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The Wright thing - how much effect will it have on Obama 08?

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 10:29 pm
On TNR today, Michael Crowley wrote that

    "I do worry that this lays bare a very grim truth: That even middle-class black American culture is more angry and alienated than most whites understand, and that our country is simply not yet at the point where even an ostensibly post-racial black candidate can escape that dynamic entirely. And as a colleague put it to me today, in terms I hope are too pessimistic: "It makes me think it's going to be at least another generation before we see a black man elected president." If Obama can prove him wrong then he really may be a world-historical figure.
Also, he writes that "a pro-Hillary friend" wrote him "saying this is why calls to force Clinton out of the race are premature. In politics, lighting can always strike."

This took me aback. Obviously, the Wright case is bad news for Obama - both in terms of the ongoing primary race and in terms of the general elections if he does win. But is it the kind of thing that could or will sink his candidacy altogether? Does it fall in the category of spontaneous self-combustion, the category of "lightning striking" that voters have kept Hillary in the race for as "reserve"? Or is that the hyperbole of the moment, the hysteria of pundits forever caught in the moment?

I really dont know, myself. I dont think I can plumb the depths of what racial issues are affected or might be triggered by this in America; dont know whether to be optimistic or pessimistic. So I thought I'd ask all of you Americans.

Sorry to be rude, but I am NOT asking for your opinion about Wright or the things he said. I am asking how big a deal this will be, in your opinion, for Obama's chances now and in the generals.

Thank you very much!
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:14 pm
I think it's bad AND good.

The bad part is kind of obvious.

The good part -- he's responding to it well and it will be hard to say Obama is a muslim while simultaneously trying to tie him to the radical comments of his Christian pastor of 20 years.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:17 pm
Another thing: it gives him the opportunity to bring faith into the conversation. He has some really good insight about this issue which always comes up in the general election. And to the extent that he can get folks from the Christian right to hear him I think it could have an effect.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. (It's long)

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid353515028?bctid=416343938
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:21 pm
Almost zero effect, for a variety of reasons.

First, it doesn't seem likely to push anyone away from Obama who is already for him. It isn't as if it was a secret that he was part of a black church with an outspoken preacher. This whole thing was discussed during the Farrakhan thing earlier.

Second, the news was at an odd time - Friday and the weekend. A huge amount of voters will have heard basically nothing about it. Bush has used this tactic about, oh, a billion times, and it does work.

Third, people didn't care too much about the Hagee thing for McCain; there's not much difference here.

Fourth and most importantly, there's no legs to this story. That is to say, there's not much room for the story to develop; it's hard to see how it doesn't fade into the background as the days and weeks add up.

Give it a week or two - it won't be news any longer. And I don't believe that most people are either surprised, or care, too much, about comments made by someone who isn't the candidate themselves.

Cycloptichorn
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:24 pm
I do think that it will have some negative effect and here's why. The people who care about this stuff aren't voting in the Democratic primary and probably won't vote for a Democrat anyway. But Democrats might look at that and think that it will hurt him badly enough in the general that it's too risky to give him the nomination. I hope not, but there it is.

Why in god's name am I still awake?
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:30 pm
FreeDuck wrote:
I do think that it will have some negative effect and here's why. The people who care about this stuff aren't voting in the Democratic primary and probably won't vote for a Democrat anyway. But Democrats might look at that and think that it will hurt him badly enough in the general that it's too risky to give him the nomination. I hope not, but there it is.

Why in god's name am I still awake?


Shrug. It's possible. But he is far enough ahead that he would have to lose massively in order to lose the nomination.

Cycloptichorn
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:35 pm
I guess I don't share your confidence. It's not an insurmountable lead and there are things like MI, FL and superdelegates that could swing things the other way -- especially if they deem him unelectable, which is probably what this is all about. On the flip side, if he comes out on the other side of this then it's one more thing he won't have to seriously deal with in the general election.
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Mar, 2008 11:42 pm
FreeDuck wrote:
I guess I don't share your confidence. It's not an insurmountable lead and there are things like MI, FL and superdelegates that could swing things the other way -- especially if they deem him unelectable, which is probably what this is all about. On the flip side, if he comes out on the other side of this then it's one more thing he won't have to seriously deal with in the general election.


I just can't see this being severe enough to make him 'unelectable.' And the reason why is found in this question: why does it make him unelectable?

If it isn't easily answered, then it isn't really true. The flip is more likely; just another Kitchen Sink attack thrown at him in the primary.

Cycloptichorn
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 06:04 am
I think the biggest risk out of this is if Obama can somehow be placed at a sermon where Wright said unpleasant things.

People are suspicious of the "oh, this is new to you, huh?" part of it, and I can see that.

I think that if it turns out he was at a problematic sermon and that he didn't do anything about it, that'll go to the heart of some concerns people have about him, which would supersede the Wright situation per se.

I remember being concerned when Wright's convocation (? not sure if that's the right term) was canceled before Obama's announcement that he was running for president (last year+, in Springfield). I was concerned at the time that Obama was needlessly antagonizing a possibly powerful ally. I do think some distancing has been going on for a while, and I remember reading earlier some kind of rueful "yeah, he's a character!" comments. Overall, before this "broke" (the greatest-hits video), I had the impression that Obama had a great deal of respect for Wright but also differed with him in significant ways.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 06:10 am
By the way I agree with FreeDuck that in general Obama's temperament is on display in handling this situation, and that's to his advantage. I've recently seen that idea around more -- that he has a presidential temperament. Unflappable, cool. I saw "no-drama Obama" somewhere recently. That part's good.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 08:26 am
Cycloptichorn wrote:
First, it doesn't seem likely to push anyone away from Obama who is already for him. It isn't as if it was a secret that he was part of a black church with an outspoken preacher. This whole thing was discussed during the Farrakhan thing earlier.

Yeah, do you really think that the voters at large already knew about this all? I mean, not just active Obama supporters, but random primary voters in, say, Pennsylvania or Indiana? What about general elections voters?

I hope you all are right that the effect will be minimal or limited...
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 08:32 am
"No-drama Obama" is good. <nods> Steady Eddie he is.

I'm not as convinced by the "I didnt know he'd said such radical things" line of defence (thats not a direct quote). I think he should have stuck with the "he's my pastor but I do disagree about a lot of things with him, including these" line. Now he's sorta put himself out in a position where any link that puts him at one of those sermons or even having been informed about their content suggests some ducking and dishonesty.

For one, I dont believe he didnt know that Wright had said such stuff. (It just wouldnt be a big deal for me either way.) Do you?
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gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 08:51 am
A lot of people figure Obama is basically toast at this point and for good reason: Listening to "God damn America" sermons for 20 years is bad enough; claiming never to have noticed such content in 20 years is basically a big, stupid lie and, unlike the KKKlintlers, Obama is apparently not accustomed to lying and does not lie well.

The guy needs to fire at least one of his advisors and possibly all of them. There is a much better answer he could have come up with; here's what I'd have told the world about the subject:

Quote:

You know, I probably should have seen this one coming a lot sooner and made the effort to defuse it and for that I apologize. I'm aware that a lot of people get freaked reading about a few of these sermons; the honest truth is that for a black politician living where I do and representing the constituency I do, churches like this and the occasional sermon like this are basically just part of the landscape which are not easily avoidable.

In other words, nobody takes them terribly seriously. What you're talking about is more or less a religious equivalent of rap music and for 99% of the people, they basically just go in one ear and out the other. And if I DIDN'T attend that church along with the 8000 other parishoners who go there, there would simply be too many things I wouldn't be able to observe or find out about, wihch is part of my job.



I suspect even middle America might have bought that explanation.
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Roxxxanne
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 08:55 am
The fact is at this point, no one has any idea how this will play out. We often forget how clueless the American people are. In a recent survey, 13% of respondents think Obama is a Muslim. One would hope that those who allow the vitriol of Obama's preacher to poison their view of Obama are people who wouldn't vote for him anyway but that might not be the case.


I am hoping that when the 527s roll this video out in the fall that it will be seen as unfair and the smear attempt will backfire especially as the well healed Obama camp will have the resources to counter it. As well, the unflappability of Obama continues to shine through in these controversies. And this is a trait that is very desirable of a president.
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Roxxxanne
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 09:00 am
gungasnake wrote:
A lot of people figure Obama is basically toast at this point and for good reason: Listening to "God damn America" sermons for 20 years is bad enough; claiming never to have noticed such content in 20 years is basically a big, stupid lie



The big, stupid lie is your claim that Obama listened to "God damn America sermons" for twenty years.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 09:08 am
gungasnake wrote:
here's what I'd have told the world about the subject:

Quote:

You know, I probably should have seen this one coming a lot sooner and made the effort to defuse it and for that I apologize. I'm aware that a lot of people get freaked reading about a few of these sermons; the honest truth is that for a black politician living where I do and representing the constituency I do, churches like this and the occasional sermon like this are basically just part of the landscape which are not easily avoidable.

<snip>


I suspect even middle America might have bought that explanation.

Who wouldve thought I would ever post in agreement with something Gunga wrote. I mean, this para above is pretty much the common sense answer, isnt it?
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snood
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 09:37 am
nimh wrote:
gungasnake wrote:
here's what I'd have told the world about the subject:

Quote:

You know, I probably should have seen this one coming a lot sooner and made the effort to defuse it and for that I apologize. I'm aware that a lot of people get freaked reading about a few of these sermons; the honest truth is that for a black politician living where I do and representing the constituency I do, churches like this and the occasional sermon like this are basically just part of the landscape which are not easily avoidable.

<snip>


I suspect even middle America might have bought that explanation.

Who wouldve thought I would ever post in agreement with something Gunga wrote. I mean, this para above is pretty much the common sense answer, isnt it?



count me in agreement and suprised to be so, as well.
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snood
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 10:02 am
Okay, here's what I think about the Jeremiah Wright thing...

I think that Obama's appeal to a lot of people has been their perception that he's not quite like all the others who have gone before as far as trusting the American people with the transparent truth. I think that his answer to this Wright thing has been the first thing that has serious potential for flying in the face of that perception.

I think he very probably did know about Pastor Wright's penchant for saying incendiary things before his presidential campaign, and that he has not been forthcoming with that knowledge. It doesn't bother me to the point that it negates all the good I see in the man, but I see how he could have handled this better.

Without dealing here with the intrinsic truth or untruth of what Pastor Wright said on all those now infamous occasions, I understand their volatility in a country with the kind of class and race issues still outstanding that we undeniably still have. I also understand how Obama could have a lot of inner struggle dismissing the man and the church that has served to nurture him and his family for nearly half of his life.

I think he has done the right thing by disavowing the things that I believe he sincerely differs with. I hope the only people for whom this is very deeply troubling are those who had very little possibility of voting for him to begin with. For everyone else, I hope they come to the realization that Reverend Wright is not Barack Obama and that they forgive Senator Obama for struggling as long as he did before drawing a line between the two of them clear enough for all to see.

What I hope happens now is two things - that Obama takes a deep breath, bites the bullet and goes on to admit he had heard some of this language before and was wrong to deny that, but that it does not define who he is and what he believes; and that people don't let the voices that have been opposed to his candidacy all along convince them that this is unforgivable.
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Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 10:11 am
It's just so far before the next election - the story just doesn't have the legs it would need in order to keep it going for 5 more weeks. Hard to see it staying in people's consciousness that whole time for no reason.

Cycloptichorn
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Mar, 2008 10:23 am
Obama has been amazingly successful in capturing the loyalty of voters; Republican & Democrat: Black & White, in part by the impression he has conveyed of a transcendent position on race relations in this country, one that will leave behind the lingering resentments of all divisive groups in the pursuit of new, uniting goals. These are strong impressions he leaves in his personal demeanor, the words and phrases he uses in interviews and, most particularly, in hs campaign oratory.

The campaign ahead will be a long one - 5 1/2 months until the party conventions, and a bit more than 2 more months to the election. Any significant corrosion of the conficence Obama has earned among his strong supporters will have a long time to operate and gather effect.

I believe that Obama will have to find a way to restore the public's confidence in the promise of the past few months - confidence that I believe will begin to erode under media followup and his critics in the political contests. I think he has the ability to do it, but that he must personally face and deal directly & thoroughly with this issue, starting now if he is to be successful.
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