Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obama: "I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As I mentioned yesterday, there has been much ado over some inflammatory comments by Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Obama's church in Chicago, Trinity United Church of Christ.

There has also been a good deal of unfairness and imbalance in the coverage of this alleged controversy, one fed lustily by Obama's opponents and willingly taken up by a debased media establishment out to boost ratings and its own narcissistic sense of self-importance by sensationalizing the Obama-Clinton race and more specifically to take down the frontrunner -- namely, Obama himself. There has simply been no equal and parallel coverage of McCain's ties to John Hagee and the christianist right, nor of Clinton's ties to Republican christianist fundamentalists in Washington. Instead, the focus has been disproportionately on Obama, and, as a result, he has been forced to respond.

And he did so yesterday at The Huffington Post. Make sure to read the entire piece. Here are a few key passages:

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.


The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.

Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.

An admirable and worthy response, in my view.

No doubt it will not be enough to satisfy Obama's opponents, however, both those who support Clinton and Republicans generally, but he affirmed here that he is a proud and patriotic American, a man of genuine Christian faith (even if Clinton, who knows better, waffles when asked whether he might be a Muslim; even if 13 percent of Americans think he's a Muslim, for such is the power of the smear campaign lined up against him; and even if his opponents are appealing to "casual prejudice," to anti-Muslim bigotry), a presidential candidate who can defend himself magnanimously yet forcefully, a leader who can rise above the ugliness of the political world while still battling to make that world a better place.

No, his opponents won't be satisfied, but, then, they never will. Campaigning from the gutter, all they can do is hurl mud and dirt and filth and shit at him, hoping something, anything, will stick, the lies and delusions of foul and corrupt politics, and of desperation.

But Obama has done what he needed to do, and he did so without lowering himself to that level, without succumbing to the allure of the gutter.

Is it any wonder he continues to inspire so many of us? Is it any wonder he has become one of the great leaders of our time?

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  • Hey, you live by the sword, you die by the sword!

    Obama had these preacher types throw the first race card down in South Carolina. That makes them fair game, Mike. If he didn't want to get into the gutter, he shouldn't have shoved the rest of us in there.

    By Blogger Carl, at 8:36 AM  

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