How the Rev. Wright Controversy Actually Helps Barack Obama.

(Very interesting discussion in the comments. Clinton supporters and anyone else with a view: please weigh in. - promoted by Bob)

(And I use the word “controversy” loosely.)  Here is how it actually helps Obama.  First, it should convince anyone out there who still thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim that he is not.  (I am offended that it should even matter, but that is for another discussion.)  I bet there were still a lot of ignorant people up until yesterday who still thought Obama is a Muslim.  They would have to be a moron (and hopefully not a voter) to still believe that today.  

Second, it has given Barack Obama an opportunity to repudiate Rev. Wright more forcefully than he did before.  Obama’s previous response to the original Wright feeding frenzy may not have been enough to convince the voters he needs to win over in order to win the Presidency, particular Reagan Democrats.  I realize this is a stretch, but it sure is going to be interesting to see how it all plays out over the next week.            

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20 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I think...

    ...the Muslim thing is ridiculous and that it shouldn't matter, but, let's get real, people who "thought" he was a Muslim last week still "think" he is this week.

    And his latest forceful repudiation just drives home the point that he wasn't going to do it until he had to.  

    And I don't think Wright is going anywhere any time soon.

    • It certainly isn't helpful to have Wright chant, $quot;Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Barack HUSSEIN Obama...$quot; at the National Press event.

    • that's your silver lining? ugh.

      Profile of an American voter...

      Then: Thinks Obama is Muslim and that is very, very bad.

      Now: Knows Obama is Christian and doesn't mind Reverend Wright.

      Your silver lining seems dark and foreboding.

      • What silver...

        ...lining are you referring to?  Ugh

        Anyone who "thought" Obama was a Muslim didn't really think that, hence the quotes.  It's a defamatory tactic willfully being employed by fringe conservatives.

        I don't even know what your "Now" scenario means.  Whatever it is, I am sure that it's not what I said.  My point is and was that Obama's most recent repudiation just makes him look like he is playing catch up to a political calculation on his part that has failed miserably and it is not a good thing for him.

        None of what I said has anything to do with his perceived religious affiliations because any perception that he is a Muslim is purposeful and fatuous.

        And none of it was framed as a profile of an American voter.

        • my bad, anthony

          read the original diary and then my post. see if it makes more sense. my post was a misplaced reaction to the original diary that you reacted to, not a reaction to you.

          all by fault.

          i agree with your post.

    • Reason for my post.

      One of the reasons for my post was that someone I know, a working class elderly man, said to me, in the context of a conversation about Rev. Wright's speeches, that he thought Obama was a muslim.  He knows now it is not true.  (He is someone who tries to keep up with news as much as he can.)

      I don't know if thinking Obama was a muslim would have affected my friend's vote in the fall- he is a true blue Democrat- and I agree it should not matter, but reality is reality.  After eight years of Bush's hate and fear mongering, some of it has stuck.  As we all know, there are a lot of people vote based on fear and prejudice.            

  2. Awesome theory...

    ...less awesome reality.

    I was talking to an acquaintance of mine in Waltham a few weeks ago who was totally convinced that Obama is a Muslim, despite the fact that I told him that Obama belonged to a Church. Now that the Rev. Wright "fiasco" (I do not use that term loosely) has happened, I asked him whether he still thinks Obama is a Muslim. He said - and I quote (roughly): "This is perfect! He gets to have a pastor espouse anti-American stuff and gets to pretend he doesn't believe it and that he's not a Muslim all in one!" So, somehow, this guy got it into his head that Obama is (a) a Muslim, even though he has a Reverend who is decidedly not Muslim; (b) using Rev. Wright to say anti-American (c) and somehow Obama believes what Wright believes.

    This is dramatically deranged. It defies logic. But negative attacks aren't really meant to be logical. They're meant to be Politically Damaging. I wonder how my acquaintance got these things into his head? I imagine it's not by accident.

    Also... an "opportunity to repudiate Rev. Wright"? Are you kidding me? I don't know Obama personally, but I cannot imagine that he was just chomping at the bit to repudiate Rev. Wright but just didn't have the chance. Give me a break.  

  3. If he still beats Senator Clinton

    After taking on board all of this criticism, then that will be a strong endorsement indeed. In that sense, dealing with these issues now can help him later.

    • GOP thoughts intrigue

      Politico's JMart:The old guard

      Most, of course, are licking their chops at the re-emergence of the Rev.

      But longtime Republican adman Alex Castellanos touches on something that has been discussed intermittently and that I thought about in seeing some of the figures (Willie Wilson, Cornel West) in Wright's Amen Corner yesterday at the Press Club:

      "Is there more to this than Rev. Wright? Is there a generational struggle over black political leadership between the old leaders of the black church, who have tradionally filled that role, and the new kid on the block, Sen. Obama? Certainly Hillary has found surprising support there among the old leadership. Does Obama's ascendency threaten the old guard?"

      It will be fascinating to see the reaction to the reaction. That is, what do Wright and other such unapologetic old guard types say about Obama's rebuke today?

      Note: Only read this because I was once in The Old Guard (3rd U.S. Infantry)

      • one piece of supporting evidence for the theory

        It's interesting that I read your comment shortly after seeing this letter by James McBride in today's NY Times. He also sees a generational issue:

        As a mixed-race black person whose story has been read by millions ("The Color of Water"), I have watched with angst and horror the unraveling of Senator Barack Obama's campaign by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. and the old guard of angry African-Americans who support the Clintons and would deny our country a chance to right itself behind a leader of dignity, moral strength and intelligence.

        Yet I'd expect to see lower percentages in the exit polls among African-American voters than what Obama's been getting if this were true. Maybe I've missed something. Have the exit polls broken down the A-A vote by age blocks? Or are we only talking about the old "guard" and not necessarily about the older A-A population in general?

  4. something I've been thinking about

    I was raised in the Catholic Church but am no longer a member. The Church of my youth seemed to focus on how to be a positive force in the world. But as I got older, the focus seemed to shift and I increasingly felt less comfortable.

    The process of separation really started in the class (a weekend retreat) that my wife and I had to take in order to be married in the Church. At that time, we both had our problems with the Church and our class happened to be a very rebellious lot. Many couples spoke openly about the fact that they were living together, having sex, and using birth control, and that they didn't feel that made them any less of a Catholic. The priest lectured us, saying that the Catholic Church wasn't a "smorgasbord" - you didn't get to pick and choose which parts you liked and then disregard the rest.

    That lecture had the opposite effect on my wife and me from what I assume the priest intended. We did get married in the Church but didn't feel any closer to it.

    Then the sex abuse scandal hit. This was the last straw for us. We could no longer be associated with an institution that allowed this to go on for so long and have such an awful effect on so many people.

    So what's this all leading to and what's the relevance, you are probably asking at this point... I still have many relatives, friends, and neighbors who belong to the Church. In fact, my wife and I are my niece's godparents and we're going to her First Communion this weekend. I realize that they have their reasons for still belonging to the Church, and I respect their decisions. I miss a few things, but I think we made the right decision - for us.

    To me, what the Catholic Church did is way, way more heinous than anything the Rev. Wright had to say. So just as I understand how my family and friends can still belong to their Church, I can understand Obama's situation. Should I be spending my time criticizing anyone who still belongs to the Catholic Church? I don't think so. If my Catholic family and friends remain with the Church, does that mean that they condone what the Church did in reaction to the sex abuse scandal? Of course not.

    • Great Post!

      This bears true witness of how the Obama/Wright storyline equates to many of us in an intimate way.

      My wife, kids and I have such a relationship with the Church. Both my kids either go or had gone to Catholic school, but we take from that relationship what we like.

      The paradigms are shifting and Obama is smack dab in the middle of it. Too his great credit, imo.

    • Fantastic Perspective

      I was wondering why this diary could have made the front page, but now I am glad it did.

      I can't think of a better or more relevant way that these two issues could have been equated. Thank you.

    • condone what, exactly?

      does that mean that they condone what the Church did in reaction to the sex abuse scandal?

      What did the church do in reaction to the sex abuse scandal again?  You mean move priests around and cover it up?  There's some disconnect here between the bad thing, the reaction, and the reaction to the reaction, and so on.  Does anyone in the church, in the hierarchy or the laity, condone child molesting?  I don't think so, so I don't see how anyone could feel they had a conflict of interest in staying with the church unless they favored child molesting.

      • a good point to clarify

        What I was referring to were the actions taken to enable priests who were accused or known to have been abusers to abuse again. In my opinion, anyone in the hierarchy who was involved in a decision to cover-up or to move a suspect priest carries part of the responsibility for those who were victimized as a result. I couldn't continue to belong to a church whose leaders took such actions, knowing that they were putting children at risk.

    • I appreciate your sincerity

      but I've actually read this very idea in several different places, and I think it's quite flawed. Obama isn't being criticized for his association with the church, he's being criticized for his associtation with Rev. Wright. What would be more analagous would be if parishioners kept going to the church after the priest had been revealed to be a child abuser (which is certainly not to say that Wright is anywhere near that level.) This is about a personal, profound relationship between two men, not about membership in an institution.

      I fail to see how Obama benefits in any way from this. If someone truly believed Obama was a Muslim, they would have had plenty of opportunities to hear about his membership in the church since this issue first surfaced. The assumption seems to be that the most recent events will somehow make people more aware of Obama's church membership. I think that's been pretty clear for some time.

      I'm sorry, but this just smacks of an ongoing syndrome I see among Obama supporters. There's always an explanation that somehow absolves Obama of responsibility, and always a theory about how seemingly every event is actually good for Obama. I've been admonsished repeatedly to read Rev. Wright's sermons so I can know what he said "in context." I've also read paeans to his character and strength. Now, he essentially repeats the same stuff, the only difference being that he accused Obama of playing politics, and suddenly he's a pariah to Obama supporters, and wasn't Obama great for stepping up and handling it.

      I think as long as Obama supporters continue to have blinders on about this issue, they'll fail to see the real damage this has done to Obama. First, I see a lot of people falling back on the characterization of people who have been critical of Wright as really being fearful of the "scary black man," as if no one could legitimately have a problem with Wright's remarks. I'm sure there's many people who were turned off by a glimpse into the black church experience, but minimizing people's genuine concerns is a losing game. Second, the firestorm primarily started around Wright's "God damn America" remarks, which had nothing to do with race. Obama chose to frame it as an entirely racial issue in his speech (one of the reasons I was less than impressed) because that's a conversation he can control. But I suspect a lot of voters weren't taken in by the misdirection.

      As a Clinton supporter, I'm not so much concerned with the subbstance of Wright's remarks. His comments on AIDS really destroy his credibility for me, but he doesn't need to be credible, since he's not running. My issue is a much more practical one. Obama and his campaign have butchered the handling of this. I think the attempt to keep Wright in the background and hope no one noticed him was incredibly naive and short sighted. Worse yet, even as recently as the Philadelphia debate, Obama seems at a loss when he needs to articulate his stance on the issue. If Obama had coasted to the nomination and this had blown up in the GE, I would have been furious with him.

      Obama supporters like to ridicule the Clinton campaign for incompetence, and they've had their share of missteps without a doubt. But the fact remains that Hillary has taken a withering hail of very intensley personal criticism, and the coverage of her campaign in the press has focused largely on when she should drop out, why isn't she dropping out, and how much do you think she's destroying the party? Yet at this late date, she's winning major primaries by double digits, and is poised to dominate in several more. And all the Obama camp seems to be able to do is to inflate every standard campaign tactic she uses against him into some kind of political dirty trick, which only serves to make them look weak (I mean really, saying he has no economic plan is Rovian? Please.) I think it's about time for people to recognize that her camapaign may actually have some idea what it's doing.

  5. Easier if Obama hadn't reversed on Wright

    disclaimer: I'm a Hillary supporter who will vote for Obama if he beats her. I was originally an Edwards supporter.

    Right now I have more respect for Reverend Wright's handling of this than Obama's. I feel like he's been more straightforward and consistent than Obama. Obama was ready to stand by the "crazy uncle" until the "crazy uncle" refused to stay locked up in the basement.

    I may not be a fan of what Wright said or how he feels, but I respect the hell out of his digging in, defending himself and explaining what he meant. Yes, even if he's very wrong.

    Obama, I think, was too calculating. His claims to have not known or never have heard the Reverend's speeches or feelings were not quite believable. The "major" speech felt to me more an attempt to spin the YouTube clips into a palatable narrative. Better it were given when it wasn't needed to spin a bad story. His latest disavowing of the Reverend isn't consistent with the "everyone has a right to be frustrated with race issues and express that frustration without being completely dismissed" defense in the speech.

    It was an absolute neccesity that Obama cut the guy loose at some point. The problem was that he was so closely connected to Wright for so long in the first place without knowing (not likely) or wihtout preparing (certain) for the controversy that relationship would bring him. And the fact that he zigged and now he's zagging hurts.

  6. Too little too late

    I support Obama. Earlier this afternoon I had a conversation with a swing voter who was incensed that Obama could have stayed in this church for 20 years, 20 YEARS DAMMIT!

    Not just the "God damn America" - it almost seemed that could be forgiven. The nail seemed to be the 'white man gave the black man AIDS' statements. Seems to go with the argument I heard from a white man a few days ago who said he felt that Obama was racist. I'd never heard that before but now I'm starting to hear similar things more and more even if the words aren't as forthright.

    This whole episode helps Obama "repudiate Rev. Wright more focefully than he did before"?  Too little too late. According to some of the people who oppose Obama it appears perhaps 20 years too late.

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Fri 24 Oct 10:45 PM