Category Archives: trinity church

>REACT: Obama and the religious Wright

>The sound you hear is the hot air escaping from the Barack Obama’s presidential balloon as it descends to earth.

I hate to be an I-told-you-so, but … Why do we always say that? Actually, I’m grinning from ear to ear. I love being I-told-you-so. Who doesn’t?

So, here it is.

Long before the Obama’s religious mentor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, ignited the ammo dump of racial politics, I predicted that the “racial thing” would sink Obama – if not for the nomination, certainly for the general election. (Check out my blog items on South Carolina Mississippi … and the campaign in general.)

Keep in mind that it was Obama who first pulled the switch that sent his campaign train, the Unifer Express, off the main line and onto the African American Limited sidetrack. The beginning of the end for Obama came when he decided to run as the candidate of black aspirations in South Carolina, were the African American bloc represented about half of the primary voters. Prior to that, Obama was pulling 50 to 70 percent of black voters — not enough to win in future primaries.

To get the needed 80 to 90 percent majorities to carry him over the top in places like South Carolina and Mississippi, and give him a greater share of distributed delegates in places like Texas, he had to offer himself as the black political messiah. It worked. His subsequent victories resulted from overwhelming black turnout and vote.

Bill Clinton was not wrong in comparing Obama’s South Carolina victory to those of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. It was a demographic inevitability based on racial politics. So long as Obama made it a black crusade, he could command the lead in the Democrat primaries, where black votes enjoy a disproportionate advantage.

In high school science, we learned that “for every action there is an opposite but equal reaction.” This applies to politics, too. As Obama solidified black support for his candidacy, he created a countervailing coalition of wary whites. In invoking ethnic solidarity among his adopted people, he naturally provoked solidarity among his other people. Though half white and half black, Obama chose to be a black candidate for all the obvious reasons. Geraldine Ferrarro was not wrong either.

Obama’s introduction of racial politics showed in the numbers. For the big gain in the black vote, he was suddenly losing 75-plus of the white vote in many key states. His hope of increasing his percentage with the Hispanics also was dashed by his Afrocentric campaign. That may have cost him a clear win in Texas. As time went by, racial polarization became more of a factor. That trend continues.

Though Obama first played the racial card, the Clinton campaign saw their opportunity on the white side of the racial divide. Clinton matched the racial card with the surrogate comments of Bill Clinton, Geraldine Ferrarro and others, but they did not trump it. The advantage was still Obama’s. He was taking a calculated risk, and so far the calculus looked good. His zigzag racial strategy was working, with gains outpacing loses. But then, the joker turned up in the person of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s long-time pastor, close friend and self-proclaimed religions mentor.

At a time when Obama was trying to deflect suspicions of radical Muslimism lurking behind his Harvard-bred image, he was more than eager to brag of his strong ties to the Christian United Trinity Church of Christ and his close relationship with Pastor Wright. For more than 20 years, the Obama family had been among the congregants. Barak and Michelle were married at Trinity by Pastor Wright. The Obama children were baptized there. He attended regularly, and supported the church with is donations. In more recent years, Obama was among the church’s most prominent attendees. Obama titled his book, The Audacity of Hope, after the sermonic themes of Pastor Wright. Though perhaps less appropriate, it was a better title for a presidential campaign than “God Damn America.” He offered up Pastor Wright to the public as part of his campaign network of informal advisors. Obama was the first Democrat presidential candidate to wear his religion on his sleeve, refusing to let the right-wing lay exclusive claim to God.

Now however, Pastor Wright’s well-publicized racist, anti-Semitic and anti-American rantings — and his endorsement and honoring of Nation of Islam black supremis Louis Farrakhan — have inflicted a body blow to the Obama campaign. In a matter of days, Obama shifted from a tacit defense of Wright to outright repudiation. This has put Obama at odds with his church members, who accuse the press of character assassination. Apparently, Obama has joined the assassins out of necessity.

Beyond the bounds of credibility, Obama claims to have never … repeat “never” … heard such rhetoric when he was in attendance. Not once in 20 years. (Why does that sound like, “I never once had sex with that woman?”) Sounding a bit like an old school marm, the senator claims that had he heard such hateful rhetoric from the pulpit, he would have talked to Pastor Wright to express his disapproval. Tsk! Tsk!

Lincoln once said that “widely held beliefs, whether will or ill founded, have the impact of fact.” For Obama, this means his excuses cannot dissuade the public from a now widely held belief that he is … lying. For the first time his denial lacks plausibility.

In attempt to bridge the racial gap, Obama sites the racism of his grandmother – calling it white “inbred” racism. Well, that sure backfired. Now a lot of non-racist white folks are highly insulted. The accusation of pandemic inbred racism among whites sounds like black paranoia and an affirmation of deep seeded racism on the part of Obama. Sounds like something Pastor Wright might have bellowed from the pulpit – but of course, Obama would not have been there to hear it.

One way to execute damage control is to inflict some of the same damage on the opponent. So, the Obama folks dropped a photo of Pastor Wright standing with President Clinton for one of those get-in-line photo ops. How pathetic. Rather than expose the Clintons with this sophomoric stunt, Obama exposed the beads of desperation sweat on his political brow. His handlers are smart enough to know that their candidate could be marching to the convention with an already inflicted mortal wound. This is just the kind of situation that argues for the super delegates to exercise independent judgment at the time of the convention.

None of this will have much impact on the black vote. He is their guy. It does, however, continue affect white voter thinking. Obama is no longer the post-racial unifer. Having dodged the less credible case of being a stealth Manchurian candidate for radical Muslimism, he now appears to be more credibly pegged as a latent adherent of black racist theology. Furthermore, his tenuous hold on the largely liberal Democrat Jewish vote is being undone by Pastor Wright’s anti-Semitic homilies. Suddenly, Michelle Obama’s statement that she was never proud of America in the past takes on a more ominous meaning.

As he did with the Rezko affair, Obama sought to use a public relations platform to purge the demons of negative public opinion with a grand statement of conscience – a speech. This was his latest moment to “come clean.” While his supporters have branded his oration in Philadelphia as seminal, and the liberal press touts his success in rising above the racial muck, polls suggest that most Americans are less awed..

No one would question Obama’s speechifying talent. His racial manifesto was well written and well presented. An A+ in any speech class. The only problem, it did not stem the flow of white voters into the Clinton camp — and to the McCain camp, if Obama should turn out to be the candidate. It seems to me that the amount of exuberant praise the speech is receiving from his supporters reveals the fear more than the joy. I think they doth praise too much.

Whatever assurances are offered up, it is clear that THE speech did not bring the Pastor Wright problem to closure. Clinton will be necessarily restrained in taking advantage of Obama’s religious crisis, and the issue may ebb between now and the convention. But rest assured, the church affiliation brouhaha will have its effect, and you can bet it will be played out again before November. Already, it is on endless loop on the Internet.

And don’t you have the feeling that one of these days there will be yet another nasty revelation involving Pastor Wright?

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