Elections '08 Media Presidential Race

Who’s Driving the Latest Reverend Wright Controversy?


For days we saw (over and over and over)
that Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright has, at times, said some outrageous and offensive stuff. And since Obama was clearly close to the man, we needed to have him explain himself regarding Wright and the controversy. Which he did. And you either bought or you didn’t.

Then it was time to move on
—which the electorate did, if the newest poll is to be believed.

But now it appears that Wright not only said
outrageous things, he may have written outrageous things too. (A Newsday blogger reported it. CNN couldn’t verify it. But they reported what the Newsday guy wrote anyway.)

That’s not all. It seems that people who are not Rev. Wright
have occasionally written outrageous things that are critical of Israel for the Trinity Church bulletin. All of which somehow is supposed to reflect badly on Obama.

And that’s the story that led off CNN’s 360 news hour with Anderson Cooper Thursday night, and also occupied most of Larry King Live.
Clearly the church bulletin story was of weightier import than the newly spiraling violence in Iraq, or the fact that investment banks and broker dealers are borrowing from the Fed at a drunken-sailor rate of $30 billion a day, or that lenders have grown so jittery that they’re starting to freeze even homeowners’ perfectly healthy equity lines of credit.

Nope, both shows featured pundits
speculating with happy vigor about whether or not sporadic political comments appearing in some Trinity church handout are going to hurt Obama’s Presidential chances.

Even Drudge and NewsMax aren’t bothering to push this story.
But CNN is. And Clinton-supporting Newsday is.

Thank you Liberal Media. This really furthers the important issues in America’s presidential primary dialog.


  • Yeah, but you don’t really want Larry King to try to discuss stuff like comparing the candidates’ recent speeches on the mortgage crisis, do you ? How the hell could he possibly do that on his show ? They’d have to change the name to “The Some Guy, Not Larry King, Who Actually Knows What He’s Talking About and Asks Intelligent Questions Show.”

  • A Jewish friend in New York, whom I have known for 35 years, calls me almost every day and sometimes twice a day to argue about sports and politics. We don’t agree on anything. He supports Clinton but would have backed Obama if nominated–until Wright opened his mouth. My friend was shocked by the words of Obama’s minister and that Obama continued going to that church knowing its message. My friend said that he will vote Republican for the first time in his life if Obama is nominated. He was dead serious, and that should mean something to Obama supporters. This isn’t a small story that should be brushed aside. And, it continually gets worse the more is learned. It’s not time to move on.

  • “This isn’t a small story that should be brushed aside.”

    Give equal time to McCain seeking the endorsement of the insane “Pastor” Hagee, or choosing Rod Parsley as his “spiritual advisor” and we can talk about Obama’s church all you want. Replay Hagee and Parsley’s comments – better yet bring them on camera to explain their crackpot views. I would welcome that. The truth is that the more one learns about Trinity and Wright, the less “damning” those replayed one-liners become. Let’s not move on. No, let’s not move on at all. But let’s not have morons looping crap endlessly without context and taking isolated stuff “some guy” happened to put in a church bulletin as representing an entire congregation or, even crazier, Obama.

    Of course, we live in an infantalized media environment in which total morons like Larry King get endless hours to blather out of complete ignorance.

  • I didn’t know that McCain went to Pastor Hagee’s church for twenty years.

    Don’t forget, I’m in favor of Obama for the nomination and wouldn’t consider his church affilitation to be a major issue in the general election, but there are other sane people, my friend being a good example, who are seriously and sincerely bothered by that.

    Tonight on Larry King Live, “Do Cheetos give you gas?”

  • “I didn’t know that McCain went to Pastor Hagee’s church for twenty years.”

    I doubt John McCain goes to church, but he sought Hagee’s endorsement for political reasons and considers Parsley his “spiritual advisor.” Whatever you say about Wright, Obama’s connection with him is authentic and complicated like many deep personal relationships that have multi-facets. IMHO Obama has explained this sufficiently and rather clearly. At this point, either one assumes Obama agrees with Wright’s more controversial statements or you don’t. If you don’t, time to move on to real issues. One thing I don’t see Obama doing is simply fishing for endorsements in the religious community to give himself cover with evangelicals. The guy can give his own sermons if he so desires, as he did Jan. 20 in Atlanta. Doesn’t need anybody to “translate” him to religious people. He can speak for himself and has quite eloquently.

  • Obama was on The View this morning, and Barbara Walters led off with questions about Wright — she’s hardly a gadfly. Yes, she brought up the book. Then Elizabeth Hasselhoff, gotta hand it to her, had the guts to say that even as a Republican, when she first heard his unity speech, she was willing to concede he might have a shot at it — but his support for Wright over 20 years and taking his kids to hear his racist spiels (even Obama conceded the speeches could be “difficult”) changed her mind. His denials that he’d known about them earlier (“I didn’t vet my pastor when I joined as a young man 20 years ago”) didn’t sound convincing. He insisted that it was no more than anyone taking anyone’s “5 worst moments” out of context and playing those. Again compared those comments to stuff out of Hillary’s camp (referring to Ferraro, who he’d mentioned by name 3 times in his Wright speech, as Ferraro noted). Comparing Ferraro’s comments about his benefiting from his color at this particular time and place (when Maria Shriver and many others say they’re supporting him partly because “he looks like America”), much as she benefited from being a woman to get on the Dem ticket 25 years ago, is no way comparable. (Why is no one saying this is an unfairly ignominious end to her long career as a pioneer herself? Should one sentence be twisted to turn her into a racist?)

    Barbara Walters and Hasselhoff clearly weren’t convinced, while his staunch supporter Whoopi Goldberg looked uncomfortable with him being put on the hot seat. (Whoopi had recently argued to Hasselhoff that Obama had no more an obligation to renounce Wright than Hasselhoff as a republican, did to renounce Falwell — Hasselhoff pointed out she never knew Falwell, and certainly didn’t rely on him as her spiritual advisor. — A term Obama said didn’t apply by the way.) Sadly, this has actually seemed to divide people further: Obamabots convinced this is a plot against him, others very disappointed.

    Jews have been especially disappointed with his association with a pastor who gave an award to anti-Semite Farrakhan as well. (One key reason Obama refuses to count heavily Jewish and Cuban Florida.) At a recent rally recently for kids in the Israeli town of Sderot, which is shelled daily by Hamas, all three candidates spoke by tape, and only Obama was booed for equating the suffering of Palestinian kids with those of Sderot. He’s known to equate the two situations, but saying that at this time and place, in this context — days after a group of Yeshiva students were gunned down in their school by a Palestinian — was remarkably unsensitive. (Reports on the event are also in Jewish Journal — I think this aspect was reported — but I heard it from friends who were there.)

    CNN however, has been running polls that show Obama hasn’t been very hurt by this, is only down a couple of points. This may change with the book — Obama won’t be able to say the racist rants are out of context of his body of belief. If there’s an attempt to squelch the book to protect Obama, that would backfire on him more.

  • reg: “At this point, either one assumes Obama agrees with Wright’s more controversial statements or you don’t. If you don’t, time to move on to real issues.”

    If you don’t, you still have to deal with a very substantial number who do, so you can’t move on.

  • Thanks, Woody.

    I asked only because I didn’t think we could possibly be referring to “Dreams of My Father,” which is a wonderful book that I’d recommend to anyone, regardless of whom they support for president. It’s not the usual As Told To that’s really mostly written by the book’s “editor,” it’s beautifully written memoir that stands on its own merits as a work of literature, apart from Obama’s political career. In what whacked universe do we imagine that one would want to suppress that????

    Good grief.

  • No, there was talk of a now-retired WRight doing a book which includes some of these controversial sermons and his life views. He currently has four out, including one brief one being sold on the Trinity Church Website: The Pilgrimage of a Pastor. Blurb is: “A wonderful story of a man who dedicated his life to leading others to the acceptance of salvation, as tory of how God used him s the vessel though which so many great accomplishments were realized.” Sounds straighforward enough except for the immodesty — wonder what “great accomplishments” are referred to? His newer compilation has been talked about in book publishing circles among people I know in NYC, too. But the alleged book may be toned down or scrapped. — I’ve not read Obama’s book or care to, any more than I have books about Clinton, so I don’t know if he mentions Wright or how.

    The 3/3 Jewish Journal does have a report on the Wilshire Theatre fundraiser for Sderot on 2/26, noting that he was booed. McCain got the warmest applause. This week’s JJ has more coverage on the candidates.

  • The View website already has a review of the show by Sunlen Miller of ABC News, refers us to ABCNEWS.com for more.

    “An ABC News review of dozens of Rev. Wright’s sermons, offered for sale by the church, found repeated denunciation of the U. S based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.

    “‘The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strikes law and then wants us to sing “God Bless America,” No, no, no, Gd Damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people.” This has already been going around YouTube as everyone knows, along with another one he gave the Sunday after 9/11, blaming it on the U. S.’s even greater acts of terror.

    The Trinity Church’s Akiba Online Bookstore lists some dozen books and DVD’s by him, including some calling him an Ethnomusicologist, but I don’t know which this newest, controversial compilation is, or if it’s since been pulled.

  • The good Reverend does seem guilty of “too much materialism” and “middle classism,” even if the tricky transactions between himself and the Church aren’t technically illegal. (Something else he seems to have in common with Obama, getting a little help from his friends in buying lavish homes.) But of course, all those “great accomplishments” he touts in his book, not to mention all that edifying preaching about race and religious relations, deserve a handsome reward here on this earth.

  • Meanwhile, Obama clarified today that he wants to raise taxes on anyone making over $70K, his upper limits of middle class. (Every one of his proposals would cost so many billions and require so much increased taxes on this already struggling class, no wonder ric and the rest of your guys are thrilled.) If these people are guilty of selfish “middle classism,” what hurdles will the good Rev. have to jump to get through that eye of the needle into heaven? Guess that’s why he needs that big 10,000 sq. ft house now, just in case he doesn’t make it.

  • And your source for the tax increase on all over 70K WBC? I’ve heard Obama on this several times and the figure used for the cut-off was always those above 250K. Personally I’d go for the same tax code we had until Bill Clinton. seemed to work just fine!

  • Reg it is obvious that the Rev. Wright will figure promenently in the taggig of Obama as the “Other” and this has now been allowed to sink in enough that it won’t go away. On one blog a commenter darkly noted that Barack said in one of his books that Wright had “Brought him to Christ.” “Then what ws he before?” he asked. AHA! see he was a muslim extremist before he became a Black cultist! You cannot win with these people.

  • Isn’t the View the show which had Rosie “Num Nuts” O’Donnell, if I want to know how to cook an Omelet, I might listen opinion of the cackling chickens on the View.

  • ric at 19, Obama himself used the 70K figure, as I said. I don’t know if the show is on the net — it should be. If you guys could bear to watch “the cackling chickens.” Rosie’s long gone and Barbara Walters isn’t one, or is she? True, the one who replaced Rosie is a dum dum, and Joy is a knee-jerk middle-aged leftie, but it’s Whoopi who’s been making a total fool out of herself torturing logic to justify Wright’s racist rants.

    What was striking is precisely how this “soft” setting of silly women caught him offguard: he’d clearly expected a silly women’s ooh-and-ah fest, but they were more focused on the issues than sycophants like Oprah and Maria Shriver.

    But for True Believers, any criticism about Obama/Wright is suspect — the source is either cackling chickens, CNN gasbags who reference “nonexistent” books — while you drive a stake through Geraldine Ferraro’s heart (another “cackling chicken,” I guess) for a candid, true remark. You can take heart that O’s numbers aren’t going down nearly as much as they would for anyone else — He’s clever at convincing the ignoramasses (sp. intentional) that it’s some sort of P R plot by that cackling coven of shapeshifter-zombie-witches, Hillary, Geraldine, Barbara Walters, et al.

    Meanwhile, Trinity Church seems to have pulled that controversial book of sermons ABC and Walters referenced.

  • As someone else so colorfully phrased it…

    [x] Any (D) in the general.

    [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

  • WBC where did he use that figure? On the view? I didn’t see that and that would be a change from everything I’ve heard.

  • Face it, people are going crazy over Wright because he’s black and criticizing America. Nobody’s saying shit about the white zealots like Hagee. If everything black is anti-white, you think this country’s going to vote for a black president? Shit, southern rednecks won’t even vote for a New Englander!

    Luke Jackson

  • What this person is obviously talking about is Obama’s calling for raising the cap on income taxed for social security above the $97,500 current figure (the cap rises to $102,000 next year.) He’s even open to a “doughnut hole” on that and has something akin to rebates in mind to offset payroll taxes on folks at around $50,000 and below. Other than that he’s proposed tax cuts for those below $75,000 and is for raising marginal rates at the very top to 39% – which wouldn’t impact anyone at S75,000 or the “upper middle class” range above that. There are increases on capital gains, closing some corporate loopholes, and increases as noted at the top end to offset what are mostly tax cuts or sticking with current rates in the $100,000 range. (Even his SS proposal doesn’t increase payroll deductions at that level.)

    Who knows where this “information” we’re treated to from “WBC” comes from. Other than roughing out Obama’s actualy existing tax strategy for rlc’s benefit, I’m not bothering to engage the rain of blather except to note that these characterizations of Wright and Trinity are pure bullshit – but evidence there are lots of stupid white people lurking about. Who knew ? I’ve read and heard lots of Wright’s sermons and to call this man a racist or his sermons “racist speils” is twisted and…well, if we are getting dragged into playing that game…racist. If past experience is any guide, we’ll now watch her head explode but I won’t waste my time any further. Unraveling the tax disinformation was my singular good deed here today.

  • I’m going to add a general comment – there have been three significant campaign “flaps” in the last two weeks. One was the singling out of some soundbites from Reverend Wright’s sermons and Obama’s response – the speech discussing his relationship to his church and Wright and the larger context and issues that the controversy raised. Then there was John McCain babbling numerous times about al Qaeda being trained in Iran and Joe Lieberman having to whisper in his ear. This is a guy who Hillary herself vetted as “C in C” material five years into a war he’s willing to continue for another hundred showing himself to be utterly ignorant of the forces in play or the nature of the insurgencies. Then there was Hillary – in a prepared text – fabricating a story about sniper fire, etc. when she landed in former Yugoslavia with Sinbad, Sheryl Crow and Chelsea. I challenge anyone who has even a grain of analytic competence or ability to transcend biases – political or otherwise – to compare those three rather major “bumps” in each campaign regarding each candidate’s character and credibility as a serious person capable of leading this country and deny that Obama came out head and shoulders above the other two.

  • One more question – which has been played more often on cable TV or recycled in the print media ? McCain’s serial remarks showing him to be “less than knowledable” in critical national security matters, Hillary’s blatant fabrication in a prepared text, or years-old comments by Obama’s preacher ? Whyzat ?

    Now I’m out of here for the day…

  • What a surprise — those anti-American rants from Wright are “just singling out 5 of his worst moments,” per Obama, or “just some soundbites,” while the one remark from Ferraro, which is arguably true and in no way remotely racist, was “singled out” repeatedly as character assassination, and even referred to by Obama several times in his “healing speech.” But it’s “racist” to call Wright’s anti-white rants,”racist.” Substitute Osama bin Laden’s name for Wright’s on those comments about 9/11, and what’s the difference? Sure, there are plenty of self-styled “intellectuals” who’ve been saying the same thing, and it’s fairly common from France to India to Egypt to blame us for 9/11 and blather on about how hundreds of thousands of people are killed elsewhere, how we’re “complicit” in so much of it, especially Palestine, but we act like the 3000 killed here are such a bigger deal. (The same types were supporting the Sandanistas and Castro, support Hugo Chavez, so what else is new.) But Wright and all these nutty, anti-white “preachings” are only proof that there are “lots of stupid white people lurking about.” (I’d agree with that latter characterization, except of a different set of people.)

    Some of the stuff Wright is spewing has been around for years in the hood — but generally accepted even by African-Americans as the product of weaker minds looking to blame “the man” instead of taking personal responsibility. (There was a hilarious episode on Bill Maher, where that intellect Mos Def kept repeating that the Bush Admin. was responsible for 9/11 to make Arabs look bad, with Cornel West desperately interjecting to try to save him from himself.) But to get this crap from a preacher who’s closely influenced a potential President and thousands of others, is truly sad. Personally, I think it’s just amusing watching the hypocrisy of your minds, the fervent religiosity with which you unite.

  • One more question – which has been played more often on cable TV or recycled in the print media ? McCain’s serial remarks showing him to be “less than knowledable” in critical national security matters, Hillary’s blatant fabrication in a prepared text, or years-old comments by Obama’s preacher ? Whyzat ?

    Not to mention his self-proclaimed ignorance re: economics.

  • Mo Def kept repeating that the Bush Admin. was responsible for 9/11 to make Arabs look bad, with Cornel West desperately interjecting to try to save him from himself.) But to get this crap from a preacher who’s closely influenced a potential President and thousands of others, is truly sad.


    When did Rev. Wright, also say Bush Admin. was responsible for 9/11 to make Arabs look bad?

  • Did I miss something? Is Rev. Wright running for president, or perhaps being nominated for vice-president by Obama? And speaking of racist comments on Bill Maher’s show, what about the white racist Pat Buchanan comments mentioned on Bill Maher’s show


  • Well my computer problems got settled and now I can get back in. . .

    I think you’re right about the tax in question being FICA. This year though the situation improved and SS is solvent thru 2041 (and all that means is deficit after but notinability to pay). The reason is interesting though. The contributions from illegal immigrants is up and they never collect!

    Let’s not tell Lou Dobbs, OK?

  • Frankly, Hil’s Bosnia flub should be disqualifying. And McCain’s inability to distinguish Sunni from Shia is apalling. Anyone see all the comments that the senior brass are really wary of Big John.

    McCain’s great claim is his status as a war hero for his tay in the Hanoi Hilton and it is well deserved. But if that is going to be the criterion for foreign policy leadership then the GOP should nominate Randall “Duke” Cunningham who was the Vietnam War’s leading “Ace” – some of his air combat tactics are now studied by all aspirimg fighter pilots in all service branches. And he didn’t get shot down!

  • Is Pat Buchanan the spiritual advisor and adopted “uncle” of either of the other candidates? Have they personally sat in a pew and listened to Buchanan, or Pat Robertson, and brought their kids for weekly indoctrination? Have you ever listened to the anti-American, “blame America for 9/11 crap” from THE PULPIT OF A MAN OF GOD, which apes Osama Bin Laden’s own justifications for terror? And thought about the impact on that of younger generations, even children? How on earth can you try to link the roles of Buchanan, who’s relevant to no one, and Wright?

    This sort of “logic” from someone who may be mired in the 60’s leftist brainwash (a gen Marc Cooper himself lampoons in the L A Weekly as the Boomers for Obama, seeing in him the last hope in their lifetimes to achieve some of those faded “revolutionary” goals), but isn’t stupid, is so lame. You know better than that.

  • “as the Boomers for Obama, seeing in him the last hope in their lifetimes to achieve some of those faded “revolutionary” goals)”

    Get ready all you – Che Guevara tee-shirt Groupies, 60’s Hypnotized Hippies, Kool-Aid Drinking Democrats, Closet Communists, Karl Marx Mavens and Baby Boomers, with the help of our beloved Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad we are going to start a REVOLUCION!!!! And of course Barack “Hussein-Mohammed-Elijah” Obama will lead the way to the promise land of righteousness.

    Some theme song suggestions

    Why we love Obama !!!!

  • How on earth can you try to link the roles of Buchanan, who’s relevant to no one, and Wright?


    Are you so sure, Buchanan is the only American remaining, who has the same opinions about race?

  • “How on earth can you try to link the roles of Buchanan, who’s relevant to no one, and Wright?”


    The same way, someone links Mos Def, Rev. Wright to another person i.e. Barack Obama.

  • I was going to say, that last video must have been made by the good Rev. Wrignt, or at least had him “approve this message,” but then I saw at the end that it was really a plot by Hillary as you guys suspected all along.

    As for McCain, I don’t disagree that he’s no more savvy about who’s who in Iran than were Bush/Cheney when they rushed into the country. And of course the situation there goes beyond Sunnis vs. Shias; while both are represented in the gov’t and the Armed forces, the SICI (formerly SCIRI, Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq), and its military arm Badr, were formed in 82 in Iran, where they stayed in exile. But were favored by the US because their goal was go take down Saddam and the Ba’ath Party. They’re still funded by Iran and Hezbollah, and control Southern, Shiite, Iraq plus got 40% of the popular vote in Tehran in 2005, giving them a stronghold in the cabinet incl. the powerful Interior Ministry. In this capacity they’ve abducted and killed thousands of ordinary Sunnis, especially gays. (Again, like their benefactors and mentors in Iran, they’ll soon be able to say, “We have no gays.”) — These abductions and murders were detailed in a British Ch. 4 documentary.

    BUT meanwhile there’s Sadr, heading another Shia faction centered in Sadr City, whose Mahdi Militia wants ALL foreigners out, incl. Iran as well as the U.S., so the Iranians are stealthily helping the Iraqi Army and the coalition forces crack down on them. This is one think giving Maliki problems domestically, that he’s seen to be cracking down on nationalist Shia forces in cooperation with foreign occupiers. Which is why no Mahdi militia to date has complied with the order to lay down their arms to get amnesty, whereas some Shia members of the Iraqi army have, not wanting to fight one faction of Shias against another. However, Sadr has agreed to a truce. Most observers believe because he’s biding his time until/if the Democrats get in and withdraw their forces, then he’ll go after the Iranian- backed Badr Brigade financed by the SICI party. Meanwhile it’s in Iran’s mutual interest to keep order among Shias, since they’re planning on turning S. Iraq — which they already control — into an autonomous region. So the dirty little secret is, that the U.S. and Iran are actually cooperating to some extent in keeping order among Shias.

    McCain clearly has no clue about any of this, and if after all these years of quietly sorting things out so that the Coalition and Iranians (and Saudis) are cooperating to keep the peace (albeit sacrificing thousands of Sunnis who happen to live in S. Iraq), he goes in blasting at Iran, then hell WILL break loose and Iran may unleash its forces elsewhere. Then it will become the world threat it’s capable of being. Besides, it’s a truism that most wars are lost because its commanders are still fighting the last ones — I don’t know how relevant Vietnam is to any of this.

  • Anyone familiar with scholarshp on Christianity in America knows the work of Martin Marty, the Lutheran pastor and long-time professor at University of Chicago. Despite his button-downed scholar’s persona, it’s believed that underneath the ministerial dark suits Marty wears a Che Guevara tee-shirt, but nobody’s perfect. He has a view of Jeremiah Wright that, surprisingly, differs from “Why Bother to Read” or “What a Crock” or whatever the nom de jour of Mrs. Shrill happens to be this rant around. Perhaps it’s because he’s a crazy leftist who sympathizes with the perspective of Osama bin Laden or Castro or Hugo Chavez. Or perhaps it’s because he’s informed. Here’s his discussion of Wright from The Chronicle of Higher Education:

    In the early 1960s, at a time when many young people were being radicalized by the Vietnam War, Wright left college and volunteered to join the United States Marine Corps. After three years as a marine, he chose to serve three more as a naval medical technician, during which time he received several White House commendations. He came to Chicago to study not long after Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder in 1968, the U.S. bombing campaign in Cambodia in 1969, and the shooting of students at Kent State University in 1970.

    Wright, like the gifted cohort of his fellow black students, was not content to blend into the academic woodwork. Then the associate dean of the Divinity School, I was informally delegated to talk to the black caucus. We learned that what Wright and his peers wanted was the intense academic and practical preparation for vocations that would make a difference, whether they chose to pursue a Ph.D. or the pastorate. Chicago’s Divinity School focuses on what it calls “public ministry,” which includes both conventional pastoral roles and carrying the message and work of the church to the public arena. Wright has since picked up numerous honorary doctorates, and served as an adjunct faculty member at several seminaries. But after divinity school, he accepted a call to serve then-struggling Trinity.

    Trinity focuses on biblical teaching and preaching. It is a church where music stuns and uplifts, a church given to hospitality and promoting physical and spiritual healing, devoted to education, active in Chicago life, and one that keeps the world church in mind, with a special accent on African Christianity. The four S’s charged against Wright — segregation, separatism, sectarianism, and superiority — don’t stand up, as countless visitors can attest. I wish those whose vision has been distorted by sermon clips could have experienced what we and our white guests did when we worshiped there: feeling instantly at home.

    Yes, while Trinity is “unapologetically Christian,” as the second clause in its motto affirms, it is also, as the other clause announces, “unashamedly black.” From its beginning, the church has made strenuous efforts to help black Christians overcome the shame they had so long been conditioned to experience. That its members and pastor are, in their own term, “Africentric” should not be more offensive than that synagogues should be “Judeocentric” or that Chicago’s Irish parishes be “Celtic-centric.” Wright and colleagues insist that no hierarchy of races is involved. People do not leave Trinity ready to beat up on white people; they are charged to make peace.

    To the 10,000 members of Trinity, Jeremiah Wright was, until just a few months ago, “Pastor Wright.” Metaphorically, pastor means shepherd. Like members of all congregations, the Trinity flock welcomes strong leadership for organization, prayer, and preaching. One-on-one ministry is not easy with thousands in the flock and when the pastor has national responsibilities, but the forms of worship make each participant feel recognized. Responding to the pastoral call to stand and be honored on Mother’s Day, for instance, grandmothers, single mothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, gay-and-lesbian couples, all mothers stood when we visited. Wright asked how many believed that they were alive because of the church’s health fairs. The members of the large pastoral staff know many hundreds of names, while hundreds of lay people share the ministry.

    Now, for the hard business: the sermons, which have been mercilessly chipped into for wearying television clips. While Wright’s sermons were pastoral — my wife and I have always been awed to hear the Christian Gospel parsed for our personal lives — they were also prophetic. At the university, we used to remark, half lightheartedly, that this Jeremiah was trying to live up to his namesake, the seventh-century B.C. prophet. Though Jeremiah of old did not “curse” his people of Israel, Wright, as a biblical scholar, could point out that the prophets Hosea and Micah did. But the Book of Jeremiah, written by numbers of authors, is so full of blasts and quasi curses — what biblical scholars call “imprecatory topoi” — that New England preachers invented a sermonic form called “the jeremiad,” a style revived in some Wrightian shouts.

    In the end, however, Jeremiah was the prophet of hope, and that note of hope is what attracts the multiclass membership at Trinity and significant television audiences. Both Jeremiahs gave the people work to do: to advance the missions of social justice and mercy that improve the lot of the suffering. For a sample, read Jeremiah 29, where the prophet’s letter to the exiles in Babylon exhorts them to settle down and “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.” Or listen to many a Jeremiah Wright sermon.

    One may properly ask whether or how Jeremiah Wright — or anyone else — experiences a prophetic call. Back when American radicals wanted to be called prophets, I heard Saul Bellow say (and, I think, later saw it in writing): “Being a prophet is nice work if you can get it, but sooner or later you have to mention God.” Wright mentioned God sooner. My wife and I recall but a single overtly political pitch. Wright wanted 2,000 letters of protest sent to the Chicago mayor’s office about a public-library policy. Of course, if we had gone more often, in times of profound tumult, we would have heard much more. The United Church of Christ is a denomination that has taken raps for being liberal — for example for its 50th anniversary “God is still speaking” campaign and its pledge to be open and affirming to all, including gay people. In its lineage are Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold and Richard Niebuhr, America’s three most-noted theologians; the Rev. King was much at home there.

    Friendship develops through many gestures and shared delights (in the Marty case, stops for sinfully rich barbecue after evening services), and people across the economic spectrum can attest to the generosity of the Wright family.

    It would be unfair to Wright to gloss over his abrasive — to say the least — edges, so, in the “Nobody’s Perfect” column, I’ll register some criticisms. To me, Trinity’s honoring of Minister Louis Farrakhan was abhorrent and indefensible, and Wright’s fantasies about the U.S. government’s role in spreading AIDS distracting and harmful. He, himself, is also aware of the now-standard charge by some African-American clergy who say he is a victim of cultural lag, overinfluenced by the terrible racial situation when he was formed.

    Having said that, and reserving the right to offer more criticisms, I’ve been too impressed by the way Wright preaches the Christian Gospel to break with him. Those who were part of his ministry for years — school superintendents, nurses, legislators, teachers, laborers, the unemployed, the previously shunned and shamed, the anxious — are not going to turn their backs on their pastor and prophet.

  • Obviously, unable to bowl like the “typical white person.”

    Obama on bowling

    “Obama’s first ball flew gracefully off his hand but also ended up in the gutter. On his second try, he knocked down four pins. Obama did improve, nearly getting a strike in one frame, and in the seventh, picking up a spare, giving him a score of 37.”

    There were no “Super-Pins” to put him over the top.

  • It’s unfair and disgraceful the way Hillary is being pressured to drop out precisely because she’s gaining momentum, while Obama’s dropping. From Pelosi to Leahy and Dodd, they’re worried that she’ll win Penn and some upcoming states, as she surely will. On top of refusing to count all the people in FLA and Michigan. They’re putting out a none too subtle suggestion to the public, to NOT vote for Hillary. (Good for Gore and those who actually think that the public should have their say.) Among the Dems’ worries, that if Hillary wins the popular vote and superdelegates support that, the blacks will be furious. (No, race doesn’t enter into this race at all.) If the Republicans had totally cut out two states, the Dems would regard that as “proof” that they’re crooked and rigged the whole election.

  • In this “universe,” for one: as described in Charles Babington’s AP story, reprinted in the Daily News yesterday:

    …the Democrats’ “chief worry is that Clinton may carry her recent winning streak to Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina and other states, leaving her with unquestioned momentum but fewer pledged delegates than Obama. Party leaders would face a wrenching choice: Steer the nomination to a fading Obama, even as signs suggested Clinton could be the stronger candidate in November, or go with the surging Clinton and risk infuriating Obama’s supporters, especially blacks, the Democratic Party’s most loyal base.

    “Some anxious Democrats want party elders to step in now to generate more “superdelegate support” for Obama, effectively choking off Clinton’s hopes before she can bolster them further.”

    There’s a related story in today’s L A Times about Big Bill appearing in California at a party convention to tell them to “chill,” and not throw Hillary under the bus yet. Bill’s sounding pretty peeved, and so are many Hillary supporters.

    Of course, her continued momentum depends on her winning Penn as predicted, and other states. (She could fail, but the Dems were willing to count her out after Iowa, so she’s not the Eveready Candidate for nothing.) But if she wins the popular vote and is denied the nom, especially since she was denied FLA and Michigan which would have put her ahead in delegates (Obama could have done the fair thing and supported a revote), it will definitely infuriate voters. Howard Dean as head of the Party (and Jimmy Carter) are right: to keep going down this pressure-Hillary-to-get-out path will leave millions of Dems feeling the election was stolen, which would certainly taint Obama.

    For the record, I’m not strongly for any candidate. I’d like a more moderate one way between Obama and McCain, but our polarizing party system has given us a choice between those who favor huge tax-and-spend policies, and a guy who’d spend those billions in Iraq but seems pretty clueless.

  • BTW, speaing of Gallup polls, the same article (“Democrats Fear a Nightmare Ending” as rebilled in the DN reprint) goes on, about the same group of Dems who are pressuring Hillary to quit, that they “point to a recent Gallup poll, in which 28 percent of Clinton’s Democratic supporters said they would vote for McCain if Obama is the party’s nominee. Nineteen percent of Obama’s supporters said they would vote for McCain if Clinton gets the nod.”

    So more Dems would defect to McCain if Obama is selected, because some of Hillary’s supporters think Obama’s too left of center. Which is why I prefer Hillary given this choice, and why Hillary keeps saying she’d have a better overall chance of defeating McCain.

  • I’m for Hillary staying in the race a while longer so when this thing is over there will be no question that she lost it fair and square and the Democrats are done with the Clintons. On Florida and Michigan, those people need to take this up with their state parties who knowingly created this chaos. Hillary’s statements to date on the “fairness” of the Michigan and Florida elections deserve some kind of Kim Il Jong award. As for 28% her supporters defecting to McCain, I don’t believe it but if even 19% of supporters (the “Obama number” cited) of any Democratic candidate are planning to hold their breath until they turn blue, vote for McCain and shoot the puppy, neither of these candidates has a chance of winning. Otherwise why not just draft Joe Lieberman and make the Dems bullet-proof on that question.

  • “some of Hillary’s supporters think Obama’s too left of center”

    Funny – “Liberal conscience” Paul Krugman told me this morning that Hillary’s more liberal than Obama. Obama’s too “post-partisan” and not willing to use the IRS as a club to enforce health care reform or directly bail out individual ARMs victims with tax dollars. I’ve also heard from the Hillary camp that Obama wants to invade Pakistan. And according to NY NOW, the “old school” identity-politics feminists, he’s the choice of the patriarchy. Not to mention, way too religious. And, of course, he’s a “feel-good” Magic Negro for white folks who don’t want to deal with systemic legacies of racism.

    (You know, once you get started with this stuff, you can pretty much go anywhere that suits your fancy.)

  • Via TPM –

    Today’s Gallup tracking poll gives Barack Obama a full ten-point lead over Hillary Clinton. Here are the numbers, compared to yesterday:

    Obama 52% (+2)
    Clinton 42% (-1)

    This is the largest lead that Obama has ever had in Gallup’s polling, and marks the third consecutive day in which Obama has had a lead fully outside the margin of error.

    Late Update: From Gallup’s analysis:

    Obama clearly has weathered the Wright storm, while the dark clouds have shifted to Clinton over whether she has exaggerated her foreign policy credentials. This week she has had to defend her repeated claim that she came under sniper fire while visiting Bosnia as first lady, which news video clearly disputed.

  • In today’s “Campaign 08” Section of the L A Times, two stories that touch on Hillary’s healthcare plan vs. Obama’s and the candidates’ veracity about their past, especially embellishing their biographical “stories.”

    Rong-Gong Lin II says that while Elizabeth Edwards discounts McCain’s health plan (cuz she doesn’t understand it, says his spokeswoman), “she favored Hillary Rodham Clinton’s healthcare plan over Barack Obama’s.

    “‘Sen. Clinton’s plan is a great plan,’ that closely resembles John Edwards’ proposal, she said.” This may have some clout, especially with women and cancer survivors, if the Clinton camp plays this up. (I’m not taking a position on her plan and don’t think it’s reasonable to enforce that everyone buys a plan — while there are tens of millions of illegals out there flying under the radar who’ll be given healthcare for free. That will surely be an issue the McCain camp will raise.)

    Then Michael Dobbs writes that Sen. Obama has more than once “traced his ‘very existence’ to the generosity of the Kennedy family, which he said paid for his Kenyan father to travel to America on a student scholarship and thus meet his Kenyan mother.

    “The Camelot connection has become part of the mythology surrounding Obama’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. It is a touching story — but key details are either untrue or grossly oversimplified.

    “Contrary to references by Obama in speeches in January at American University and in Selma last year, the Kennedy family did not provide the funding for a September 1969 airlift of 81 Kenyan students to the United States that included Obama’s father.

    “According to historical records and interviews with participants, the Kennedys were first approached for support for the program nearly a year later, in July 1960…” This is a far bigger “lapse of memory” than Hillary’s about one trip abroad, which doesn’t make up her whole “mythology surrounding her bid.” This very notion of self-consciously building up a mythology, rather than a record based on experience, is what’s starting to unravel more and more as the campaign goes on, and Obama’s knocked off his annointed pedestal by the media. We NEED to see what he’s made of when he comes under some heat, as Hillary’s been all along.

  • Let’s see. Obama may be wrong thast his father came to the US thru a JFK program – but that was the family story.

    Hillary says she came under sniper fire in Bosnia – see Marc Cooper on sniper fire. Or ask any vet of Iraq and Vietnam about incomming rounds of any kind.

    And Barack’s story is the bigger whopper?

    “CC” must be Taylor Marsh in disguise!

  • “See Marc Cooper?” He’s done nothing but run hit pieces on Hillary, one after the other. He might as well just title them “Why I Hate Hillary, the Never-Ending Series.” But no, Barack can’t be wrong for hyping “a Camelot connection” that never happened.

  • This has all of the “legs” and import of Hillary’s claiming for many years – repeating it in her official bios and telling the great mountain climber upon meeting himd- that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary. Of course, Sir Ed wasn’t famous until quite a few years after she was born. But it was her mom’s tale and she apparently stuck to it – and so did Hillary. During this campaign it was changed to “family legend” because no way would her mom have named her daughter after an obscure beekeeper in 1947.

    Once again, “cacklin’s” chickens come home to roost…

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