Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet column: Obama gets it out in the open. Looking to get past Rezko, Wright and turn up heat on Hillary.

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CHICAGO--In an extraordinary day in his more than yearlong quest for the presidency, Sen. Barack Obama on Friday sought to put behind him two raging controversies jeopardizing his bid: his relationships with his minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and with his friend and political patron, Tony Rezko.

Obama held two extensive, separate sessions with journalists from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. An unassuming Obama entered a 10th-floor Sun-Times conference room for a conversation Friday, not as the hotshot at a rally. It was his moment — his time, as he himself might say — to try to bring this to an end.

“I think it’s really important to make sure that you guys feel like you’ve got it all,” Obama said.


The meetings with the Chicago papers had been planned for several days, with Rezko the main agenda item. Obama was finding himself on the defensive over Rezko, now on trial in a Chicago courtroom on corruption charges.

His campaign was also responding to another swelling crisis. Videos and news stories of Wright’s inflammatory sermons and his slams of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton hit mainstream media outlets and zoomed through the Internet.

Friday afternoon, the Obama campaign sent to the Huffington Post — unsolicited — a 591-word statement from Obama. He said he learned of Wright’s charged rhetoric for the first time at the beginning of his presidential campaign but, with Wright on the verge of retirement, “did not think it appropriate” to leave the church where he was married and where his daughters were baptized.

“I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of the controversy,” he wrote. Within minutes, his blog post on the influential Web site was picked up by every news outlet.

There was more damage control to do. Obama was booked for a live interview Friday night on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and for taped sessions with Fox News and CNN.

But what Obama had not done until later Friday was sever ties that Wright had with his campaign. Wright’s continued presence with the Obama campaign — far more than Obama’s personal decision to stay with his church — was a ticking time bomb for Obama.

Minister off campaign panel

For several days this last week, the Obama campaign had been raising a ruckus over an interview that a Clinton backer, former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, gave to the Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, Calif. Ferraro said: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman [of any color] he would not be in this position.”

Obama himself took the offensive Wednesday, telling CBS’ Harry Smith, “To the extent that Senator Clinton’s campaign doesn’t distance itself from that, I think it’s a perpetuation of the same divisive politics that has done us so much damage.”

By the end of Wednesday, Ferraro, a fund-raiser for Clinton, had stepped down.

Earlier, Obama had taken a casualty himself, when one of his chief foreign-policy advisers, Samantha Power, resigned her high-profile role after calling Clinton a “monster” in an interview with the Scotsman.

Obama’s team had to realize that it would seem inconsistent — at the least — for Wright to remain at a time when Obama was taking fire, not only from Clinton and her allies but, increasingly, from presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and other Republicans.

Later Friday, the Obama team sent out a terse e-mail saying, “Rev. Wright is no longer serving on the African American Religious Leadership Committee.” That is one of several advisory panels within the Obama campaign.

It is not clear whether Wright left on his own or was pushed. Asked by Olbermann for clarification, Obama said, “It was important for him to step out of the spotlight in this situation.”

In making the effort to get potentially crippling matters behind him and to move on, Obama is now freer than before to go after Clinton’s lapses on the ethics and disclosure fronts.

Clinton has declined to release even the last year of her income tax returns, and Obama has. Clinton has not been able to expedite the release of her first lady records from the Clinton presidential library. Clinton has not made public her earmark — or pet project — spending requests for any of her time in the Senate, and Obama has. Obama has revealed a bit more information about his fund-raising “bundlers” than Clinton. The donors who bankroll Bill Clinton’s library and foundation are not public.

With showdown primaries ahead — and debates April 16 in Pennsylvania and April 19 in North Carolina — Clinton has every liability in front of her.






55 Comments

Thank you, Lynn for a balanced blog entry. I have worried in the past that you were more biased against Obama and that accounted for the often snarky entries. This one shows you can be fair.

what a classy guy.

Senator Obama cannot erase the fact that he waited until he was forced to repudiate Pastor Wright's remarks. He has known for a year and hoped the American people would not learn about these anti-American sentiments of his mentor and spiritual adviser. There is no way I can forgive him for knowing this and still appointing him to his campaign. If we had not found out, would he have appointed him to his White House staff? He no longer has any credibility. This is not a race issue...it is a judgment issue.

I also felt that Lynn Sweet giving Clinton a free ride- it is much more balanced when she writes about both of them.

After almost 20 years of relying on and supporting Reverend Wright , Barack Hussein Obama now "has seen the light"! I'm sure that Mr Obama was ready to repudiate his pastor even if the "white men and women are the devil" sermons were never brought to the attention of voters. I want to believe that,,,or Obamas run for the presidency makes absolutely no sense.......

Now will the media put the same kind of pressure on Hillary and Bill Clinton to release their tax returns and the WH documents and any other information the public needs to determine where the Clintons accumulated enough wealth to own a house in Georgetown and New York. She has gotten a free pass from the MSM too long. I am sure the Hillary supporters will disagree but the truth is hard to take. What about her ties to Norman Hsu and Peter Paul which the media steadfastly refuse to follow. Her ties to Rezko via his associates is never discussed either. Thank you.

why can we all just get along, why is everything in America about
color, Obama is niether black or white he is both. So respect him
for both races. Because his white family raised him to be agreat man not Pastor Wright.Yes by the way I am a black woman.

35 so called years of experience and Mrs. Clinton has still not learned that secrecy never helps. Release those tax returns Hillary and those records. We don't want 8 more years of the same.

How can you compare Obama's 17-year relationship with a slumlord who's on trial for multiple accounts of fraud to Clinton's tax records? Clinton has not done anything wrong, is not charged with doing anything wrong, is not being investigated for doing anything wrong and is not required to release any records. By contrast, the Sun-Times has published article after article over the past three years detailing Obama's long-running quid pro quo with Rezko - writing endorsement letters, crafting legislation for the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board swindle, etc. Yet now that he's sat down with you for one meeting (on Friday, the end of the news cycle)you've essentially smog-certified him based on a few statements. What kind of through-the-looking-glass world do you people in Chicago live in? By your newspaper's own voluminous accounts, Sen. Obama is either a crooked politician or one who has spent the last two decades carousing with a criminal. Moreover, he has a track record for lying - e.g. NAFTA memo, race card memo, etc. - so it's not a stretch to assume that that $250,000 figure he reported yesterday was pulled out of thin air. I encourage folks to review the Sun-Times accounts by clicking on my screen name to reach an article about Rezko, Obama and Karl Rove posted at thecityedition.com. It links to many Sun-Times and Tribune sources, as well as the New York Times and other material.

Oh please...those remarks by Obama's Pastor were NOT Anti-American..he simply stated the truth about how the U.S conducts itself around the World. They were truthfull comments...you can't paint a pretty picture of this country's foreign policy no matter who you are.

Its time for us, american people to wake up and open our eyes,sweet words,and fake humbleness will only last for a while,however for a man who is very well educated and who is a us senator to say that he sat in a church for 20 years and the main agenda of its leader was (never) preached in his presence (obama)its complete nonsense,if you go to any chuch for more than a month and listen to the preacher or priest you can get a general idea of who he is and his agenda,this guy came out of nowhere as the saviour and what we are learning today has been out there for years,and his ties with mr antoin it was never a secret lots of press gave coverage of their budding relationship and its a matter of puplic record,list the choices are very limited on this election season,but remember a liar is always a liar,but a bullshiter will do some good sometime,forget all the bias crap,look to the facts and you will find that this so called inocent ignorant harvard grad is actually the sharpest mind in america today and not a whole lot gets by him,his a trador his wife is a trador and so is his hate filled separatist pastor/ spiritual father,the choice is clear clinton mislead us but she is a patriot so is mcain but its time for this biggot to be uncovered and its time to nbc/msnbc/cnn/cbs to get back to the important facts and stop using their outlets to spew more and more propagand to this anti american anti peace and anti israel traidor

True, there has been some sluggishness on Obama's part but he has done teh right thing. Obama is a good man - as we can tell from knowing him since Aug 2004 at the Democratic convention. They branded him a muslim first and now after they discover that his pastor has said questionable things, they are lookign for a new smear. Some people are hating on him when they don't even know what it means to run for office. We all have our failures. Nothing has changed for me. Obama will continue to have my vote.

Ricky,
The statements Wright made pertaining to Hillary Clinton were only recently done and it has been proven that Senator Obama was not in attendance. As for many of the remarks that Pastor Wright has made, if you read the Bible you would understand that he is preaching from a liberation perspective...though the language may not be the same...the intent is - Let my people go. Finally, I'm guessing your inability to forgive has more to do with you not really knowing much about him before you initially 'judged' him. It's funny how you have already jumped to the conclusion that Wright would have been appointed to Obama's Whitehouse staff. Nobody's upset about all of the anti-semitic things Billy Graham has said throughout the years. While everyone's talking a good game about separation of church and state, it seems like everyone wants to pull that to the forefront. I hope for your sake Ricky and everyone on this board with opinions like yours that you never have a friend/loved one who speaks something differently than you do but you're the one who's judged and must pay the cost. I am certain you would then cry out...that's not fair.

I am very troubled by the fact that Obama attended this pastor's church for 20 years, developed a close relationship with him, even used one of his sermons as the basis for his book title, and then claims not to have known about the substance of several of this pastor's "controversial" sermons. I am further troubled by Obama claiming to learn about the statements at the beginning of his campaign, but then continuing his close relationship with Wright and even giving Wright a role on his campaign on the African American Religious Leadership Committee.

Obama wants the campaign to be about judgment, not experience. There is much to criticize about Obama in the experience department, and we are learning now about his poor judgment. I am appalled at Obama's judgment in this matter. This has nothing to do with Wright's date of retirement. This is about judgment, about speaking out when one sees something inappropriate going on, and not sitting back and letting it go on because it's easier to sit back quietly and wait for the problem to eventually go away (go into retirement).

He is only distancing himself from Wright's statements now -- finally --(although not Wright himself) at this time to win votes. If he is actually elected president, there is nothing preventing him from consulting Wright -- and even inviting Wright over to the White House.

You know we are not going to get a president that is perfect or a chruch that will be perfect. we just have to go with our hearts, and know by what we hear to make the right choose. I believe Obama can give us what we need as a leader and our president. I do not think he can be a back as stabbing as hillary has been she has tried to pick up every little dirt spot in his life. Wonder what he would find if he dug into her life. We know one would be a very toubled husband which that is where she should be working on that. This is not to put her down. But the Clintons had there chane and made our country very dirty why would we want that again. When one has did wrong it isn't just one that has to suffer the consguess. Hillary you are one of those your husband messed up you have to settle with it and that isn't becomming a president. You have been very dishonest with the country and very hiding without letting the people see all the truth. You need to back down. Let the people have a fresh start and not something we already have had. You have brought all of Obamas dirty stuff out so we know all of his hiden secrets, and I still feel he would do better as our president. Thank

Yes Democrats we must come together and stop the race, gender, age division, if not we may as well hand the election back to Bush/McCain.

For twenty years he believed in this anti-white racism and Damning of Amrerica and now because he is running for President,he sees things differenly. He will lose now or November...rhis hack will never be Presient of the country his wife is never really proud of.

Mr. Obama's authenticity and obvious stature is so refreshing, my organization and I believe he will make a fine president and we will back him all the way....black, white, red, green or blue...HE IS THE MAN.

I have to agree, Obama just now sees the light. Obama is talking about this race problem right now in the Democratic party but it is his pastor, a big influence in his life, that is using race as a tool. I like Obama and wish he would make a bigger stand against it. Obama had my vote but now I have to question a man who looked up to and went to such an evil pastor with his evil ideas. I mean Barrack could end up being a wolf in sheeps disguise.

Running for president isn't easy, and opening up about your mistatkes are even harder. I really have a lot of respect for both Senator McCain and Senator Obama........Senator Clinton is not worthy of my vote.

I have been a member of an African American church for over a decade and I like Senator Obama don't always agree with what my pastor espouses from the pulpit. However because we live in a freedom of speech society and we are all free thinking individuals I am forced at those times to reject those things that are said that don't align with my beliefs just as you and the rest of the world can do. I am not responsible for what someone else says or does and shouldn't be condemned as guilty by association. Pundits and reporters want to hold Senator Obama accountable for a message that he has indicated was delivered in his absence and one that he vehemently rejects and then go so far to speculate that someone within the congregation surely had called him to tell him the things that Rev. Wright said in his absence. Not once in my lengthy tenure within my congregation has anyone called me to discuss my pastor's sermon when I was absent. If I got a call, it was because they were concerned about my welfare and not about the message delivered that day. It sickens me how everyone spends so much time reporting on these things but little time is spent reporting on the good that's done to move this country in the direction it should go. If those of you who attend church go back in the history of every sermon preached by your pastor, you too would find something inflamatory to someone or perhaps that's the real problem, not enough of you are going to church.

Is nobody else annoyed with this report? the reporter tells us that the Chicago, presumably including the suntimes, i.e. hers, sat down with Barak Obama and spoke to him at length about the burning strategic issues of the campaign. setting aside the question of whether those issues are important, still, there are virtually no substantive quotes from Obama. "it's really important you guys..." Oh yea, that's coming up with the goods.

I can't wait until candidates learn how to leapfrog reporters once and for all. Maybe Obama should only agree to press conferences that allow ordinary citizens to obverse with youtube ready cameras.

I want Obama's words, Lynn Sweet, not your ideas.

LYNN SWEET REPLY
My column was part of a package of stories. Please check www.suntimes.com for transcripts, news stories and columns from my colleagues

You young ones don’t remember how it was before Martian Luther King and THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. People were beaten and murdered by “law enforcement” for speaking out against being beaten and murdered. Let no one forget, many are still living, that can tell you the truth about hate.
I was told that my house would be burnt down if I rented an apartment to a black lady. This was a threat made by a police officer as I walked my dog. I was all alone. Who would believe me? I spoke out anyway;I reported the officer. I sold my house and moved away because I never felt safe in that house again. This was in 1984, not so long ago.
When I hear Obama speak about moving on and healing the American spirit, I say yes!
Am I well aware that there are people like Rev. Wright? If he sounds bitter and harsh, have compassion. He is a hero scarred by a national nightmare that the young ones don’t remember. If he was an old Jewish Rabbi ranting about the Nazis and the horrors of the concentration camps who could blame him?
I miss my house, I would like to there now. But had I not spoken out, I wouldn’t be able to live in my own skin, which is, incidentally, white. Is there hate on each side on the color line? Yes there is, still to this very day there is. It is easier to hate than fight for justice. Yes, easier to hate, but wouldn’t it be wonderful for The United States of America to be comfortable in its own skin. It would be such a relief, to lay that burden of hate down and stand up as a nation ready to face reality.
I am old now, I may be becoming irrelevant, but I would feel so young and strong, if I could see this country that I love so much, stand for change.

Perhaps this pastor discussion can bring out in the open the continued racism the AA community feels still, in certain parts of this country. This pastor is an older man, a former marine with a history that no one in this post can relate to. Lets try to understand a point of view that isn't white for a change.

The flaw in this story is the easy conclusion that by Obama attempting to put this behind him and move on, it is now up to Hillary to come clean about her earmarks?! No logic here, though it sounds nice, but check those easy leaps and you'll notice you've forgiven him, but will never forgive her. If he is president, Obama won't find as much ease sidestepping important issues like this; this is the candidate who derives his belief in his mandate based on"judgement". As a mom of two young adults, I can still remember the teenage pleas "Mom, that didn't count!", right before taking away the car or grounding one of them for showing poor judgement and breaking the rules. Obama needs to address the anger so many saw in Wright's sermons. Is he angry, too? I like ambition, intelligence, dedication, in a candidate; I'm not too keen on submerged anger.

Now it's time for John McCain to denounce Rev. John C. Hagee for his racial diatribes and Hate Speech. All Presidential candidates should be held to the same ethical standards and we can get past these smoke screen tactics devised for the weak minded.

Wow, amazing! Classy guy, huh? Please, cut me a break. This
guy is the divider of the Democratic party like no one we have ever seen before.

Thank you for this thorough and fair assessment. I appreciate the Chicago newspapers doing this thorough vetting of Obama. I look forward to voting for Obama this fall as our Democratic nominee!

I guess no one was watching AndersonCopper the other night when Mary made the comment that Geraldine Ferraro was "an old white woman". Wonder what she has to say about the "Mr. Wright" is he the bad mouth church going american hating her best friend to? anderson never said one word nor did the other guess????? I can not believe Barrack could go to that church for 19 yrs and never heard anything bad come out of his mouth. I my priest talked like that I would leave the service during his big mouth performance to let him know I did not approve of that conduct.

How can persons hold the remarks of a firery pastor (of 30 years) against Obama, in any way? Look at the whole picture! The pastor grew up and evolved during the civil rights era, when many serious injustices were on public trial in this country. Can't the behavior of this nation be questioned and still be loved? If a parent questions the behavior of his or her child, the parent still (I hope) loves that child. And if a teenager questions the authority of a parent during tumultuous times, I also hope and trust that the love and committment prevail. From what I have read, Obama's pastor has done a lot of good things for people on the southside of Chicago over his long life. When you "cherry pick" controversial comments out of 30 years of sermons (even comments that should be questioned and ultimately rejected and denounced) it dwells only on the negative and ignores all of the positive comments that were also made in those 30 years of being in the pulpit. Is this fair? Do church goers typically agree with EVERYTHING that their pastor or minister says? Should they? I think that Obama did the right thing, in rejecting some of the sentiments of his pastor, sentiments that could have been relayed in a less controversial way. Isn't that enough? Or will persons not rest or be happy until his pastor is totally condemned as a human being? So christian of everybody. Again, look at the whole picture and the pastor's entire life, not just a few moments of it.

Obama is a smart man. He learned that the coverup is always worse and more toxic than the matter being concealed. He has been working to make himself bullet proof. If everything is known, it is hard to exploit what isn't.

There is nothing I have learned about him that would make me not vote for him.

Thank you for the fair assessment of Obama's situation. Guilt by association has been part and parcel of political analysis and postering forever. Sen. Obama has done the right thing in distancing himself from the racist minister. I only wish the unbalanced Rev. Wright would apologize for putting Sen. Obama in this terrible situation. Or maybe Rev. Wright should move away to some island in the pacific, never to be heard from again, in other words a permanent sabbatical!

Obama is the President we need after 8 years of lies and secrecy. Hillary will be more lies and secrecy.
Consider this. Lets compare Hillary's campaign preparation and GWB's prep for the Iraq war:
1. Both were arrogant enough to think that they will just walk over the competition.
2. Both had the unfounded confidence that once they beat the so called opposition they will be greeted with flowers, no matter what it takes to win.
3. Both did not do any grass root work to find out what the ground reality is.
4. Both are adament that their strategy was sound.
5. Both never anticipated a long drawn out battle.
6. Both surround themselves with 'yes-men'.
7. Both are reluctant to change their strategy because that would be tantamount to accepting that there was/is something wrong with it in the first place.
The list can go on and on.
The bottom line is Obama has fought tirelessly for open government and accountability. Sunshine is absolutely is the best disinfectant, and Obama doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. While Hillary's senate accomplishments are notable for naming post offices and trying to get 1 million dollars for a Woodstock Memorial, Obama was pushing through ethics reform, pushing out lobbyists and corrupt politicians:
Check it out:
http://obama.senate.gov/issues/ethics_and_lobbying_reform/

I don't see why folks have trouble believing that Dr. Wright's inflammatory statements were far more scurolous than those typically heard at his church. As can be seen on the videos being repeatedly run, all members sitting behind him were not enjoying or responding favorably to what he was saying. Dr. Wright is immensely welcomed in the Black community. He understands his role and knows that his wide support is based on his responsible presence in the community. We do have preachers who go over the line sometimes, and try to ride out these storms until the positive message could resume. Dr. Wright has preached 36 years, and the majority of those 36 years while speaking true to power in our community, we not as wildly infuriating as these recent videos depict. Dr. Wright is in the top 10 preachers in America, and does have a message of responsibility and restoration.

Jade--Lynn has been anything but "snarky"--and what kind of word is that anyway. Attacking people doing their JOBS is NOT going to win the nomination for Obama--in fact, it's going to hurt us in the fall against McCain.

The irony is that Senator Obama is a man of character and honesty. He does not have to wage a dishonest campaign like the Clintons. The clintons demonstrate why a CHANGE is needed in politics with someone like Senator Obama. The delay concerning his pastor who was a spiritual advisor not an political advisor should be put to rest. McCain has similar circumstances with his spiritual advisor Ron Parsley. No more dirty smear tactics lets get on with the real campaign, issues and debate. What is Hillary trying to hide.

for the nite owls...
and the early birds...
"He's a gansta. He's from Chicago."
March 16, 2008. Just after midnight. Tracy Morgan on SNL. Weekend Update. Answering Tina Fey's commentary on first post-writer's strike show.

"If being married to the president makes Hillary qualified, then Robin Givens would be the heavyweight champ of the world.

Tina Fey declared bitch is the new Black. I love Tina.

Bitch may be the new black, but Black is the new president BITCH."

A highly receptive crowd loved it.

Obama is "riding the tiger" in a way that (apparently) few on this site can appreciate. What this flawed, exceptional human being is trying to accomplish in the way of genuine U.S. societal "unity" is the most MLKish manifestation since 4Apr68. Despite comments to the contrary, his dilemma has little to do with hiding his past exposure the Wright's points-of-view; and much to do with his courage to espouse his own views in the face of an historically-based Afro-American orthodoxy built on centuries of hurt, distrust, and, in some cases, deep bitterness.
We'll see whether, or not, dude is telling us the truth about not hearing such statements "while in the pew." But I can tell you that it is indeed plausible to have membership at one of the predominantly Afro-American mega-churches, and not hear-tell of such statements by fellow members. The reason is that this type of discourse is not foreign to the ears of the community in question. Whether a given community member views such rhetoric as true, partly true, anachronistic, or otherwise, it is a part of the background noise in mainstream (specifically, slave trade-descendant, non-immigrant) Afro-American communities. Admittedly, some of the congregations in urban centers are much more radicalized than those in, say, the sleepy portions of the South. But, even there, some folks--at Barber Shops, Beauty Parlors, etc.--casually ponder instances of historic and current deliberate harm directed toward the Afro-American community from the outside of the community (too often, in my opinion, to the neglect of addressing intra-communal terrorism--I.e., repeat offenders, "wangsterism"). There's much more that I could add to better flesh out this the point of this post, but...So you see, the more poignant story is the naiveté' of many non-African Americans wrt the subject matter (David Gergen spoke to this on CNN last week). Obama's efforts ARE revolutionary in that he's managed to garner the support of a highly skeptical, cynical, and mistrusting Afro-American electorate; while appealing to large numbers from other groups. A phenomenon resulting in the latter inspiring the former. The question that remains--with Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador no longer accepting the Monroe Doctrine; China purchasing influence in the developing world; a pending Iraq/Iran alliance; and Russia insisting on being a major player again, etc.--is will we seize what may be our last opportunity to replace the circumstantial and diseased "unity" with which we now exist--our foreboding Achilles' heel.

Well I suppose this article indicates that Obama puts it all in the open and clears the air with the roadbumps he meets.

It also appears that Clinton hides or tries to hide her information, and when questioned, continues to hide it.

I'm not comfortable with that at all. Even with one thing, but with her papers, taxes, donations, and earmarks all being hidden - it feels WAY too much like the past 7 years of Republicans hiding everything they can.

Senator Obama renonced Rev. Wright last Year, but I'm glad he both renonced and rejected him again....now on with the horse race. Let's get this over with.

Mr Obama is losing friends fast.

Rev Wright started out as his friend, mentor and Confidant. To and old uncle.

Rezko went from hardly knowing, to a friend of 18 years.

When can we start believing what Mr Obama says?

His African American Religious Leadership Committee - Did he also have another Religious Committee for non- African Americans????

Michelle's position on the landmark committee did that help get their house to go through faster than normal??? Did she have closer ties to Rezko than her husband?


God help us all if we are to be held accountable for the things our friends and acquaintances say and do. I am a liberal who receives all the racial smears going around the internet from "friends" who know I am an Obama supporter. No one who meets Obama personally -and I have- can believe that he is anything more or less than he appears to be: a forthright and loyal American without racial scar tissue or anger or any plans to destroy America! This flap is totally ridiculous.

Sure and all Catholic candidates should be held accountable for their priests molesting little boys. Guilt by association is not a good idea.

I live and vote in PA. I've lived in New York City, I've lived in Ohio and I've lived on the South Side of Chicago, too. I'm a white male and I'm an Obama supporter and I have this to say: In MOST of the places I have lived in the USA, including the poor neighborhoods of Lorain, in Northeastern Ohio and especially in Chicago and New York, Jeremiah Wright's comments about drugs and the prison system and black people are RIGHT ON! Public schools that have been neglected for years and years have become a feeder system directly into prisons. Often young black people have two choices, sell drugs or face a life of poverty. Let's not even get started about the cops or the laws or judges in those cities that regularly profile and discriminate against minorities. So when you listen to or read quotes from Jeremiah Wright think about a man who is preaching inside of a racist war zone. Not all that different from what Malcolm X was preaching, a man who was a national hero. He's divisive, negative and difficult, that's for sure, but our country is better for voices of dissent, especially when they are harsh and upsetting. (And he's said nothing nearly as invective as Rush Limbaugh, you don't see John McCain's feet to the fire to repudiate him, do you.) But my point here is that the United States of America is full of separate versions of reality. Local politics (and preaching) is not the same as national campaigning. The country is too big for all of our truths to jibe with each other on all points. But what we need to do is take a look at the reasons why a person like Wright would have such a popular appeal in saying what he is saying. The same is true of Limbaugh. Different cultures need to examine the inflammatory rhetoric of the other side without this knee jerk condemnation reaction. So Wright is RIGHT when he says (expletive) America. I've felt the same thing thousands of times. And Obama is MORE RIGHT when he says HEAL America. I have been waiting to hear that for a long long time. I respect Wright for addressing our past (and current) inequalities. And I praise and believe in Barack Obama for doing the incredibly bold and courageous act of trying to lift the nation to a new place of unity and consciousness. His past may be with Wright, but clearly, he is trying to take the divisiveness of that past and bring us all beyond it. It's gotta be tough for him to do. Tough for us all. But let's just get the hell over it. Get out there and vote your conscience, of course. But always bear in mind, that you can't see all sides of the coin. And that if you don't know what it is like to live on the South Side of Chicago, with drugs everywhere and bullets whizzing past your windows at night and half your family in the lock up, don't be surprised if there is a bit of righteous anger floating around the neighborhood as well. Peace.

I find it interesting that so many whites are outraged and upset by Pastor Wright's comments, but allow comments from Hagee (which are actually more outrageous and greater in number) pass without comment. I guess we're OK with electing a President with close ties to someone who hates muslims, gays and catholics. But when a black candidate is close to a man who's angry with whites ... well THAT is outrageous!

Color me unsurprised by the hypocrisy. I rally hate watching what is happening here. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves ... again.

I think Wright was correct that 9/11 was a case of the bad blood we have been spreading for several generations coming home to roost. I also agree that Hillary came from a world of privelege, and could never understand what goes on inside the mind of a poor black person. I can see the frustration that results in statements like "God damn America", when used in reference to the inequalities that our politicians love to exploit and perpetuate.

To all the grown ups on this blog – This is called political transparency – where it’s the absence of cover up and the warts are visible. This is what everyone wants from their representative. Now along comes Obama with the transparency and everyone wants to pummel him for it. You do have a clear choice; you can instead choose the Clintoon model of promising but not releasing documents, dodging inquiries by playing the victim card and avoiding scrutiny of any measure. Because Obama stumbled and didn’t react like typical politicians and ran for the cover up and was forthcoming I have to ask myself that if this is the type of governance and example that he wants to bring – Bully for him he’s got my vote and support!!!

Barack has a lot of explaining to do. He has to stop everything, and focus on explaining his 20 year relationship with his Pastor, Rev. Wright. That man spews more hatred out of his mouth than anything I have ever seen.

I have been VERY moved and excited by Barack for the past 2 months. I have contributed money, and I have made phone calls to potential voters in the Ohio and Mississippi primaries. Maybe I was overimpressed with him. But to be physically in that church for so many years, surely hearing a large amount of that afrocentric, anti-white, anti-American hatred, why would he do this? Were there no other churches that he could go to, that had a more loving and tolerant message? How can Barack preach love, color blindness and unity in his campaign, yet choose to listen to so much hate in his church every week for his entire adult life?

Barack - you've got a BIG problem. Even if you win the Democratic nomination, the Republicans are going to eat you alive. It's not your name, your skin color, or other things beyond your control. It's your active choices as an adult. Why did you so closely associate with that hate-spewing Pastor? To get votes on the South Side? If so, maybe you should just stay a US Senator from Illinois. The US Presidency is something special. After choosing to hear that message for 20 years, are you capable of being the President of people completely different than you?

If a candidate for President was affiliated with a KKK-affiliated church for their entire adult life, I would consider them incapable and unfit to be the President of Black, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish Americans. The same goes for you, Barack. You did something just as bad as a white politician who goes to a KKK-affiliated church. It's a two way street, Barack! You have to practice what you preach.

If you and Michelle had moved on 10 years ago, decided that you were tired of Rev. Wright's angry message, and moved on to something more loving, I'd chalk it up to a youthful intellectual fling. But Rev. Wright has been your CURRENT Pastor for the past few years, and he is a reflection of your CURRENT frame of mind.

Barack, after seeing and hearing the company that you chose to keep, I don't know if you are ready to be President. I don't know if you should be in charge of US foreign policy. You've been keeping the company of some pretty outspoken America-haters!

I am NOT a fan of Hillary, and think that McMain is a good guy in the WRONG political party for the national mood in 2008. Still, as of March 16, 2008, I would have to say that I would sleep better at night knowing that either of them were managing US foreign affairs, as opposed to you at this time. Maybe in 2012, maybe in 2016. But Rev. Wright is still too much a part of your thought process to be the President of the United States at this time. In my mind, it's going to take time for you to move past that message of hatred (if you even want to). Hatred of white people, anger and hatred of America.

You can't fool me, or anyone, saying, "I wasn't there that day - I had no idea he thought those thoughts." I know what it is to have a spiritual leader. You know exactly what is the contours of their soul, and what they think on pretty much everything. Like you, I am an attorney. I know how smart you are. You just can't plead ignorance at this point and expect anyone objective to believe you.

Maybe you can change my mind in the next few days, if you work VERY hard. But it's going to be very hard. You just made the GOP's job VERY, VERY easy for the general election this fall. It's all right there on Yootube! The Karl Rove crew can just sit back and drink a beer. You (and Rev. Wright) did their job for them. Unless you actively dig yourselff out of this, McCain's going to be the next US President.

Barack, given how incendiary and RACIST Rev. Wright is, you may even have a tough time getting reelected Senator from Illinois in 2010! I'd get to work NOW!

Signed -

A Dismayed Obama fan

It saddens me to watch how some want to assume Obama's appeals to unity and coming together are a veil for a behind the scenes racism. How often when we point the finger at things we hate in others, three fingers point back to ourselves. Could it be those who assume Obama must be a secret racist are racists themselves - liberals who love to help others as long as the others stay in positions of needing help and conservatives who pride themselves on knowing better than those who don't agree with them?

Sadly, there are not many Americans today, even those of us who truly value our country's diversity in experiences and faces, who do not have friends or elders that say things we are disappointed to hear and watch - luckily for most of us we don't have to have our associations with these people made public (as a southerner I would have to denounce my grandmother and sadly several others). If we really want to change opinions like those of Pastor Wright, we may find it helps to use people whom they trust - ironically Obama may be a better President for our country because he can speak to those who have used their positions on the outside to attack or challenge the inside. I appreciate Obama's willingness to tell us what he believes and step away from what he doesn't.

I don't know what America will be like with an Obama Presidency, when the lines of outside and inside are blurred, but it cannot be worse than the past 16 years of "teehee" politics where tearing down others has been the norm even if it destroys your own political party.

I've seen our country unite like never before around black tv stars and athletes, why not with a visionary, public motivator, and politician.

Thanks for your open coverage of this story.

Only when forced to do so , does Obama come forward with any info. on his relationships with Rezko or Rev. Wright. Years of friendship and support from these two men and not know what they were about, amazes me. Rezko had borrowed money( 3 million) from Auchi in England 3 weeks prior to Obama purchase of house and lot and stated Rezko didn't help him also prior to buying the house. Obama took Rezko for a walk though the house. There is more and eventually it also will come out. Obama was chairman of Health and Human Services while in Illinois house. Rezko bought menbers of hospital committee, so to influence his projects. The trail isn't over yet, there is more to come.

In regards to Pastor Wright's pronoucements, I comment as follows. By virtue of his chosen vocation, Wright's obligation is to doggedly uphold the moral and ethical standards of Christianity and preach it to his constituency. Anything less would be dishonest. America is decidedly tied to its slavery, segregation, genocide, and more recently segregation. All these historical blemishes provide unavoidable talking points at the pulpits of churches across the country, especially African American churches. Reverend Wright is not obliged to be politically correct. He is not required to behold a secular love and devotion of America. You are not required by Christianity to love America. So, when pastor Wright says "God damn America", he is referring to its institutions that organized and managed the gross injustices of slavery, genocide of natives, atomic bombing of Japan and government-sanctioned segregation. That is what he is referring to. So, was Michelle Obama for the matter when she alluded to her lack of pride for her country. She was referring to those institutions that legalized slavery and segregation, and authorized wars that killed hundreds of thousands innocent civilians the world over. It is precise this gross injustice that is a pretext for pastor Wright to "God damn America" for its past, present and ongoing sins. If you consider the context which compeled pastor Wright to damn America, it is easy to understand. I am sure Obama understands that too but he cannot admit it because he is guided by a secular tennet, where past gross injustices cannot be used as excuses to damn America. Politics reflects human life.

Obama's assertion that pastor Wright is like an uncle is very appropriate. We can all understand that. Afterall, he married him and baptized his children. So, when your uncle and spiritual superior says something that undermines your political, or professional tennets, then you cannot use that as a base to damn your uncle and irrevocably sever ties with him. Instead, you simply disagree with your elder and do things differently.

Thus, Barack Obama's explanation vis a vis Reverend Wright is very understandable. No sane person should pronouce him "guilty by association". Obama is responsible for his own actions. And so far, he has shown that he is fair, measured, diciplined and trust worthy politician. I wish him luck.

Jamaal Adam,

"white men and women are the devil"

Quote marks are for things people actually said. Wright never said that or anything like it. The claim that Wright and the church are racist or "black separatist" is a lie, a lie with racist undertones. It's a mainstream church with many white members. The parent, United Church of Christ, is 98% white.

You young ones don’t remember how it was before Martian Luther King and THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. People were beaten and murdered by “law enforcement” for speaking out against being beaten and murdered. Let no one forget, many are still living, that can tell you the truth about hate.
I was told that my house would be burnt down if I rented an apartment to a black lady. This was a threat made by a police officer as I walked my dog. I was all alone. Who would believe me? I spoke out. I reported the officer. Eventualy ,I sold my house and moved away because I never felt safe in that house again. This was in 1984, not so long ago.
When I hear Obama speak about uniting and healing the American spirit, I say yes,at last!
Am I well aware that there are people like Rev. Wright? Yes I am but if he sounds bitter and harsh, have compassion. He is a hero, scarred by a national nightmare that the young ones don’t remember. I ask you: If he was an old Jewish Rabbi ranting about the humiliation of his people, could you blame him?
I miss my house; I had put alot of work into it. But had I not spoken out, I wouldn’t be able to live in my own skin. Is there hate on each side on the color line? Yes there is, still to this very day there is. It is easier to hate than take a stand for justice.But wouldn’t it be wonderful ,for The United States of America ,to be comfortable in its own skin. It would be such a relief, to lay that burden of hate down and stand up as a nation ready to face reality.
I am old now, I may be becoming irrelevant, but I would feel so young and strong if I could see the country,that I love so much, take a stand for change.

As they wrote over at AmericaBlog, which is linking this column, Lynn Sweet is "tough, but fair."

Excellent reporting. If there were more like you, the newspaper business might be in better shape!

Some interesting posts largely from Democrats. It would appear that you are all stuck on the race issue on one side or the other. I thought you Democrats were supposed to be beyond this already. True Christians ARE beyond it. It is infinitely understandable that many African Americans cling to this country's history with resentment and anger. But, please don't let it culminate into more fuel for racism (black racism or white racism). For the blogger above: only a Democrat would consider McCain to be a Bush protege, they hate each other BECAUSE McCain doesn't put his party above his country. I suggest that we elect the candidate this fall that gives the bird to their own party when they are wrong.

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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 15, 2008 2:55 PM.

Sweet: In Indiana, Obama speaks out against the "forces of division." Rejects Wright again. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet: Sun-Times columnists views following Obama's Sun-Times interview on Rezko and Wright. is the next entry in this blog.

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