Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet: Obama finished writing speech at 2 a.m. Gail Sheehy says Obama challenge is to explain the "positive mission" of his church.


PHILADELPHIA, PA.—Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was up late last night putting the finishing touches on the most important speech of his presidential campaign to be delivered this Tuesday morning—an effort to talk about race in America and address the swelling controversy about his relationship to his controversial minister the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Obama “finished essentially about two in the morning,” said his top strategist, David Axelrod.

Author Gail Sheehy, who is here at the speech site--The Constitution Center-- said she will be listening to Obama’s speech to see “if Obama can explain that positive mission (of his church Trinity United Church of Christ) as opposed to letting it be defined as black separatism.”

The speech is “Important, I think, to really give some insight to him….this is something he wanted to do,” said Jim Margolis, one of Obama’s media consultants.“This is his decision. His speech. His moment.

Margolis said Obama has been working a few days on the speech. “He spent an awful lot of time on it.” There is “not a lot of artifice” in what we will hear,” he said.

We chatted outside the auditorium of The Constitution Center where Obama soon will speak. He will be introduced by former Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pa.), who will invoke the names of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.—all people he knew and worked with.

I also spoke here with Sheehy, --a Clintonologist—who is writing a Vanity Fair article on the Clinton side on this fight for the finish. Sheehy is a Clinton biographer, following Hillary Rodham Clinton since her days as First Lady.

Wright is retiring later this year as senior pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s South Side. She has met Rev. Otis Moss III, his successor when they were both on the same program at the Chattaqua Institution in upstate New York.

“I was excited by his fresh approach in combining gospel with hip hop music to appeal to the post hip-hop generation,” Sheehy said of Moss.

“He’s in the same generation as Obama and has the same kind of unifying appeal to young blacks, formerly disaffected, politically disaffected people.

“The mission of the church he is continuing for Rev. Wright is to run bible stories through the lenses of the black American experience.”

The audience is made up of community leaders and elected officials invited by the Obama campaign.

The Pennsylvania primary is April 22. The Clinton team has declined to comment on the Wright matter.

At 1:15 p.m. at Philadelphia’s City Hall, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) holds a press conference.


We understand what this was in response to, but the "race speech" label was an overbilling. And Obama continued his trivialization of Native American issues by mentioning them only once, and only the children. The "original sin" here as regards race was not slavery, but general disregard for human rights and national sovereignty of the First Nations.

Firstly, I have to say that there is no other like Obama. Absolutely none.

To sum up Senator Obama's speech today,

What he is offerring is not for the naive, nor the fainted-hearted, its not for the uncourageous, nor the unchanging.
What he is offering is for the courageous, for those who have the heart to move beyond just dreams, and into realms never experienced in American history.
What he is offerring is beyond hope, hope is just a starting point, like the intimate binding of struggle between his example of the young white girl and the old black man.
What he is offerring is for those who look to the next generation, believing that perfection is not in the eyes of the beholder, but reality which we can't avoid
What he is offerring is a solution for opportunities for more solutions to tackle root issues that have paralyzed a nation fit for perfection
What he is offerring is the antisynthesis to an ideology of hate and a philosophy of inferiority
What he is offerring is an agreement between struggles and a covenant for perfection, in that nothing is impossible if one begins with hope and the assurance of faith
What he is offerring is a contract between the old and the young, black and white, citizens and immigrants, rich and poor, priviledged and the impoverished
What he is offerring is beyond what we think could happen, it is what will happen someday, though the opportunity is one that we can grasp
What he is offerring is enough to make a young man like myself, from distant shores, from a place unlike America, have hope for where I'm from, from righ here in America
What he is offerring cannot be exploited by no one, cannot be politically manipulated by any pundit, cannot be impoverished by any economic struggle, it prevails above all else

I am ready for what he is offering, though I also understand that this time, fate might not be ready, though if indeed our generation's destiny, if indeed this time when we speak of such taboo truths, is indeed the time we've so longed for, to move one step closer towards perfection, then I am ready for what he is offering.

That is all that matters, no matter what the political outcome is, he has tapped into a force greater than what we have ever faced, he speaks directly to our hearts, bypassing our conscience and connecting with the root of our psyche. So that even if we try to hold hard to that which continue to divide us, because of our fear, our ignorance, and our childish philosophies of unchanging solutions; his message transcends our reach.

So on behalf of Senator Obama's message, who is truly the epitome of a dream that can only be dreamt by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., I am truly inspired that hope, change, and perfection are all means and ends which one day, we will achieve, within this nation and the world at-large.

So I hope you got the message, a very clear, simple yet complex, straightforward yet deep understanding of what we need to do to go to where we need to go.

If you feel inspired like I do, don't hide, express it and let it shine as the gem that it is, immune from our own worst enemies, each other.

God Bless.

I am a white 70 year old man, served in nam, and voted for bush. i dont like clinton,like mccain but after reading obamas books and watching him and reading every newstory i can find , this is my conclusion
a) Clinton - same old thing, lying cheating selfserving
b) Mccain - good guy, decent human being, hero, but old outdated ideas
c) Obama - will make a different - will treat people right, is white and black and will reduce hate and suspicion on both sides, will stop the war
I am voting obama

Although I agree with many of Obama's remarks, he has not won me over.

Why? He stated that many supporters respond in the way Clinton's runs her campaign. THAT WAS A DIVISIVE REMARK MR. OBAMA.

Clinton could HAVE STIRRED THE POT...but she didn't. Instead she directed all comments to you, and REFUSED to comment. Once again you accuse Clinton of DIRTY Politics, but your snide comments, prove to me that in order to win, you feel you must talk down to Hillary Supporters.

The most troubling aspect is the amount of downright UNTRUE statements YOU have made.

1. You say Rezko contributed 50K...then when investigated by reporters...150K, then Friday it is 250K. You have had more than a year to figure out how to present this.

2. On NATIONAL TELEVISION you said you ONLY worked 5 hours on one Rezko case as AN ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY. Although that may be true, it was NOT the extent of your relationship with Rezko. THAT 17 Year Omission is deception.

3. You "stirred" the pot in accusing President Clinton of being a RACIST...then say that Clinton is willing to do or say anything to become might want to take a look a little closer to home Mr. Obama.

4. You DENY a meeting between YOUR top Economic Adviser and Canadian officials ever occurred...until you are caught. Then you classify it as a misjudgment.

5. You stir the pot again "Ferraro" is YOUR part IN CHOOSING to take offense. You MADE the issue...and again accuse CLINTON of being racist...funny...right before Missippi votes...

6. Then Saturday and SUNDAY you say you NEVER heard those types of comments when you went to Church. But today in your speech, you say you did. What is the Truth Mr. Obama?

I think you are a master at speeches. I think you are a Master at saying what you think people want to hear. I hear you studied for this role....President Clinton speeches, JFK Speeches...

The shame of it all is simply this. You have to WALK YOUR TALK and combine that with Brilliant Speeches...your insides have to match your outsides Mr. Obama. Deciding to NOT do earmarks the day you announce running for President, or deciding not to accept PAK money the day you announce running for President. The subtle derogatory remarks about Clinton personally...all of those reasons are why you have NOT convinced me you are suited for the highest office.

Governor Patterson at least admits his mistakes up front, even though his affairs are private, as well as his wife's. I would vote for him in a heartbeat. You however, seem to be too slick...and too ego based. You should read your supporters blogs...they call Hillary a B___; W___; Monster; Liar; and the list goes on...I lay this at your feet simply because to you, WORDS MATTER. You do know how to incite passion and hatred.

It's rare to hear a great campaign speech that completely transcends politics. I'm an affluent 43 year old white male and, until now, was undecided. Senator Obama simply spoke truth --- realistic, yet hopeful, truth. This speech was the most accurate and compelling commentary on race in America that I have ever heard.

It will be an honor to vote for Senator Obama in November -- not because I buy the rhetoric about big business as the problem, and not because I agree with all of the Democratic Party positions. I am now convinced, however, that Senator Obama is a rare, once in a generation leader. We need his honesty, optimism, intellect and eloquence. Right candiate. Right time.

Belle, I challenge you to post the links where Obama has called either Gerard Ferraro or Hillary a racist. His Rezko "five hours" comment was in response to Hillary's charge that he worked for a slum lord. Context, Belle, CONTEXT! It means more than words. Earmarks? Obama has released his list of earmarks every year that he's been in the senate. We know that only Rick Santorum has doled out more in earmarks than Hillary until 2006. What we don't know is to whom and for how much because she won't release that information. Today we learn that Wal Mart donated $500,000 to the Clinton Library. Why? Has any of the that $500,000 made it into the Clinton's personal coffers? We don't know because they won't release their tax records from 2000-2006. In today's speech he said he heard controversial things from Rev. Wright over the years. But controversial is a pretty broad term and totally subjective. White preachers going on about gay people is pretty controversial don't you say Belle? Rev. Billy Graham uttering some pretty disgusting anti-semitic stuff back in 1972 is pretty disgusting stuff. But you cannot discount what Graham has done from Christianity just from the unfortunate words he uttered to Nixon back then. CONTEXT BELLE!That 10-minute chunk of video from Rev. Wright's 35-ear career in the pulpit that you Hillary sock puppets are so gleefully panning for gold in is undeniably toxic and Obama has several times denounced those words. But in context of a career, they should not define the man. Once again Belle CONTEXT. Finally, Obama is no more responsible for what his supporters post on blogs than Hillary is responsible for what you write.

Akindele... here, here... well said.

Gail Sheehy needs to stop following Hillary get her body to TUCC and spend a week to find out about the positive mission of the Church. Ms. Sheehy is beyond disingenuous; that is downright insultingly stupid.

I agree with this person, and SHAME ON OBAMA FANATICS! I support Obama supporters and democratic alike. We should stand as ONE unified party against the GOP machine -- you know how strong they are. We need a clear vision about who can win on Nov. We need to stick to out goal - to win the White-house! Weather you want to hear it or not, Obama has always been a weak candidate. He should run as a big city mayor, but not a president, and don't call me a racist, I'm not white. I think with my head as all of you should. Your hearts are for your family and favorite sports team - mine is the Dodgers. The president is a cold-hard job, the person needs to be savvy, strong, calculated and needs to play the right card at the right time. All you Move-on. org crowd need to move to Oregon and smoke some pot and get to know your favorite tree. I don't mean to offend Oregon but you guys have a reputation. This country needs someone that can see our countries vision and guide us there, not drive the bus because they wanted since they were five years old -- that is pathetic. Ego's go hand in hand with leaders, but great leaders lead from the back and not from there untested vision, Obama, Bush. People like yes, CLINTON have trials and tribulations -- experience. Hilary has seen success and tasted pain -- you know what I'm talking about!

Yes I support Hilary, and not because of her husband and not because I'm anti anything -- I do because she has earned it. Hilary will make the right judgments and has a fantastic agenda for this country, and yes some taxes will go up, a national health plan is a good idea. This country is separated by church and state but i feel it's my moral duty to help someone if i can. I won't touch Obama statement today because the radio talkers have filled the day doing that. I'm not an expert, I'm a voter.

JeanSmilingCoyote: Why does this have to turn into a contest about who has been wronged more in this country? The speech was about the fact that people of all backgrounds in this country have anger, resentment, and disappointment yet it is time to move past that.

Obama didn't trivialize anyone in his speech and if you aren't satisfied with the word count for how many times he mentioned specific races by name than that is just sad. Belle...why do you put so much energy into distorting Obama's record to create an issue where there shouldn't be one? I would respond to your questions, but based on how you formed them, my guess is that you're not really interested in the answers. If you don't want to vote for Obama, that's your choice, but at least have the decency to not make up lies and spread them on the internet to justify your choice.


Your facts are a little poor, he has had a relationship with Rezko as a friend, but no wrongdoing has been connected to him, he said he wasn't in the pews when the comments that triggered the controversy was spoken, he never said he never heard any arguably controversial remarks, reading comprehension my friend, and he wasn't the one who started in interject race into the race, it was clinton, Hillary is a shrewd woman she knew what she was doing when she made those remarks. He never called Ferraro or Clinton a racist, you are living in some delusional world if you think that, he even defends Ferraro in the speech today.

If you don't like Obama fair enough, but don't use flawed facts and lies to try and explain

We should judge a person by their actions and not their words. The fact that Obama choose Mr. Wright as his spiritual teacher for 20 years and included Mr. Wright in his election staff speaks well for Mr. Obama’s thinking and actions. Words are easy to manipulate and it is unlikely that Obama's recent speech was written by Mr. Obama anyway. Mr. Obama has a powerful and power hungry staff including his wife that will do anything to get him elected to power. But clearly this man Mr. Obama is not to be trusted with the future of our great country. And regardless that he is fashionably black and that many of you have some desire to prove to yourself or to others that you are not prejudice and that you like black people with an attitude of ‘See, I like black people, I voted for a black person.’ And whether you are black or white, such an attitude of voting for a person because of their race is the definition of prejudice.


Jesus is my God. Not Barack Obama.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

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

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 18, 2008 9:32 AM.

Sweet: Obama's biggest campaign crisis. Will he "blame Washington" for not distancing himself from Rezko, Wright? was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet: Obama speaking now about "racial stalemate." Cannot "disown" Wright any more than he could "disown my white grandmother." is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.