By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Obama’s cringe-inducing comments

This is painful. Try not to cover your eyes as you read the top of this Ben Smith post at the Politico:

In appearance taped for airing this morning on “The View,” Senator Obama makes news by saying he might have left Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ if the Rev. Jeremiah Wright had not retired.

In a clip posted by ABC, Obama says: “Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country — for all its flaws — then I wouldn’t have felt comfortable staying there at the church.”

Last week, Obama staked out the position he’s going to have to live with. He delivered a fine speech on race, but never quite came to terms with Wright’s occasionally loathsome rhetoric. Now it just looks like he’s pandering.

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  1. Anonymous

    On a brighter note, we’ve determined who wrote my car insurance policy. Only thing he neglected was calling himself “the party of the first part”.

  2. Peter Porcupine

    DK – well, we know HE’S tolerant. He was able to tolerate Wright for 20-odd years.Does this mean he can also disavow the black community and his grandmother unless they shape up as well?

  3. Louis Merlin

    What about Obama’s categorical denouncements of Rev. Wright’s offensive comments fell short of “coming to terms” with them? In my mind, he could not have made his disagreement with those comments any clearer.Obama’s refusal to denounce the person, even as he denouced his comments, showed political bravery and integrity. It’s too bad that he is squirming on that position now.

  4. Steve

    A question for PP and everyone else who is critical of Obama for sitting though 20 years of Wright’s sermons – how many Rev Wright sermons have you heard in their entirety?As a Jew, I am no authority on Christian scripture, but I’m told that Jesus was, at times, critical of the leaders of his nation. And I am also informed that preachers sometimes write sermons based on teachings of Jesus. So is it any surprise that a preacher might choose to challenge his congregation by delivering homilies based on criticisms Jesus had for his nation’s leaders?Please take some time to read this before you offer up any more criticism of Wright’s 20 years of sermonizing.

  5. Anonymous

    Dan, I don’t see it that way. I didn’t cringe and I don’t think he’s pandering. I think he’s being honest. Wright, like many of us, is obviously getting a little crazier as the years pile up. Lots of people switch churches or parishes because they feel their pastor has gone around the bend. He’s on The View. They ask him about Wright – he doesn’t bring it up. He answers. That’s pandering?

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Louis: Well, yes. I was a lot more impressed with his speech than what he said today on “The View.”

  7. Marc

    I don’t think Wright’s rhetoric was bad. It’s free expression — and it makes sense to me. Or am I supposed to be offended that he points out the flaws of this great nation? Or am I supposed to be offended by resentment to our shared history of slavery? All this coverage has been a bunch of bickering about nothing. ‘God damn America!’

  8. Don, American

    Ain’t hindsight wonderful?

  9. Peter Porcupine

    Steve – I actually had seen and read that before, and one thing struck me. To make ‘Goverments LIE!’ the hook for your hat, and present a litany of lies yourself (government invented AIDS to kill blacks, knew about Pearl Harbor, only give tax breaks to whites, etc.), marbled in with facts like Tuskeegee airmen and the treatment of Indian tribes – you are not a genuine pastor. You are a religious demagogue.Also, Jesus was more critical of the Pharisees and Levites than he was of ‘them Italians who led Him to the cross’. He wasn’t involved ENOUGH in political action for his disciples’ taste, but preferred to stress the next world over this one. Healing the Centurion and remining people to ‘render unto Caesar’ was more his line – the moneychangers weren’t part of the political government, but the Temple. That’s the premiere example of his being angry.

  10. io saturnalia

    Wright’s views are nothing new, and they’re similar to conspiracy theories held by many white people that the Jews or the Freemasons are the invisible puppet masters of the nascent One World Government, or that the Bush administration itself actually demolished the Twin Towers in 2001 and just made it look like al-Qaida did it.Ignorance knows no color. For the most part, Obama’s done a good job of denouncing Wright’s rhetoric without ridiculing the man he sees as an uncle who brought him to Christ. Bravo!All his appearance on “The View” shows is that America can’t take yes for an answer.

  11. Marc

    Honestly, to discredit any theories about the nefarious origins of AIDS is just an act of fear. I’m not saying The Government made AIDS. But, from all the evidence, it seems to me, it was made in a laboratory. And, statistically speaking, black people have been disproportionately affected by AIDS … ? To discredit theories that the Sept. 11 attacks could have been abetted by criminal elements in our government is an act of fear. I’m not saying The Government demolished the World Trade Center. But I don’t have any proof that Osama or whatever orchestrated the attacks. Now, we got confessions coming from known, tortured captures.There are myriad reasons why we should oppose some of the decisions of our leaders have made and continue to make. It is not unpatriotic to vet everyone for everything their worth. I think if we assumed that The Government was infested with evil people that it would help … the paranoia would not paralyze, but catalyze citizenship.How is Wright a religious demagogue? Can’t anyone be a leader in the community and speak his mind. It’ not like anyone is forcing the congregation to adopt his views. Reserve every right to call him a demagogue, but the decision to ostracize a religious leader as unfit to lead a church should come from within a church. I don’t attack your church leaders for the anti-gay epithets they spew at church (subconsciously or blatantly). I’ll leave that to you.Honestly, I think the whole argument about Wright stems from fear of blacks.Freedom of religion. Freedom of expression.

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