Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Why Jeremiah Wright Is Willing To Destroy Barack Obama; This Campaign Really Is Generational by Thomas de Zengotita
Remember when Barack first put himself forward? The Obama's not black enough kerfuffle among the old guard civil rights activists? Most of them slowly came around, driven partly by the Clintons' willingness to marginalize Barack after South Carolina but mostly because -- it was just crazy not to. After Iowa the impossible had become possible.
But still. At some level there was this feeling, and it didn't go away. A feeling of -- this isn't fair. It fell into his lucky lap. Look at him, swanning around in front of all those adoring white kids, reaping all the props. And he never paid his dues.
Jeremiah Wright is like the return of the repressed, a last desperate lunge of the undead 60s toward center stage. Wright represents a longing for enduring relevance so deep that it is willing to sabotage the very possibility of setting out on the long road that runs past race in order to preserve the claims of a certain righteousness, a certain rhetoric, a certain stance -- a familiar and heroic sense of self-in-the-world.
It's so hard to get old. It's so hard to watch history pass you by. It's so hard to look out across a public landscape in which your style of being once loomed so large and to realize that somehow -- you are suddenly yesterday.
People who say Obama needs to confront Wright are correct. But he needs to do it simply, he needs to tell the truth. He needs to say, kindly but firmly: old man, I love you and I thank you for your service -- but your day is done.
For the exchange....
Clarence B. Jones Posted April 28, 2008 Politics
In 1962, in connection with the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the celebrated black writer, James Baldwin wrote a dedicatory letter to his nephew on how to survive and deal with living with white racism in America. It was published as an Essay in New York Magazine under the caption "The Fire Next Time".
A vast amount of energy that goes into what we call the Negro problem is produced by the white man's profound desire not to be judged by those who are not white, not to be seen as he is, and at the same time a vast amount of the white anguish is rooted in the white man's equally profound need to be seen as he is, to be released from the tyranny of his mirror.
My esteemed brother Dr. Cornell West writes about Baldwin's "The Fire Next Time" saying that "(he) spoke the deep truth that democratic individuality demands that white Americans give up their deliberate ignorance and willful blindness about the weight of white supremacy in America. Only then can a genuine democratic community emerge in America."
Not since James Baldwin's famous quote from the Ralph Stanley Blues' Hymn, "God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water but the fire next time" has America been so consumed in a national discussion about race.
The reappearance of Reverend Jeremiah Wright in the national media with an interview by Bill Moyers, a weekend speech in Detroit at an NAACP conference of some 10,000 and his recent speech at the National Press Club opening a two day theology and Church meeting in Washington, DC, has reignited this discussion and its impact on the presidential campaign of Senator Obama.
To some, the "political" consequences of Rev. Wright's comments on Obama have been the principal, if not their exclusive, concern. Some persons, like Eric Deggans, in an article earlier today in the Huffington Post, said it would be the "the race-based bullet" coming from the "friendly fire" of Rev. Wright that could prevent Senator Obama from winning the Democratic nomination.
Aside from whether or not Democratic primary voters believe Senator Obama can effectively address their day-to-day concerns with high gas prices, rising foreclosures, absence of affordable health insurance and ending the war in Iraq, the underlying issue, uncomfortably presented by Rev. Wright, is the reality of race relations in America.
"Perhaps the most pervasive theme in our history is the domination of black America by white America. Race is the sharpest and deepest division in American life....
"Almost no genre of popular culture goes untouched by race."
"Black-white relations became the central issue in the Civil War...was the principal focus of Reconstruction after the Civil War; America's failure to allow African American equal rights led eventually to the struggle for civil rights a century later."(Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Lowen)
Race relations in American is the 800-pound gorilla in our national living room that most politicians have been unwilling or too afraid to acknowledge or discuss.
The media and political pundits reaction to the remarks of Rev. Wright is an unambiguous reminder that white America remains seriously afflicted with amnesia with respect to its treatment of African Americans throughout most of our history.
Rather than condemning Rev. Wright I commend him for refocusing the issue of race in America within a more relevant contemporary framework: A conference on the role of the Church in America, its organization, community work and its theology. The Church and its companion teaching of the gospel of Christianity was the centerpiece of leadership provided by Martin Luther King, Jr. It was Dr. King's abiding faith in the ultimate decency and fairness of most of white America that enabled him to build a successful coalition for the elimination of institutional segregation and the most egregious forms of white supremacy and racism in the United States.
It may be that America will look back at this election and conclude that we owe a great debt to Rev. Wright. However painful the rebirth and perfection of a new 21st-century America may seem now, ultimately he may be the unheralded, indeed unpopular, "hero" who enabled us to reembark on a new journey of recovery for social justice, initiated earlier by Dr. King, the greatest moral leader in our country in the 20th century.
The millions of white people who have voted for Senator Obama in the democratic primaries may be telling us something that we are unable to "hear" and understand. They just might be saying, in spite of all of the negative media and a political pundits, the time has come when they want to finally cross over the bridge to a new 21st century based on a color/race-irrelevant and multiracial society.
Clarence B. Jones is a former lawyer and draft speechwriter for Martin Luther King, Jr and author of What Would Martin Say?, published by Harper Collins. Currently he is a Scholar in Residence/Visiting Professor at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute at Stanford University.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008; A16
THE REV. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose incendiary and controversial sound bites have knocked the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) off balance, strutted to the microphone of the National Press Club and made an audacious claim: "This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright. It is an attack on the black church." No. The harsh spotlight under which the Chicago pastor finds himself is exactly where it belongs.
As pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago for 36 years (he recently retired), the Rev. Wright has a record of good works. From services for the homeless and the elderly to the poor and those in prison, his church has practiced the most giving and generous teachings of Christianity. But with the good came charged rhetoric that has come back to haunt him and Mr. Obama. Most famously, in a 2003 sermon, the Rev. Wright said, "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, not God bless America. God damn America, that's in the Bible, for killing innocent people."
Yesterday, the Rev. Wright was unrepentant. He refused to disavow his oft-repeated belief in the sinister myth that the AIDS epidemic is a genocidal government plot to exterminate African Americans. He stood by his blame-America-for-Sept. 11 stance, saying, "You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back to you."
None of this is helpful to Mr. Obama, who could face more calls not only to denounce such inflammatory comments but also to renounce his longtime pastor. We will not join in that chorus. In his address on race in Philadelphia last month after video of the Rev. Wright's fiery sermons burst onto the national scene, Mr. Obama condemned, "in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy." The candidate credibly explained how he could understand his minister's anger without sharing or approving of it. Having had a closer look at the Rev. Wright, voters will have to decide for themselves how much weight to give Mr. Obama's long association with the pastor. But it is the Rev. Wright, not Mr. Obama, who yesterday chose to further discredit himself.
© 2008 The Washington Post Company
The Pastor Casts a Shadow
By BOB HERBERT
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him.
Smiling, cracking corny jokes, mugging it up for the big-time news media — this reverend is never going away. He’s found himself a national platform, and he’s loving it.
It’s a twofer. Feeling dissed by Senator Obama, Mr. Wright gets revenge on his former follower while bathed in a spotlight brighter than any he could ever have imagined. He’s living a narcissist’s dream. At long last, his 15 minutes have arrived.
So there he was lecturing an audience at the National Press Club about everything from the black slave experience to the differences in sentencing for possession of crack and powdered cocaine.
All but swooning over the wonderfulness of himself, the reverend acts like he is the first person to come up with the idea that blacks too often get the short end of the stick in America, that the malignant influences of slavery and the long dark night of racial discrimination are still being felt today, that in many ways this is a profoundly inequitable society.
This is hardly new ground. The question that cries out for an answer from Mr. Wright is why — if he is so passionately committed to liberating and empowering blacks — does he seem so insistent on wrecking the campaign of the only African-American ever to have had a legitimate shot at the presidency.
On Sunday night, in an appearance before the Detroit N.A.A.C.P., Mr. Wright mocked the regional dialects of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. I’m not sure how he felt that was helpful in his supposed quest to bring about a constructive discussion about race and reconciliation in the U.S.
What he is succeeding in doing is diminishing the stature of Senator Obama. A candidate who stands haplessly by as his former spiritual guide roams the country dropping one divisive bomb after another is in very little danger of being seen by most voters as the next J.F.K. or L.B.J.
The thing to keep in mind about Rev. Wright is that he is a smart fellow. He’s been a very savvy operator, politically and otherwise, for decades. He has built a thriving, politically connected congregation on the South Side of Chicago that has done some very good work over the years. Powerful people have turned to him for guidance and advice.
So it’s not like he’s naïve politically. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Forget the gibberish about responding to attacks on the black church. That is not what the reverend’s appearance before the press club was about. He was responding to what he perceives as an attack on him.
This whole story is about Senator Obama’s run for the White House and absolutely nothing else. Barack Obama went to Rev. Wright’s church as a young man and was blessed with the Christian bona fides that would be absolutely essential for a high-profile political career.
Faster than anyone could have imagined, the young Mr. Obama became Senator Obama and then the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Then came the videotaped sermons and the roof caved in on Rev. Wright’s reputation. Senator Obama had no choice but to distance himself, and he did it as gently as he felt he could.
My guess is that Mr. Wright felt he’d been thrown under a bus by an ungrateful congregant who had benefited mightily from his association with the church and who should have rallied to his former pastor’s defense. What we’re witnessing now is Rev. Wright’s “I’ll show you!” tour.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Below is ' informed and provocative response to 's comment about 'having a lynching party for if he finds out that she truly has no pride in her country.'
'I don't want to go on a lynching party against unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels - that is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever - then that's legit. We'll track it down.'
'I'm sick to death of people like host, , and his ill thinking that he can use a racial slur against a black woman who could be the next First Lady of the United States, give a half-assed apology and not be taken to task and called on his crap. What the hell? If it's 'legit,' you're going to 'track it down?'
And then what do you plan to do? How dare this white man with a microphone and the trust of the public think that in 2008, he can still put the words 'lynch and party' together in the same sentence with reference to a black woman; in this case, ? I don't care how you 'spin it' in the 'no spin zone,' that statement in and of itself is racist, unacceptable and inappropriate on every level.
O'Reilly claims his comments were taken out of context. Please don't insult my intelligence while you're insulting me. I've read the comments and heard them delivered in O'Reilly's own voice; and there is no right context that exists. So, his insincere apology and 'out-of-context' excuse is not going to cut it with me.
And just so we're clear, this has nothing to do with the 2008 presidential election, me being a Democrat, him claiming to be Independent while talking Republican, the liberal media or a conservative point of view. To the contrary, this is about crossing a line in the sand that needs to be drawn based on history, dignity, taste and truth.
Bill, I'm not sure of where you come from, but let me tell you what the phrase 'lynching party' conjures up to me, a black woman born in ... Those words depict the image of a group of white men who are angry with the state of the own lives getting together, drinking more than they need to drink, lamenting how some black person has moved forward (usually ahead of them in stature or dignity), and had the audacity to think that they are equal. These same men for years, instead of looking at what changes, should and could make in their own lives that might remove that bitterness born of perceived privilege, these white men take all of that resentment and anger and decide to get together and drag the closest black person near them to their death by hanging them from a tree - usually after violent beating, torturing and violating their human dignity. Check your histor! y books, because you don't need a masters or a law degree from to know that is what constitutes a 'lynching party.'
Imagine, Michelle and having the audacity to think that they have the right to the American dream, hopes, and ideals. O'Reilly must think to himself: how dare they have the arrogance to think they can stand in a front of this nation, challenge the status quo and express the frustration of millions? When this happens, the first thing that comes to mind for O'Reilly and people like him is: 'it's time for a party.'
Not so fast...don't order the rope just yet.
Would O'Reilly ever in a million years use this phrase with reference to Elizabeth Edwards, Cindy McCain or Judi Nathan? I mean, in all of the statements and criticisms that were made about Judi Nathan, the one-time mistress turned missus, of former presidential candidate , I never heard any talk of forming a lynch party because of something she said or did.
So why is it that when you're referring to someone who's African-American you must dig to a historical place of pain, agony and death to symbolize your feelings? Lynching is not a joke to off-handedly throw around and it is not a metaphor that has a place in political commentary; provocative or otherwise. I admit that I come from a place of personal outrage here having buried my 90 year-old grandfather last year. This proud, amazing African-American man raised his family and lived through the time when he had to use separate water fountains, ride in the back of a bus, take his wife on a date to the 'colored section' of a movie theater, and avert his eyes when a white woman walked down the street for fear of what a white man and his cronies might do if they felt the urge to 'party'; don't tell me that the phrase you chose, Mr. O'Reilly, was taken out of context.
To add insult to injury, O'Reilly tried to 'clarify' his statements, by using the excuse that his comments were reminiscent of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' use of the term 'high-tech lynching' during his confirmation hearing. I reject that analogy. You see Justice Thomas did mean to bring up the image of lynching in its racist context. He was saying that politics and the media were using a new technology to do to him what had been done to black men for many years -- hang him.
Regardless of if you agreed with Justice Thomas' premise or not, if in fact -- was referencing it -- the context becomes even clearer.
What annoys me more than anything is that I get the feeling that one of the reasons made this statement, thinking he could get away with it in the first place, and then followed it up with a lame apology in a half-hearted attempt to smooth any ruffled feathers, is because he doesn't think that black women will come out and go after him when he goes after us. Well, he's dead wrong. Be clear : there will be no lynch party for that black woman and this black woman assures you that if you come for her, you come for all of us.'
By David Lightman
Tuesday 22 April 2008
Obama, on the other hand, stumbled badly. He outspent
The momentum that seemed so strong in February, when Obama won 11 contests in a row and seemed on the verge of knocking Clinton out of the race, was all but gone Tuesday.
Also gone, or at least fading, was the feeling among Democratic voters on both sides that either candidate ultimately would be acceptable.
While Democrats remain angry over the
The deepening Clinton-Obama schism became more pronounced after last Wednesday's
Obama backers insisted that their man was treated unfairly when the
If Obama gets the nomination, lots of
Obama backers said the same, should
"I love Obama," said Aimee Brace, a
Democratic leaders sensed this increasing rupture between the Clinton and Obama camps, and in recent days they've pleaded with the superdelegates who control about 20 percent of the convention votes, and with them, the balance of power.
"I need them to say who they're for, starting now," party Chairman Howard Dean said of the superdelegates last week. "We've got to know who our nominee is."
The surest way to have gotten a quick decision would have been if Obama had won
By Wednesday, this thinking went, the media would have been declaring the race all but over and the superdelegates would have had a fresh reason to leap on the Obama bandwagon. He'd be officially anointed this generation's John F. Kennedy, ready to inspire the masses with his vision and vigor.
Instead, the verdict Wednesday will remain the same:
Similarly, however, Obama can't shake that a lot of whites are uncomfortable with a black as president, as exit polls showed him losing the white vote by 60-40 percent - a consistent trend in recent primaries. Yet
And so, the party is left again in a stalemate without apparent end.
The campaigns now head for May 6 primaries in
The two camps will undoubtedly paint the state as a make-or-break affair, but it offers only 72 delegates. With 2,025 needed to nominate,
So on a day when the Democratic race remains muddled, this much is clear: Obama remains the favorite for the nomination, but it's not a comfortable lead.
That is the problem. The truth is many whites are not comfortable with definitions of the world being challenged. It is their styles only that they find acceptable. He was arguing for an acceptance of other styles, particularly that of African Americans who experience America through a different set of lens. Wright reflects the experience of the people he serves and an America that is not of empire. That was the major lesson of his speech in Detroit.
Detroiters loved it. The church loved it.
Voices from the audience
BY NAOMI R. PATTON • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • April 28, 2008
There were no explicit endorsements of any presidential candidate after the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner Sunday night, no partisan declarations or explosive statements, but there appeared to be a moment of consensus.
Most of those who came to hear the Rev. Jeremiah Wright -- controversial former pastor of presidential candidate Barack Obama -- speak at Cobo Hall in Detroit did not leave disappointed.
"That was a great speech," said Khary Frazier, 25, of Detroit.
Frazier, a member of the newly formed Highland Park chapter of the NAACP, said Wright "hit the nail on the head" about the differences and similarities between various cultures.
Isaac and Donna Washington, attending the dinner with fellow members of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, have attended previous Freedom Fund dinners, but said they were interested in hearing Wright speak.
"I expect him to clarify the issues that have come up ... and to address some of the concerns of Black America," said Isaac Washington, 55, of Southfield. But Wright veered a bit to the left, and not politically speaking.
In his animated and engaging speaking style, he launched in to a mini-lecture about studies on the different learning styles and linguistics between African Americans and whites, but he said, "A change is coming because we no longer see different as being deficient."
"I thought he was amazing," said Frankie Darcell, a host on WMXD-FM (92.3) in Detroit, who sat with Wright's daughter Jeri Wright. Calling him "unabashed and unafraid," Darcell said she was "absolutely not disappointed."
Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer also was moved by Wright's speech.
"I'm delighted that I was present," Archer said. He added that he believed Wright "allowed people to see his heart ... his intellect, his brilliance."
Contact NAOMI R. PATTON at 313-223-4485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find this article at: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080428/NEWS05/804280437
BY ROCHELLE RILEY • FREE PRESS COLUMNIST • April 28, 2008
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not the boogeyman.
Strip away all but the controversial words "God damn America" from the sermon that America could not escape in recent weeks, and you'd miss the rest of what Wright does best: use his pulpit -- and the fire and brimstone rhetoric that is a staple of the black church -- to comment on the nation's social and political agenda.
Strip away the media attention, the roaring crowd and the presidential campaign that hung, for a night, on his words, and all the Detroit Branch NAACP got Sunday night from the Rev. Wright was a typical, but powerful, sermon on how different does not mean deficient.
You could feel the disappointment from those expecting controversy as Wright taught a lesson to 12,000 people about difference. Wright, without contention, without volume, but with enough charisma to lead many in the audience to cheer, offered no apology to America.
Instead, he offered a lesson and vowed that America will change only when Americans work to see each other as, essentially, the same.
A lesson in history
"We are committed to changing the way we treat each other," he said. "Everybody in here who's not an Indian do be an immigrant. Some of ya'll came over on the decks of the ship, and some of ya'll came in the bowels and holds of the ship, but we're all immigrants."
He couldn't help himself as he smacked Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson around a little, asking folks to explain his remarks so Patterson would not take them out of context. And it was interesting that Patterson was among his critics. Wright also chastised a local critic who said his visit to Detroit would be divisive.
"Just to help him out, I'm not one of the most divisive. Tell him the word is 'descriptive,' " Wright said. "I describe conditions in this country. Conditions divide, not my description."
Dealing less with the controversy and more with explaining why people are so quick to judge him, Wright gave a history lesson on the NAACP and how hundreds of its chapters were founded in black churches across America, and how whites and blacks see things differently.
Using linguistics and music, he asked why the media never questions the poor English of politicians, from John Kennedy to Lyndon Johnson to Ted Kennedy, yet labels black children as deficient when their words sound different.
Freedom of speech?
But what he did more than anything was show that he can be a man of even temperament, a man who has been a minister to thousands without offense in an America that increasingly takes offense too quickly. What happened to America?
We have created a nation that no longer affords its citizens the rights that form its foundation. When did we stop defending the rights of people to say what they feel? America has always been stronger than any darts thrown at it, stronger than criticisms that actually can help America grow.
If we are not allowed to criticize America, then America is no longer America, no longer the nation that grows, expands, becomes greater with each new generation.
And speaking of those generations, I can't help but wonder what children make of the fights they see adults having about America, adults who wallow in the political and spiritual sandboxes, throwing dirt while children, who are more globally aware and connected, watch amused or disgusted.
Carrie Tuskey, the 50-year-old director of risk management at Henry Ford Health System, didn't come to the dinner to hear the boogeyman. Tuskey, who is white and has not chosen a presidential candidate yet, just wanted to see for herself.
"I thought I'd missed more in the news because so many people had the notion that ... this was going to be the worst thing to happen to the NAACP and to Barack Obama's campaign," she said. "I enjoyed his speech."
Contact ROCHELLE RILEY at 313-223-4473.
Jeremiah Wright urges racial understanding
Controversial preacher speaks at NAACP dinner Sunday night
BY KATHLEEN GRAY and ROBIN ERB • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS • April 28, 2008
The simple message that being different doesn't mean a person is deficient was delivered with passion, anger, even humor Sunday night by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as the controversial Chicago minister captivated a sell-out crowd at the NAACP's Freedom Fund dinner.
Through language, music and the ways people learn, Wright showed that African Americans and European Americans are merely different from each other, not inferior or superior in any way.
"In the past, we were taught to see others who are different as deficient, and that anybody not like us was abnormal," said Wright, former pastor of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. "But a change is coming because we no longer see others who are different as deficient; we just see them as different."
The theme, repeated throughout a 40-minute speech, was especially powerful coming from Wright, who has been targeted in recent weeks as an anti-American, anti-white preacher because of snippets from sermons he has given over the years that have been played and replayed on network news shows.
The furor caused Obama to give a speech on race, in which he disavowed some of Wright's remarks, but not the man.
But Wright took a shot at the news media and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson for demonizing him over the controversial passages.
"The NAACP has been built on a primary premise: that all men and women are created equal. The nation's oldest civil rights organization has changed America's history despite violence, intimidation and hostile government policies.
"Somebody please tell the Oakland County executive that the sentence starting with the words 'despite violence,' is a direct quote from the NAACP. Otherwise, he will attribute the quote to me and continue to say that I'm one of the most divisive people he's ever heard speak, when he's never heard me speak," Wright said.
"I know some say that just my appearance in Detroit will be polarizing. But I'm not here for political reasons. I'm not a politician. Many in the corporate-owned media have made it seem that I'm running for the Oval Office. I've been running for Jesus for a long, long time, and I'm not tired yet," he added.
"I'm sorry your local political analysts are saying I'm polarizing and my sermons are divisive. I'm not here to address an analyst's opinion. I stand here as one representative of the African-American church tradition, believing that a change is going to come."
Exploring the differences
The rest of the address was geared toward understanding and accepting differences, which are as much about culture as they are about skin color.
Black children are told they don't speak English well, when people from Boston or Texas, like the Kennedys or former president Lyndon Johnson, aren't ridiculed for their accents, he said.
"After Kennedy got killed, Johnson got up to the podium and said, 'My fellow Americans,' " Wright said, imitating Johnson's Texas drawl. "Well how do you spell 'fello.' How do you spell ''Mericans.' Nobody said to Johnson, 'You speak bad English.' "
Bands from the University of Michigan or Michigan State University aren't criticized because they use classical marching band precision while African-American bands from Florida A&M or Grambling State universities strut and dance onto the football field, Wright said while demonstrating the rhythm that have made those bands famous.
"We just do it different, and some of our haters just can't get their heads around that," he said.
The speech was distinctly nonpolitical, although Wright made a passing reference to Obama, saying, "If I was pushing a candidate, I would say, 'Yes we can,' " which is one of Obama's main campaign slogans.
But the Rev. Wendell Anthony, the president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, said the main reason the organization invited Wright to speak at the dinner was to defend the traditional role of the African-American church, not because there was a heated race for president between Obama and Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
"It's bigger than all three of them. This is about the African-American church. This is about our church. This is about our people. This is about our right to speak truth to power. It is not a white thing, nor is it a black thing. It is the right thing we're doing here tonight," Anthony said.
"We've had a history of inviting the most profound, prolific leaders of our nation," Anthony said during a news conference before the dinner. "We look for the best, and the hottest brother in America right now -- other than Barack Obama -- is Jeremiah Wright."
Tool for understanding?
The crowd responded to Wright with shouts of acceptance and understanding and standing ovations.
"I love the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. I've been listening to him for many years," said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, explaining that one of his fraternity brothers at Florida A&M University was a member of Wright's church and shared tapes of his sermons. "He's a prolific prince of prose."
State Rep. George Cushingberry, D-Detroit, said the speech was fabulous, and, he hoped, a tool for understanding between races.
"Maybe people will question the lies that they're told," he said.
Contact KATHLEEN GRAY at 313-223-4407 or http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080428/NEWS06/mailto:email@example.com.
Find this article at: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080428/NEWS06/804280436
Saturday, April 26, 2008
They have collaborated in the distortion and exploitation of racism. Rather than being a responsible media and educate, they have followed the whims of what they believe to be the the so-called "Reagan Democrats," those Democrats who deserted the party because of union support for civil rights. As they freely admit, controversy is good for ratings. Is this just another controversy to exacerbate? Is this good for the country?
By now, many of these so-called "Reagan Democrats" have since read or come to understand the lessons of "What's the Matter With Kansas?" The lesson from that book by Thomas Frank was that many whites were voting against their own economic interests by voting for Republicans. It is likely that the change Obama represents is attracting them back. It is striking to know that there are "bikers for Obama."
Unfortunately, a desperate Hillary Clinton has fanned the flames saying, "he would not have been my pastor," referring to Jeremiah Wright who is highly regarded in the black community because his ministry of anti-oppression, but demonized by whites who seek a patriotism to what it means to be white -- a "rightness of whiteness." Because of that perspective they label him a black supremacist.
To even mention the word black for many whites is offensive precisely because it portrays blacks to be so arrogant as to name themselves -- with a term, black, that is opposite of white. They want their loyalty to whiteness to be kept a secret. The open loyalty to whiteness, as expressed in white supremacy has a dreadful history. Because of that history, a history when the Klan was mainstream, sentiments that have their roots in that history persist in a more mainstream form. This new form is a politics of white nationalism as expressed by conservatives.
In the Clintons handling of race, they are trying to have it both ways. They are trying to run on their civil rights history and at the same time tap into that white nationalist sentiment in order to "dirty up" Barack Obama. Those actions have consequences. African Americans and others who find racism offensive, are witnessing the Clintons, themselves, exploit racism. Theirs has been an uphill battle since Iowa. Time is running out, but the Clintons vow to go to the convention.
It is this sentiment that they are using to convince the Super Delegates that Obama is unelectable. Some even speculate that they want to make Obama unelectable for their Senator Clinton's future electoral considerations. They are fighting from behind and "doing whatever it takes."
The Clintons are on the brink of an irreparable breech with the African American community as they curry favor with the right wing, including Fox News and Richard Mellon-Scaife at the top and white fears among the populace. That is one problem, a bigger problem for the Democratic party is whether or not the party caves in to the Clinton forces through Super Delegates, which is the only way it can be done.
What you just read was an introduction to an introduction. The piece that follows was shared with me by Karl Gregory, a noted Detroit area economist. I did not want to deprive you of his introductory comments.
Below is an article about a worrisome possible racial divide among Democrats, from NBC.com today. On another important but related subject, Bill Moyers show last night (Friday) on PBS was one of the best and most reverent TV interviews I have ever seen. It may be rebroadcast on some PBS stations on this Sunday. Do not miss it. It clearly shows how the media tried to demonize incorrectly with unrepresentative sound-bites Reverend Jeremiah Wright and mischaracterize this great Christian leader. He should attract thousands to Cobo Hall tomorrow when he speaks at the NAACP banquet, many of whom see through the media distortions.
Karl D. Gregory, Ph. D., Distinguished Professor Emeritus and KDG & Associates, Management & Economic Consulting, 248.569.7387.
Life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives. Jackie Robinson.
Dems fear racial divide
Attacks could do lasting harm, party officials say
By Jonathan Weisman and Matthew Mosk
The Washington Post
updated 1:15 a.m. ET, Sat., April. 26, 2008
The protracted and increasingly acrimonious fight for the Democratic presidential nomination is unnerving core constituencies -- African Americans and wealthy liberals -- who are becoming convinced that the party could suffer irreversible harm if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton maintains her sharp line of attack against Sen. Barack Obama.
Clinton's solid win in the Pennsylvania primary exposed a quandary for the party. Her backers may be convinced that only she can win the white, working-class voters that the Democratic nominee will need in the general election, but many African American leaders say a Clinton nomination -- handed to her by superdelegates -- would result in a disastrous breach with black voters.
"If this party is perceived by people as having gone into a back room somewhere and brokered a nominee, that would not be good for our party," House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the highest ranking African American in Congress, warned yesterday. "I'm telling you, if this continues on its current course, [the damage] is going to be irreparable."
That fear, plus a more general sense that Clinton's only route to victory would be through tearing down her opponent, has led even some black Democrats who are officially neutral in the race, such as Clyburn, to speak out.
Clinton's camp has a vastly different interpretation, arguing that the most recent primary demonstrated that Democrats remain very interested in seeing the contest continue.
"Pennsylvania did the job of calming any nerves that existed," said Clinton campaign spokesman Jay Carson. "It showed that the big states around the country think she's the best person to be president."
But that opinion is far from unanimous. More than 70 top Clinton donors wrote their first checks to Obama in March, campaign records show. Clinton's lead among superdelegates, a collection of almost 800 party leaders and elected officials, has slipped from 106 in December to 23 now, according to an Associated Press tally.
"If you have any, any kind of loyalty to the Democratic Party, perhaps you need to rethink your strategy and bow out gracefully in order to save this party from a disastrous end in November," Rep. William Lacy Clay (Mo.), an African American Obama supporter, said in an appeal to Clinton.
Clyburn accused Clinton and her husband yesterday of marginalizing black voters and opening a rift between her campaign and an African American Democratic base that strongly backed Bill Clinton's presidency. Some surrogates in her camp are trying to render Obama unelectable against the Republican nominee so she could run for the Democratic nomination in 2012, he suggested. The discussion flared up yet again when Bill Clinton suggested this week that Obama's campaign had played "the race card" after the former president compared the candidate to Jesse Jackson after the South Carolina primary.
"We keep talking as if it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter that Obama gets 92 percent of the black vote, because since he only got 35 percent of the white vote, he's in trouble," Clyburn said. "Well, Hillary Clinton only got 8 percent of the black vote. . . . It's almost saying black people don't matter. The only thing that matters is how white people respond. And that's what bothered me. I think I matter."
The reemergence of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Obama's controversial former longtime pastor, in an appearance on PBS last night may only fan the dispute.
"When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public, that's not a failure to communicate," Wright said in an appearance with Bill Moyers. "Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic or as the learned journalist from the New York Times called me, a 'wackadoodle.' "
Both campaigns sought yesterday to tamp down a race controversy, appealing for Democrats to stay focused on winning back the White House.
"I never believe in irreparable breaches. I'm a big believer in reconciliation and redemption," Obama told reporters in Indianapolis. "So, look, this has been a fierce contest. I've said repeatedly: Come August, there will be a whole lot of people standing on a stage with a lot of balloons and confetti raining down on the Democratic nominee, and people are going to be excited about taking on John McCain in November."
Campaigning for Clinton in Gary, Ind., yesterday, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio), who is black, said she does not share her colleagues' concerns. "I don't think Bill and Hillary Clinton will 'do anything' to win this election," she said. "They are trying to be successful, but I disagree they will do anything or they are trying to hurt Barack Obama." She added that black voters "are not a monolith, and we recognize the importance of this election."
There are signs that the anger voiced by some African Americans is beginning to extend to the Democratic donor base. Campaign finance records released this week show that a growing number of Clinton's early supporters migrated to Obama in March, after he achieved 11 straight victories. Of those who had previously made maximum contributions to Clinton, 73 wrote their first checks to Obama in March. The reverse was not true: Of those who had made large contributions to Obama last year, none wrote checks to Clinton in March.
"I think she is destroying the Democratic Party," said New York lawyer Daniel Berger, who had backed Clinton with the maximum allowable donation of $2,300. "That there's no way for her to win this election except by destroying [Obama], I just don't like it. So in my own little way, I'm trying to send her a message."
The message came in the form of a $2,300 contribution to Obama.
Donors are not the only ones who have made the leap. Gabriel Guerra-Mondragón served as an ambassador to Chile during Bill Clinton's presidency, considered himself a close friend of Sen. Clinton, and became a "Hill-raiser" by bringing in about $500,000 for her presidential bid.
But he had a fitful few weeks as the battle between Clinton and Obama turned increasingly negative. Last week, he decided he had seen enough.
"We're just bleeding each other out," Guerra-Mondragón said when asked why he had decided to join Obama's finance committee. "Looking at it as coldly as I can, I just don't see how Senator Clinton can overcome Senator Obama with delegates and popular votes. I want this fight to be over -- the quicker, the better."
The Obama converts include William Louis-Dreyfus. The billionaire New York financier said he had been impressed by Clinton's performance in the Senate and distressed by eight years of the Bush administration when he donated the maximum to her campaign last August. Then, he said, he began watching more closely.
"However much one might have supported the Clintons, or one might support the usual suspects in the Democratic Party, I began to believe Obama represents a new approach. He gives off such a sense of relevance that he's sort of irresistible," Louis-Dreyfus said.
He also expressed, as did other big givers who crossed to Obama, exasperation about the tone of the Clinton campaign and frustration with the candidate herself.
"At the end of the day, all she had to do was open her mouth for me not to believe her," Louis-Dreyfus said.
Staff writers Perry Bacon Jr., traveling with Clinton, and Alec MacGillis, traveling with Obama, contributed to this report.
© 2008 The Washington Post CompanyURL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24320557/
Factor military duty into criticism
By Lawrence Korb and Ian Moss
April 3, 2008
In 1961, a young African-American man, after hearing President John F. Kennedy's challenge to, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," gave up his student deferment, left college in Virginia and voluntarily joined the Marines.
In 1963, this man, having completed his two years of service in the Marines, volunteered again to become a Navy corpsman. (They provide medical assistance to the Marines as well as to Navy personnel.)
The man did so well in corpsman school that he was the valedictorian and became a cardiopulmonary technician. Not surprisingly, he was assigned to the Navy's premier medical facility, Bethesda Naval Hospital, as a member of the commander in chief's medical team, and helped care for President Lyndon B. Johnson after his 1966 surgery. For his service on the team, which he left in 1967, the White House awarded him three letters of commendation.
What is even more remarkable is that this man entered the Marines and Navy not many years after the two branches began to become integrated.
While this young man was serving six years on active duty, Vice President Dick Cheney, who was born the same year as the Marine/sailor, received five deferments, four for being an undergraduate and graduate student and one for being a prospective father. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both five years younger than the African-American youth, used their student deferments to stay in college until 1968. Both then avoided going on active duty through family connections.
Who is the real patriot? The young man who interrupted his studies to serve his country for six years or our three political leaders who beat the system? Are the patriots the people who actually sacrifice something or those who merely talk about their love of the country?
After leaving the service of his country, the young African-American finished his final year of college, entered the seminary, was ordained as a minister, and eventually became pastor of a large church in one of America's biggest cities.
This man is Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, who has been in the news for comments he made over the last three decades.
Since these comments became public we have heard criticisms, condemnations, denouncements and rejections of his comments and him.
We've seen on television, in a seemingly endless loop, sound bites of a select few of Rev. Wright's many sermons.
Some of the Wright's comments are inexcusable and inappropriate and should be condemned, but in calling him "unpatriotic," let us not forget that this is a man who gave up six of the most productive years of his life to serve his country.
How many of Wright's detractors, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly to name but a few, volunteered for service, and did so under the often tumultuous circumstances of a newly integrated armed forces and a society in the midst of a civil rights struggle? Not many.
While words do count, so do actions.
Let us not forget that, for whatever Rev. Wright may have said over the last 30 years, he has demonstrated his patriotism.
Lawrence Korb and Ian Moss are, respectively, Navy and Marine Corps veterans. They work at The Center For American Progress. Korb served as assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration.
Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune
Friday, April 25, 2008
By Ron Walters
Hillary Clinton has won the hard-fought contest in Pennsylvania 55-45% and for all that this double-digit victory gives her, it boils down to bragging rights, because her net win of delegates was just 6 where Barack Obama’s lead was around 150. So, she is hoping that her increase in the popular vote will give her an argument to go along with her wins in the big states to convince the Democratic party’s Superdelegates that she is the one can win in the Fall.
Going in to Pennsylvania, the Clinton camp also hoped to dampen the effect of the Obama campaign by saying that they out-spent her 3-1 and still could not seal the deal. This was picked up by commentators and analysts who now pillory Barack Obama on television, radio and the printed press for the fact that he has not been able to close the deal and finish off the election to their satisfaction. But there are several good reasons for that.
First, Republicans have been beating up on Barack Obama appearing as
part of the Hillary-Republican-media chorus, attacking his weaknesses with the American people among Democrats and suggesting for that reason Hillary would make a better nominee. But Republicans and conservatives are disingenuous. They really want Hillary to win because they think they have a better shot at her than Obama. She gets the juices of the Right wing flowing and they would come out to do battle for all her sins of the past. Obama, on the other hand, strikes fear in their hearts because he has less baggage and is shown beating John McCain in the polls consistently. That is why some of those Republicans changing party to vote in Democratic primaries right now may be part of a Karl Rove strategy to lift her up.
Others however, want to dance around gender, class and racial implications
Of the election. Some white females are as passionate about wanting to see the first woman elected president as blacks are wanting to see the first black elected. That block has been rock solid for Clinton and has been critical because it adds to the fact that women constitute the majority of voters in every election. The MSNBC Exit poll shows that 47% of the Pennsylvania electorate was female and Clinton won 67% of them, 68% in Ohio where the proportion was about the same.
Meanwhile, age was a factor, since the CNN Exit poll showed that 78% of the electorate was above 40 years of age and Clinton won 57% of them. This crowd is more conservative and more resistant to change, and Obama has not been able to break through I think largely because of the generational fact that Hillary is part of their group at 60 years of age, while Obama is 46. But Hillary is also more moderate in political philosophy and more identified with health care issues that are a favorite of this age cohort.
It should not be lost, however, that an obvious answer to the question of why Obama has not closed the deal decisively with Clinton has something to do with race, something for which he cannot be held responsible. So, pundits need to have more healthy discussions of why whites won’t vote for Obama. That Clinton consistently wins the white vote in large states like Pennsylvania (58-42%) could say something about racial competition, a well known social science theory that where the racial threat to whites is perceived as greatest there will be the most repressive racial behavior by whites. This may explain why Obama does best where the threat is weakest in the largely white states with few blacks, and worst in those states where it is strongest where the proportion of blacks is greater.
Ultimately, the CNN poll shows that the elections reflect a split within the Democratic party on the question of Change with 49% believing in it, 25% thinking Experience is best and the rest Electability. And most believe that Barack Obama will ultimately become the nominee even though they vote disproportionately for Clinton. In summary, these exit polls did not include a breakdown on the racial sensitivity of so-called blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” although Obama lost badly in those areas of Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, the split with respect to age, race and gender may really be a referendum on the extent to which some Democrats really want to change course. That is the primary division that must be healed in this process but I am not at all sure that elections will do it.
Dr. Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar, Director of the African American Leadership Center and Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland College Park. One of his latest books is: Freedom Is Not Enough, Black Voters, Black Candidates and American Presidential Politics (Rowman and Littlefield).
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
April 24, 2008-- How will black voters react if Obama retains the lead in delegates, popular votes, states won, and money raised, but the superdelegates give Clinton the nomination?
By Michael C. Dawson
They're working. The rules are working as designed (see my earlier piece, No Time for Smoke-Filled Rooms), to guarantee that in a deeply divided, complicated and dangerous primary season the party elders will have the last say in choosing the Democratic Party's nominee for president. But the people who designed, and seem so eager to play by, these rules might do well to consider the following question: How will black voters react if Obama retains the lead in delegates, popular votes, states won and money raised, but the superdelegates give Clinton the nomination?
The probability of this scenario emerging is more likely than it sounds. First, as several articles today have already pointed out, Clinton's victory in Pennsylvania while strong, was not overwhelming to the degree needed to start changing the basic math. Clinton needs to have won the remaining contests by over 15 percent in order to have a chance to pull close enough to Obama in popular vote and pledged delegates to make a convincing claim that the results at the polls had not produced a clear winner.
As important, the March fundraising numbers make it extremely clear that the Clinton campaign is in bad financial shape, and the Obama campaign continues to acquire extraordinary fiscal resources. This will be more important in the remaining primaries as many, such as Indiana, are far more favorable to Obama than Pennsylvania. Thus, Obama's superior resources are likely to have a greater impact in the remaining contests. Yesterday's results reinforce the strong belief that Clinton cannot even come close in votes and delegates, let alone pull ahead.
The picture for Obama is sobering as well. Yesterday's results have done nothing to alleviate worries that he is having a hard time making inroads among white working class voters—particularly white Catholic voters who were at the core of the group labeled the "Reagan Democrats." As many of us have argued , "the race card" does, indeed, work against Obama. CNN reports that of the 20 percent of voters that considered race yesterday, nearly 60 percent went to Clinton. Of the 21 percent who considered gender, 71 percent chose Clinton, compared to 23 percent for Obama.
In another story, an AP-Yahoo poll earlier this month found that nearly 10 percent of whites felt comfortable plainly stating that they would have problems voting for a black candidate for president. The conservative estimate of the article was that this translates into probably 15 percent unwilling to vote for a black candidate, regardless of his or her qualifications. A "prominent Republican" interviewed for the story claimed that Obama's biggest weakness was that he was black and therefore had a significant percentage of the November electorate already predisposed against him. Such glaring numbers may persuade still uncommitted superdelegates that Obama is unelectable in November.
Should that happen, the Democratic Party will face the Herculean task of trying to mobilize its most loyal constituency – black voters -- in the face of deep and widespread black bitterness and active campaigns in the black community encouraging black voters to defect or abstain. You can already hear the angry comparisons. Just like in 2000, the protests will go, an election will have been "stolen." But this time from within the party! Malcolm X's quote about how the rules are changed when blacks start to succeed will also, I bet, be prominently displayed.
Many will argue that if a candidate with as much multi-racial appeal as Obama cannot be treated fairly, then there is truly no hope of any black in the U.S. (with perhaps the exception of a black Republican) to win the nation's top office in the foreseeable future. My own prediction, should we head down this road, is that the already worrying statistic of 79 percent of blacks who believe that racial equality for blacks will either not be achieved in their lifetime or at all in the U.S. will jump to an even larger percentage (see my website for how this percentage has changed over the past few years). Should this happen, Democrats would risk losing traditionally safe states with large black populations, leaving them with amuch more difficult, perhaps impossible, road to victory.
For the full article see: http://www.theroot.com/id/46000
By John Edward
Who are these people who come on the television five minutes after any event to explain to me what I have already seen?The nation and the world have no shortage of cameras and opinions. I wonder if the media is just a little self perpetuating. Would they take the other side of any stand if it would sell a few more papers? And who is the DNC? If Hillary and Bill aren’t embarrassing enough with their versions of their return to the politics of the 90’s, is there nothing that they will no stop at?
See the Ladner Report: http://theladnerreportblog.blogspot.com/
She reinforces the Genghis Khan principle of American politics that our leaders must be ruthless and macho
By Susan J. Douglas
Hillary wants to be more like a man in her demeanor and politics, leaving some basic tenets of feminism in the dust. She is like patriarchy in sheep's clothing.
We sat around the dinner table, a group of 50-something progressive feminists, talking to a friend from England about presidential politics. We were all for Hillary, weren’t we, he asked. Hillary? We hated Hillary. He was taken aback. Weren’t we her base? Wasn’t she one of us? Why did we hate Hillary?
Of course, a lot of people seem to hate Hillary. According to some polls, anywhere from 39 to 50 percent of respondents claim they’d vote against her no matter what; her “negatives” continue to be high. Many of these are Republicans and men. But many are not. According to a Harris poll in March, 52 percent of married women said they would not vote for her.
Nearly half of adults say they dislike her personality and her politics. Unlike her husband, people seem to find her cold and don’t see her connecting with everyday people, and this is especially true for married women. Ironically, it is Gen Xers, those between 31 and 42, who give her the most support.
So what gives? For people like my friends and me, her hawkish position on Iraq and her insistence that the U.S. maintain a military presence there even after the troops are withdrawn have been very disappointing. But it’s more than any specific position. Women don’t trust Hillary. They see her as an opportunist; many feel betrayed by her. Why?
Baby boomer women grew up with the Feminine Mystique and then came of age with the Women’s Liberation Movement. As a result, millions of us have spent our lives crafting a compromise—or a fusion—between femininity on the one hand and feminism on the other. And for many of us feminism did not mean trying to be more like men. It meant challenging patriarchy: trying to bring equity to family life, humanizing the workplace, prioritizing women’s issues in politics, and confronting the dangers of militarism and imperialism. And millions of us fought (and continue to fight) these battles wearing lipstick, skirts and a smile: the masquerade of femininity we are compelled to don.
Hillary, by contrast, seems to want to be more like a man in her demeanor and politics, makes few concessions to the social demands of femininity, and yet seems to be only a partial feminist. She seems above us, exempting herself from compromises women have to make every day, while, at the same time, leaving some of the basic tenets of feminism in the dust. We are sold out on both counts. In other words, she seems like patriarchy in sheep’s clothing.
For the full article see: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3129/why_women_hate_hillary/
Clinton lets dream take a backseat
BY ROCHELLE RILEY • FREE PRESS COLUMNIST • April 22, 2008
The worst won't be that Sen. John McCain will win the presidency. The worst will be that America came so close to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.
And the greatest irony is that Bill and Hillary Clinton were on the wrong side of history.
As Democrats do the Pennsylvania primary today, my head is filled with unbelievable TV news reports on how the candidates polled among bowlers, gun owners and beer drinkers. And how I wish my grandmother was alive to see Sen. Hillary Clinton paint a black man as too eloquent and elitist to be president.
Democratic attempts to call this election anything other than what it is will not work: This isn't politics as usual. What is at stake in this election is THE DREAM.
That the Clintons have been too shortsighted to see it means they are missing the watershed event -- America accepting a man and his ideas without regard to his color. This election is the moment that civil rights workers of all colors died for in the 1960s, the moment for which my grandmother prayed.
Core voters start to wane
Missing the dream is Hillary Clinton's first mistake. Her second is alienating core voters: black women, Christians and hard-working Americans who don't have to make six figures to enjoy good arugula.
"I'm about sick of Hillary," said longtime Clinton supporter JoAnn Watson, a Detroit city councilwoman. "I came straight out of the women's movement. I've been pushing women, and promoted by women, all of my life. But to witness what has happened in this race ... You know the love affair the black community has had with the Clintons? That's over.
"I, like the rest of the Democratic world, thought last September that she was probably going to get the nod. But something has happened to transform America and when" Obama "got the Iowa nod, and I saw tears streaming down the faces of Iowa farmers who would never have voted for a black man for dogcatcher before, I fell on my knees and started shouting."
In Clinton's attempt to describe the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's passionate rhetoric to Sen. Barack Obama, the stones she threw also hit some of her core supporters.
And finally, Clinton has tried to make the case that her baggage has been strewn across America, while Obama is untested. The truth is she has so much more baggage than Obama, and the Republicans haven't even begun to sort her dirty laundry.
Hopes for Wright's speech
When Wright speaks this Sunday at the world's largest sit-down dinner, 10,000 strong and sponsored by the Detroit Branch NAACP, Clinton supporters hope he'll inflame again, while Obama supporters hope that he'll provide context that most media have not.
Whatever he utters, it will have less to do with Obama than Bill Clinton's actions will have on his wife's campaign and tenure. Wright isn't going to the White House.
Clinton can run again in eight years, but only if she doesn't damage herself so much that her core voters are gone for good.
Her campaign is over. Maybe Pennsylvanians can make her see that -- and THE DREAM -- today.
Contact ROCHELLE RILEY at 313-223-4473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wrong about race in so many ways
BY LEONARD PITTS JR. • KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS • April 23, 2008
I bet Hillary Clinton wishes Bob Johnson would stop trying to help her.
Johnson is the billionaire BET founder and Clinton supporter who embarrassed his candidate and himself during the South Carolina primary by clumsily attempting to inject Barack Obama's self-confessed youthful drug use into the campaign and then clumsily denying he was doing it. To judge from his latest comments, he still hasn't learned to engage brain before operating mouth.
In March, Johnson told the Charlotte Observer that he agreed with comments that forced Geraldine Ferraro to resign from Clinton's campaign last month. Ferraro essentially called Obama the affirmative action candidate, saying that if he were not black, he would not be the political phenom he is.
Said Johnson, "What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called 'Jerry Smith' and he says, 'I'm going to run for president,' would he start off with 90% of the black vote? And the answer is, probably not."
Naturally, Johnson is wrong. If being black conferred, as he and Ferraro seem to think, some mysterious advantage in politics (unlike in virtually every other field of endeavor), Jesse Jackson would have been president years ago. He is, after all, black. As are Al Sharpton and Alan Keyes. All tried, yet none came close to winning the presidency.
Johnson is also wrong about black support for Obama. As recently as December, Gallup pollsters found Clinton had significantly "higher" favorable ratings among black voters than Obama. Of course, that was before Obama's resounding victory in Iowa, Clinton's gaffe about Martin Luther King's role in the civil rights movement, and clanking attempts by Clinton surrogates like Johnson to kneecap Obama.
For the record, Obama became a political phenomenon for the exact reason a political novice named Ross Perot did: He moved voters. But Perot is white. I'd love to see how Johnson fits that into his crackpot thesis.
It's not just that he's wrong on the facts that's galling, but, rather, that he is wrong on something deeper.
If you are black, after all, you are used to this, used to having your achievements -- and failures -- lazily conflated with your skin color. It's an easy hook for those who lack the imagination or intelligence to dig deeper. Like Rush Limbaugh, who said in 2003 that Donovan McNabb only became a football star because he's black.
You'd expect Johnson, as a black man, to know better. Especially since he's surely seen his success diminished this same way. You think no one ever said Johnson -- who, according to a Washington Post report, went to Princeton on an affirmative action program -- became a billionaire only because he's black?
But then, Johnson has never identified overmuch with black folks' struggles. He once told C-SPAN he acknowledged no responsibility to be a role model for his community.
"What are my responsibilities to black people at large?" he asked. "If I help my family get over and deal with the problems they might confront, then I have achieved that one goal that is my responsibility to society at large."
And the rest of y'all Negroes is on your own.
Johnson proved his regard for his people for years by exploiting them, poisoning our kids with a video parade of gyrating backsides, gold grills and pimp values, a caricature of black life so unremittingly racist as to make the Ku Klux Klan redundant.
I pity him. He is an American success story and an African-American tragedy: a selfish, sterling example of the self-loathing so common among marginalized peoples.
On the plus side, I don't think he has to worry about being called a role model.
LEONARD PITTS JR. is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132. Write to him at email@example.com.
Good Wednesday morning. NBC reports that the North Carolina Republican Party plans to make race — and Rev. Wright — an issue with an ad out at 11 a.m. Eastern today. Deets below,
BUT FIRST: At Clinton headquarters, they're singing, "You ain't seen nothin' yet — B-B-B-Baby, you just ain't seen nothin' yet." Is it wishful thinking?
Obama chief strategist David Axelrod, on the candidate's plane into Indiana last night, courtesy Maria Gavrilovic of CBS News: "We have a fairly significant lead in delegates, we've won twice as many states, we're ahead in the popular vote. … By virtually every measure, we're ahead. … [M]ost Democrats would like to move on — hunger to move on."
N.Y. Post: "TAKE THAT! Hill slams Bam by 10 in Penn."
N.Y. Daily News: "HERE WE GO AGAIN! He won't win, she won't lose … "
N.Y. Times, 4 cols., 1 line: "Clinton Clearly Outduels Obama in Pennsylvania."
Newsday: "She's Still Got A Shot. But it's a long shot, as Obama retains strong lead in delegates, money."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Clinton wins, the race goes on"
The A1 Philly Inquirer analysis is headed, "Obama still leads race, but the doubts remain."
Dan Balz, WashPost A1 analysis: "Decisive Win Can't Forestall A Daunting Task."
AP's 99 percent Pennsylvania figures:
x-Hillary Clinton 1,258,245 - 55 percent
Barack Obama 1,042,297 - 45 percent
x-John McCain 585,447 - 73 percent
Ron Paul 128,188 - 16 percent
Mike Huckabee 91,211 - 11 percent
The CBS News Pennsylvania delegate allocation gives 82 to Clinton and 69 to Obama, with seven unallocated. Obama had a 139-delegate lead going in, now cut to 126, per CBS.
NBC's Tim Russert, on "Today": "Math is not her most important subject. She likes psychology. She can't beat Obama in math. … She wants to get in the heads of these [super]delegates and say: I'm a tougher candidate against John McCain. I can win the big states. … You can switch and vote for me."
MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "Another victory for cable television tonight! The battle goes on, no resolution, Hillary Clinton beats the spread."
ABC's Jake Tapper, on "Good Morning America": "In losing Pennsylvania, at the very least, Obama's momentum has slowed. But not enough to blunt his campaign's optimism."
Senator Clinton this morning on CBS' "The Early Show": "It was incredibly gratifying to win so decisively in the face of a very determined and quite well-funded campaign that was outspending me 3-to-1, that was, you know, taking some pretty, you know, tough hits at me as well. Why people came out yesterday in the numbers that they did, I think reflects, you know, their view that, you know, I'm the candidate with the leadership, the experience, the know-how to actually turn the country around."
Clinton's Howard Wolfson on ABC's "Nightline": "Senator Obama was going for a knockout blow … We are going to be close in delegates. We are going to be close in the popular vote. And the superdelegates will do their job and choose the best nominee to face to John McCain and the person they believe would be the best president. I do not believe that the Democratic Party will nominate someone who's had the kind of problems that Senator Obama has had winning in the large swing states like Pennsylvania, like Michigan, like Florida, like Ohio."
Karl Rove on Fox News: "The rule of proportionality means that the thing that allowed Barack Obama to get ahead, it is difficult for him to fall behind. It's also difficult for him to catch up."
Politico's Roger Simon: "In other words, [Obama] probably 'closed the deal' when, after Super Tuesday, he won 10 contests in a row, running up his pledged delegate lead while Clinton's chief strategist, Mark Penn, was still trying to figure out what was happening. (Clinton, who fired Penn, still owes him $4.5 million. I could have come up with a losing strategy for half that.)"
Republican analyst REED DICKENS on CNN's "Larry King Live": "The one thing we know for sure about this elongated primary is that it shortens the general election. So for a GOP candidate who for once doesn't have as much money, it turns the general election into a sprint. … Barack Obama is a very undefined candidate. They're learning more about him by the week, and I don't know if that's a comfort."
ONE MORE SUPERDELEGATE- From The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman: "Gov. Brad Henry, who said earlier he would not endorse a Democratic presidential candidate until this summer's national convention, announced this morning he is supporting Barack Obama."
Once again, exit polls OVERSTATED Senator Obama's vote, showing a 3- or 4-point margin for Clinton, when it wound up being 10. Fox called the race for her 45 minutes after the polls closed, and AP and the other networks quickly followed.
Clinton chairman Terry McAuliffe repeated the campaign's contention that this will NOT go to the convention - that it will be resolved shortly after the final contests on June 3.
Russert, wrapping up MSNBC's coverage last night: "The more time the Clintons can buy, they remember the 'bitter comment,' they remember the Wright situation - perhaps more of those episodes, events will occur."
MAKING NEWS TODAY, from NBC/National Journal's Carrie Dann: "The North Carolina Republican Party will unveil a 30-second ad [Wednesday] that attacks Democratic gubernatorial candidates Beverly Perdue and Richard Moore for endorsing Barack Obama.
The ad, per the party, will reference 'controversial figures from Barack Obama's past' and raise the question of the candidates' 'judgment' in supporting him. The ad will be unveiled at an 11am press conference. …
***"The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is expected to play a starring role."
***Russert: "It's going to inject - it appears - race front and center."
How proud the Clintonistas must be. They have learned how to rival what Hillary once termed the "vast right-wing conspiracy" in the effort to destroy a viable Democratic leader who dares to stand in the way of their ambitions. The tactics used to kneecap Barack Obama are the same as had been turned on Bill Clinton in earlier times, from radical-baiting associates to challenging his resolve in protecting the nation from foreign enemies. Sen. Clinton's eminently sensible and centrist--to a fault--opponent is now viewed as weak and even vaguely unpatriotic because he is thoughtful. Neither Karl Rove nor Dick Morris could have done a better job.
On primary election day in Pennsylvania, even with polls showing her well ahead in that state, Hillary went lower in her grab for votes. Seizing upon a question as to how she would respond to a nuclear attack by Iran, which doesn't have nuclear weapons, on Israel, which does, Hillary mocked reasoned discourse by promising to "totally obliterate them," in an apparent reference to the population of Iran. That is not a word gaffe; it is an assertion of the right of our nation to commit genocide on an unprecedented scale.
Shouldn't the potential leader of a nation that used nuclear bombs to obliterate hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese employ extreme caution before making such a threat? Neither the Japanese then nor the Iranian people now were in a position to hold their leaders accountable, and to approve such collective punishment of innocents is to endorse terrorism. This from a candidate who attacked her opponent for suggesting targeted strikes against militants in Pakistan and derided his openness to negotiations with other national leaders as an irresponsible commitment on the part of a contender for the presidency.
Clearly the heat of a campaign is not the proper setting for consideration of a response to a threat from a nation that is a long way from developing nuclear weapons. Obviously the danger of Iran's developing such weapons can be met with a range of alternatives, from the diplomatic to the military, that do not involve genocide and at any rate must be considered in moral and not solely political terms. Or is it base political ambition that would guide Clinton if she received that middle-of-the-night phone call?
If so, it cannot be assumed that Hillary Clinton as president would be less irrationally hawkish and more restrained in the unleashing of military force than John McCain. The latter, at least, has personal experience with the true, on-the-ground costs of militarism gone wild. Yes, I know that McCain still holds out the hope of winning the Iraq war that both he and Hillary originally endorsed, but for Clinton to raise the rhetoric against Iran in the midst of a campaign is hardly the path to Mideast peace, whether it concerns Israel or Iraq. It is bizarre that a politician who bought into the phony threat about Iraq's nonexistent WMD arsenal now plays political games with the alleged threat posed by Iran.
The war has accomplished only one major change in the configuration of Mideast power: Iran now holds uncontested supremacy as the region's key player. Whatever chance there is for stability in Iraq now depends on the blessings of the ayatollahs of Iran, whose surrogates were put in power in Baghdad as a consequence of the American invasion. It is totally hypocritical for Clinton or McCain to now talk about getting tough with Iran over the nuclear weapons issue, when both contributed so mightily to squandering U.S. leverage over Tehran.
To meet that potential nuclear weapons threat from Iran requires a serious, non-rhetorical, multinational response that makes clear that no nation has the right to obliterate the population of another, and that nations, even our own, that claim that right should be challenged as unacceptably barbaric. Instead, Clinton played into the thoughts of fanatics throughout the world who believe that might makes right and who take the United States--which spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined (including many billions on new sophisticated and "usable" nuclear weapons)--as both their enemy and an example to emulate.
What better argument do the ayatollahs need to justify their obtaining a nuclear "deterrent" than that the possible leader of the first nation to develop nuclear weapons, and the only one to ever use them to kill people, now threatens the people of Iran with obliteration?