Obama Denounces Wright Comments

Barack Obama has unequivocally denounced the recent sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright in a press conference today.

The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” he said. “His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.”

“They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs,” he said.

“If Reverend Wright thinks that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, I may not know him as well as I thought either.”

“I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church,” he said. “But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the U.S. wartime efforts with terrorism — then there are no exuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced, and that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.”

More on this at Politico–read the whole thing. I believe that Obama did what he had to do today–denounce the extreme views of Wright, while still acknowledging the good things that Obama found in Trinity. Other OTB perspectives are welcome.

Update (James Joyner): I’m not sure what more Obama could say, to be honest. He’ll be tarred somewhat for having spent 20 years in Wright’s congregation and touting him so heavily as his mentor. But this should stop the bleeding.

Update (James Joyner): Kevin Drum, reacting to my first update, quips, “You betcha. I’m sure Sean Hannity and John McCain will take this straight to heart.” Heh. I don’t doubt that Obama’s opponents will continue to try to exploit the damage already done. I do, however, think today’s speech will limit the scope of said damage.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    As another commenter in another thread suggested, he denounced Wright with just enough “pissed off” overtures to prevent any “throwing him under a bus” accusations. I’m with Alex and James, there wasn’t much better Obama could have done, he loses on this issue whatever he does, but this should give the least expensive loss.

  2. Michael says:

    On the bright side, McCain is denouncing Hagee and Obama is denouncing Wright, all in all a good day for American politics.

    But now I have to wonder, who will Clinton denounce? I mean, she doesn’t want to be left out, does she?

  3. C.Wagener says:

    So Obama is the most gullible man on earth, having not properly assessed Wright over 20 years, or a liar that shares Wright’s racist and anti-American views.

    Holy cow.

  4. Michael says:

    So Obama is the most gullible man on earth, having not properly assessed Wright over 20 years

    Yes, because only the most gullible man on earth doesn’t know everything about everyone they associate with. Give it a break.

    There are aspects of your live that the people who care about you most don’t know. There is most likely aspects of the lives of people you care about that would shock you, even make you distance yourself from them. Don’t pretend that you know everything about everyone you love, and don’t pretend that the people you love know everything about you.

  5. capital L says:

    “Yes, because only the most gullible man on earth doesn’t know everything about everyone they associate with.”

    But to not know the very public views of a man who spoke publicly at least once a week? Even allowing that Obama likely didn’t have perfect attendance and Wright likeky gave many sermons that weren’t politicized rants, I find it hard to believe that Obama failed to pick up on this stuff at some point over the last 20 years! It’s not as if this is some sort of “hidden” side of Wright!

    Furthermore, this was not merely someone he “associated” with. This was a mentor, a religious leader, a surrogate father figure, and the man who provided the title of Obama’s biography. Give me a break.

    Not to mention that merely a couple weeks ago Obama proclaimed that there was no way he could disown Wright.

    To ignore the implications of this is absurd. It seems clear that Obama went to this church for political expediency, and it’s rather spectacularly blown up in his face.

  6. C.Wagener says:

    Er, Michael,

    When did I claim that? I could have a friend that surfs for kiddie porn five hours a day unknown to me. The thing is if I had a friend that told me he surfed for kiddie porn five hours a day, he not only wouldn’t be my friend, I’d be in touch with the police.

    Wright wasn’t trying to hide anything. He is currently on a media tour. Have you noticed?

    Is there any act or statement made by a democrat that you wouldn’t excuse?

  7. Michael says:

    It seems clear that Obama went to this church for political expediency

    20 years is expedient?

  8. Michael says:

    Wright wasn’t trying to hide anything. He is currently on a media tour. Have you noticed?

    Currently. He is currently on a media tour. He is also currently being strongly denounced by Barack Obama. I don’t think anybody who knew the man claims he’s been consistently on this kick for the past 20 years.

    Is there any act or statement made by a democrat that you wouldn’t excuse?

    What is there to excuse? Should Obama be excused for being friends with a racist? Should he be excused for believing that Wright was a good man? Should we be excusing Jesus for dining with sinners too? Please tell me what I should be angry about, because I’m just not feeling it.

  9. Michael says:

    When did I claim that? I could have a friend that surfs for kiddie porn five hours a day unknown to me. The thing is if I had a friend that told me he surfed for kiddie porn five hours a day, he not only wouldn’t be my friend, I’d be in touch with the police.

    Suppose your friend was instead surfing for furry porn? Perfectly legal, and definitely weird. Would they stop being your friend? If that’s another yes, how about asian porn? lesbian porn? Where exactly would you draw the line between someone who can remain your friend and someone who can’t?

  10. capital L says:

    “Suppose your friend was instead surfing for furry porn?”

    Suppose your friend talked about furry porn in church occasionally. Would you be outraged when people questioned your affiliation with said friend after say, a couple decades.

    “20 years is expedient?”

    Well I could be totally off base here, I just don’t happen to think that Obama believes all of Wright’s Liberation Theology conspiracy theories as much as he felt that attending the church ingrained him into a certain subset of the regional African-American community.

  11. C.Wagener says:

    Michael,

    He was publicly speaking in front of Obama for 20 years. Are you claiming that he hasn’t been on this kick for 20 years? That, while he was a black nationalist for that period, he dissented from the black nationalist’s segregationist views? That, while friends with Louis Farrakhan, Jamil Muhammad, and Jamil Shabazz, these were more of the “poker buddy” relationship variety than fellow travelers? Just because he has been on the “Zionism is Racism” “kick” (as you say) since at least 1995, certainly doesn’t speak to what a great guy he was between 1987 and 1995.

    Get with the program. Even Obama has come around that this guy isn’t being mischaracterized by a few sound bites.

  12. C.Wagener says:

    Michael,

    If you see moral equivalence between consensual acts between adults and exploitation of children, I see why you have no problem with racism.

  13. Michael says:

    Suppose your friend talked about furry porn in church occasionally. Would you be outraged when people questioned your affiliation with said friend after say, a couple decades.

    Yeah, I probably would be. What is more interesting is that you would not.

    Are you claiming that he hasn’t been on this kick for 20 years?

    Uh, yeah, I’ve been pretty consistent in claiming that, haven’t I? I mean, I’m not being too subtle, am I?

    Just because he has been on the “Zionism is Racism” “kick” (as you say)

    Perhaps you could provide a definition of Zionism that doesn’t revolve around one’s ancestry?

    Get with the program. Even Obama has come around that this guy isn’t being mischaracterized by a few sound bites.

    You’ll notice that I’ve been defending Obama’s relationship with Wright much more so than Wright himself, especially in light of his recent statements.

  14. Anderson says:

    But now I have to wonder, who will Clinton denounce?

    Obama, of course.

  15. Michael says:

    If you see moral equivalence between consensual acts between adults and exploitation of children, I see why you have no problem with racism.

    Excuse me? I was correcting your analogy to remove the unnecessary qualifier that the act be illegal, I wasn’t making any suggestions that one is equivalent to the other, my whole reason for correcting you was to highlight the fact that they are _significantly_ different.

  16. Michael says:

    I just don’t happen to think that Obama believes all of Wright’s Liberation Theology conspiracy theories as much as he felt that attending the church ingrained him into a certain subset of the regional African-American community

    If Obama is capable of planning nuanced political moves 2 decades in advance of a Presidential run nobody saw coming, then he’s the best damned politician ever born. That must mean he’s been working to undermine the future Iraqi Caliphate since he was in diapers.

  17. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Remember the Dems who forgave William Jefferson Clinton for each and every one of his foibles? People like Michael were saying “so what” about the troubles Clinton had. These are the same folks who would usher Obama into the oval office. The “so whats” would begin again. B. Hussein Obama is what he is. An inexperienced first term U.S. Senator running for the office of President based upon a speech he gave at the 2004 Democratic Convention. His past association with a domestic terrorist, a race baiting preacher, his marriage to a America hating woman, his real estate dealings with criminal elements have no relationship to his qualifications to be considered for President. Based upon his voting record in both the Illinois state senate as well as the U.S. Senate, and his life long association with leftist America haters. I would be elated to see Obama elected President. That would probably be the last Democrat and Black person to get to run seriously for that office.

  18. SeniorD says:

    Let us remember one critical point in the Wright Saga – Barack Obama is running for the most powerful political/leadership position in the world. Do anyone honestly thing he won’t say or do anything to grab the Brass Ring?

    I’ll believe Comrade Obama’s rhetoric when published images of those two together arm in arm somehow just show Comrade Obama.

  19. C.Wagener says:

    Michael,

    Excuse you? Your an anti-Semite that defends child pornography.

    No, I won’t excuse you.

  20. Michael says:

    Excuse you? Your an anti-Semite that defends child pornography.

    No, I won’t excuse you.

    Are you seriously incapable of reading, or have you just realized you lost the argument and now want to change the subject?

  21. C.Wagener says:

    Change the subject? A … like legal versus moral? I never suggested that Wright or Obama did anything illegal. I suggested they did something immoral.

    As for your Zionism shtick. That is right from the neo-nazi play book that Wright, and obviously you, play by. A course in Western Civ or Japanese history involves ancestry, but is not racist.

    And since, by your own admission you view child porn as a legal, but not moral issue, I have characterized you correctly and it didn’t take me twenty years to do so.

  22. Beldar says:

    Dr. Joyner, with due respect, you’re missing the point about what this has become.

    It’s not whether Barack Obama seriously believes that the American government manufactured and released the AIDS virus to oppress the black race.

    It’s about whether Barack Obama is an insincere empty suit, a Joe Isuzu in a better suit, whose guiding principle is the latest focus-group response to the question: “Okay, then, how do you like me now?”

  23. sam says:

    I would be elated to see Obama elected President. That would probably be the last Democrat and Black person to get to run seriously for that office.

    Is there any other way to parse this than as rascist?

  24. Grewgills says:

    He was publicly speaking in front of Obama for 20 years. Are you claiming that he hasn’t been on this kick for 20 years?

    Most of TUCC’s services over the pat 20 years were broadcast. They have been web cast for several years. All of the sermon’s were/are available on DVD (I believe same day) from the church. If there were much more from Wright’s sermons to get worked up over someone would have it. That more has not come out says to me that there is little if any more. People instead try to let 3 sermons define a man. These same people are shocked and offended that a black man writing in 1969 would be highly critical of white power structures in the US and that he would be critical of white people in general for allowing the abuses of that power structure. Bit for one loves to take snippets from Cone’s books written in 1969-70 entirely out of context and pretend that Wright was preaching those particular disortions of Cone’s thesis weekly for the pulpit until earlier this year.

    I would be elated to see Obama elected President. That would probably be the last Democrat and Black person to get to run seriously for that office.

    Why? Do you hate black people as much as you hate Democrats?

    Excuse you? Your an anti-Semite that defends child pornography.

    What are you smoking? You were the one who drew a moral equivalence between child porn and Rev. Wrights comments. If anyone on this thread has minimized that particular crime it is you.
    Zionism in simplistic terms is Jewish nationalism. Using the lazy definitions of racism that have been employed to label the discussed comments of Wright racist Zionism fits the bill. Using Webster’s or OED definitions of racism neither qualify.

  25. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sam, you can parse my statement anyway you like. I am not a racist. What I said was true not racist. If a far left wing black gets into the oval office and does what he plans to do, do you honestly think this country will elect, if elections are still held when this closet communist is done, another democrat or a person of color within our lifetime? The first black President needs to be extraordinarity sucessful. If you think otherwise, you are way to quick to call others names and not very quick in the thinking department.

  26. Grewgills says:

    Ragshaft,

    What I said was true not racist. If a far left wing black gets into the oval office and does what he plans to do, do you honestly think this country will elect, if elections are still held when this closet communist is done, another democrat or a person of color within our lifetime?

    What you said is not true, but it does read as bigoted.

    I would be elated to see Obama elected President (A). That would probably be the last Democrat (B) and Black person (C) to get to run seriously for that office.

    You hope for A. If A occurs then you believe B and C will follow. The logical inference here is that you hope for B and C. It is difficult to read your statement as saying anything other than you will be elated if no Democrat or black person is ever again seriously considered for president. Hoping for the end of a serious opposition party is foolish but typical partisan hackery, being elated by the prospect of no black person ever being seriously considered for the presidency is bigoted.

    * Where A is Obama being elected, B is a future Democrat elected, and C is a future black person elected.

  27. Bithead says:

    You may recall, Grew, Jimmy Carter?
    Obama will make Carter look like a walk in the park.
    The blowback from the electorate will be commensurate with his performance. This has nothing to do with race, but with his marxist views, which seem to stand a fair chance of making it into his policy.

    Past that, Ragshaft is quite correct; Like Carter, the result will be landslides for Republicans for the next three cycles at least. And I suspect that there will be those who will look askance at the candidacy of any black for quite a while by that same token. And that part’s sad, really.

    Go ahead, and tell me how I’m a racist, now.

  28. Robert Lewis says:

    The Federal Income Tax Lien for $48,000.00 filed against Rev. Wright

    reunionpi@aol.com

  29. Grewgills says:

    Past that, Ragshaft is quite correct; Like Carter, the result will be landslides for Republicans for the next three cycles at least. And I suspect that there will be those who will look askance at the candidacy of any black for quite a while by that same token. And that part’s sad, really.

    Go ahead, and tell me how I’m a racist, now.

    Thinking that an Obama presidency will fail and that people will associate that failure with his race which would in turn influence some ignorant people to choose to vote against future black candidates does not make you racist. Gleefully looking forward to the former so the later would come to pass makes Ragshaft look like a racist.
    I think your perception of the effects of racism on whites vs the effects of racism on blacks are woefully off base and that you suffer from a failure of empathy on this point, but I would not classify you as racist given what I know now. I’m sure you’ll sleep better knowing that 😉

  30. davod says:

    “This has nothing to do with race, but with his marxist views, which seem to stand a fair chance of making it into his policy.”

    The Theology of this Church comes out of the marxist liberation theology used by the socialists in South America.

  31. markm says:

    “But this should stop the bleeding.”

    Kinda sorda. I see the Rev. still doing speaking engagements with A LOT of media coverage…and I see him not being so nicey-nicey towards the Obama camp from here on in.

    Also, notice that Obama has never said specifically where their views diverged. He’s always given the blanket statement “I never heard these offensive things in my 20+ years at the church”. Well, being that you attended that church for so long and obviously agree for most of what the Rev./Churches views are….which ones don’t you agree with???. Is it only the ones on YOUTUBE or only the ones the media has transcripts of???.

    He did finally did some good by putting some distance between the Rev. and himself but it’s not just going to go away.

  32. sam says:

    You are a racist:

    …Obama is a bum and not only should he not be President, he should be ousted from the senate. He is a liar and a racist. I judged him not by the color of his skin, but the very lack of character he has displayed for a very long time. It is what happens when white trash gets layed by visiting Africans. [my emphasis]

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III, April 16, 2008 at 6:45 PM on Hot Air.

  33. davod says:

    There is basically no real difference in the tone and content of Wrights NPC speech to what he said previously. So what was Obama so steamed about.

    If you listen to Obama, he was upset that Wright had disrespected him. It is all about Obama.

  34. Michael says:

    Past that, Ragshaft is quite correct;

    Bit, haven’t we established by now that when you find yourself in agreement with Zelsdorf, you’re most likely wrong?

  35. Bithead says:

    Ya know, Mike, you’re really going to need to ditch this Ceasarian trait of killing the messenger.

    When the man’s wrong, I’ll take a flamethrower to him, as I do you, regularly enough. OTOH, when you’re right, I’ll say so. I apply the same rules to you, and we get along well enough.

  36. Michael says:

    Bit, it’s not just that Zelsdorf is always wrong, it’s that Zelsdorf _tries_ to be wrong. He purposefully goes to the extreme, fanatical right-wing tirade. He’s like Triumph only more consistent and less creative. He’s a shock troll, he doesn’t think he’s right about anything that he says, so when _you_ think he’s right, something’s wrong.

  37. Bithead says:

    Gleefully looking forward to the former so the later would come to pass makes Ragshaft look like a racist.

    Not particularly, Grew. I’ve said for many years, now hat the very worst thing you can do to a liberal democrat is to give them exactly what they ask for. Obama is a case in point.

  38. Grewgills says:

    Not particularly, Grew. I’ve said for many years, now hat the very worst thing you can do to a liberal democrat is to give them exactly what they ask for. Obama is a case in point.

    That is just foolishly partisan. Wanting a black man to be elected and to then fail miserably so that future black people will not be seriously considered for high office is bigoted. Ragshaft, or at least the character he plays, is both foolishly partisan and a bigot.