Friday, March 14, 2008

Obama responds

Obama has just posted a blog entry on the Rev. Wright matter over on The Huffington Post. It's pretty good, at least on first reading, but not as good as a speech would be.
Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.
I'm glad to see that Obama is not going the route of rejecting Rev. Wright outright. I'm getting tired of the "shunning" response to these kind of controversies that have become all to common and are, frankly, indicative of weakness. Instead, Obama focuses on Wrights political statements as separate from his spiritual statements.
... Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.
Obama also avoids the trap of belittling the concern this issue has raised.
Because these particular statements by Rev. Wright are so contrary to my own life and beliefs, a number of people have legitimately raised questions about the nature of my relationship with Rev. Wright and my membership in the church. ...
I appreciate Obama's ability to understand that an effective attack, even if an attack is meant to be a smear, plays upon people's legitimate concerns (e.g., Clinton's 3am ad asks the legitimate question of who we should trust to protect our children in a scary world.) You don't respond to the attack by making people feel stupid for being concerned. You simply point out, in emotional language, how they don't need to be concerned. This response is notable for the fact that it does not use the "crazy uncle" frame that Obama has used previously. I actually think he should keep it. It would create sympathy among those who are disturbed by the comments but have personal experience with having to deal with a loved one that they have a serious disagreement with. It's a good frame, but it needs expansion and Obama does that in this response. I don't think this response will make the issue go away, but it is a good step in the right direction. Also, apparently Obama is going on "Hannity & Colmes" to talk about this. I normally oppose Democrats going on FOX because it is a Republican propaganda outfit. But in this case I think it might be the perfect place for it. Hannity is a good surrogate for the crowd who might be persuaded by this stuff and Obama can, I think, handle his particular brand of distortion. It has dangers, of course, but the payoff could be huge.


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