Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet: In Indiana, Obama calls Wright wrong on rhetoric, blames "pent-up anger." Urges unity.


PLAINFIELD, Ind. — At a rally here, Sen. Barack Obama said he wouldn’t blame the people in the packed high school gym Saturday if they were “shocked” about “incendiary” statements from his former pastor — words he said he rejected.

“We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding,” said Obama, not mentioning the Rev. Jeremiah Wright by name.

Obama’s day trip from Chicago to this suburb of Indianapolis — Indiana has a May 6 primary — was capped by two fund-raisers in Chicago on Saturday night, a highdollar event at a private home in Lakeview and a lower-priced reception at Gallery 1028.

For the second day, Obama distanced himself from Wright, signaling how concerned the campaign is over Wright’s racially charged — and videotaped — sermons, the subject of recent news stories and postings on the Web.

Obama invoked the name of Bobby Kennedy, who gave a famous speech in Indianapolis the night the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated, calling for healing.

The increasingly heated Democratic race between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken on racial tones in recent weeks, fueled in part by voting patterns in a variety of states that have dramatized racial divides as well as the increased scrutiny of late given to Wright, who is retiring from Trinity United Church of Christ.

“The forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again. And I’m not here to cast blame or point fingers because everybody senses that there’s been this shift. You know, that you’ve been seeing in the reporting. You’ve been seeing some of the commentaries of supporters on all sides,” Obama said.

“Most recently, you heard some statements from my former pastor that were incendiary and that I completely reject, although I knew him and know him as somebody in my church who talked to me about Jesus and family and friendships.”

Obama sought to portray Wright as more than a polarizing figure — someone who bears the scares of racism — while conceding that “if all I knew was those statements that I saw on television, I would be shocked.

“And it just reminds me that we’ve got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding.”

With all that, Obama drew loud cheers when he added, “But what I continue to believe in is that this country wants to move beyond these kinds of divisions.”

On Friday, Wright left the minor role he had on a campaign advisory board, and Saturday, the Obama campaign would not elaborate on what triggered his departure.

As Obama sought in Indiana to explain Wright as someone who is a throwback to a past of “racial inequality and gender inequality,” he returned to that theme of racial conflict at the fund-raiser at Gallery 1028 on the Near North Side. He said former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro — a Clinton supporter caught up in racially charged comments that forced her off the campaign last week — as well as Wright — “remembers” past struggles. “We’re going to be wrestling with these demons,” Obama said.


Unbelievable! I can't believe people have the nerve to say "the preacher" is right, or dismiss his rants and not think his tirade is racist?

This preacher is a hateful, ignorant racist. This "black trash", (oh, sorry, only "white trash" is acceptable today) bigot performed the marriage of Barak, and Michelle, "I'm finally proud of our country" Obama.

Obama is trying to distance himself from this guy because, to prove he's not a Muslim, he said he goes to this Christian church. Obama has been in his church for 20 years, this man is Obama's "spiritual advisor" Do you think this is the FIRST time this idiot, black racist has spewed his filthy racism? Obama stayed in his church because he likes this message or he would have left for a message more in line with his own.

Obama is his lackey, or is he Oprah's lackey, or is he Farrakhan’s lackey. Where did he get the money to outspend Hillary 5 to 1?

It's time to end this double standard of black racism and political correctness. This preacher is a hate-monger, and Obama is part of his ilk.

We brought 9/11 upon ourselves? What crimes did the people I saw jumping from the WTC commit? They simply showed up for work to support their loved ones.

God Damn America!!!???? Is anyone stupid enough to want his "spiritual student" as President?

My grandmother said, "The Devil often comes dressed as a gentleman".
Yes, and he's running for the White House, with racism and anti-Semitism, under his silk suit. Obama's veneer is starting to wear off.

In Iowa he was quoted "When America gets a cold, Black America gets pneumonia". He didn't say "poor" and include other races.

Any "white man oppressor" "European oppressors" or Anglo-American, or anyone with an ounce of goodness, won't support this black KKK, of which Obama is a long-standing member.

Anyone who votes for Obama is inviting disaster for themselves, their children and our country.

Once there was a very charismatic man, who seemed to come out of nowhere. He stirred the people for "change" and his promise of a new, united country, and of "what could be"; his name was Hitler.

I still stand by Barack Obama, no way can anyone know every sermon and statement made by your local Pastor and in the real belief of going to Church, you don't go for the sake of the Pastor.

The Clinton Camp and Supporters have of course jumped on the Wright issue and as usual with the lies and smears they love to peddle it is just down their street. Yesterday more video's started to emerge and wild claims that Barack Obama was present, which this morning some media have picked up on, only problem Barack was in Miami speaking at at conference that same day!

This negative campaign instead of Policy from Hilary for me will come back on her!

Obama should be ashamed of himself to put the name of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, with any statement about Rev. Wright. Rev. Wright is a racist, bigot who has thrived on American values of freedom of speech to preach anti-American and anti- semitic words from his pulpit. I ,for one , do not believe Obama, in his 20 years exposure, to this man, never heard his hateful rhetoric. When I look at Obama, I see arrogance , which the dictionary defines the word as " offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride. He can be a bit too cocky for his own good. I have read that associates of Obama tell stories about a boss who can be aloof and ungracious. He holds firmly to views and doesn't like to be challenged, traits the President Bush Packaged. Obama tell us what he wants us to know , when he feel it necessary.

Well if Obama has a lot of Pent-up anger do's he need to be president of this united states.Holding a grudge doesnt help no one.The rev. Jeremiah knew what he was saying and ment every word of it and now has resigned from the church trying to save Obama.Jist like Obama wife said that the only time she was proud to be an American was when she tought Obama was going to be President. Back in the 1800's there was a man got exiled from America for saying almost the same thing rev. Jeremiah said, his name was (Aron burr).If the rev. Jeremiah doesnt like America I 'am sure there is some country that would take him.

Ok, yeah, use Wright when it's convenient and tell Black America how close you are with him and how hes been your mentor over the last 20 years; then when it's inconveniant claim you haven't heard many messages and you don't really agree with him.

He's starting to sound like a regular politician.
Obamessiah no more

First, my comment to Ms. Lynn Sweet. I greatly respect and appreciate your fine journalistic work in print and on television. You are an outstanding representative of the Sun Times and the you are among the few writers to have not genuflected over Mr. Obama. Although I proudly voted for him for the Senate, I have many concerns that prevented me from supporting him in the primary, and I support Mrs. Clinton. Although he has a fine mind and can give great speeches, I believe he is indecisive. The national media have not questioned his all too frequent "present" votes when he was in the Illinois Senate. I am concerned that he may be the type of intelligent person who sees SO many sides of issues that he has difficulty making decisions. This "Rev. Wright" story once again makes be question his judgement. My final comment regarding his speech is that he didn't speak enough about a lack of personal responsibility in black communities--the types of remarks Bill Cosby has openly spoken. I don't deny obstacles still exist in black communities, but Obama needs to state truthfully that many people are just not trying hard enough.

Ms. Field, I also believe that Mr. Obama is indecisive and that has made me a conflicted supporter, since I like both he and Clinton.

Speaking to the article, while I find it hard to believe that Barack had minimal exposure to Reverend Wright's rhetoric in all those 20 years, I do believe that this issue has exposed the frailties of American ideologies and only serves to reaffirm certain prejudices we all have for each other.

Without first considering the experiences and context that gave birth to Reverend Wright's rhetoric, the danger comes when we take those words at face value. Those of us who are not mentally or emotionally strong enough to at least give someone the benefit of the doubt, especially when that someone has no record of having shared the same sentiments, are doomed to the vicious and self-defeating cycle of prejudice and further, racism. That cycle serves no one.

It is better to decry Obama for his occasional lack of decisiveness than to denounce him for words spoken by his mentor, which were not his own. Have some of Rev. Wright's sentiments been shared by many African-Americans? It would be silly to assume otherwise, but those things are not at the forefront of the white interviewers mind, for example, when he/she hires the black accountant. The bottom line, it is a very uncomfortable topic but this nation cannot grow unless it is occasionally conflicted when comfortable in its prejudices.

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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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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 16, 2008 6:01 PM.

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