Chicago Sun-Times
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Obama after Wright at the National Press Club says "he does not speak for me."

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WASHINGTON -- In March, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) went to great lengths not to "disown" his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, after fiery videotaped comments from sermons surfaced. In return, an unapologetic Wright launched a speaking tour, ending Monday, drawing outsized coverage on the hot-button issues of God and race days before crucial votes in Indiana and North Carolina, threatening Obama's presidential bid.

As coverage swelled, the situation was so serious that Obama, late Monday at a hastily arranged availability on the tarmac at an airport in Wilmington, N.C., said of Wright, "I have said before and I will repeat again that what some of the comments that Rev. Wright had made offend me, and I understand why they have offended the American people."He does not speak for me. He does not speak for the campaign."

(this column appreared in the April 29 print Sun-Times)


On Monday morning, Wright packed the ballroom at the National Press Club, picking a venue that guaranteed Wright would get tough questions and international coverage about his sermons, patriotism and Obama, who used the title of one of Wright's sermons to name his second book, The Audacity of Hope. Wright married Obama and baptized his daughters.

Some in the Obama camp were stunned that Wright did not realize the potential harm he could do to Obama's candidacy by reviving stories about Obama's relationship with his pastor.

This is a critical time in Obama's quest for the Democratic nomination -- Indiana and North Carolina vote May 6. Instead of keeping low, Wright is seeking the spotlight as he wraps up 36 years as senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side.

Wright has dominated the political news since Friday, when an interview with Bill Moyers was broadcast on PBS, followed by two sermons at a South Dallas megachurch on Sunday and a Sunday night keynote address to the Detroit NAACP.

Obama chief strategist David Axelrod told Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," that Wright's appearances are not helpful. ''I don't think it is necessarily meant to be helpful. I don't think it is about Obama. Rev. Wright is out there speaking for Rev. Wright. . . . It is unfortunate from our perspective."

Obama's key challenge in Indiana is wresting blue-collar white voters from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

One Obama adviser, who declined to be identified in order to speak candidly, said Wright has become a "huge distraction. At a time when Obama is trying to appeal to blue-collar and working-class voters, Jeremiah Wright is dragging this campaign into a conversation about race . . . and that's not what white voters want to hear."

Wright, the adviser said, making an "intervention into presidential politics at this critical moment could have potentially devastating implications for the remaining nine contests."

Wright was in Washington for a conference on black churches, and much of the audience at the breakfast consisted of friends, family and supporters, with working press in the balcony and in the back.

Wright pretty much kept to the text of his speech at the Press Club, where he touched on the history of the African-American church in the U.S., black liberation theology, the differences between black and "European-American" preaching and reconciliation and racial healing.

But a stormy question-and-answer session came after the speech where Wright was at times combative, even chiding the moderator, Donna Leinwand, the vice president of the club and a reporter at USA Today.

Asked why he was speaking out now, Wright said, "This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright. It has nothing to do with Senator Obama. It is an attack on the black church launched by people who know nothing about the African-American religious tradition."

Obama delivered a highly regarded speech on race relations and Wright in Philadelphia, where he distanced himself from Wright's comments -- but not the man.

Obama has been campaigning as a new kind of politician, and Wright potentially damaged Obama when he said that Obama "had to distance himself, because he's a politician," implying that perhaps Obama did not mean what he said.

Wright earned applause from the non-reporters in the audience, when he said, in response to a question about his patriotism that "I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?"

5 Comments

Is the Republican-owned Media trying to Sabotage Barack Obama's campaign? Why else would they give a "retired" Rev. Wright all that Air time by blocking out all three Cable News Channels to air Rev. Wright's 45 minute speech at the National Press Club, LIKE HE IS THE PRESIDENT OR SOMEONE, something they do not even do for the Candidates themselves, John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, block out 45 minutes of air time to air their stump speeches, They Only Get Blips! And why would all three stations block out this time? Was it coordinated and by whom?

On the other hand why won't the Republican-controlled Media ask the following questions to Hillary and her surrogates who have connections to Rev. Wright and enquire about (1) Is it true that Hillary surrogate, Congresswoman Shiela Jackson Lee, is also a devotee of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright; that he's been preaching at her home church, where she is actively involved, annually for the past 15 years and has an open invitation to return, and, that she sat in the pews for his visits and did not bat an eye? AND (2) s it true that Hillary surrogate, Rev. Marcia Dyson was not only a longtime member of Trinity United Church of Christ but also still considers Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright her pastor? That Rev. Marcia Dyson's seminary education, in part, was sponsored by Trinity UCC and encouraged by Rev. Wright? And was it not at Trinity were she first met her husband, Rev. Dr. Michael Dyson, who's been very vocal in his defense of Rev. Wright.? And, (3) lastly to Hillary Clinton, that if Rev. Wright would not have been her Pastor, then why did she and Bill when going through Impeachment, turn to Rev. Wright for Prayer and Support and invite him to the White House? These things should be asked and answered.

Are Repbublicans trying to help Hillary win the Democratic nomination? Are they hoping to win the White House with the help of African-American voters turned off by the Clintons' "kitchen sink-strategy" directed at Barack Obama? Is that why McCain is so actively wooing them? These things have to be considered? Is that why a Republican-controlled Media "daily" 24/7, through their talking heads build-up Hillary, tear/smear down Obama, hoping that Hillary will become the Democratic nominee, so they can then unleash the "arsenol" of weapons they have against her. Something they have been planning for years! They have even engaged Karl Rove through his letter to Barack by disengenuously suggesting that Barack has lost his touch-- that he can't attract white-working class Americans, etc., something they know he can do and has done! And why is President Bush have a sudden interest in making all these speeches? Barack has to fight a "two-headed" Giant -- the Clintons and the Republicans and their Republican-controlled Media, may be it is three heads -- an awesome destructive power and force indeed for one lone man to go up against! These Republicans and their corporate-owned media are no friend to the average joe! They fear what Barack stands for unity and power.

Let's be really clear, the only Ones who have made Race an Issue in this campaign are the Clintons and the Republican-controlled media -- from the start, Barack Obama has tried to transcend Race, but they will not let him, as it would be to their disadvantage... They do not want a candidate who inspires hope, unity and change so they, and the Clintons -- the two-headed Giant --are trying to bring Obama down anyway they can! The Republicans for their own reason (they don't want change) and the Clintons for theirs (they want the nomination)! Either way it is a mighty battle and if they get their way, the People Lose! That is why Clintons and Media are trying to make this a "racial" thing, you know divide and conquer so the people cannot concentrate on the real issues and miss the boat again!

Alas, I believe it is now time for an amicable Parting of the Ways between Barack and Rev. Wright who has definitely put a sword in his side. I now understand why Barack thinks some people are bitter -- he has been conditioned to think that way by the bitterness of his former Pastor, to think that some people are bitter, although Barack was not subject to this bitterness himself but was able to overcome this conditioning and escape it rahter incorporating ther engery of inspiration goodwill and hope instead! I hope we the people will not be blindsided by this onslaught directed at this Candidate of Change and Hope we have in Barack Obama and miss the boat again!

it appears wright's retirement dollars aren't long enough. so he's gone off and joined the circus...at the expense of rhe junior senator from illinois. obviously he forgot his meds.

If only the media had pursued the run-up to the Iraq war with the tenacity they've displayed on the Rev. Wright story.

THE MEDIA CAUSED THIS BLOW-UP, DON'T BE FOOLED BY FOOLISHNESS,
OBAMA STILL WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT!
A VOTE FOR OBAMA AND GAS PRICES WILL BE LOWERED!
A VOTE FOR OBAMA AND MAYBE YOU WON'T BE NEXT TO LOSE YOUR JOB!
A VOTE FOR OBAMA AND THE LOBBYIST ARE GONE FOREVER!
A VOTE FOR OBAMA AND THE CLINTON'S AND MCCAIN'S CAN GO ON A
PERMANENT VACATION!
A VOTE FOR OBAMA AND THE SOLDIERS COME HOME!
A VOTE FOR OBAMA AND THE ECONOMY WILL IMPROVE!
DON'T LET THE MEDIA FOOL YOU ANY LONGER!

You know, Phil... you sound like a moon bat when you say all of those things.
Let's see. Gas prices lowered, nope. Lose you next job, I doubt it. Clinton to go on permanent vacation? No, she'll get more powerful if anything. See cover of New York magazine.

Lobbyist gone forever? You're kidding right? That wouldn't even be good.
Obama's own team admitted that the soldiers aren't "coming home" if he gets elected.
The economy will go up and down no matter who is in office.
Don't let the media fool YOU any longer.

Child.

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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 April 29, 2008 10:05 AM.

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