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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Barack Obama Denounces Jeremiah Wright- Too Little, Too Late?

[Update below]Video and full transcript of Obama's remarks with Q & A section found below.

When Jeremiah Wright's racist, anti-American sermons came to the light of day and were blasted from one end of the Internet to another, via video, showing his words coming from his mouth, Barack Obama had a chance to disown and denounce the words and the man, but he did not go far enough on either front to make a difference or to stop the associations from some that made the point that if Barack Obama sat in a pew listening to his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, for almost 20 years, on some level he must have agreed with those beliefs.

After the firestorm started, Barack Obama took to the airwaves and televisions sets, and tried to distance himself from the words of his pastor, while still saying Wright was "like family to me."

Obama took it a step farther in his speech, and said:

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

I asked at the time if Obama went far enough or if he simply rationalized Wright's rhetoric and that refusal to disavow, disown and completely sever those ties with Wright, has just came back to bite Obama...hard, as Wright makes the rounds in more highly public appearances and speeches.

Jeremiah seemed to lie low for a while, but recently he has made a slew of public appearances, seeming to suggest that the only reason Barack Obama was distancing himself at all was because it was politically expedient.

Wright made comments like, "Politicians say what they say and do what they do because of electability. He had to distance himself because he's a politician...Whether he gets elected or not, I'm still going to have to be answerable to God."

Other of Wright's recent comments were covered here yesterday, and instead of toning his rhetoric down, Wright seems to have stepped it up a notch or two, which had bloggers and pundits all over, declaring that Obama had to disown the man himself.

But what he said today extemporaneously, the way in which he said it, the unrepentant manner in which he reiterated some of his most absurd and offensive views, his attempt to equate everything he believes with the black church as a whole, and his open public embrace of Farrakhan and hostility to the existence of Israel, Zionism, make any further defense of him impossible. This was a calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism, and self-regard:

Barack Obama just made a speech I caught on television (I will provide the transcript when it is available), where he finally denounces the man, not just the words.

A couple of Obama's comments are, "The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. 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."

An other strong statement from Obama when he says, "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.”

One of the strongest and clearest denunciations yet from Obama was when he said, "I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church. 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 excuses. 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."

Reactions to Obama's speech today are varied as Talk Left head lines with "Obama Live Press Conference on Wright: Throws Wright Under the Bus", and Andrew Sullivan titles his with, "Obama Divorces Wright," and that is just two of the first reactions.

The comments from Jeremiah Wright are not new, not unheard and simply reinforced what was said in the original videos of his sermons, yet it has taken months for Obama to realize that Wrights words and statements do not match Obama's own belief systems?

The questions that voters will have to answer for themselves are whether this denunciation of Wright is too little, too late and is it real or was it done for political expediency?

[Update] A portion of Obama's beginning remarks, via YouTube.

[Update] Transcript of Barack Obama's remarks regarding Jeremiah Wright.