Open Letter To Barack ObamaMarch 16, 2008
(this is my first “open letter” here in the Chamber, so bear with me)
Don’t throw your pastor, Rev. Wright, under the bus.
Of course, it’s probably too late, as you’ve already repudiated his cherry-picked remarks, taken him off your campaign, and, apparently, erased his testimonial from your website, so I guess I’m writing this less in the vein of don’t and more in the vein of …why?
Doing all this reeks of political expedience, inherently calls into question your judgement (on why you chose to stick with the church for so many years), and overall, comes off as insincere. No one is going to believe that you’ve suddenly discovered that Rev. Wright says controversial things now that ABC has broadcasted clips of his sermons for all the world to see, so why give anyone the incentive to scour through church records, interview parishioners and keep the issue in the spotlight while the drooling minions that are hell-bent to take your campaign down try to catch you in a GOTCHA! moment?
I watched as you went on 3 networks (FOX, CNN, and MSNBC) and clumsily attempted to distance yourself from the remarks that they kept playing in ad infinitum fashion. You alluded to some of the good things the church has done for the community, but you had a hard time making the case for one important aspect: You. The fact that you have had a successful life and are closer than anyone in history to being America’s first black president reflects favorably upon the church, doesn’t it? I would think that a black church that can list among its long-term membership a state and U.S. Senator and the frontrunning candidate for the oval office would suggest that the church might have a positive influence on people, an influence that helped inspire you to answer the call to public service. I understand that you can’t really come out and say all that, but to me, it appeared that you were more concerned with denouncing whatever rhetoric was deemed offensive instead of focusing on defending the church.
The bottom line here is: He’s your pastor. You’ve made donations to the church. There’s no escaping it, so why avoid it? You shouldn’t have to cave and cast him aside simply because, suddenly, people are grilling you on the remarks that were made years ago.
If one of the networks’ pundits asks you about his statement that America caused the AIDS virus or whatever say, “Fine, call up Rev. Wright and invite him to debate that position, I’m sure he’d be happy to. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that view. I’m sure many people out there don’t agree with absolutely everything that their minister or priest says, but I’m sure that most would say that they’ve had a positive influence on their lives. It’s no different in my case”. Or to address the accusation that Wright “hates America”, you could say, “I think Rev. Wright loves America like a parent loves their child, and sometimes he believes there’s reason to be angry”. (After all, Wright is hardly alone when it comes to delivering negative rants on American culture from the pulpit. Somebody is sinning, somewhere, after all.*)
See, that sounds a lot more sincere than going so far as to whip out the knee-jerk CONDEMNED stamp. That, and they can’t really go anywhere with it. It’s like saying, “Yea, he’s my pastor, live with it. Let’s move on.”
In conclusion, I’m afraid that your reaction here has done more harm than good for your campaign. You’ve put yourself in a hole on this that is going to be a distraction from the debate over the issues and why you’re the best man for the job. For myself, I’ll continue to support you here in the Chamber, but I’ll say that I’ve been a little disappointed with how you and your campaign has handled these recent events.
*In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t been to a church service in many years. Watching what is said by the televangelists, I sometimes wonder why people still go, quite frankly. So, in this regard, I am not going to consider myself an expert on the range and scope of unhinged sermons, but I think it’s safe to assume that there are some strange things that get said out there. For myself, I left the church because one person “possessed by Satan” was enough for me.