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Rev. Wright’s October Surprise?

Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., pastor of Chicago\'s Trinity United Church of Christ and former pastor of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., addresses a breakfast gathering at the National Press  Club in Washington, Monday, April 28, 2008. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Barack Obama’s one-time pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, has a new book coming out in October, along with a national tour to promote it.   The Spectator’s James Forsyth thinks this is “a huge problem for Obama.”

It means that the whole controversy over Wright’s racialist sermons and his friendship with Obama is going to be returning to the news agenda just as undecided voters begin to make up their minds.

Wright’s performance at the National Press Club back in April showed that Wright revels in the national spotlight and doesn’t care if his performances hurt Obama. If the Obama campaign and mutual friends of the two men couldn’t rein Wright in then, they have little hope of doing so in October considering that following Wright’s National Press Club performance Obama said that Wright’s views ‘rightly offend all Americans, and should be denounced’.

John Heileman, author of a long feature on “The Color-Coded Campaign” for New York magazine, goes further:

How Obama handles that moment may determine whether he becomes the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

For many Democrats, Obama’s eventual residence there has long seemed a foregone conclusion. But cast your mind forward twenty years and imagine looking back on this election. Would it really seem strange from that vantage point if the first black major-party nominee—a guy with a thin résumé, no foreign-policy credentials in an era scarred by terrorism, a background alien to much of Wonder Bread America, and the full name Barack Hussein Obama—lost? No, it would seem inevitable. That Obama has convinced us that the opposite outcome is even possible is testament to his many gifts. The next three months will show whether they include a talent that would serve him very well in the Oval Office: the ability to conduct a necessary, indeed vital, conversation that no one really wants to have.

The trouble with all this is that it’s not as if the Wright controversy or the broader question of race are just emerging.  Obama has already weathered those storms once in defeating Hillary Clinton, the odds-on favorite with every conceivable advantage, for the Democratic nomination.  He’s really deft at handling the issue.  Further, race is a dual-edged sword. The Republicans have to go out of their way to avoid even the hint of using Obama’s against him.

To be sure, Obama would very much prefer not to have Wright, a loose cannon, getting attention in the month leading up to the election.  But it remains his election to lose.

UPDATEEssence magazine’s Roland Martin has Wright’s daughter emphatically denying that he has a new book coming out.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite via Houston Chronicle

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dantheman says:

    “The Republicans have to go out of their way to avoid even the hint of using Obama’s against him.”

    Evidence for this is remarkably spotty, in light of the recent McCain ads. Or do you think it’s just a coincidence that McCain is repeating the same type of ads used in 2006 against Harold Ford, linking the black male candidate with attractive and sexually available white women?

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  2. Frank Carter says:

    This excerpt from James Joyners column , referring to Rev. Wright’s book, is flawed:
    “It means that the whole controversy over Wright’s racialist sermons and his friendship with Obama is going to be returning to the news agenda just as undecided voters begin to make up their minds.”
    This controversy will NOT receive headlines from the mainstream, liberal and socialist leaning press. Anything that close to November that has the hint of hurting Obama will never be front page news…it will probably be buried near the tax sale and municipal listings.
    Frank Carter

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  3. Pug says:

    This controversy will NOT receive headlines from the mainstream, liberal and socialist leaning press.

    I’m sorry, but get clue.

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  4. DL says:

    The entire game of using racism as a weapon to control the masses may have just passed its heyday. I suspect that the Bradley effect is not about bigotry as much as it is just a lot of people tired of being conned by the game of racism as victimhood. Too many examples of success by other races -too many abuses of well intentioned consenting guilt-ridden whites -too many failures of money and government programs that have failed to improve the lot of the black community. The Rev Wright has exposed the real racism holding back the black community.

    No more guilt and plenty of “tired of it all” anger is the inevitable reaction to the race scam.

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  5. I’m not sure what metric you use to assume that it’s Obama’s election “to lose.” At this point in 2000 and 2004, Kerry and Gore were ahead of Bush in the polls and look what happened. Or, simply the fact that a black man named Obama should be the favorite, seems a little…

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  6. Daughter: Rev. Wright NOT publishing book in October
    http://essence.typepad.com/news/2008/08/daughter-rev-wr.html

    by Roland S. Martin
    Essence.com

    A New York magazine cover story last week reignited the debate over Rev. Jeremiah Wright when it stated – without attribution – that the former pastor of Sen. Barack Obama was releasing a new book.

    But his daughter, Jeri, told me today that the story is absolutely false.

    “The only book we’re working on is the history of Trinity (United Church of Christ) and I haven’t even started editing that,” Wright told Essence.com.

    After I reached out to her, she called her father, who is teaching and ministering in Ghana (I ran into him last month when I was in the West African nation) and said he “laughed” when she asked about the book.

    “He said that he also got an email, but was unable to respond since he’s in email hell,” Wright said, meaning in a place in Ghana where it’s difficult to send and receive email.

    “I asked him if he was writing and he said, ‘Nope. I’m not publishing anything. I’m not going on any book tours.'”

    Rumors about a pre-election book by Wright have been surfacing for the last few months, and intensified since the New York article.

    It even has caused a stir among Obama supporters, who were also chasing down the rumor to see if there was any legitimacy to it.

    I even got calls from executives in the publishing world inquiring as to whether the story is true.

    Jeri Wright says when her dad returns to another part of Ghana, he will issue a formal response to the New York article reiterating that what they reported is false.

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  7. davod says:

    The Clinonites will do everything to ensure Wright and his book get coverage.

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  8. Chris says:

    I agree with Heileman that Obama needs to “conduct a necessary, indeed vital, conversation that no one really wants to have.” It would be better for Obama to do a Nixon ‘Checkers’-type speech which is clear, concise and gets coverage, otherwise McCain, Clinton and surrogates will re-hash this over and again in the run up to November.

    James says that the election is Obama’s to lose, but his lead is nowhere near comfortable enough for him to not tackle the Wright issue head-on.

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  9. Frankie says:

    He crawled across the finish line after the word got out about the Reverend Wright. Hillary was beating him by double digits. If you think this is going away, I have news for you. He is going to be answering or ignoring why he sat under a racist preacher for 20 years, Why is is buddies with Bill Ayers a Known Terrorist. He is going to have to explain what he means by “Change” a word to shadow his Socialist agenda. He is going to have to explain how a Community Organizer that did very little for his community is going to stand toe to toe with Putnin and other potential adversaries. He will have to answer his liberal Partisan voting record in the Senate and explain to us how he is going to end partisanship when he has absolutely zero examples of being bipartisan. He is going to have to explain an energy plan that is better than AAA advice of keeping our tires inflated. Reverend Wright is not going away and there will be plenty of people to make sure we do not forget. i think the Reverend Wright will sell more books than Pelosi.haha

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  10. […] Read the story here. […]

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  11. Gypsy Man says:

    This story is developing. Not WRIGHT for America has a couple good posts on how Wright may have been pressured or otherwise induced by Obama into scrapping this book tour.

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  12. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I ordered from Amazon, both the books critical of Obama. Corsi’s book looks interesting. I understand Obama’s own books are so inflamatory any nonracist person would never vote for Obama. It tickles me some thinking people believe Obama has a chance to win this election. H. Clinton has it right. McCain has a lifetime of service to this country, Obama gave a speech in 2004. If you are taking this man at his word and he gets elected, are you going to take responsiblity what will happen afterword? My God, this man voted against preserving the life of children who survived abortion! What on earth is wrong with you?

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  13. Dantheman says:

    “If you are taking this man at his word and he gets elected, are you going to take responsiblity what will happen afterword?”

    I’d take this far more seriously if we saw any Republicans taking responsibility for helping elect the current President, and what has happened as a result thereof.

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  14. sam says:

    @Frankie:

    He will have to answer his liberal Partisan voting record in the Senate and explain to us how he is going to end partisanship when he has absolutely zero examples of being bipartisan.

    Well Frankie, you’re pretty uninformed:

    The Hill reported on June 4 [2008] that “McCain’s Senate office contacted Obama’s office Monday night asking to sign on to” the Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008 (S.3077), an update of the 2006 Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act that, according to The Hill, “Obama had been working on … primarily with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).” The Hill added that “Obama staffers were happy to comply with McCain’s request to sign on.” Obama introduced the bill on June 3 with McCain, Coburn, and Carper as co-sponsors .

    As Media Matters for America has noted, Obama also worked with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (IN) to produce the “Lugar-Obama proliferation and threat reduction initiative,” which President Bush signed into law on January 11, 2007, and which received funding on June 28 of that year. The initiative, according to a joint press release by Lugar and Obama’s Senate offices, “expands U.S. cooperation to destroy conventional weapons. It also expands the State Department’s ability to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction.” Also, four of the 12 co-sponsors of Obama’s bill (S.2125) to “promote relief, security, and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo” were Republicans: Sam Brownback (KS), Susan Collins (ME), Mike DeWine (OH), and James Inhofe (OK). President Bush signed the bill into law on December 22, 2006.

    Link

    You really ought to do a little research before you pop off.

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  15. peter says:

    Thank god this reality is coming to light. Let us not forget about Michelle Obama, who I speculate is even more of a fervent racist…Rev. Wright, and Trinity Church, are mentioned by name by James Cone, the author of an EXTREMELY hateful book called “Black Theology and Black Power” which is incendiary in it’s condemnation of christianity as a “white man’s” religion..et al..Wright himself has as a mission statement of black liberation theology, which if you are unfamiliar with, this link should help…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Liberation_Theology
    Obama and Michelle spent 20 years, listening to the most vitriolic, caustic rhetoric regarding white america and religion…they were married by Rev. wright, baptised their children by Rev. wright. I am a christian, and when i go to my church, it lasts for and hour or so…the usual hymns, praises etc, and then a sermon. The minister knows he has perhaps 1/2 hour to convey his sentiment about whatever he wishes to talk about…if it is hateful, or nasty, why would one stay? especially for 20 YEARS??? c’mon, we know who obama is in the media, but the Real obama are frighteningly marxist, reverse racists!!!!

    God help us, and GO McCain!!!

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