Obama's second book, The Audacity of Hope, and the theme for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 come from Wright's sermons. "If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from," says the Rev. Jim Wallis, a leader of the religious left, "just look at Jeremiah Wright."
Obama wasn't born into Wright's world. His parents were atheists, an African bureaucrat and a white grad student, Jerry Falwell's nightmare vision of secular liberals come to life. Obama could have picked any church — the spare, spiritual places in Hyde Park, the awesome pomp and procession of the cathedrals downtown. He could have picked a mosque, for that matter, or even a synagogue. Obama chose Trinity United. He picked Jeremiah Wright. Obama writes in his autobiography that on the day he chose this church, he felt the spirit of black memory and history moving through Wright, and "felt for the first time how that spirit carried within it, nascent, incomplete, the possibility of moving beyond our narrow dreams."
Ouch. [But hold on - per this article, the Rolling Stone is reporting on the same speech described by today's WSJ as having been delivered at Howard University; this YouTube video tracks both sets of excerpts. I suppose he could have delivered it twice. But word for word? So what was the Rolling Stone reporter thinking about? I'll guess - Howard University is in Washington DC, as is Obama's Senate office, and he got muddled.]
Let's cut to the Times for more on Obama's choice of minister:
It was a 1988 sermon called “The Audacity to Hope” that turned Mr. Obama, in his late 20s, from spiritual outsider to enthusiastic churchgoer. Mr. Wright in the sermon jumped from 19th-century art to his own youthful brushes with crime and Islam to illustrate faith’s power to inspire underdogs. Mr. Obama was seeing the same thing in public housing projects where poor residents sustained themselves through sheer belief.
In “Dreams From My Father,” Mr. Obama described his teary-eyed reaction to the minister’s words. “Inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones,” Mr. Obama wrote. “Those stories — of survival, and freedom, and hope — became our story, my story.”
Mr. Obama was baptized that year, and joining Trinity helped him “embrace the African-American community in a way that was whole and profound,” said Ms. Soetoro, his half sister.
Whoa. It is hardly as if this is the church Obama's parents selected and he inherited. He sought out Wright, was moved by Wright, and is now pretending he had no idea Wright said these things. One more, from an earlier Times story describing why Wright was excluded from Obama's announcement of his candidacy:
According to the pastor, Mr. Obama then told him, “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.”
So in Feb 2007 Obama knew that Wright could get a bit rough, but, per his current statement, that was the first time he realized it. Please. As to the HuffPo statement that he "strongly condemned" Wright's declarations when he learned of them at the start of his campaign, huh? Where? The denunciation of Farrakhan and non-denunciation of Wright described here was earlier in 2008:
Obama, who has rejected support from Farrakhan, assured voters his Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago does not endorse such messages.
''I have never heard an anti-Semitic (remark) made inside of our church. I have never heard anything that would suggest anti-Semitism on the part of the pastor,'' Obama said in a transcript of his remarks released later. ''He (Wright) is like an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with. And I suspect there are some of the people in this room who have heard relatives say some things that they don't agree with -- including, on occasion, directed at African-Americans.''
Very hard to believe this. Geez, a win for Hillary, and just 5 1/2 weeks to Pennsylvania. Should be time for glaciers to advance and recede again.
Whether or not this explanation does the trick depends on two things, I guess: 1.) Most obviously, whether Obama has really never heard Wright preach this kind of stuff. If Obama is somehow placed at a sermon in which Wright went on one of his rants, it's going to be a disaster. (Then again, it would have been a disaster without or without his HuffPo statement.) 2.) How plausible it is that Obama wouldn't have known about Wright's, er, greatest hits. Obama strongly implies he didn't know his pastor had a habit of giving nutty sermons up until the outset of his presidential campaign. Is that believable? Is there any way to disprove it?
Well, the disinvitation to the announcement was probably a timeline marker the Obama people couldn't avoid. As to what went on in Obama's church, this bit from "Dreams From My Father" (Ch. 14, p. 293) is merely suggestive - it is the description of Wright's "Audacity of Hope" speech that brought Obama into the flock:
"It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folk's greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere... that's the world! On which hope sits!"
And so it went, a meditation on a fallen world. ...Rev. Wright spoke of Sharpsville and Hiroshima, the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House...
I wonder what the guy who believes the US invented AIDS thinks about Hiroshima - must have been calm and measured! [Hmm, Rich Lowry already had this, which would have spared me some mistyping.]
SALUTING THE CAPTAIN: "Ed Morrissey emails: "I sat in his church, but I didn't inhale."