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Sweet column: Clinton hits Obama on Wright as she defends herself on Bosnia sniping claim.

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WASHINGTON -- After her campaign avoided commenting on Sen. Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for more than a week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton plunged in Tuesday-- in reply to a question -- and said he wouldn't be her spiritual leader. Whatever her motive, her words served two purposes: to deflect attention from her false assertions she faced sniper fire in Bosnia and to revive the damaging Wright storyline just as it may have been waning.

"But I think, given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor," Clinton said, after being asked at a press conference whether Obama should have left his church, Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side. Videotapes of Wright's anti-American and anti-white sermons surfaced a few weeks ago.

Clinton spoke as she was campaigning in Pennsylvania a week after Obama delivered a well-received speech in Philadelphia on race relations and his pastor, aiming to quiet the Wright controversy -- the most serious challenge he has faced in his presidential quest. Obama said he could no more "disown" Wright than he could his own white grandmother, who at times harbored racist views.

Emphasizing that she was answering a question -- concerned, probably, about being accused of going on the offensive against Obama on Wright -- she alluded to Obama's reference to his grandmother.

"You know, we don't have a choice when it comes to our relatives. We have a choice when it comes to our pastors and the churches we attend. Everyone will have to decide these matters for themselves. They are obviously very personal matters. But I was asked what I would do if he were my pastor. And I said I think the choice would be clear for me," she said.

Obama foreign policy adviser Greg Craig (who was one of President Clinton's lawyers) told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "It's unfortunate that she brings back this subject. She had a rough news day, and I think she wanted to take the attention away from the Bosnia story and put it back on the Rev. Wright story."

Craig brushed aside any notion that Clinton was merely answering a question, saying political figures are practiced at dodging questions. "She knows how to address issues that she wants to address, and she knows how not to address issues that she doesn't want. She chose to address this issue. . . . She's changing the subject," Craig said.

Clinton is being savaged by commentators for saying March 17 and last month that she faced sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia as first lady, but reviews of news coverage of the trip showed she did not. It was also hard to swallow that Secret Service agents -- and military personnel -- would allow her plane to land and let her disembark in a dangerous situation.

Realizing, perhaps, that in telling the story she was also disparaging her security, she tried to recover, saying she not only goofed but, "I think that the military and the Secret Service did a terrific job. But we certainly did take precautions. There is no doubt about that, and I remember that very clearly. But I did make a mistake in talking about it the last time and recently," she said, adding the episode only proves she is human -- a dicey way to show a personal side.

10 Comments

The headline is a screamer, but the quote doesn't seem like so much of an attack. If the column is going to be this tough on Hilary, the opponent who would end the flow of ad money to Chicago media owners, then it should be equally tough on real news about Barack. And wasn't there just news that Barack had been involved in the rigging of an influential health care panel at the bidding of his political funder Rezko?
That seems like a much bigger, much more important story than parsing the words of Hilary into such a distorted attack on her.

Give her more Credit for At least admitting a mistake. Unlike her counter part in the democratic race Obama, who has lied and lied and about his friends, his life and gets catch in it all by the media, but never truly admits to anything, the media rarely makes an issue out of it. He will how ever demand answers, point fingers and blame others continuously.

Too bad Hillary is proving that she will do/say anything to gain the nomination - including this scorched earth policy. I find her comments about Barack's preacher to be pretty amazing, especially the one that begins with the sentence "You know, we don't have a choice when it comes to our relatives." How many times did Bill cheat on her? Yes Hillary - we know, we know.

Hillary's new strategy is a "Tonya Harding". Which brings to mind a woman who will do anything to win, no matter how Dishonest. However, Tonya Harding was sent Packing in Disgrace! Hillary's Bosnia recount and further information that the story was not factual informs the public that she is a habitual story teller to further her own ends. It was a deliberate fib, told over and over again, and like Tonya Harding, she got caught and now she is trying to deflect attention away from this insight into her character, this betrayal of Public Trust. We who care deeply for this Country must continue to email, write, call the media to further investigate her words and to inform the public and expose those statements which are not true and accurate. There is more much more. Unfortunately, she is a consumate Actress and Mistress of Spin, who lacks character, authenticity, compassion and loyalty, yet expects it from everyone else. Rev. Wright's words were not a Hate Speech, yet some pundits would have you to believe that. His words were controversial and a rejection of some American policies but he never asked us to hate one another or America. We must not be lead down the path of illusion. Now Hillary has McGovern going on the media trying to interject a gender divide, along with the racial divide to further divide the country along racial and gender divisions. In her quest for Power, she is destroying the Democratic Party and the country. She says we have a choice to choose our Pastor, however, we also have a Choice to Choose our President. No more Say and Do Anything Politicians!

Looking at Hillary Clinton's comments about what she would do if it was her pastor. It is easy to comment on situations that are not personal to her. It is easy to say that this person would not be her pastor. But she too has also gone threw some trails with judgment. And yet she is still with Bill.

Senator Clinton maybe trying to deflect attention from false claims of facing sniper fire, or simply playing the game of politics. Yet, there could be some internal issues involved in her attack upon Rev. Wright as he was one of the Ministers asked to pray for the Clinton Administration during the time that President Clinton was not having sex with that woman. As human beings we are all so connected in our pain as well as our glory.

I believe that Senator Clinton is a well expereinced politician and that she has already been our President. Change is needed not for the sake of black or white, man or woman, but for the sake of us all.

I find it interesting that Obama's campaign thinks that Clinton should have dodged a question directed to her about Wright.

While dodging the Wright issue has clearly been Obama's M.O., I don't see why Clinton should have to try to dodge a question on it. Her answer was appropriate and not aggressive. But note that Craig's comment about Clinton is designed to try to bring the focus back to Bosnia.

What's astonishing to me is that people don't view Obama's campaign as "politics as usual." Obama's campaign advisor's response is the epitome of a "politics as usual" type of response.

Obama is so inexperienced that, in the event that he is elected president, he will have to rely so much on these types of advisors. If you want to see the "Obama administration," watch Obama's advisors. They are not inspirational, "rise above the fray" types of advisors that make pretty speeches. They are hard core, "politics as usual" types.

And much as Obama's advisors wish that the Wright controversy would go away, it won't. Obama won't break ties with Wright, and those sermon clips are going to be shown through the general election if Obama is the Democratic candidate.

Frankly, it seems like the DNC should have a meeting with the candidates and the party leadership and broker some sort of a deal. I don't have a problem with the primary process running its course, but it wouldn't hurt to sit everyone down and see if something can be accomplished that would build up the two candidates and not tear them down. Instead of Pelosi making unhelpful comments about a joint ticket being impossible, it seems like it would have been much more beneficial if she had used her clout to sit down with the candidates and party elders in February to see if one of the candidates would bow out in exchange for the VP slot or another important role in the administration.

wow. Julie---you say it and then it comes out of the mouths of anchors on Msnbc--pullling a tonya harding. Or did you just parrot that last bit of allowable hate speech in America--bashing a competent middle aged white woman--it's OPEN SEASON! Yahoo!
Hope all the youngsters are as nice to you as a middle aged woman as you are to Hilary now.
Good luck with that.

If Wright is wrong, then truth is un-American. Neither party is running a candidate with the best interests of the people in mind however the Democrats as usual seem most likely to shoot themselves in the foot.

Modern politics has immersed itself in an elaborate system of re-defining and/or denying certain truths. Is it more valid or meaningful to reject or renounce?

Do the American people need the assurance of politicians that neither Wright nor Don Imus are being considered for Cabinet positions?

Admit it. For Hillary and her elite group of “fellow Americans” Wright’s selected sound bites are far down the list of reasons for why Wright and any other non-white clergyman would not have been my pastor. Indeed, in America, Sunday is the most glaring example of a segregated society.

Hillary’s pastor and congregation members have never been the victims of racial segregation and prejudice. That basic difference in perspective and resulting rhetoric are reflective of America’s unequal benefit packages for its various ethnic groups.

What are the conceptual distinctions between what is American, un-American and what is a lie?

Did Wright lie when he inferred that the USA is hated by exploited nations around the world and that this wide-spread hatred was evidenced on 9/11? American, un-American or a lie?
The lies about weapons of mass destruction? American, un-American or a lie?
Hiroshima and Nagasaki? American, un-American or a lie?
The silence on Darfur? American, un-American or a lie?
The hypocrisy of immigration reform? American, un-American or a lie?
The history of slavery? American, un-American or a lie?
Separate but equal? American, un-American or a lie?
What other candidate has had to hear the question “is he black enough?” Was that a slap against Obama's mother? American, un-American or a lie?
Some years ago, particularly in southern states, it was customary and expected to ask about a politician’s position on the colored people, Negroes or N-word to determine if he could keep them in check. American, un-American or a lie?

Forgiveness shown by political candidates. American, un-American or a lie?
Prayer in public places and “One nation under God” is an infringement upon individual liberties. American, un-American or a lie?
Snipers? American, un-American or a lie?
The stained blue dress that led to national disgrace? American, un-American or a lie? If the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning who's going to answer? Will it be Hillary, Bill or Monica?
Truth be told, the IRS is un-American (taxation without representation, the tax code regulations are a lie and every American could afford health insurance if we weren't being taxed to death while corporations send American jobs overseas while getting tax breaks.


If Rev. Wright said, "U.S. policies in the Middle East and elsewhere were partly responsible for the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington," then USA Today implied the same soon after 9/11 reporting on why "they" might hate US so much. The media has yet to frame the conflicts in Europe with Islamic Bosnians or the troubles Russia has with Islamic Chechens the same way it does with the Middle East. There are European Muslims - White Muslims, just as there are African Jews. How many dark Jews do we see on T.V.?

Is it anti-Semitic for Black people to take compassionate perspective from their slave pasts and decide Israel should be protected while Palestine is being created? How can the world have Palestinians and no Palestine? That doesn't sound safe for Israel. Black folks think about what happened after the Native Americans welcomed Europeans with open arms. US Jews might want to think about that too and encourage their brethren in Israel to "do the right thing" and recognize Palestine. Note: Native Americans weren't Muslim - just some more people of color. Shalom.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 26, 2008 6:02 AM.

Lynn Sweet on MSNBC on Clinton's "not have been my pastor" re Rev. Wright and her "mispeak" of facing Bosnia sniper fire was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet: Obama posts income tax returns. LINK is the next entry in this blog.

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