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March 18th, 2008
01:09 PM ET

Gergen: Obama and the "racial deadlock"

Over the next several days, we will chatter a lot about the political fallout from Sen. Barack Obama's speech today.  My initial sense is that he may have lanced the boil but he will continue to feel some pain from his association with the Reverend Wright for a while to come.

Obama speech

But even as we dissect the politics, is it possible to stand back and make a different set of observations: From my perspective, watching alone from a hotel in Florida, I found it refreshing to have a political candidate who finally talks to us as mature adults and also appeals to what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature."

We have become so accustomed to political "leaders" who treat us like children, spoon feeding us with platitudes and playing upon our prejudices, that we forget what it is like to have a serious conversation about our challenges as a people.  One important role of a leader is to serve as an educator, clarifying how we have arrived where we are and what our choices are as we look toward the future.

Obama did that well today.

Listening to him, I was reminded at one point of Franklin Roosevelt's observation that the presidency is preeminently a place of moral leadership – a place where men like Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt have clarified the great moral choices of our history.

This speech will not enter Bill Safire's anthology of great oratory.  It was too larded with his standard campaign rhetoric toward the end.  It will not end the controversy. It will not answer questions about whether he and his team are truly ready.  And for those who remember how another man who made serious speeches, Adlai Stevenson, went down to defeat to a war hero, it brings no guarantees of electoral success.

But at moments, it was an eloquent and moving expression of who Barack Obama is and what he represents - and how, just maybe, we could address and one day overcome our "racial deadlock".

– David Gergen, CNN Sr. Political Analyst

Program note: Watch David Gergen's analysis on tonight's 360° at 10p ET

soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. Sandy, Fontana, CA

    Very well put...Illinois!
    For Obama, 'race' was a dirty word, other politicians used to advance their inferior agenda....but now he talks eloquently about this issue, only because he was forced to the corner from not Clinton's side, but from his own mentor!
    Too bad, he should have been more upfront earlier, and should not have been so uptight when folks talked about the obvious!
    He's hypocritical, and just another politician!
    At least Hillary has an agenda and talks about her policies....Obama has nothing but words (which now sound more empty than ever)!

    March 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  2. MIGUEL ARRAS

    THE AUDACITY OF HYPOCRISY
    Everyone knows Obama can give a good speech. And he did today. But,for all his lofty words and supposed deeply felt beliefs, one has to yet again wonder: WHERE WAS THE OUTRAGE AGAINST REV. WRIGHT AND HIS DIVISIVE HATE SPEECH DURING THE TWENTY YEARS THAT OBAMA ATTENDED THAT CHURCH? Where is the honesty? Why is it only NOW, that Obama is taking a stand against his church's bigotry and hatred? Obama LIED when first confronted with evidence of Rev. Wrights anti-American bigotry. Obama has said he had never heard the Rev. speak that way. Now he affirms that he knew about it all along, and we are supposed to trust him? His campaign was the one who tried to tar the Clintons and Geraldine Ferraro and anyone else who was critical of them as RACISTS! Obama wants to have it both ways. He says on one hand we have to understand where the anger Rev. Wrights expresses comes from, and therefor accept it. THERE SHOULD BE NO ACCEPTANCE OF HATRED, AND NO EXCUSE SHOULD BE MADE FOR IT! It goes beyond anger, the Rev. preaches HATRED pure and simple. And Obama sat in that church for TWENTY years and not until now has Obama decided to confront it! And only because it is now a detriment to his goal of winning the election. THAT IS BEYOND HYPOCRITICAL, IT IS OUTRAGEOUS! AND NO AMOUNT OF PRO OBAMA BIAS FROM THE PRESS WILL CHANGE THAT!

    March 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  3. Cyndi

    excellent assessment Gergen. It was an honest and pointed speech, too bad he's under the assumption Americans are intellectually informed citizens who aren't easily persuaded by their own prejudices.

    I've been an Obama supporter since 2006 and can't wait to vote for him this year, my first time ever @ the old age of 19.

    If we are to judge Obama on his pastor, than by all means few of our presidents would qualify with their endorsement and support of bigoted evangelical ministers and their stupidity of demonizing anyone who isn't in line with their believe. Perhaps its time for us to separate religious entity from our political platform and candidacy.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  4. Jen

    To Illinois..

    Hillary still associates with Ferrero. She has not stopped being her friend or adviser. She has dropped from the campaign but that doesnt mean they stopped talking and passing advice back and forth. Get real!!

    Everyone in this world has a friend that is not all there where everyone will like them. I grew up and my family was very religious. There was this old man that lived down the road that liked to come over and chat with my dad. He cussed so bad my mom usually kept us kids inside haha. But my dad was friends with him regardless. My grandparents had slaves. (but they were treated well not like some) but regardless you cant just eliminate someone just because they have some issues. Everyone has problems and issues and if we were like that no one would have any friends or family.

    Did you know that one of the Beach boys was friends and hung out with Charles Manson? Yet that didnt stop so many buying the beach boy albums. People can be friends with people and not be influenced by them or be co conspirators.

    Its time to get real ya know?

    March 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  5. Julie

    What CNN is unwilling to ask Obama is what inspired him about this racist ignorent fear mongering preacher rev Wright to write the book entitled, 'The Audacity of Hope'. Nothing about the man or his preachings could possible be inspring or motivating to me about anything, much less the desire to plagerize Rev Wrights speaches and style in a new book. Which he wrote because he is bored with his junior role in the Senate. If Obama wins, the focus will always be on race, as he is truely a racist, we now know. A black racist, not a white racist. But ya know what? I don't care about race, I care about the economy stupid!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  6. Mike

    When was the last time that there was an article about analyzing issues? Its funny, how the tapes of Wright are dated 2007 but they were publicized right after the Geraldine mess? Talk about an agenda.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  7. James

    Too little, too late. Obama should have nipped this in the butt before it got this far, but then again how can you justify the fact that you attend a racist and anti-American church?

    March 18, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  8. MONA

    Gergen is one of the most mature and unbiased commentators whom I respect. I agree Obama was excellent in addressing the complexities of race in this country and our need to focus upon our similarities and work together to make our country better, not more divided. Obama expertly pointed out that when it comes to race, few if any of us, or our family members or friends have completely clean hands. If we were asked to disassociate ourselves with everyone who says or believes something racially offensive, we would have no associates. It is therefore absurd for the media to continue to hound Obama about leaving his church. He has denounced the remarks of Rev. Wright and Rev Wright has decided to retire this month. So, the media needs to move on or give equal time to analyzing Hillary and John McCain's associates for racism, sexism, and anti-American comments so that they can enjoy the hot seat just like Obama. In fact, since Obama has been roughed up for at least two weeks, it is only fair and balanced for the media to devote an equal amount of time going after Hillary and McCain. To fail to do so does appear biased and perhaps even racist. Amends should be made to Obama for singling him out. The media and their advertisers should be held accountable by the viewers.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  9. Kathy

    It was a deeply moving speech full of honesty, candor, and truth. I can't imagine any one not being able to relate to at least some element of his speech and be moved by it. Maybe this is the "mirror" Americans needed to look in to see ourselves as we really are and hopefully change those parts of ourselves that don't reflect who we want to be as a nation.

    This thought-provoking speech will have many Americans rethinking their own views/prejudices about their neighbors. It may even have some people revisiting past sermons in their churches where the pastor may have said something they disagreed with.

    Its still a long time before the PA primary and hopefully during that time voters will really consider the words Sen. Obama spoke today and put race, gender, religion, etc. aside. Let's put in office the person who can bring Americans together, someone who doesn't focus on the problems we face as insurmountable but rather a challenge to overcome.

    As for those who say his speech was just more words I say they are missing the point. They were powerful words, honest words and above all, words I would much rather hear than the snipping and negativity of McCain and Clinton who speak from the old world of politics.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
  10. Kent Froberg

    I for one am genuinely impressed at how Obama has tried to move American beyond race and gender differences, but am amazed at how many Americans are shocked by Reverend Wright's angry words. I am not yet considered old, but can still recall that in our community blacks were expected to go to the back of the bus, and I lived in sandy hollow while most blacks lived in skunk hollow. Obama is correct that we all need to work together, but I cannot blame a tired old preacher for being angry at injustice, even if times are mostly better for blacks, women and Latinos. I suspect there are still some Native Americans that are angry as well.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  11. Stacy Clarks, tx

    I think hid speech was needed, and very well put together. Toall those that said he waited too late, he did not address this at first because he was trying to move beyond race, move beyond divisive rhetoric. But he was dragged into it. It is like people are never happy. (he is being too racial, but then he is not "talking" about it...what more do you want?!?!?)

    If you do not vote for him because of his views on his issues, fine, but if oyu base your vote on what he says or feels about race (then what does that make you?)

    let's move on America,

    STOP THE HATE, VOTE OBAMA 08!!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  12. gerry

    a dummy can be sold anything watch all the dummies
    this one HILLARY and if not her macain after voting democrate
    all my life i will vote macain before i vote racism

    March 18, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  13. Caroline

    I think this entire incident is embarrassing. Less we forget, racial jabs were not the only comments made in these sermons at Obama's church. Anti-American comments time and time again were preached to the congregation. Seriously? Are we seriously considering forgiving this man who has looked to such a 'spiritual advisor' for twenty years to practice good judgment for our country when he can't even practice good judgment in his choice of ministers? I am disgusted.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  14. Lisa

    Shannon from Minnesota is on point. We get the leadership we deserve. And I agree with her, we aren't ready yet to be leaders. As long as we are content to sit back and be spoon fed pablam, that's what we're going to get. As long as we accept what those we elect to represent us confer upon us, it will continue.

    The individuals are in their positions to represent we, the people. They are not there for us to do their bidding. Somewhere along the line this has been transformed. And we need to get it back the other way. Our elected representatives are there to do OUR bidding.

    Is Obama the person for the task? Quite possibly. Our only other options are 2 individuals who frankly would represent the "same deck just with the chairs arranged differently". If that is what we want, that is what we'll get. Come November, I guess we'll learn if we're up to the task of being adults or prefer to remain children.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  15. Jim in Texas

    Obama speech is too late, nice words and that is all it was, words. For someone to remain under a racist pastor for 20 years says a lot, his church did not teach unity......hidden agenda? There is no chance of him becoming president, we as a nation have not lost our moral grounding.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  16. Debbie

    I think about the 2 wars America is in...soldiers dying, and the tragedy of 9/11 countless lives affected, and an economy in a disaster...then I juxdapose that to Obama's Preacher and friend of 20 YEARS...saying " GD AMERICA"...it makes me physically ill...AND VERY ANGRY!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 2:45 pm |
  17. WOW, what a speech

    David, David, David. I had so been in agreement with everything you had to say over the last few days. But not today. This WAS the best speech I have ever heard in my lifetime. I cannot include JFK or MLK, was just a baby then. Obama simply laid it all out on the table on both sides. If you don't want to come together after that speech I have deep sympathy for you.

    Radio hosts and the rest of the naysayers can just keep the negative comments to themselves because Mr. Barack Obama handled this in a very classy, professional and loving manner.

    Go Obama!

    March 18, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  18. Vickie

    Please just drop out of the race. We don't need another president who makes so many "bad" or "boneheaded" mistakes. Nor do we need one that has spent 20 years of his listening to such hateful venom spweing out someone's mouth, in a church of all places.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  19. Marc in Toronto

    A comment that Obama made that went under the radar but is crystal clear to many of us in Canada that follow the USA political process was the one he made about exit polls and how divisive they can be.

    Exit polls are divisive and in this posters view Americans make way too much out of who votes for who. There is far less racism in Canada and people/voters will not tolerate exit polls that distinguish between races, age and class.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  20. Chido Williams

    Do you think that Hillary has a minute to address the "Race issue" in this country? She has proved to be a divider proved by her racial comments since the beginning of the campaign. I will leave it to the American people to decide on how long we have to stomach these issues without proper address.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  21. LA

    It isn't so much that Obama's ties to this racist pastor prove that he is a racist. But it does undermine his pretense of being non-racial (when trying to appeal to whites). It emphasizes his blackness as a candidate, which he has so far used to his advantage on one hand while denying it (as unimportant) on the other hand. It proves that he isn't colorblind. And confirms that race matters - at least in his mind.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  22. Pat

    I see Obama's bloggers are at it again – attempting to explain away his racist minister connection and to sway voters to their candidate.

    I hope this campaign will go on much longer and the media will continue to question just who Obama is and what else he is hiding, including more of his dealings with his Chicago pal who contributed at least $250,000 to his campaign and is now on trial.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  23. Mike

    I am a mid 30s working class white male and Obama’s got my vote. I do not dislike Hillary but she is just far too representative of the “politics of old” for my taste, and McCain, while I respect him deeply as a veteran, is just going to be more of the same that I am already tired of Bush/Cheney for having thrust upon us. It would be pretty hard for Obama to lose my vote at this stage of the game.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  24. Lynda O'Neal

    Great speech, but no plans. I concur with David Gergen that it was larded with standard rhetoric. I wasn't sure before, but I'm not with him now. He is a compelling young man with no platform Look me up in ten years or so.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
  25. vicki in arkansas

    As someone who would "clarify the moral" direction of the country, Senator Obama should have done so by walking out of a church that preached and applauded black racism. Trinity Church's attitudes of blame and hatred only serve to destroy the progress that many good hearted people of all colors are trying to achieve between the races. While I am "unashamedly white", I do not achieve that by denigrating people of other colors. True pride and self-worth does not come from vitriolic hatred of others. You feel really good about yourself when you lift others up, not when you put them down. By being a part of this congregation, I really question Senator Obama's understanding of unity and how it is achieved.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  26. Tex'un

    In my experience, the cynical Clinton campaign has convinced idealistic newcomers to politics that they'll either stay home on election day or vote for McCain. The lady and her surrogates have polluted the waters. Perhaps Obama's response today will pull some of the newcomers and independents back into the Democratic column.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  27. BRENDA

    OKAY!!! SO OBAMA IS SO NOT RACIAL.....WELL IF HE DOESN'T WIN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE WE WILL PROBABLY BE FACING A WORST RACIAL DIVIDE THEN WE'VE EVER HAD....I PERSONALLY THINK THAT HILLARY IS MUCH MORE QUALIFIED BUT AT THE SAME TIME I DON'T WANT MY GRANDCHILDREN SCARED TO GO ANYWHERE BECAUSE OF THE UPROAR AMONG THE BLACKS IF HE DOESN'T WIN....AND IT WILL HAPPEN......JUST WATCH...

    March 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm |
  28. clare sklodowski

    BARACK OBAMA TALKS OF CHANGE BUT NEVER DEFINES IT. HE ALSO ATTENDED A BLATANTLY RACIST CHURCH FOR 20 YEARS
    AND EMBRACED PASTOR WRIGHTS TEACHINGS-HAVING HIM PERFORM HIS MARRAIGE AND BAPTISE HIS 2 CHILDREN. HIS WIFE IS A RACIST WHEN YOU CONSIDER HER REMARKS THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME ALTHOUGH IN EXCESS OF 45 YEARS OF AGE SHE HAS REAPED THE BENEFIT IN OUR COUNTRY OF SCHOLARSHIPS TO PRINCETON AND HARVARD AND HAS A JOB AS A LAWYER PAYING IN EXECSS OF $200,000. PER YEAR. SHE CERTAINLY SOUNDS LIKE SHE EMBRACES THE REMARKS OF PASTOR WRIGHT. HOW THEN CAN OBAMA CLAIM HE WANTS TO BRING US TOGETHER WHEN THE EVIDENCE CERTAINLY SPEAKS OTHERWISE

    March 18, 2008 at 2:31 pm |
  29. David McKee

    Unfortunately, Mr. Obama was pressured into giving his speech today through a serious misjudgement on his own part. Mr. Gergen is wrong to applaud Mr. Obama's sincerity and adult approach to the problem when the speech was solely devised as a defensive ploy to improve Mr. Obama's predicament.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  30. Bill F. Fayetteville, TN

    This is in response to MW's comments. The Clintons did not, repeat did not, initiate this firestorm with Reverend Wright. It was the media who exposed the Rev. sermons. If Obama was so worried about the race card, why didn't he make a major speech after South Carolina when the Clintons were accused of playing the race card. He didn't because it was to his political advantage and to get the black vote. Now that he was exposed as being associated with the likes of Rev. Wright, he has to make a major speech on race relations in this country. Don't blame this on the Clintons, he knew over a year ago that the Reverend would be trouble and he probably hoped it would never come up, but it did. This was Obama's doing, not the Clinton campaign, and it will be his downfall.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  31. BILL

    David,

    I'm skeptical about Obama because his wonderful oratorical skills don't wash with his actions. How can a "unifier" have the most liberal record in the Senate? It says to me that he only votes for the far left agenda and doesn't ever reach across the aisle. That's not a unifier in my view.

    Bill

    March 18, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  32. Debbie, Denham Springs, LA

    Maybe it's early PMS, maybe it's the fact there's so much pollen flying around in the air and I can't breathe, maybe it's the fact that Obama is attacked no matter what he says or does- I don't know if any of these things have contributed to my bad mood, but I do know that he's either being accused of being a radical Muslim or now that he shares the beliefs of this seriously demented Pastor simply because he attended a church (a CHRISTIAN one, I might add-so now maybe the Muslim stuff can go away for good). This man is honest and he's overcome obstacles that many of us have never or will ever encounter. And yet, here he is again, being forced to defend himself over an association that doesn't prove one thing. AC 360 dissected this thing so much Friday night that I actually changed the channel. So no more tears for Hillary Clinton because the press is harder on her. Obama has her beat with this one.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  33. Beth

    Last week he said he was never in the pews when Rev. Wright made these speeces, now today he said he has heard these speeches...what is it? Yes or No? Sounds like someone who doesn't tell the truth to me. He tries to portray himself as this saint, sounds like a kid that got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  34. Karen Nwose

    It is to CNN s credit that they are active in putting forth the opinions of such a balanced mind as David Gergens for us all to benefit from in refreshing opposition to the trashy media moguls that do a disservice to the intelligent people of America. As for Baracks speech...Im implore those same intelligent Americans to listen carefully to his words..he is my inspiration. For me, (I am White and British), Barack perfectly captures talk of the future I want for my two American children..see, my husband is Black..but my children are not Black.....they are Brown.... and American. They are not just Black, but White also..blended from Nigerian and British heritages...but ultimately -American...not African American even..just American! The sooner we stop calling every person with a hint of Black in them, black..the sooner we can move on and appreciate every person for having wonderful heritages, but moreover for being American.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  35. Patty

    I did not hear the speech, only know what I have read online and I have one question. If blacks in America are American, why do they call themselves African Americans? That alone is racist and divides our country. Are we not all Americans, white, black or otherwise?

    March 18, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  36. Paris

    The trend is what is alarming to me.
    His wife thinks we are a mean country.
    His minister which is his MENTOR thinks we created AIDS to kill Africans.
    He is not willing to disown Wright.
    I can’t trust him and his love for this country.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:07 pm |
  37. xtina

    Even if we accept Rev. Wright as a member of Obama's campaign committee, we still have to address accomplishments.

    What has Obama done in the past ten years that puts less emphasis on government and more on personal empowerment? For example, has he vetoed any spending bills to lower our withholding taxes? Has he cut any wasteful government programs? Dont think so.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  38. MARGARET

    AFTER FOLLOWING THIS CAMPAIGN ONLY SHORTLY BEFORE OHIO AND TEXAS, I THINK THESE COMMENTS ARE VERY SERIOUS, I DON'T BELIEVE WHAT THE PASTOR SAID WAS JUST RACIAL. IT WAS ANTI-AMERICAN!!!!!!! HOW CAN A CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BE AFFILIATED WITH SOMEONE WHO PREACHES LIKE THAT? NOT EVEN JUST A PREACHER A MENTOR???
    HOW CAN THE DEMOCRATS RALLY AROUND THIS MAN? IT IS VERY EMBARASING, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF HILLARYS CHURCH WERE TO CALL OUT OBAMAS NAME ON SUNDAY MORING AND CALL HIM A N.... ?? IT WOULD OF BEEN THE END. ALL OVER.
    NOW, WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE SURE HILLARY WILL WIN?

    March 18, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  39. Melissa

    I agree that it was refreshing for a political candidate to talk to us "as mature adults" and I hope the media respects his suggestion that we all move on to the more important issues in our country. Let's focus on the economy, health care, education, immigation, the war, our national security, and our reputation on the world stage. The next president will be forced to confront serious challenges regardless of race or gender. Let's have an intelligent debate about those challenges.

    And, if the media persists in covering Obama's former pastor ad nauseum, then please give equal coverage to McCain's spiritual advisor, Rod Parsley. Parsley is unapologetically anti-Islamic and anti-gay. He has called upon Christians to wage a war against Islam with the aim of destroying it. (Ironically the opposite (yet equally offensive) side of Ahmadinejad's rants against Israel. Why is one man part of the "Axis of Evil" while the other is part of McCain's campaign?) Parsley's been accused of tax fraud, he opposed hate crime legislation, and he promotes violence against his opponents. Why is this acceptable? Where are the calls for McCain to "denounce" Parsley?

    Again, I promote moving away from the spiritual advisor issues and focusing on the serious challenges that the next president will face. But if AC360 feels it must continue to cover the statements by Rev. Wright, then at least give equal coverage to the offensive extremists on McCain's side.

    Thanks for your consideration. Cheers, Melissa

    March 18, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  40. PR

    As I read the comments posted by others here I am reminded of the ongoing difficulty we face with our political system that asks us to address ourselves to issues of personality in the candidates based on imperfect understanding.

    Rev. Wright, as anyone who wishes to can easily confirm, has in his ministry given over 7,352 sermons in his 20 years as pastor. Until Sen. Obama's presidential candidacy, no one media outlet, anywhere has made an issue of Rev. Wright. His views were not, as I understand the views here, have not been fully explored, no one has come forward with any substantive list from his writings or other comments on his views.

    As the pastor of one of Chicago's largest churches for more than 20 years is it crediable to think or to suggest had Rev Wright views been so discordant and reprehensible that anyone of the major news or media outlets in Chicago would not have covered it?

    Trinity has over 10,000 members, yet not one of them, in 20 years, several of whom have been or are elected officials at federal, state, and city levels, has been asked to explain their relationship, of whatever duration, with Rev. Wright.

    Not even one visitor to Trinity, in all that time, heard Rev Wright expound and were so appauld or offended and then chose not to get the local media involved. Was their silence assent to Rev. Wright's views and opinions as showcased in the clips we have seen.

    We are all called to examine ourselves when we evaluate others and to remember that in our lives we all have moments that in isolation indicte and condom us, that would lead any momentary, isolated observation to conclude, as has been done here, that we lack the character or the values or judgment.

    To those who say, "But how could he (Obama)..." I ask in response "have you looked at the complete picture or just taken just a glimpse."

    Rev Wright has supported the Clintons (Bill), yet I have not heard Hillary or Bill speak out about or against Rev Wright. Sen. Dick Durbin has a photo in his office of Rev Wright., and has known him for many years, . has he or anyone on his staff been asked why the Sen has not suggested he explain his relationship with him, nor the many years he has worked with Rev Wright.

    It is especially noteworthy, that no one, would or could think it fair to render a balanced judgment, about Rev. Wright taking his sermons anyone else taking one indecent speech as emblematic, of Rev. Wright's ministry, his personal life, his atitudes, or perspectives.

    March 18, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  41. Bart from Chicago

    That's what it was a great speech period.You can't have it both ways,one day he never heard Wright say anything like that and the next day he did hear it , but didn't agree with him.How can you believe anything Obama say's from this day on ? What kind of example is this ? He claims to have great judgement,I don't think so,he sat there for twenty years and speaks up now only because he got outed.

    March 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  42. JP

    THE ISSUE IS VERY SIMPLE
    IF YOU REALLY WANT A CONVERSATION AGAINST HATE
    AND YOU ARE A MEMBER OF A CHURCH THAT PREACHES HATE THEN YOU START THE CONVERSATION AT THAT CHURCH
    HE DID NOT
    HE ONLY SPOKE OUT WHEN HE WAS CAUGHT

    March 18, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  43. Lynne

    I am very impressed with Mr. Obama's speech and am not surprised at his candor, honesty and forthrightness, all of which are uncommon these days from our officials.

    This speech signifies all the parts of America and all it's races and nationalilities. I'm very proud to be voting for Mr. Obama when the vote comes to Indiana.

    His appeal to the nation, I think, is not just his understanding of the Iraq situation, the economy and that general state of defeat in the middle-class, but he brings out the best of our country.

    I would be very proud if Mr. Obama were our President. I truly believe he will be just that.

    March 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  44. Steven Germain

    As far as I am concerned, Obama and his Church have now drawn yet another line in the sand between races. nice going!.... No one person can be a member of a church or organization and not be aware of the views being preached from the pulpit .the videos also expose the members of the church and their reactions to th epreaching. Looks like the member agree with the preacher.
    With that said, we can't risk the leadership and security of our country in the hands of Hypocrites’and Democrats!... oops' what's the difference?

    March 18, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
  45. Illinois

    Obama talked very eloquently about race as a factor in this election process, but the problem is that he waited until the race factor blew up in his face in order to address the problem.

    He can't have it both ways. He can't accuse the Clinton campaign...and anyone who's associated with her...of racism when they merely mention that race is a factor in the campaign when he's clearly associated with and follows a man who has clear racist ideologies. You can't have close relationships with someone who has extremist views and not be an extremist yourself. If Obama had a very casual, limited relationship with this man I would have no problem accepting his explanation, but clearly that's not the case.

    So in his speech today when he tried to explain the hows and whys of who he is, to me, means very little. I will judge him by his actions; not his words. Obama's words are often cluttered with double-speak and rhetoric, neither of which smack of the transparency nor honest communication that he says he is about. His actions, however, speak very loudy of his true character and often overshadows his words.

    March 18, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  46. MW

    It was a great emotional and inspiring speech. If you are not with him now, you weren't with him before. You were never a true supporter. The true supporter would find out the facts for themselves instead of listening to sound bits that the media or the Clinton's wish for you to hear. That's how we ended up with Bush and the political mess were are in to now...no one wants to do their own research on the issues and factual belief’s of each candidate.

    Now, the Clinton's initiated this firestorm and watched it explode. They now claim they want no part in playing the race card. They know that there are American's that will not research the issues for themselves, nor will they look into the facts of a story. They're stance is that we the American people are so dumb we will listen and react to any negative comment or implication they put forth. And unfortunately those who doubt are playing into their hands. Each of the candidates has had people in their corner who have expressed politically incorrect views, racial or not. Why is it that Obama’s EX pastor holds more weight than the others? Ask yourself this, Are we that gullible (as the Clinton's think) that we would change our minds based solely on a 10 sec sound bit of a speech NOT given by your selected candidate?

    Are the Clinton's right, when they pull dirty tricks like this to instigate, racial hate (divide), doubt, etc? Are we the American public so ignorant that we would allow someone who is not in the race to take our focus off the REAL issues? I’d hope not!!

    This mess with the Media's help has gone on such a tangent it's ridiculous. Stick with the issues folks. The Clinton's don't seem to care about the Democratic Party or the American People. They seem to be a couple that wishes to win at any and all costs. The Republican’s know this and are using it to their advantage. Have the dems tear each other down to the point of no return so that when we go against them we’ve got it lock, stock, and barrel

    March 18, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  47. Shannon from Minnesota

    After reading the transcript of Obama's speech today, I feel incredibly heavy-hearted for this self-immolating country of ours. Barack Obama is not a savior or a saint; he is simply a person of deep wisdom, rare intelligence and yes, clear and inspiring vision, who is willing to take on the mantle of responsibility of leading this country if the electorate chooses for him to do so. He is flawed, he is real and he is ready. But, perhaps, we are not. I want to believe otherwise. Once again, our nation will get only the leader that we deserve. We (not all of us, but enough of us) chose the president that has led us into war and economic vulnerability. Until we are ready to be led by our great capacity for love rather than our deeply held fears, we will continue to commit our country's future to people like Bush, McCain and Clinton. None of them are demons or monsters; they are simply who they are, and they bring to this task all that they truly believe in. And that is the greatest loss of all for this nation.

    March 18, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  48. Maggie

    Did everyone forget that Pastor Wright, gave Louis Farrakhan the "Man of the year award". Does that mean his followers do not agree with that either?

    Let me tell you, I am an American. I have Cherokee Indian, English, Irish, French, German, Italian, Jewish and Scottish in my family history. So does that make me an "English-Cherokee Indian-Irish-French-German-Italian-Jewish-Scottish American"? No it makes me an American.

    Stop beating the "race" drum and dividing America and just be a "GD American". I didn't think that would offend any of you, as it was meant in a "cultural" context.

    March 18, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  49. Patricia Winters

    I very much respect David Gergen's opinion. I agree there were words in Barack Obama's speech that have needed to be spoken openly for a long time. Sadly, it took a crushing blow to his campaign to get him to even acknowledge any of them. We will continue to work as a country of individuals to overcome our "racial deadlock" but it has not been helped as much as hurt by Barack Obama's willingness to sit and listen to this preacher's racist viewpoint and black only focus for twenty years and then have us believe he would work for the good of all Americans. He will be a cog in the wheel that will get us rolling toward that more perfect union, but he will not be the president.

    March 18, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  50. Cindy

    David,
    It is about time that Obama actually explained something! I mean he goes on and on about change and how he wants to make the U.S. better but never goes any further. Yes it's great that he finally came out and spoke to us as adults but I'd rather him come out and speak to us as adults on the issues and not just on him trying to cover his butt! When will he start doing that!?That is the real question! When he does that then everyone can give him accolades until then he doesn't deserve any.

    Cynthia, Covington, Ga.

    March 18, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
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