Senator Barack Obama, saying that he’d had enough, forcefully repudiated his former pastor yesterday and declared that racially charged remarks made by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. contradict “all that I stand for.”
Obama said he had tried to give Wright “the benefit of the doubt,” but decided to disavow Wright after the minister’s nationally televised appearance on Monday reignited a lingering controversy on the eve of two crucial Democratic presidential primaries.
The Illinois senator said Wright’s appearance, including his dismissal of Obama’s attempts to defuse the controversy as political posturing, “was a show of disrespect to me” and “an insult to what we’ve been trying to do in this campaign.”
Wright, he added, is no longer “the man I met 20 years ago.”
“When I say I found his comments appalling, I mean it . . . Anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who read my books, who has seen what this campaign is about will understand it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country,” Obama said at a news conference in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The condemnation was a dramatic shift for Obama, who had tried to navigate a personal and political minefield: maintaining a relationship with the minister who brought him to Christianity, performed his wedding, and baptized his two daughters, while distancing himself from Wright’s most incendiary sermons and trying to quell a controversy that threatened to undermine Obama’s campaign’s focus on racial unity.
Answering questions submitted by reporters on Monday, Wright praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as “one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century,” and said it’s possible that the US government created the AIDS virus and introduced it into the black community. He also said he’s become a victim of “unfair accusations taken from soundbites” that have developed into an “attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition.”
William Galston of the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, said Obama had to disavow Wright, the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, but added that the controversy has already taken a toll on Obama’s campaign. Galston said the most recent polling data show that Obama’s substantial lead over Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, is narrowing in North Carolina and that Clinton is gaining ground in a neck-and-neck race in Indiana.
“I would be surprised if [Obama’s statements] made it go away. It’s certainly helpful,” he said. “But I think that Senator Obama will be lucky if this dies down before people are voting in the primaries” Tuesday… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Boston Globe>
I have to agree. More than any other single factor, media dwelling on Wright’s campaign for self-aggrandizement is responsible for stalling Obama’s campaign in recent weeks.