Obama’s problem

Now I’m actually angrier about Obama and the Rev. Wright than before. When I complained about what Wright said the first times, I was told that I didn’t understand the history of the black church, I didn’t understand black liberation theology, I didn’t listen to the whole context of what he said. Bull.

But now Obama repudiates Wright. And all Wright did was repeat the exact same crackpot crap that some of us had complained about before.

So before, I was as good as called racist or at least clueless for criticizing the not-so-good reverend. But now when Obama finally criticizes him, the New York Times editorial page — in a classic of doublespeak soft-headed mush from wimps — praises him for “the most forthright repudiation of an out-of-control supporter that we can remember.” Jesus.

Worse, the Times again implies that we’re all racists if we and candidates don’t criticize white crackpot crazy ministers as much as this one has been criticized. Well, I have my alibis: I’ve put in my time criticizing crackpots with white collars and white skins and protesting their bigotry. It’s the Times that is playing the race card here.

In the end, this isn’t about race at all — and I think it was a mistake, in the end, for Obama to put the needed discussion about race in America in the context of Wright.

No, this story is about a nutjob whom our potential president valued as an advisor. Obama would not repudiate Wright the first time he said all these hateful things; Obama did it only when they were repeated and when he realized that this could do him political damage.

You see, this is the problem I have with Obama. I’m still not sure what I think he is: a cynical politician who throws out empty rhetoric and makes these grand statements only when he needs to (that is, like every other cynical politician) or a mushy wimp who can’t make tough decisions because he thinks he can get along with everybody (Jimmy Carter).

  • bz

    It’s a classic case of Church and State.

    The two have no business being in bed together and until America realizes that, you will continue to make the same mistakes and argue over silly B-S that has absolutely NOTHING to do with running the country and saving it from its sorry state.

  • Goodbye, Jeff. After being a long-time subscriber, I just hit the delete button. I was drawn to you because of your insightful commentary on the media industry. You lost me with your rants on politics of late. I wish you luck with your book, etc.

  • Eric Jaffa

    Obama was willing to give Rev. Wright a second chance when presented with controversial statements Wright said over the course of 20 years.

    Rev. Wright blew his second chance by repeating some of those statements.

  • Surya,
    So you walk away from those with whom you disagree. Well, then.

  • Jeff

    I think you miss a big point (unusual for you).

    Obama never said he agreed with the pastor, indeed he said he didn’t. Now the astor accuses Obama of only saying what he said because he is a “politician”. That IS new.

    Obama is rightly pissed that the guy he refused to disown, but whom he said he disagreed, is accusing him of cynicism, of being a “politician”.

    In the context of Obama’s campaign their couldn’t be a bigger insult. His very point is that he is NOT prepared to be a “politician” and that Washington needs saving from “politicians”.

    Not sure why you aren’t seeing this but it seems blindingly obvious.


  • Oh, and that makes this decision by Obama highly consistent with his campaign ethics BTW.


  • “…a mushy wimp who can’t make tough decisions because he thinks he can get along with everybody”

    A mushy wimp! That’ great. Hey Jeff – I think of the term “mushy wimp” anytime I see photos of you. How come most Hillary supporters on the blogs are just about as whiny and bitchy as the candidate herself?

  • Yes, better to be an un-mushy “wimp” who follows the crowd into supporting a useless war.

  • Or Obama is an optimistic politician who was betrayed by someone whom he used to respect.

  • And Keith, with all respect, I think you miss my point: Why didn’t Obama repudiate him to this level the first time? It was the exact same raft of opinions, only repeated. What made them more heinous this time? They caused him more trouble.
    Who’s Obama going to listen to and hire in the White House? How good will he be at making tough decisions? This is a legitimate discussion.

  • Sean,
    Perhaps too optimistic. Or naive.

  • I Could be wrong Jeff, but I think I recall him doing exactly that on a televised debate – when it was first raised. But he said he wouldn’t disown him (as a human being and friend) any more than he could disown his grandmother.

    He repudiated clearly, but didn’t disown.

    Am I wrong?


  • Jeff,

    Nothing made them more “heinous.” What changed was that Wright implied that Obama secretly agreed with him (when he’s publicly said he did not) and was merely disagreeing for political reasons. That, as Keith Teare said, was a serious affront to the Obama campaign and a sentiment that he had to firmly stamp out. That’s what changed.

    I don’t really agree with the whole “you have to disavow” bit, anyway. Why is public disagreement, denouncement (Hillary’s word that Obama agreed to use during one of the debates after some semantic posturing) not enough?

    If one of your long time friends makes a statement you disagree with, something that you find reprehensible, how does that possibly reflect on you? How does cutting that person completely out of your life make one spot of difference in how you go about your business? I don’t buy for a minute that it does. Disagreement, however forceful, should be enough, period.

  • AC

    Well said Jeff.

  • Then in that case, Keith, if he’d already said it, why did he have to come out and say this in new terms with a new tone? Just because he’s personally pissed now?

  • Jeff,

    You obviously can only see Obama in one of those two lights: “cynical politician” or “mushy wimp.” I think you’re wrong on both counts. And I think your view of Hillary is overly optimistic and naive. But I’m not going to hit “delete” on your RSS feed because of it.

    You’ve probably already seen it, but in case not … Bill Clinton 2004:

    Good advice, methinks.

  • PolPot

    Surya –

    You are a typical liberal coward, much like B hussein Obama.

    I know you feel defeated and hopless now that your “rock star” has shown his true colors.

    Luckily, McCain is not a racist. He doesn’t associate w/racists or terrorists and he will serve you (if you are a legal citizen) honorably when he gets elected. So all hope is not lost.

    we wish YOU luck……….

  • PolPot

    Please remember that perception becomes reality.

    It doesn’t matter if Obama disagrees with Wright (the racist) or Aires (the terrorist) or disowns them.

    What matters is that Obama appears dishonest and unable to man up to reality.
    * wife stated that she has never been proud of USA until her husband ran for president.
    * Obama doesn’t pledge alegiance to our flag
    * Obama has racist & terrorist associates.
    * Obama doesn’t disown racist/terrorist friends until he thinks it will effect the election.

    ……….must I continue? This guy is the laughing stock of washington right now. McCain & Hillary dont even have to work at tarnishing his credibility.

    Contrary to the message the liberal media portrays, this country is not full of left wing nut jobs that want to dismantle the country as we know and install some sort of half ass socialism.
    We are a fundamentally & morally sound country. Nobody is trying to “escape” from the USA and apply for politcal assylum elsewhere.

    GO MCCAIN !!!!!!

  • aucontraire

    Amazing, Jeff. Truly amazing.

    Congratulations for piling onto the culture wars.

    I’ve had a few things on my mind that have “distracted” me from the Wright imbroglio:

    — Working in a media industry that is struggling to figure out how to go digital (and dragging far too many in my profession kicking and screaming).

    — A 401(k) portfolio that is bleeding money thanks to a souring economy that isn’t going to get better anytime soon. And that I can’t touch until my company’s open enrollment period in November.

    — A brother who will soon be deployed to that hellhole in Iraq that you so triumphantly thought we had to invade to fight terrorists who weren’t even there. And that your gal, Hillary, cynically voted to authorize ‘cuz she had to look “tough” for hawks like you.

    Therefore, I don’t give a good god damn about whether or not Obama has a crazy-ass minister.

  • PDH

    I agree Jeff, this isn’t about race for you. It is about politics. You have picked your candidate and anything that will discredit her competitor is fair in your book.

    Perhaps you did listen to things that Rev. Wright said and still think him a crazy person just for those. Many who put America ahead of everything else will probably agree with you. That isn’t about whether he speaks any truth (there is some mixed of that in there), just that what he says is unacceptable to those hearing it.

    But it isn’t really about what Wright or Obama say, either. It isn’t about a way of speaking or the idea behind those words. It isn’t about a white man (or woman) versus some black men. It’s just politics. You and she want what you want. So anything, apparently, is justified to get it.

  • chico haas

    With the Rev. Wright forcing Mr. Obama’s hand and Al Sharpton calling him out, it’s almost as if Mr. Obama has come full circle to: “Is he black enough?” Meaning is he enough of a black activist? I think Mr. Obama had fancied himself one, in that private liberal arts college way. And by joining Trinity. But now he sees what the big dogs mean by it and he knows he can’t run with them and ‘unify the nation’. He’s in a tough spot. He’s the living embodiment of a post-racial society – a mixture of races like a lot of us. But he’s before his time, I think.

  • Well, Reverend Wright had to be stopped. I think that Obama could defend Wright’s comments as just rants taken out of context over a 30 year period based upon the situation before this weekend. However, Wright showed that he wanted to advance this stupid stuff and he attacked Obama personally. He was saying that Obama really did believe all those conspiracy theories and chickens coming home to roost stuff. Obama denounced them before and he did so again. Given that Wright brushed off Obama’s first message, Obama made it crystal clear for him this time. This seems to be a rather nuanced situation and it’s not just It was OK before but not now.


  • Sometimes, doing the “right thing” means that you really should “walk away from those with whom you disagree”… If Obama is the man that many hope him to be, he should have disagreed with Wright long ago and he should have “walked away” and found a better church for his family.

    bob wyman

  • Jeff,

    Like many of your readers I value your take on media enough to keep reading the feed and occasionally visiting the site.

    Surya has a point. Please stick to what you do best and what your readers value you most for.

  • Amen, Bob.

  • mr x

    You have proved to be a dumb ass cracker who is spewing this white supermistist bullshit. Once again the true nature of the white race is made evident to all who oppose white rule and domination.Rev Wright is a freedom fighter for his people and for all of those who have been adversely affected by white rule. Everything Wright said is and was based on truth in regards to the true racist nature of Amerikkka. It is a hard pill to swallow for the masses of whites in this country because they have to come to terms with thier true racist nature, a nature which is based on the beliefs of white superiority. Obama is and was and will be simply a politican
    who is trying to appeal to the masses (a uncle Tom).

  • I know a number of people who have had what they refer to as conversion experiences in their lives – a specific moment when they entered into a deeper experience of God, a greater sense of being God’s beloved, even a connection to their immortal being. For these folks, the people around them at that moment, the songs being sung, the place this took place, even the seasons or the smells that surrounded them – they are all fixed in their memory, just as real as the moment that just finished.

    We do not get to pick who we form as people of faith with, just like we do not get to pick our family or our home football team. Anne Lamott writes about why she ended up at Presbyterian church in Sausalito – it was closest to the Planned Parenthood Center she had just left, a safe place that would let her sit as she came off being high. The illusions of control fall by the wayside when it comes to issues of faith & transformation & recovery – coming to Jesus (or anyone else) is rarely planned or logical.

    Separating yourself from that experience, or the people who were a part of it, is often one of the most painful things a person of faith can do. The man who married Lisa & I turned out to be someone whose approach to faith & life was something I could no longer connect with, despite the fact that he led the church of my youth & my family. There was no public renunciation, no press conference to parse the meaning of condemn vs. condone. That said, it still hurts, even 20 years later, to remember that part of my story with that central figure out of the image. Life stories are sometimes like a puzzle – take out some pieces and they look forever different.

    Watching Barack Obama dealing with the fallout from the Jeremiah Wright kerfuffle is just painful.

  • JoeCHI


  • Pingback: insignificant thoughts » Blog Archive » Suddenly Wright is Important?()

  • Jeff-

    I didn’t like your post much. You left a candidate with a double negative for options as to his inner workings, a coward spewing empty rhetoric or a mushy wimp who can’t make decisions. Is that fair? Of course not. It’s like me asking if Hilary is either a complete liar or a delusional half wit about the gun fire bit.

    Enough with the demonization of politicians. Some will say anything and everything to win. And everyone loses.

  • beloml

    Bravo, Jeff. You nailed it. And if Barry thinks Wright left a stench, just wait until the country takes a serious look at Rezko and Ayres. A man is known by the company he keeps.

  • “Perhaps too optimistic”

    Jeff, now I’m worried about you. You would hold optimism against a politician? Do you demand cynicism?

  • BA Benedict

    I agree with those who say your reduction of Obama to an either-or choice of negatives leaves much to the imagination.

    Also, when you complain that Obama is only being politically expedient by repudiating Wright now that he has presented a problem for his campaign, you ignore the fact that NOT repudiating him was largely considered the gutsy move when Wright became a household word to begin with. There’s integrity and then there’s self-immolation.

    But these are mere quibbles and are in keeping with your jaundiced view of the Illinois senator. My real problem with your post is that when you complain about being “as good as called racist [here comes the hedge] or at least clueless,” you rather indiscriminately brandished the very race-card-baiting sentiment that you were decrying IN THE VERY SAME SENTENCE! It is unfortunate if you suffered any disparagements that even approached that level, but even if you did, they clearly weren’t worth the pixels they appeared through, and if you didn’t, you

  • BA Benedict

    Sorry for the inadvertent submit-button hit. Enough said.

  • KJ

    What a lame post! And to prove its lameness, apply this same ridiculous standard to every Catholic who continues to support their church after it was revealed that there was a systematic effort to protect child molesters. Certainly supporting that institution is a bigger stretch than supporting a church in Chicago that feeds the poor, helps AIDS victims, houses the poor and elderly, in other words, walks the walk. And Reverend Wright started that so it remains clear that despite being a bit whacky and a sometimes arrogant ass, the good that Wright has done far outweighs the bad, just like a good Catholic would confidently argue that the good far outweighs the bad in the Catholic Church. Or are you actually going to disagree with me on this obvious point.

    So get over yourself on this ridiculous attack. I support Wright’s freedom to speak and I’m really getting sick of the PC police like Jeff Jarvis using this to bludgeon someone they want defeated.

    With that said, Wright can clearly be an egotistical A-hole, but you’d be an moral midget to consider him less of a person than say George W Bush, who some morons managed to vote for twice. Thankfully, Obama is a better person than both of them and has no intention of implementing any of their ideas. One can’t say the same for McCain, at least on the latter part.

  • KJ

    “Bravo, Jeff. You nailed it. And if Barry thinks Wright left a stench, just wait until the country takes a serious look at Rezko and Ayres. A man is known by the company he keeps.”

    That’s why liberals will tie Bush to McCain and win handily. People may take Wright somewhat seriously but that will fade like Bush’s National Guard record faded, which was a much more serious picture of a man’s character. And the connections to Rezko and Ayres are so minuscule that it will be forgotten months before the election no matter how hard some bloviating idiots try to push it. The stench that really matters is Bush. It must be embarrassing being a voter partly responsible for that stench.

  • Deena

    I was an Obama supporter, but my faithful support has been eroded by now, mainly because I don’t like the way that Obama has responded under fire. He just don’t do it well. First, when he said that Pastor Wright was like one of those crazy uncles I went huh? Then explaining racism he said that his grandmother was a “typical white person” which made me shake my head. Both comments were unwise. Added to that we have the San Francisco affair with small town america holding onto guns and religion because they are bitter. Maybe I am tired, maybe I have lost faith, but having an opinion doesn’t make me stupid or a cause to be insulted. The reason I say the last is because as my doubts have surfaced friends who blindly support Obama instead of talking these issues respond by insulting anyone who has doubts. I’ve had enough.

  • I have to agree with the many others here: really admire your media analysis, but I find your political stuff to be well below your usual standard. The false dichotomy of Obama being either cynical or a wimp – only two choices possible! – is a salient example, easily refuted by people who aren’t quite as worked up as you seem to be. And were you serious when you replied to Surya with “So you walk away from those with whom you disagree. Well, then.”? This when you had just laid into Obama for not walking away from Wright soon enough?

    What is really driving the problem you have with Obama? The intensity of feeling doesn’t make sense to me. Disagreeing, preferring another candidate’s qualifications – of course, if that’s what looks right to you. But this intense dislike? The basic story here is of an extraordinarily talented person who has given his life to public service, and is leading a national movement for a better, more honest and representative politics. If you think he should do things differently, perfectly fine. But again, why the intensity (and loss of coherence)? I could see getting this angry if you thought Obama actually agreed with Wright’s extreme statements. But no serious person thinks he does. What, really, is bugging you?

  • And I find that rhetorical meme tiring and insulting. Disagree with me, fine. But why insult me? This is politics. I’m a voter. We make choices. This is my choice. It’s clearly not yours. But to say that my political stuff is below my standard is condescending. Yes, I said that to Surya because that’s what Surya did. He/she also didn’t want to have a discussion on the issues and merits, only wanted to insult and ignore.

    The problem I have with Obama I’ve made often: the emptiness — the newspeak — of his rhetoric. I think his chants without meaning are a cynical political act. If I’m wrong there — and I hope I am because he may well be presidient — and grant that he is sincere, then I fear his inexperience and inability to make tough, decisive decisions; that is where I see Jimmy Carter.

    This exposes a rhetorical issue with the internet. Often, people are just talking as individuals, as people, saying what they think. To come back and insult someone because of what they think is, well, just insulting. And that’s why the internet gets a reputation for attack over dialogue. I’m tough and can take it; been around and seen this rhetorical meme since the beginning. It’s just tiring.

  • surya

    After a week of not having of your posts in my RSS, I decided to see what I had missed. I came back, read some and then took a look at the comments here to see what’s developed. Then I saw a few of your comments back to me and I couldnt’ help but smile widely. While I think it helps you retain your sense of righteousness by saying that I didn’t want to have a discussion and so I walk away. Or that if I don’t like what I hear, I just walk away. More accurately, Jeff, I’ve posted a few times in your comments when I found your posts troublesome. You never responded. That never bothered me. But you’re laughable when, once it’s convenient for you to take the ‘high ground’, you talk about others fleeing rather than having a discussion with you.

    Also, more to the point, do you think your posts here have any impact? Your have fire of a true-believer in Hillary, and that of an Obama cynic. Do your posts do anything but fire up those of your readers who also agree with your strong support of Hillary, and annoy those who support McCain? Judging from the comment I’ve read, and talking to others, I have to assume no. If you truly did want to make a difference and change minds you should probably refrain from cheering for your candidate as if this were some kinds of sporting event.

  • I’m just a voter saying what I think. That’s what most blogs are: people talking. You may choose to listen or not, that’s up to you, as you’re proving. And I will say what I think, which is my choice.