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My Response to Lanny Davis

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No I am NOT Barack Obama. I don't have his cool. But I do have a few brains left after the pummeling the old noggin has taken during the Bush years and the resuscitation of a Clinton presence that is far worse than anything I remember of the Clinton years. First they sent Joe Wilson out to give us the Hillary-is-a-gladiator message. And now Lawyer Lanny Davis, a Clintonite through and through,has favored the Wall Street Journal with the following instructions to Barack regarding Pastor Wright. I shall in my ponderous way quote Lanny and allow myself the opportunity to create responses.
Obama's Minister Problem
By LANNY J. DAVIS
April 9, 2008

I have tried to get over my unease surrounding Barack Obama's response to the sermons and writings of his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. But the unanswered questions remain.
I don't think you felt unease. I think you felt OPPORTUNITY. A chance to chase Obama out and recoup things for the failed candidate you support. I do not question your loyalty, but be real.

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I am a strong supporter of and a substantial fundraiser for Hillary Clinton for president (though in this column I speak only for myself). I still believe she should and will be the Democratic nominee. But if Sen. Obama wins the nomination, he needs to understand that this issue goes well beyond Clinton partisans. Now is the time to address these questions, not later.

Clearly Mr. Obama does not share the extremist views of Rev. Wright. He is a tolerant and honorable person. But that is not the issue. The questions remain: Why did he stay a member of the congregation? Why didn't he speak up earlier? And why did he reward Rev. Wright with a campaign position even after knowing of his comments?
We are ALL tired Lanny. But this is the Pat Buchanan line that inspired me to link him and Hillary and Carville as political bedfellows. You need not try to rebut that. It is an aside. The fact of the matter is that you are proceeding from the same ignorance that Buchanan did -- assuming that the looped soundbites that FOX turned into an essential hate crime (technically LIBEL, Lanny) were so typical that Barack and Michelle would have come home every Sunday filled with venom at the old Red, White and Blue.

My concerns were retriggered when I read for the first time three excerpts from Rev. Wright's sermons published several weeks ago in a national news magazine:
This is what is known as a pretext. I will not attempt to judge the sincerity of what you call your concern.

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
-- Sept. 16, 2001 (the first Sunday after 9/11)
You are unconscionable, Lanny. I never venerated the Clinton circle, but I never regarded them as lacking in the mental capacity to read beyond the soundbite quotes. Had you read you would have known that Wright was quoting our Ambassador to Iraq at the time. Look, I am not going to spoonfeed you. I would have thought better of you before I got here. You come to this blog. You type Wright in the BLOG SEARCH and you damned well listen to the statements in context. Then come back and emote.

"The government . . . wants us to sing God Bless America. No, no, no. God damn America; that's in the bible, for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human."
-- 2003 - "The United States of White America." -- July 22, 2007

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As I read and reread these words, I keep thinking: If my rabbi ever uttered such hateful words from the pulpit about America and declared all Palestinians to be terrorists, I have no doubt I would have withdrawn immediately from his congregation.
This is incredible. How long did you take to write this, Lanny. You read the excerpted-out-of-context Wright soundbites over and over and it still comes out declaring all Palestinians to be terrorists? I have no comment. Except that you do not appear to be able to read.

In his eloquent Philadelphia speech, Mr. Obama likened Rev. Wright to a beloved, but politically extremist, family member with whom one profoundly disagrees but whose rage one understands.

But this comparison just doesn't work for me. I don't get a chance to choose my family members. I do get a chance to choose my spiritual or religious leader and my congregation. And I do not have to remain silent or, more importantly, expose my children to the spiritual leader of my congregation who spews hate that offends my conscience.
First you assume you have accurately characterized Wright, the congregation and the sermons you took nibbles from. Since all those assumptions are dead wrong, you have no case. All you are doing is providing the inept Mr. McCain with ammo. Which is fine. It says more about you than it does about the election after Hillary is gone.

Mr. Obama made a choice to join the church and to ask Rev. Wright to marry him and his bride. He said for the first time a few weeks ago that had Rev. Wright not recently resigned as pastor of the church, he would have withdrawn. But that only reraised the same questions: Why didn't he act before the resignation?

If he did not want to withdraw from the church – and I truly try to understand his personal difficulty doing so – then why not at least speak out publicly and say, in the famous phrase of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy: "No – this is unacceptable."
He did Lanny, to the extent he needed to. Read the NYTimes at the time of his announcement. Does telling Wright to back off giving the prayer work for you? Do you want blood? You won't get it.

Furthermore, after knowing about some of these sermons and having serious problems with some of their messages, why did Mr. Obama still decide to appoint Rev. Wright to his official presidential campaign religious advisory committee?

Some have suggested that any Clinton supporters who continue to raise this issue are "playing the race card" or taking the "low" road.
Isn't it funny. I have not thought this since I began writing. In fact it is most often the Clinton side that brings up the race card, applies it to themselves, and then accuses Obama of playing it. Of rabid Obama and rabid Clinton supporters I will say simply, it is a wash. There is no counting for simplistic labeling. I just think you are doing what Joe Wilson did, making a bad argument that tells more about your situation than about the issue at hand. The issue at hand is that Obama has gotten through this and he has said what he has said and if the GOP plays it as you do, fine. We will win the election and suggest people move on. In other words your argument is specious, based on the same evidence FOX presented to the country. You did not do your homework.

When I said on CNN recently that concerns about the Wright-Obama issue were "appropriate" to continue to be discussed, my friend Joe Klein of Time Magazine said, "Lanny, Lanny, you're spreading the poison right now" and that an "honorable person" would "stay away from this stuff."
Nah, you can talk all you want Lanny. I wish you well.

Attacking the motives of those who feel this discomfort about Senator Obama's response or nonresponse to Reverend Wright's comments is not just unfair and wrong. It also misses the important electoral point about winning the general election in November: This issue is not going away. If many loyal, progressive Democrats remain troubled by this issue, then there must be even more unease among key swing voters – soft "Reagan Democrats," independents and moderate Republicans – who will decide the 2008 election.
Obama is generally conceded to have a better chance against McCain than Ms. Clinton. He will win all the states Clinton has won plus many if not all of the ones he won. Let me know if I am wrong.

One thing is for sure: If Mr. Obama doesn't show a willingness to try to answer all the questions now, John McCain and the Republican attack machine will not waste a minute pressuring him to do so if he is the Democratic Party's choice in the fall.
You know, I think God is playing a joke. It is almost 100 percent the case that everything that the Clinton camp has put out has carried the seeds of its own destruction. The emperors clothes syndrome with a vengeance. You have produced an clearly flawed argument based on careless and superficial readings of the situation. Why do I bother to reply at all? I probably shouldn't. Every criticism I have made of Hillary's campaign would have HELPED her win, had she heeded their messages.
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http://stephencrosehome.blogspot.com
Born in NYC, attended Oberlin & Trinity Schools, then Exeter and Williams (Phi Beta Kappa 1958). Worked with the Reverend James Robinson, finished Union Theological Seminary in NYC (1961). Joined Student Interracial Ministry in Nashville. Founded (more...)
 

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