Friday, March 14, 2008

Not Enough: Obama Wright Repudiation is Lacking

Barack Obama has published a denunciation of Reverend Jeremiah Wright at the Huffington Post:

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.

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. Let me therefore provide some context.
That's a good start, but it's not enough.

Obama spends the rest of his essay defending Wright's patriotism and service to country. He argues he was not there at the particular sermons where Wright's spewed his hatred, but that's evasive.

Obama then says that because he was married in Wright's church, and his daughters were babtized there, he "did not think it appropriate to leave the church."

That's not sufficient. No matter his previous ties to the church and his pastor, "categorical" includes those instance of previous assocation with such hatred, sentiments that raise deeply troubling issues of judgement for Sentator Obama.

Obama has said that "Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good."

Well, that's not going to cut it. If Obama's real - if he's genuinely serious about ending this nation's debilitating hyperpartisanship - there's no better place to begin than by completely renouncing any past or present ties to a religious institution that's served as a sanctuary for views that are implacably contrary to the values of this great nation.

See my call for a major statement of denunciation from the Obama campaign, "
Calling Obama: Time to Denounce Anti-American Extremism."

See more reaction at


UPDATE: Some folks are having a hard time seeing that Obama's got big problems. Here's Noam Scheiber, wondering if Obama's HuffPo repudiation was enough:

The more I think about it, the more I think Obama needs to go further....

I think Obama needs a more striking gesture of his own. Like announcing that he's removing Wright from his (largely honorary) position in the campaign, maybe giving a high-profile speech about his faith.

You think?