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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. Michael

    It appears that many Americans view Obama's close relationship with the Reverend as indicative of shared values between the two – and I couldn't agree more. But the question is, which values exactly has kept them together? The Trinity United Church was actively feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, and ministering to those in prison. Those were the values that I believe kept the two together.

    Should Obama have left to join a church that wasn't doing those things because the new minister is a lovely fellow? Not if feeding the hungry is important to Obama. And this is my point. It's values such as these that drive Obama forward as a Presidential candidate – the same values has cemented their relationship. And these are the values I personally would like to see inside the White House at the end of this year.

    I have some close friends with whom I share common values. Yet at the very same time, I could not disagree more with them on other, very important issues. It seems to me that the logic of the media right now is: "Close friends share every value in common." That is an absurd notion.

    Real life operates under the 80/20 rule – even when the 20% is as disgustingly wrong as Reverend Wright's views. But if Reverend Wright truly holds the 80% close to his heart – maybe we all can learn from Barak Obama's ability to care deeply for his friend's shortcomings. After all, no one can help a friend grow if they abandon the friendship whenever they strongly disagree.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  2. Dean edes

    i keep hearing about how barack obama has said that he dosent agree with what his minster has said. but i dont believe that these statements were the first time. so if barack has been going to this church for ten plus years these types of comments must have come up many times before. if he truly found these things to be offensive wouldnt he have seeked out another church to attend. its easy to say after the fact i dont agree for the sake of damage control but based on his long term relationship with this man and continously attending this church tells me that he supports this mans views

    March 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  3. Desmond

    It's amazing to me that some of Mr Obama's supporters would blame Hillary Clinton for this issue with Rev Wright. In Mr Obama's supporters eyes, he can do no wrong and any mistakes on his part is part of a great Clinton conspiracy. I think Mr Obama should be very thankful that this issue surfaced now instead of later. Had he become the Democratic nominee and this issue came up in September or October 2008, he would have zero chance of becoming President. Regarding Rev Wright, I'm an African American, attend a large church with a predominantly (over 95%) African American population with a African American pastor, and have never heard anything like that preached in my church. If I heard a message like what Rev Wright preached I would leave immediately because that message has nothing to do with being a Christian and following Christ's example. I flatly disagree that Rev Wright's message is part of the African American experience.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  4. Bridget

    What I think was genius about Obama's speech was that he not only spoke to the American people about a problem we only read between the lines about to talk about in history classes, he also pointed out a truth about why our country is great. I hope everybody thinks about this point...when we listen to someone expressing thier beliefs, we are not obligated to agree with them, we are obligated to consider them. Obama pointed out that he did not agree then and does not agree now with the statements made by Pastor Wright, however, he listened to them and considered where they come from. It is not enough in our nation just to decide to agree or disagree with a statement, we need to consider the statements made by other people and look at them from many veiwpoints. Americans have become too accustomed to just agreeing or disagreeing rather than THINKING about the statements others make.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  5. Jan

    I appreciated your article in review of Senator Obama's speech today ... However, in reading it, listening to his speech, and seeing the comments from others I must say: While what the preacher said was problematic and of great concern in terms of widening the racial divide and in terms of what some people want to focus on, in looking at Obama's faith and spiritual beliefs, I actually think that is the wrong focus - the problem is not so much in what he believes (although, believing that America is to blame for 9-11, that whites created the AIDS virus to kill blacks, that blacks who are Republican are lowly creatures that "swim beneath the sea", is immensely troubling). If we believe Obama can do the job as president, despite his faith, then that shouldn't be a barrier ... what SHOULD be a barrier, is his insistence, right after all of the audio and video came out, that he had not heard his pastor/the reverend speak those kind of words before ... can he HONESTLY say that in 20 years of being a member of this man's church, after having been married by this man, having his kids baptised by this man, and gearing his "Audacity of Hope" book on the guidance he received from this man, that he NEVER heard any of this kind of talk before??? I guess, in an alternate universe that is somewhat possible ... My opinion of Obama changed in that moment of denial .. if he had said what he said today, back then, it would have been different, but he didn't, he denied it, and played the unfairness and media is attacking me card ... his campaign has been all about change and honesty and integrity ... if he has trouble being honest about something as potentially polarizing as this, what will he do with the bigger issues that this nation faces?

    March 18, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  6. Kathie

    All Obama did was prove today was how capable he is of lying to the american people. Over and over again he denied he heard any of
    those racist remarks in Wright's sermons. Today he mumbled that
    he had.
    He spent more time defending and justifying Rev Wright than he did
    denouncing what the racist said. Does it not bother you at all that
    he is close to a man who said the U.S. deserved 911.. Remember his
    comments about "the chickens have come home to roost".
    The reason he is a great speaker is because he has great speech
    writers.
    Why do the Clinton's get blamed for this skeleton coming out of
    Obama's closet.. The Clinton's didn't make Rev Wright make his
    hateful , anti american , racist sermons.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  7. Teresa Willson

    The REAL Black Churches Preach from the BIBLE. They preach LOVE and FORGIVENESS. Not Hate. The people saying those sermons are preached in all Black churches are WRONG. So Is Obama. I feel for the young people in that church, the hate they are being taught. He won't get my vote. If anyone don't like America for any reason they should leave the country.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  8. Kevin

    America is not ready for Obama to be president plain and simple. He is trying to bring us together as one nation and people want to keep the divisions between the races alive. He is not running for President of Black America but for the United States of America. Future generations will laugh and marvel at our ignorance!!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  9. David from Philadelphia

    reading some of the comments here on the political blogs on CNN, i have to say i am thoroughly disheartened by the rampant ignorance that's clearly as pervasive as it has ever been, regarding the touchy and often unbreached subject of race.

    it's shameful that so many people in this enlightened and educated generation have such a small understanding of the vast scope of racism. how it can be as blatant as a klan rally, or as passive and silent as an off color comment, how it can rear its ugly head through hate-violence or simply by fretting that a black Presidential candidate like mr. Obama could possibly be more invested in his own race's interests than the interests of the entire constituency.

    i implore all of you to step outside of your comfort zones, ask yourselves if you really take issue with his readiness and his qualifications, or if you really are fearing the momentous change that's irrevocably tethered to a president that would be ANYTHING other than white. i can imagine that it's a scary concept for many of us, white or not. but please don't let that cloud your judgement. don't be swayed by what is said in your social circles, or pushed in political advertising, or spun in the media. do your OWN research, read hilary's book, read obama's book (which by the way gets very specific on the very things people say he speaks nothing of on his campaign trail) and learn for yourself, make decisions for yourself.

    people are regurgitating so much of the same nonsense they hear from the tv and from these politicians, clearly not having any more basis for their claims than obama appears to have in his stump speeches.

    an educated voter is a powerful voter. if you are expecting to be fully educated on a candidate by 10 second clips of his or her speeches, or worse yet, by listening to his detractors and his or her political opponents, you haven't given him a fair shot, and it's time America admits that.

    this race is being driven every way but forward, and i am profoundly sad that it has come to this. i should expect it, but i do not want to.

    Obama '08.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  10. george

    David, I think you are too liberal by half. I don't think he is "talking like an adult." Unless you mean the hypocrite part.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  11. onenibble

    Actions speak much louder than words.The kind of racial statements, such as whites gave the HIV virus to blacks to destroy the black race, will not bring people together but will seperate them. Obama has been associated with this church for 20 years. Obama is just smooth talkin politician...thats all.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  12. Roger

    If Clinton wins this because of what the former Pastor says then I will vote for John McCain and am done with the hypocracy of judjing Obama on what his former Pastor has said.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  13. Kanta

    I think it is important for all of us to listen carefully to or read the speech with an open mind, and examine the points made in the speech with a sense of refinement and an inclusive frame of mind before commenting and inciting the flames of race. Or else we will end up with a third Bush term with no respect from other nations who are all watching, nor will we have a place at the table with emerging nations who are poised to displace us as a superpower.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  14. Mark, VA

    Here the problem: I don't know when to believe him anymore. Obama has just reversed himself. Last week he said he did not personally witness divisive things or inflammatory things said in the church by Rev Wright. Now he said he did hear inflammatory things said by Rev. Wright, but disagreed with him. If I ever saw Obama as a different kind of politician it just went up in smoke. His judgment is what he has been leaning on to get around Clinton's experience, but now he lost that as well. If this is not a lack in judgment I am not sure what is.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  15. Ebony W.

    I thought the speech was great but sadly I believe will not be well received due to the timely of the speech. I don't believe that he should be held responsible for the 2 bad comments that his pastor made during his 20yr tenure as the pastor. Especially since there are many catholics in my family who do not agree with all of the rules/beliefs (child abuse, abortion, and homosexuality) of their church but they do not abandon their priest.

    If Hillary wins, I have not decided if I will vote republican or not at all!!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  16. JLG

    I would like to address the notion that words don't matter.

    I believe that people who make this claim are actually saying that Obama's moral beliefs are not as important as his policy plans. They want more policy and less philosophy.

    I want to ask people to consider the question: Don't we truly need both from our president?

    I want to know what our candidates believe, how they think, as well as what policies they have in mind to address the economy, the war, and health care.

    We have all seen many times that candidates' promised policies are seldom implemented by Congress according to the president's exact specifications. Knowing who the candidate is– what he or she values most, and how he or she thinks– is the best information we have on how the future President will react to a set of unforeseen circumstances.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  17. Amani Moto

    I was moved to tears by the speech. For many of us our pain is hidden each day as we go to Corporate America to be treated as second class citizens. We use our corporate dialect and smile and pretend it doesn't hurt because we don't want to seem radical or 'angry'. So yes...we do go home and speak to our families about our pain and the injustice. And yes we do hear about the pain of others in our church families. The level of each person's pain varies and is expressed in many different ways. And yes...it is sometimes radical and over the top. My own 69 year old father's pain is so deep he can't even bring himself to support Obama for fear that if elected he would be assassinated. He has no hope! My dear deceased grandmother was afraid, even in the 1980's before she passed away, to look at a white person in the eyes. It was refreshing to hear Obama speak so courageously about the issue of race. Obama 08!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  18. hoping

    I'm starting to see real deep dialogue on an all encompassing issue.
    I find it hopeful to read thoughts from so many critical thinkers.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  19. Stephanie Wilson

    Anyone who does not recognize that when you dig deep, hit home and draw in sunlight on the constant specific undertones that strike at the heart of our misgivings as a nation, you are going to be hit with a wave of fear that implodes and does everything within its power to keep the status quo.

    This is not a people decision but rather a spiritual decision.

    And if you think you desire the truth, when faced with it you may recoil, cause it can bring about a part of you that you thought you knew but did not.

    It may scare you for just a moment (if you honestly look inside yourself) and you will recoil to what you once knew because you know it therefore you can deal with it. But what is faith? The substance of things hoped for not yet seen. The monumental tasks of overcoming such battles are rare and this is why. It is because it is an arduous task.

    Unfortunately the weak minded (in this case) politicians’ tend to prevail. It is far easier to aspire to rely on “it is too big” than to dig deep, accept some uncomfortably for the betterment of the future. I think we are too instilled with fear to do that.

    So be careful of what you seek, you just may find it. So when someone comes along with “hope” authentic hope, it is a very heavy burden to carry, let alone realize.

    I consciously give my sincerest respect and regard for Senator Obama.

    "Materialism will inevitably produce the kind of society where people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing; where people have a great deal to live on, but very little to live for..." – anon.

    Sincerely,

    Stephanie Wilson

    March 18, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  20. Barry, IL

    Senator Obama's speech is splendid. It shows what Senator Obama is: a diverse-self, who understands the problems in all sides very well.
    Now it's time to hear from Pastor Wright himself. I wonder why the media does not track him down and ask him some serious questions.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  21. hoping

    Extremely well said Shannon from Minnesota. Diddo!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  22. Doosey

    Please everyone, before posting, listen to his speech completely. When you speak out before you understand or even take time to listen and think about what someone is sayiing. You give Mr. Wright the ammunition he needs to make the comments that he does. OPEN YOUR EARS AND LISTEN to what a person is saying before you open your mouth to speak, or place your hands on a keyboard to comment, and maybe we can begin to communicate as a country to help in bringing peace around the world. LISTEN, READ AND THINK, STOP THE IGNORANCE.

    AMERICA 08

    March 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  23. Holly

    True Christians don't define their faith by their pastor–it's defined by our relationship with God. I go to church and disagree with most of the political things my pastor says but I listen for the spiritual, faith guidance. In fact my church has invited Mike Huckabee to speak–I won't be attending!

    I appreciate Senator Obama standing up and not playing the old, too familiar political game. Are we all perfect? No, we are an imperfect nation and he is trying to make us better. Yes, I miss the Clinton financial-boom days but I am willing to take a chance on a "mixed", brilliant guy.

    Our race, sex, religion, disability, social class does not define us!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  24. Angela

    I have a white mother and a hispanic father and was raised on the south side of Chicago in a mostly black neighborhood. I was beat up frequently, called a honkey and a spic, picked on and ridiculed on a daily basis. Even though I am 35 years old today, the same is still true if you are not black and live in a black neighborhood. The idea of continuing to seperate the races by preaching hate and division is ignorant and irresponsible to say the least. America has embrassed african americans and has more than made up for her mistakes in the form of free education, jobs, grants, etc, for the betterment of the black race. Americans have contributed billions of their hard earned dollars and valuable time and admiration toward the success and advancement of blacks like Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, talk show hosts like Oprah Winfrey, Montel Williams, Tyra Banks, thousands of black sports figures, R & B singers, Soul Singers, Rappers, etc. But even after all of this we are still accused of being racist. Shame on you Mr. Obama for attending a church that condones this type of hatred and ignorance and shame on you for lying to the American people about your true beliefs. It is obvious by your 20 year association with Mr. Wright and your choice of top political advisers, like Jesse Jackson Jr., that you believe in their racist view points. While you are allowed to believe in what ever you like in the United States of America, you should never be President of a country that is made up of thousands of different races and not just black or white as seen by you and the people you CHOOSE to associate yourself with.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  25. Matt

    I think the most ridiculous thing is that all these people (i.e. Illinois) that keep bashing Obama keep saying the same things. "He called Hillary's campaign racist." Nope. Find one example of that. He did call Ferraro's comments "divisive" and "patently absurd", but not racist.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE people. Do your own research. Everyone takes what some news commentator or someone on the internet said and then just repeats it as if it is fact. It's amazing in this day and age, with all the information we have access to, that lies and falsities just fly around left and right without anyone batting an eye. Say what you want about the man, but not once did he call Hillary or anyone associated with their campaign racist.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  26. samina WI

    ...Here we have a senator/potential presidential candidate defending his christian pastor for all unpatriotic , racial statements made against this country and its people. However, if any of these statements were made by muslim priests (imams) they would be in guantanomo bay right now. The double standarads are ridiculous.. The fact of the matter is there can be no voice of dissent here. Anyone who points out to the wrong policies or tries to give an explanation of why the world might be hating America, is already put in that unpatriotic slot. How is it any different from the dictatorship regimes from around the world I wonder. Please Americans think it over...constructive criticism can make you realize where you are going wrong.Face Reality!!. What goes around does come around.!!You all are now a part of this Global village. Stop thinking like the Limbaughs..such people are only trying to bring this great country down.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  27. Steven

    We can talk about race. It is not to be pushed under the rug. Thank You Obama. Lets stop treating our racial issues like the relative who has gone astray. You know the one that no one ever talks about. Lets talk about it and get past it. Why is Sunday morning the most segregated hour of the week? Lets talk about if God really wants that. My God is colorblind if only America could be we would be unstoppable. We could lead the world in our greatness and hope. Maybe we could ask Dr Wright why is he angry.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  28. Karen in Salem, Oregon

    Throughout the campaigning by Barak Obama, I kept feeling there was a holding back of something. An undercurrent of emotion not being expressed but there, none the less. I thought at first, it was just his slightly smug, sometimes bordering on arrogant attitude. But what I was picking up on, now I realize, was the apparent disdain Obama has for caucasians. I am not saying that if I were born and raised in this country other than white, that I would not harbor resentments and possibly even hatred of the caucasian race. But I am saying I don't think a person can hold himself/herself as a candidate to represent all people. let alone an entire country, and follow racist rhetoric for twenty years. Maybe we would have all been happier hearing him say he was Muslim, instead.... David Duke comes to mind.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  29. Florida Dem

    kojo, what are you talking about. The Clintons have nothing to do with this. Its time everyone wake up and see that Obama is a fraud!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  30. jessie

    If Hillary had a agenda it would have been completed the eight yrs she were in the White house. But instead they played house . Why have the same old folks doing same old thing. WAKE UP AMERICA !!

    We Don,t Need 4 More years of BILLARY OF BUSHES !

    March 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  31. Sue-BC-Canada

    I wish the voice of reason would prevail in your country. Would you know it if it poked you in the eyes? By reading some of the blogs on CNN it makes me wonder about the level of hate in the US. It's everywhere – politically, racially, religously. Obama speaks of trying to change that yet no one wants it. It's no wonder the country is in the mess its in.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  32. Jim in CT

    If Senator Obama wants so badly to eliminate the need discuss race from future campaigns and from future generations – why would he raise his children in a church that proliferates such obvious hate and racism? He never strongly disagreed publicly with Pastor Wright until now, when it became a campaign issue – so there is no courage or leadership displayed now in merely attempting to salvage his political career! If he wanted to show political courage he would have denounced these comments back when they were made, and would not have denied, even just a few days ago, that he had ever heard them in the first place.
    Clearly Senator Obama can summon the rhetoric to wrap the race issue around the broader hopes and aspirations that we all share for a better America – I just wish he had done it at a time when it would have seemed more genuine and when he had less to gain politically.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  33. Rhonda

    Rhonda – San Diego

    No doubt there were times during Senator Obama’s life in which he was ridiculed by whites for having a black father and by blacks for having a white mother. In his speech this morning, he not only spoke effectively as to the racial divide in America, but has been required by virtue of his very DNA to cross the racial divide. No other presidential hopeful can speak to this particular issue as convincingly as he has; nor can they relate to so many people of differing racial backgrounds as he can. A change is undeniably needed in America in terms of politics, social issues, foreign policy, and yes, even race relations. I believe that Senator Obama has been “divinely” called to the presidency for such time as this, so rather than beat him down let us try lifting him up! Let us give CHANGE a CHANCE … we just might be pleasantly surprised. It is time for the American people to wise up and stop allowing the media to fuel the growing division within The Democratic Party. There are so many important issues facing America and the world today, let us give them ALL the attention they deserve rather than focusing, and encouraging the media to focus, through your viewership, on the single most sensitive issue that threatens to thwart progress between U.S. citizens. Senator Obama continues to have my very strong support, and I am more convinced than ever that when I look at the man, I am looking at the next president of the United States of America! May God continue to bless America and grant his forgiveness for the sins of the past, the sins of today, and the sins of tomorrow.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  34. Paul Duncan

    Yes, and every Catholic agrees with everything the Vatican says and with everything the Priests do.

    Are you really that naïve?

    My feeling is that he didn't bring up "race" earlier is because he didn't want that to be the defining focus of his candidacy. Now that it's been forced to the fore-front, I assume he felt he needed to address it.

    I think he did it extremely well.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  35. Greg

    I think the bigger issue is that main stream white American are uneducated about black churches. Historically, anytime a major event impact an African American positively or negatively, the preacher will in one way or another add it to his sermon. This is centuries old. What has happened here is a preached added his own personal anger and unacceptable wording to react to what he was seeing in the primaries. The unknowing and misunderstood tends to react in fear.

    Regarding the speech.
    This is the first time any political figure came close to making a speech like this without fear of absolute polarizing backlash. Barack told it like it was, as much as possible in a small window of time. This is another advantage having Barack as president gives us. We will never see another candidate with his background challenge the racial divide regardless of how much to the point it is. We all have historically clamored for a more positive and trusting political process, and Barack is the closest to it right now. However, as we openly watch Clinton's campaign violate that same trust...some of us still wish for her to lead us. It took me a while, but aside from the women voters, I think Hillary is getting those Americans who cannot bring themself to trust and vote for an African American...Well, other than perhaps conservative republicans. What a grand species we are

    March 18, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  36. Dr. Sam

    DAVID GERGEN, A MAN I GREATLY RESPECT, IS AGAIN QUITE RIGHT ON THIS. THIS IS A SPEECH THAT WILL BE REMEMBERED for many years to come! Sen. Obama rose to the challenge, using the occasion and the current threatening crisis of faith in society as an opportunity to deal with the challenge of race relations in America. He touched all bases. He dealt with all aspects of the problem of race relations head-on–without sounding condescending. He spoke in a true spirit of sincere dialogue and constructive problem solving. His speech indeed is powerful, direct, convincing, and timely. Yet, there would continue to be those who would prefer to exploit the issue of race in America–those who thrill at the opportunity to polarize society for their own specific advantage or psychic satisfaction. No doubt, however, what this country needs, is a uniter, not a divider. For those who would choose to continue to divide us, Obama challenges them insistently to escape from the prison walls of their narrow vision. For WE ARE ALL ONE! Together we can achieve and do much more, great things!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  37. Chuck in Alabama

    The Clintons had nothing to do with the revelation of the videos from the Obama's church. The videos are for SALE. How long did they think it would take before someone posted it on youtube?

    I'm glad Mr. Obama is so able to recognize problems in our country, but, every other candidate is doing that also.

    What I'd like to see are solutions to the problems. Mr. Obama is no MLK. He's not going to be able to patch this rift just because he recognizes it's existance. He lost way to much credibility with me when he said he knew nothing about the message Wright was preaching. The man was there for 20 years. NOW? He wants to make ammends? Maybe if he had stood up 20 years ago and fought against the messages his church spewed, he's have my vote. Now it's too late.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  38. jessie

    If Hillary win I will Vote for John Mccain as well.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  39. Steven

    The Black church has always been the one stop shopping store of the black people. When there is injustice the fight for right always start there.My dad was wounded in World War two and when he came home he wasn't allowed to vote for 19 years after VJ day.Still in though when Korea called he went again.When Korea was over he had to wait another 11 years to vote. Was he angry at America for his treatment yes he was but did her love America -yes he did. His sons still went to VietNam and fought for the land where our folks are buried. We are the generation of Dr. Wright. We have and will continue to give all we have to America. Our Home. We just say at times how many ways must we show America we love her before she shows us she loves us just as much. The hurt we feel runs very deep. When we see old people hanging off a roof during Karina. While our sons are fighting and dying in Iraq we cry on the inside. Where else can that anger be vented if not in the black church. The pictures of that old lady's body in the street in New Orleans cut us to the quick. But never did our sons leave their post In Iraq and stop fighting for the land that we love. it is ludicrous to think anyone group has a monopoly on lovin this country.No greater love is when you give your child to be in harms way for your country. I carry shrapnel in my body where ever i go never tell me of my love for this land. i fought so I have the right to be angry at what I see as injustice.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  40. jessie

    Keep up the Good work we love you Obama .

    March 18, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  41. Barry Conner

    kojo I'm with you on that.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  42. Karen-Phoenix

    I am a white, 64 year old female. I'm part of the working class. I want hope for my grandchildren. God has sent us messengers in strange forms–Gandi & Jesus as examples and for some reason "we the people" manage to destroy them and then hundreds of years later we put them up on pedastels. Listen to this man's words–inspiration? I believe so and this country is at a very very direr turning point. Look up Obama's web site and read what he did with the working class in CHicago. Listen to him. Our children NEED a good public education! Health care! I grew up in the 50's and sixtys and wish this generation could have what we had–not material things but the all American dream to have a home and educate their children. If we don't listen to Obama, only the very very wealth will have that kind of opportunity. We, white, black, brown, will become their servants in a new third world.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  43. andy

    Im to believe what is said in words or in action? It is true Dr. King spoke words of wisdom but at the same time he not only spoke them he felt them through being jailed, spit on , humiliated as a man and he picked him self up and walked forward. His words are not just words but living feelings of his troubles and for me to give Sen Obama the same respect I can not. His words are very good but his actions are not true as if they where he would have left a place of such hate a long time ago. As a Mexican maybe thats why I have no trust, its not that Sen Obama can not sell me on his Ideas it the community that continues to drive me away by there actions. My mom has been called the N word by adults not children and because this is the language my neighbors choose to use but once that language was used at my Mother they respect i had for the black community left as did it with my mother. These are things Obama and his followers believe to be right ? Im sorry you are so wrong.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  44. Janet

    When I was in college, we studied Lyndon Johnson's speeches. They were very well written, although we as a class categorized them as "flowery". So now we have Obama's speech today. Not much there. Just more or less saying, "PLEASE PLEASE STILL VOTE FOR ME, even though I went to a church for 20 years with a preacher who hates our country and thinks very little of white folk, a church my own mother and grandmother would never have attended, a church that even open-minded OPRAH decided to leave because of what the pastor stood for." And I say "PLEASE, OBAMA, PLEASE. Tell your wife you are both dividing the Democratic Party and even the country. THANKS A LOT, OBAMA, THANKS A LOT."

    By the way, in the entire 20 years he's attended that church and listened to that pastor, has Obama ever invited his mother or grandmother to go too? I would assume not, as they would feel very uncomfortable there. And I ask white Americans: if YOUR priest or minister ever started shouting about how the black Americans have caused all the problems in this country, would YOU keep going to that church??? I WOULD WALK OUT. One single speech would do it. I'd be gone.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  45. chris

    I appluad Obama on his stance. He said what he needed too. What people seem to miss, and I am referring to white people, that for African americans, life is very different . Obama showed this his speech discussing the racial issues that have and continue to plague this country. And no I am sure not everyone agreed with his pastors decision to give that award to Farrakhan.

    Do you know how many times i have sat in a service and heard a Pastor or Minister preach a message, and not agree with it? Plenty. theres an old adage that says, " chew the meat and spit out the bone". Which is what most peopel do, every now and then you run across and individuals who can figure it out.

    As far as Steven Germains remark that the reactions in the church expose members, well I say this, based on reality what the man said was true. Hillary has never been a black man, she has never had to contend with the issues that African Americans have had to contend with. So what are yo umore upset about? the fact that he said it or the fact that it was true? the experience of Africian Americans is different from that of White Americans. Get real people he sais what the majority of Black America know and have experience. The shame is that we act like these disparities don't exisit .

    I don't see rhetoric in Obama's speeches. Maybe its rhetoric to some of you becasue you are afraid to think that maybe once a politician might be able to do what he said he wanted to do. Well as a young American, I'd rather take the guy with "no experience" and the audacity to hope big, then the liars who would set out to oppress us economically and socially. So I'll take Obama for a $1,000.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  46. mike

    It is interesteing to see supporters of any particular candidate defend that candidate by ignoring issues that may be damaging to that candidate. Does anyone really feal Ferarro is a true bigot? She was just stating that she felt Hiliary was more qualified. Her opinion and disagreed by many. I do not feel Pastor Wright speaks for Obama; but when you are an intimant member of a church and have a close relationship w/ your pastor as Barack said he did previously w/ Pastor Wright, it is hard for me to think that Barack did not admire or know Pastor Wright more than he says he does now. Obama has reported repeatedly in the past that he has been inspired by Pastor Wright. Now he is just his former pastor? An 'uncle'? Is Obama still a member of this church? If he is, why was Pastor Wright made to step down since the church supports him. The new pastor, Pastor Moss and the church defend Pastor Wrights views. Are they different than Pastor Wright's?

    The point is about politics. Politicians distance themselves when something makes them look bad. Hiliary has pointed out that Obama has never had to make the hard decisions. He always tries to ride the fence and appeal to all- liberals, independents, conservatives, etc. Sounds like politics as usual to me. You can't always make everyone happy.

    As for some prev comments by posters about Obama being a great statesmen, I feel most like his oratory style. He impassions people to follow his dream for change. Great men and women have changed history for the good and bad because of their great orating and inspiring speaches. You hear about the good. What about the bad? I've heard even Jews who stated Hitler was inspiring and mezmorizing in his speaches. A whole nation followed Hitler to war and genocide. (Disclaimer: This is in no way comparing Obama's ideals to Hitler)

    March 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  47. TAM

    I am an African who came to this country for the "American dream". Came here for college and like Barack's father had goals and wanted to achieve those goals. That I did and for that I am truly greatly for the "land of opportunity". However, it breaks my heart that we, America, will be torn by the same issues that plagued Africa under apartheid – race. Instead of discussing the issues at hand that affect all working Americans we drop the ball to discuss the comments made by a "former " pastor and judge the candidate for those comments. If my pastor said some dishonerable acts then is it okay to blame all that attend that church? That is sad and I feal that we need to get back to the issues and judge these candidates for what they are, for what the represent and for what they plan to do for the country. God bless America.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  48. Barry Conner

    Steven Germain its obvious that u didnt even hear or read the speech given. He spoke about the plights of Americans. Not just black but whites also. It's funny how people can call him racist even though he was raised by a white grandfather and grandmother from Kansas. Sometimes the ignorance of this country tells why we are in the position we are in.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  49. kojo

    I am a registered democrat and it pains me to see the racial firestorm that the Clinton's have engineered in their overaching ambition to be the first couple to occupy the white house.

    IF HILLARY WINS, I'LL VOTE FOR JOHN MCCAIN.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  50. Jen

    oh and Cindy if you really read the issues and how he plans on changing things on his website you would see. He has more of a solid head on those shoulders than the other two contenders. But that is my opinion and I guess along with the majority so far of voters.

    March 18, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
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