Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: Obama on Race

19 March 2008

Obama on Race

Transcript available here

It was looking mighty grim for Obama for a couple of days there. He was unable to pull away from Clinton on Super Tuesday II, and some enterprising opposition researcher had re-read every sermon ever preached by Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, pulled out every controversial phrase that the Rev. Wright has spoken over the past eight years, and fed the results to media outlets. About a half dozen highly inflammatory quotes were uncovered, including one in which Wright says, "God Damn America."

Immediately, the right wing pounced. Some of the same voices who chided Obama for allegedly standing for nothing more concrete than change and unity now criticized him for his supposedly betraying his platitudes about unity. The Pillsbury Doughboy not only called for a blanket denunciation of Wright, but went on to say that the
African American community in general is racist, and that it's Obama's duty to give blacks in this country a good talking to. New York Times columnist Bill Kristol went so far as to accuse Obama of lying about not having attended the "God Damn America" sermon, based on an item on a lunatic right wing site called Newsmax.

So Obama became the only candidate in recent history to be judged not by his own words, but by those of his pastor. There seemed to be a real eagerness to dismiss any notion that Wright's words might have been based on legitimate grievances. And Obama was left in a position in which he could either turn his back on an old friend, or be branded a Black Supremacist. He chose to do neither.

Instead, Obama showed that he understands the nuances of the race issue. He understands that both Rev. Wright's inflammatory comments and the comments of Geraldine Ferraro are based on legitimate concerns. He understands that the need for America to have an honest discussion of race transcends Obama's need to appease the demagogues who demand that he repudiate Rev. Wright, and it transcends any advantage he might gain by lashing out at Ferraro and at the Clinton campaign. Instead of aggravating racial strife by making a "Sister Souljah" speech or by defensively lashing out at his critics, Obama chose to call for unity and reconciliation.


Some more good reasons to vote for Obama:

Obama has a signal accomplishment to his credit, a substantial one, which may change the shape of politics. If elected he will be the first to enter the office without financial backing from the major business, industrial or professional groups with their PACs, their contribution bundlers and lobbyists. (

I was opposed to this war in 2002... a war that should have never been authorized, a war that should have never been waged. I have been against it in 2002, 2003, 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8 and I will bring this war to an end in 2009.

Criticizing GOP efforts to extend major tax cuts from Bush's first term and to eliminate the estate tax, Obama said: "These are all steps that John McCain rightly said were irresponsible when they first came up." (


By the way, if you want to read how ridiculously biased a news outlet can be, check out this review of Obama's speech from the
White Supremacy Channel.


I would like to make one comment about the Doughboy's criticism of conspiracy theories within the black community. According to him, false conspiracy theories are very destructive, and politicians have an obligation to denounce them. So how come he still hasn't gotten around to asking John McCain to denounce Dick Cheney's ridiculous conspiracy theory involving
Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden?


I think this whole flap was about the right's attempt to "Sharptonize" Obama. The idea is to make Obama out to be a closeted racist. And while I think that this notion is too silly for serious people to contemplate, I think it's worth pointing out that Sharpton isn't a racist, compared to many of his critics. When he went out to eat with Bill O'Reilly, for example, it wasn't Sharpton who wound up making
racist remarks. But the all-time winner of the "racist charges Sharpton with racism" sweepstakes has to be Christopher M. Sullivan, the Commander-In-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans:

Once again Mr. Sharpton demonstrates his bigotry by trying to unjustly disparage the Confederate soldier’s flag.

Cross posted at Liberal Avenger and appletree)

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Anonymous gordo said...

Ack! I see that while I was cooking this up, Richard was beating me to the punch. I'll leave this post up anyway, because it's got some additional commentary.

2:18 am  
Blogger Twilight said...

In my opinion all Obama was doing here was covering his back.

He lied too.

On Friday he said he had never heard any of the hateful comments of his pastor, yesterday in "The Speech" he admitted that he had.

It's instructive to look at both sides of this, Richard, not just your own preferred side. I've done that, and this time I agree more with the talking heads and pundits I usually dislike, Hannity, Pat Buchannan, Frank Luntz. To me they are making sense - the rest of 'em are drunk on Kool-aid.

I'd like to be able to support Obama, but I can't. Gut feelings again!

1:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only in America [via Hollywood] does life imitate art, so if you ask me Obama's a slam dunk.

The clever market research to see how acceptable a black president would be, was actually the extremely popular TV series "24".

7:55 pm  
Blogger Meeg said...

This speech was a great moment for Obama and hopefully a turning point. For awhile he was trying to take the high road and (mostly) keep above the muckraking fray. But then it looked like his reputation had really been tarnished by all this focus on racial problems. I say kudos to Obama for taking the reins again and for addressing this issue so well.

10:50 pm  
Anonymous gordo said...


You're wrong. Obama denied hearing the specific statements that had been cited in press reports. In the speech, he said that he'd heard Wright say some things that he disagreed with, and some that he'd found offensive. No contradiction.

1:53 am  

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