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. Sky

    As a caucasian american male (23yrs old who makes less than $50,000/yr) I'm sick of hearing about divisions in my country.

    I'm not a Democrat or a Republican. I don't see things in white or black.

    I'm an American born and raised, and I'll be damned if I let the reckless, divisive comments of another person influence my opinion of a blameless Presidental candidate.

    And in regards to Rev. Wright? I forgive him his offensive comments.

    Clinging to animosity will never bring about the CHANGE this country needs.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:58 pm |
  2. EM

    So much hatred toward the 'racist' and 'evil' Clintons for starting all of this. So many words about Obama that make him sound like the Christ-child. No one, not Obama, Clinton or McCain got to where they are today by being less than an outstanding and astute politician. First, please check the facts, it was Obama who first 'played the race card' in this campaign – though this appears to be entirely forgotten. It was then Obama's legions of talking heads who harshly criticized the Clinton's as racist, racist, racist. Of course, Obama kept above the fray and never really came out to say much of anything which was a good political move.
    Do not blame Clinton for all of Obama's recent bad press. You do not know that her legions of talking heads have done this to him. So a bit of fairness to all, please.
    I fear that many of the people who support Obama today will fall away from him when they realize, finally, that he is just a man and only a politician. As he himself said "I grew up on Chicago politics and they can be pretty tough." No one in Chicago politics is known for his or her honesty, fairness and charity. A good poitician requires an enormous ego, a set of brass b...s and the ability to 'make it all sound good." A great politican has all of those things and is also ruthless. All three of these candidates fit the bill.
    Be real in your comments. But don't award sainthood to any of them and do not condemn any without proof.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  3. M for Michigan

    Obama is mixed race – half black and half WHITE, but who does he connect with... the blacks. What about the white people?? We have needs too. And I'm sorry to say, but black folk are just as racist as the whites – it goes both ways. He's not interested in connecting with the white people of this country. He doesn't care about the people suffering in Michigan with the crapiest economy in the union.

    Woman have been running everything from behind closed doors since the beginning of time; well, it's time to open the doors and let a WOMAN run this country for a CHANGE.

    Too many men have screwed up this country (thanks Bushy!) my vote is for Hillary – all the way, baby!!

    March 18, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  4. Geraldine Ciesielski

    When he went on all the tv shows last week he said he never heard these sermons, now today he said he was there.When he is talking about change it was to uplift the blacks, made us think not about the change we need after Bush. Liar Liar. He has this country more divided. So many people and family members I speak to said they will not vote for him.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  5. Stan

    There are 3 kinds of people in America.

    1. Open minded people who are not racist, but recognized flaws common in various racial/ethnic groups.

    2. People who have been predisposed to racism as young person, or who harbor racist ideology when its warranted, but can still retain a clear mind about things if it suits their individual needs.

    3. People who are bigotted; either raised as racist or whom have grown to become racist, and will never change, no matter what.

    I think Obama's speech today is admired by group 1.

    Group 2 will admit they found inspiratation in it, but if they're Hillary supporters, will disregard the true intent of the message. People in this group may just agree with the concept of needing change and vote Obama after careful consideration.

    People in group 3 had their minds made up long before. They will come to blogs such as this one and expouse their racist beliefs however they can. Nothing Obama could say would have changed their beliefs.

    Lets hope Group 1 and most of Group 2 support Obama. Group 3 can live out their lives hating, since that is what they've chosen to do.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  6. mother earth

    Barack Obama is a rare breed. He is a man of true conviction and passion. He is a man that loves being an american. We are so used to the old school politics that includes lying,cheating, stealing, and robbing. Why is it that this man is now being turned on by people who have supported him? Can we honestly say that he is a racist? Do we really beleive that? He is a great treasure, and if we don't continue to support him, there is no hope for true change in this country. We will become more divided by race, political parties, economics, education, and foriegn policies. Please America, stop trying to get rid of this man. We need him as commander in chief. If we loose him now, I don't think we will ever have anyone else truly in the corner for ALL AMERICANS.......

    March 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  7. easter baby

    Catholics ARE NOT leaving THEIR religion because of things some of their priests have done. All the cases invovling molestations in the Catholic church has not caused a mass exodus of the Catholic religion. The Catholic church was full BEFORE and AFTER the molestations surfaced.

    Why is Obama being treated so cruely about something that he did not say?

    March 18, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  8. easter baby

    I am surprised REAL MINISTERS did not defend what Rev. Wright said as his interpretation of the Bible. What was the GREAT FLOOD about? What was Sodom and Gamora about???? God was cleansing the World of sin in these cases.

    America is not without sin! Let’s be Honest!!! America funds anti-government movements in other countries, and frowns when someone criticizes this government. That is why the dollar is losing value and other countries are getting ahead of US. When foreign government don’t progress, their people get in the streets and demonstrate and stand up against government policy. In America, we drive our expensive cars, eat out every night of the week, get the latest in designer clothes, see the latest movies, take our fancy vacations while our jobs are sent overseas, our dollar is devalued, our homes are being foreclosed on.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  9. Catherine

    Some have said that Obama should have been talking on issues, not race. That would not have been wise because the minds of the people would be divided. It was needed that he close a mind consuming issue that provokes fear in the minds of Americans (Black and White), With that out of the way, he is free to address the issues.

    I am glad he spoke. I have never had a presidential person even care how I felt. Someone said he was covering his "butt". Maybe so....but I think we were covered too, because it is alright to feel. It is OK, but we still have to come together and help each other,

    I like to think that each of us is a cell in the body of America. The brain sends a message to the foot. The message has to go through the entire body, but the only one that will respond is the foot. Wouldn't it be silly if the arm started complaining because it thought it was being forced to wear a shoe?!!

    After all is said and done, we are all one body. When we as Americans begin to attack each other so greatly....it may as well be suicide, because we cannot exist alone,

    March 18, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  10. nazih Youssef

    Obama is the most qualified for the president of Unites States job. Obama proved to be the best choice for leading our country into this century and beyond.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  11. Connie

    Obama sure is a great orator! Thought his speech was about as convincing as Heather Mills was when she came here for "Dancing with the Stars." Wondered why Paul and his attorneys were so mean to her? So she flounces out of court to hold a press conference on the street and we finally learn that the judge was unimpressed by her behaviour and attitudes and we learned she threw a glass of water on opposing counsel. Boy, was I deceived! Obama strikes me as quite a lot slicker than Mills, but still the pieces of evidence keep piling up. When will they reach critical mass? Any candidate who refuses to show respect during the national anthem does NOT love America. Go to Snopes.com and watch the film. Now he innoculates himself because he realizes that the tapes are being studied and many in the news media have said that, if it is proved he was there during some of these inflammatory sermons, it will be proved he's a liar. Now he has reversed himself and says he was there. Is anyone noticing?

    March 18, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  12. Lyra Talarico

    Today watching Obama give the most meaningful speech on race since Martin Luther King. Today I saw our next President. This is a man that can pull people of all races together, to work together, to look at each other with new eyes. To give understanding to black & white fears and concerns. Today Obama stood infront of the American people and put all the dirt on the table. This is something that has been a long time in coming and very much needed. He did not skirt around the issue he tackled it head on and for all to understand. He took a brave and courage stand and I admire him for that. This is the kind of man that I could trust in leading our country in a better direction.


    March 18, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  13. Desire - Michigan

    I totally agree with Illinois and Sandy. People should listen what is Clinton talking about, Issues, issues and issues. Obama wraps everything with nice words but what about issues. He didn't really distance himself from Rev. Wright. This is probably even impossible after many years of friendship. Did we hear anything from Michelle? Obama delivered another nice speech which is not going to solve any problem.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  14. CE in ATL

    The speech is further evidence that Obama is eloquent, but without substance.

    A man of substance would not have offered half-truths in his own defense. Obama has unquestionably known for years that his Pastor is a bigot. The excuse that "I wasn't there when those sermons was given" rings hollow. Even today, Obama did not admit the full extent of his knowledge regarding Wright's hateful philosophy.

    A man of substance would have disassociated himself from Pastor Wright. I'm sure Obama does have a "soft spot" for his Pastor. That soft spot is more like a "blind spot." This entire episode calls Obama's judgment into question.

    A man of substance wouldn't make excuses for bigotry, which is exactly what Obama did for his Pastor.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  15. Monica Kuykendoll

    Obama addressed an issue that is only spoken behind closed doors and did it so elequently. This presidential race should only be ran on issues such as the economy, jobs, Iraq War etc... I have seen a side of the Clinton's I have never seen before and the desparation of having surrogates do their dirty work is becoming abolutely tiring. She is willing to win the Dem nomination at all cost including tearing the Democratic Party apart.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  16. Johnny Mak

    If Obama wins, I will write in Hillary. Listen, this is not new, I never supported phony Obama and never will. As I said months ago, there will be more racial tension in America then ever before if B. H. O. is president. No one can support a congregation over 20 years and not know or support the racist agenda they perpetuate. Obama is gone, no chance of winning now. The polls and responses reflect this. Look at all these responses from you fine people, 90% against Obama. As far a Wright saying Hillary has never been called the N word or does not understand discrimination, so sad, Wright is so naive and blind. The new pastor is just as bad, breeding racism and blackness. The woman has been enslaved for thousands of years and has anyone heard the C word lately against woman. Get a clue.

    I will not vote for McCain or Obama. America is not ready for a black president.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  17. sally slaughter

    If my pastor ever said anything like that , I would leave that church and never return. And I would never look back. Mr Obama had a moral obligation to steer clear of any racism.. especially with his children.
    My children would call me on this so fast had I remained complacent at a church that promotes racism.
    And at our dinner table should anyone every say anything promoting stereotypes and racism...my kids would call anyone on it....because that is how we raised them- to speak up against anyone who speaks ill of God's children.
    Mr Obama...your running for President.. you have an obligation to denounce any person who practices racism- YOu have lost my vote

    March 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  18. terry

    obama says he was raised by a poverty stricken single mother with cancer (T.V.ad) though she was married to two different muslims (one black). or was he raised by white middle-class racist grandparents in hawaii while attending an upscale private school. (todays speech). there's just something for everyone

    March 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  19. Cindy

    I appreciate comments that are based on intellect and great thought! David shows every time he thinks before he speaks. I hear so much that has been patented language, one reporter says something and many repeat the thoughts of others. David speak from his knowledge on varied issues and that is the reporting I LONG for the decent thinking reporter.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  20. Not Enough

    It amazes me the people that support Obama?!@# Look past his informercial people, he is just hot air!

    March 18, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  21. Independent

    Also, for those emphasizing Obama's racial facvortisim to blacks, do you realize how much he has emphasized that blacks need to overcome their own past and look into the needs and goals that are common with whites? If you do not, check out your seletive hearing.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  22. Not Enough

    Obama fell far short of bringing UNITY to our great nation! His words will divide our country. How much free air time was granted to him today? His campaign should be charged. He is a great speech giver, too bad his words were not enough to heal the damage done by his pastor of 20 years. Now I know why black people hate me for the color of my skin.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  23. Harry

    I've been reading some of these e-mails about rhetoric versus substance. Since when has any candidate running for president given us substance? Go back as far as you want. Show me a speech in which a candidate really breaks down how they are going to fix the economy for instance. Even in FDR's speeches during the depression he never spoke in planned details. He inspired people to believe in themselves. But people still criticize Obama for not being specific. GO TO HIS WEBSITE! There is plenty of substance there. Read his book. Lot's there too. In otherwords don't expect speeches to educate you about a person. Do some research. Be an educated voter instead of a sound bite voter,who gets their news from Comedy Central and political speeches.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  24. Wendy Truth

    David: I used to enjoy your analysis but you have become nothing more than a shill for Obama – your prejudices in his favour are blatant. Obama did nothing but further exacerbate the wounds caused by the racially explosive sentiments of Jermemiah Wright. The fact that he equated him with his "white grandmother" further wounds the soul.

    This was supposed to be a candidate that transended race – but he now finds himself in the company of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (remember Tawana Brawley???)

    He lost my vote and has zero chance of getting it back.

    Bye bye Bama

    March 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  25. Heather Tassone

    Can someone explain to Barack Obama that this IS NOT about race? What it is about is speaking against your homeland, the very place that made all persons free, including the blacks, and given all of us so many opportunities. Stating that the USA is responsible for numerous, specific, fictitious atrocities to the black man, or any man, for that matter IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE. Whether or not you are white, black, brown, or red—accusing this great country of such terrible things would not be acceptable from anyone.

    If one of the other presidential hopefuls went to their white place of worship, and their spiritual guide spoke of the black man’s crimes or blamed him for terrible things that were not true, this would not be fair or acceptable. Furthermore, if that candidate went to that church for 20 years, would Americans not be ashamed and disgraced? Would the candidate chalk it up to the church being “like family”—so it is okay for me to go and support these horrendous words. No, it would not be okay. This is the double standard by which Barack Obama wants to play by. This type of language in any community is disgraceful—PERIOD.

    Stating that this is just the way the black community is—is merely an excuse. No other community could, nor should, get away with such things. Are whites forever to be blamed, for past occurrences? When will this end? Why is it okay for Barack’s camp to be associated with anti-American sentiments, yet others cannot. The double standard is giving speeches to us about equality across racial lines, poverty lines, etc—that there are no lines and we need to be “unified”, but when it comes to going to church and supporting disgusting statements such as these—Barack pulls out the race card and says “Oh this is just the way a black church talks”. Clearly he is using the race card to his advantage when he needs to get a pass, but when he wants to make a speech; there are “no racial lines”.

    Additionally, the speech he gave today was contradictory in itself—stating the he strongly disagree with Mr. Wright in one portion, but he cannot abandon him. What does this mean? It is an attempt to take both sides. It is political. It was only important when it became a problem. Here is an idea: stop creating smoke screens about race and actually talk about some of the real issues this country faces.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  26. mr troutman


    Have you ever heard or sat down and talk to Minister Farakann. Typical AMERICANS WHO LISTEN TO THE MEDIA INSTEAD doing the reporting for themselves. Did you know that the NATION OF ISLAM is a non violent organization and they are forbidden to carry weapons. Did you know that they believe thatt GOD PROTECTS THEM AGAINST ALL ENEMYS FORIEGN AND DOMESTIC. If the government wanted to take them down why haven't they done so. Answer ... They can't they know that a powerful source is keeping them safe.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  27. Pat

    Agree with Shannon from Minnesota.

    We will get the president that we deserve.

    Obama is tackling things that are difficult for an individual, much less a politician. He deserves the utmost respect from all of us, even if he is not the next president. He's already succeeded on so many fronts for our own good. Politicians need to treat the voters as adults, so that voters behave as adults.

    But no doubt about it, we will get the president that we deserve...

    March 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  28. M. Kelly

    DG, I wouldn't equate eloquence with educating . . . unfortunately, the practice of segregation that Obama's church appears to promote is the farthest thing from a message of integration and unification . . . I fully support groups meeting for their own needs – but not a future president of the US, one of the most diverse nations on earth . . .

    March 18, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  29. mark

    I have been to church for twenty years and do not know where my pastor is coming from yeah right

    March 18, 2008 at 4:19 pm |
  30. terry

    obama had no other choice but to address this issue, his campaign was in freefall. one of the differences in this and the ferarro thing was that her comments were"in the ear of the beholder". you could make it sound racist if you wanted to. the wright comments , however, no question he's a hater. as for all the great work he's done, it's only been for blacks. also, before the speech obama said he didn't know wright felt that way / said those things. etc.,today in the speech " he's like family".how could he not...........never mind. just more flimsy excuses for the idol worshipers

    March 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  31. David


    I respect you very much and have always felt your comments are fair and usually right on the mark. This is no exception. I listened to Obama's speech and I am giving him the benefit of the doubt and accepting him at his word. This speech was a very bold move for him and I am confidant most politicians would not have risked giving it. I think Obama showed strong leadership skills by addressing such a polarizing issue head on. The role of a president is to show leadership and be an educator and moral role model for the country. Obama showed he has those qualities today. Unfortunately this country is filled with many who still harbor very racial views and this speech will not change their views. I think its time for all of these candidates to concentrate on the immediate issues facing this nation like the economy, the war in Iraq, immigration, trade agreements, etc. I think some media outlets are putting issues like Wright's remarks front and center in order to get ratings and to promote their own agenda. We need the news media to be reporting on the candidates stance on the real issues facing this country that are so important in this presidential election and not concentrating so many resources on the distractions.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  32. Gael Wells, Los Angeles

    -After listening to Senator Obama's speech I felt a little sad. Sad that this country has moved so slowly in the last 30 years regarding race relations.. But also glad that people will now reflect on their own unique experiences as Senator Obama did and begin to figure out where do we go from here and what still needs to be done and how we can, each in our own way, make things just a bit better and get closer to that earlier promise of America. Perhaps as adults we can begin by objecting to our children engaging in name calling against their own race or other races – just a thought.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  33. rita

    i am not a big Obama fan and wil probably not vote at all if he wins dem. nomination. but as far as it being hillary clintons fault he is in the mess he is in now is ridiculous.

    his xpastor put him there and i do not believe that if Obama looked up to this man as he said he does how can he say he doesn't share some of his opinions. if i didn't agree with my pastor i would go somewhere else and i believe he would also.

    at one time after this came out i thought i heard him say he didn't know his pastors political beliefs or that he hadn't heard him say. but today he said he was there when his pastor made controversal statements. in my opinoin it was time to leave if you disagree.

    bfore this i was going to vote for Obama but now i don't trust him . not to mention his wife saying after i believe one of the primaries this was the first time in her adult life she was proud of her country. where was she before this. shouldn't we all be proud to be Americans and if we are not proud of our country how can we be proud to be Americans.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  34. Joe

    David, you bought into the Obama razzle-dazzle, and cannot get over your love affair with him.

    The Obama hysteria that I've seen among media reporters like yourself, reminds me of those folks standing in front of Rev. Jeremiah wright ... hooting and hollering .... unable to "get it" that one of those
    hate-mongering sermons of Wrights was given on December 25th --
    that's what that Church does on the day set aside to celebrate the coming into the world of the Christ Child-the Prince of Peace.

    If Obama couldn't "change" the racial dynamics of what was happening in his Church, how is he going to change America?

    March 18, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  35. Erik Jorgensen

    Barak Obama showed great courage and character in dealing with this controversy. He clearly denouced the contoversial statements of his minister, but more importantly he has the courage to stand by the relationship that he has developed with this person knowing it will have a political price at this critical time in his campaign. Most other politicians would stab anyone in the back if doing so would buy them political advantage. It was this courage that enabled him to stand against the foolish invasion of Iraq at the time when the political tide was running in the other direction. If we were all to disown our friends or family members who expressed ignorant and bigoted opinions, we'd only isolate ourselves and destroy our society.


    March 18, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  36. Gabriele

    Mr. Obama states that his pastor has never uttered a racial slur in his precense, but goes on to state that his white grandmother has uttered racial slurs in his precense that have made him shudder? Where exactly are his priorities?

    I think his pastor reflects Obama's views quite accurately, but lacks the political team that write Obama's speeches.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  37. Stephen

    I saw Obama's speech and I thought he did a real good job of clarifying what his point of view. I get the sense that a lot of people feel like Obama should 'correct' Rev. Wright, but it is clearly not Obama's place or right to do so. Rev. Wright served his country as a Marine, he doesn't just have the right to freely express his opinion he has earned the right with his service. When you love something or someone, you don't only show that love by saying nice things that make everyone feel good, you offer criticism in order to make it stronger and better. We may not agree with Rev. Wright, we should in fact be critical of the ideas from all sources, but we should not turn the entire nation against him for expressing his thoughts.
    All spiritual leaders should be taking note of this as a moment that could fundamentally effect them going forward. Should America be censoring what is said on the pulpit, any pulpit, on nationally syndicated “news” shows? Editing the sermon's context and showing that snip over and over in a loop is manufacturing news not reporting it. The fallout from this manufactured news is a harsh form of censorship implying that those in the pulpit had better stick to an approved agenda.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  38. Elaine

    We cannot move beyond the race situation until powerful men like Barack Obama can speak without saying 'white americans' or 'black americans'. I absolutely do not want any of the 3 candidates to be President but once again government won't really give us a choice.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  39. Jerry

    It is obvious Obama s a true liberal...part of the Hate America crowd.

    March 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  40. Olga

    Is it true that as Americans we are not very prod of our government decisions at this point in time. While I am trying very hard to understand where Wright is coming from, I can't stop thinking that slavery ended a few hundred years ago. So why are we still screaming that slavery ruined our lives? Obama speech was very good but I am so very uneasy that he takes his children to this church so his children will grow up influenced by sermons of hate and divisiveness. Will his children and tyhe next black generation still cry and 'damn' America because America 400 years ago used them as slaves? When will the black people be able to move over past history if the crying and pondering is still going on and on? I am 1/2 Jewish and I never meet any of my father's family because they all perished in the gas chambers but I don't hate the Germans. Jewish people meet and commemorate the tragedies they suffered once a year (and 1940 was not so long ago). Hate and anger create more hate and anger. If Obama does not understand that Wright's sermons create and propagate more racism, then he is not the man we need to lead this country. Racism will not he healed by messages of hate. Obama is incapable to heal the racism in this country. Hate does not heal. Obama listened to racist sermons for 20 years! Michele Obama was not proud of being an American until her husband become president candidate. Do you see what I see?

    March 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  41. D. Johnson

    There will always be people in this great country of ours who plays up the race issue. It is really sad that we cannot move beyond this issue. What does it take for Americans not to be judged by the skin color. Obama is not a hypocrite. He is a man with morals and character. He is a man that prefers to stay above the gutter politics that have been thrown at him. He is a uniter. Speaking on the issue of race, come on America, it wasn’t that long ago that there were "white only" signs that hung in restaurants, movie theaters, water fountains, etc. We have made progress in this country but there are always individuals who will have us believe that nothing has been done to rise above the bigotry and hatred that has divided this great nation of ours. Of course, what Reverend Wright said was not right. Have anyone talked about the divisive things that have been said by other ministers, such as Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell and others? Blacks in this country are the most forgiving people in the world. When George Wallace stood in the doors at the University of Alabama and declared that no Blacks would attend this institution and promoted segregation and hatred, who later on after being shot and wounded apologized for his actions, what did African Americans do, they forgave him. Obama is being crucified in the media by people who have an agenda. That agenda is simple, although no one wants to verbalize it, but the agenda is to ensure that this Black man will not become the next president of the United States of America. It is frightening for some people because history dictates that Blacks are inferior and should only be allowed just so much freedom. This is sad; we are a country founded by immigrants. Some came voluntarily and some were forced, but the fact remains is that we are all here together. We all helped build this country into the great nation it is today. It is time that we unify so that the issues that are really facing us can be dealt with. Obama is right. We have to be unified to overcome these issues. We are the people of these United States of America and I for one am proud of that fact and I am reaching out to each of my fellow Americans to join me in overcoming the challenges that have been laid before us, the economy, the war in Iraq, healthcare, etc. Remember a house divided will not stand. We have to stand together as Americans!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  42. Andre

    It is incredible to read some of these comments. To say that Barack has been ignoring the issue of race and is only know acknowldging it because he had been "forced" to is quite ignorant. Mr Obama grew up both black AND white. He was raised by his white mother and his white grandparents. He moved to Chicago and worked in predominantly black neighborhoods....and yes, he attended reverend Wright's Church. Now this is key, attending Wright's sermons probably gave Barack another view of the race struggle in America...One from an elderly black man who had lived through the injustices and the tensions of the 50s and 60s. Could Barack have known that viewpoint growing up in Hawaii with a white family? Ask yourself this America...what do you know of the black struggle in America? What do you CARE to know? Barack has perspectives from both sides, his white family and the black community. If he had only listened to and accepted his grandmother's long held view and fear of black people, would so much of white America be in an uproar? Of course not..they aren't even acknowleging that it happened. They see an angry black man, and Barack listened to him; therefore, Barack hates white people...so by that reasoning he hates his mother and grandparents too. Get real people, look beyond yourselves and look to the truth.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  43. Jo

    i agree with most of what David Gergen said here. He is one of the most fair pundits around, and he usually calls what he sees fairly.

    I am struck by the beauty of the speech, but not convinced of its sincerity.

    If Obama had truly been living these beliefs, perhaps he would have taken his big picture approach about race to his own pastor and church community. But he didn't. He sat and listened over the years, and kept his message of transcendence to himself until his campaign. Call me cynical, but that is how I see it.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  44. keith leadhead

    Here we go after a weekend of how to respond! I believe last week Barrack responded he know nothing about the sermons of his Rev. This was the on the spot response, he had to act like he knew nothing of these racist remarks. Here is a strong political figure in the community, who has been involved with his church for 20 years, saying he knows nothing of his preachers views.

    Now after a weekend to think about how to respond on this issue and study how the American's respond to the breaking news, he does a 180 and says he has known about these views for many years, but he does not agree with them. Yes we all do know that ignorant racist in our family who speaks his ignorant mind. We all know one we work with, meet at a party, or even cross paths with on our way down the street. But if I knew the Preacher of my church had views like this, I'd be wondering to myself why was I trying to get closer to god with a man who speaks such hate!

    Just like to not miss the point here though. Why did Obama say one thing when put on the spot and after a weekend to prepare a speech go back on what he just said 4 days earlier? Does he think we are that ignorant as well that we would forget what he said over a week end? Maybe he thought he would go back to his campaign trick, Grandstanding up on a Soapbox hoping to use his Jedi mind tricks!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  45. Eddie Lewis

    I'm proud to see what a product (person) our great country has produced in Mr. Obama, I believe his courage to state the unspoken truth leaves us all to shame. The kids of the last 40 years are alot wiser than we were. They have the tools and aren't afraid to use them and aren't limited as we were. I'm proud of Mr. Obama for standing up to the Clinton's negitive spins and pray they recieve there COMA.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  46. Madeliene

    I thought that Obama's speech was moving and true. We should be more interested in talking about the issues that really hamper us as Americans and stop getting side tracked by all of the distractions. As an Obama supporter I am so moved by his seriousness and eagerness to attack the problems that truly plague us. I get concerned with others who would rather play the political game and search for a reason, any reason, to divert attention away from the real issues, and walk a path that leads nowhere.

    I wonder as Americans if we have been conditions to only talk about the real issues in private chalked full of cyncism yet fall for the same song and dance in public. What will it take for the American public to demand more from our public officials as a whole. When will we truly demand change.

    As for the Reverend's words, he is still tortured by America's past. He is still wounded by the ills of segregation. People need to stop making a big deal out of it and pause for a moment. We need to realize the ills of the past use those ills as ladders to a brighter future, so those words will not be used again by anyone.

    Obama is a catalyst for change. We need to break out of our confort zones and try out something new.

    We need Obama.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  47. a progressive in California

    One of the more eloquent and necessary speeches in recent political history. It is what a lot of us decent hearted people have known and felt for a long time and ached to hear from our leaders.

    It's one thing to honestly believe that Clinton may be better experience/qualified, I don't think that's an incorrect argument, but the hatred and the bile that many Clinton supporters have towards Obama simply for having the audacity to run against her and do well betrays that there is more to their support of Clinton that a logical evaluation of qualification. I find it disturbing. Many Clinton supporters on these blogs seem so inarticulate and bitter in their remarks that I find it hard to believe there isn't a lot of racist vote for Hillary going on (take a look at Ohio and Mississippi). They and Clinton have angered and alienated me the way in the way they have thrown the kitchen sink at him, YOU DONT DO THAT TO PEOPLE IN YOUR OWN PARTY, you gotta criticize a little, but you got to make it stuff you can easily back off of if you lose and have to support them later on in the general election (Reagan's 11th commandment) last time I checked, he was pretty good at winning elections,

    Hillary should try to focus on herself and her positive qualifications, if she really is such an over-qualified candidate the negativity and nastiness would not be necessary. Everytime when she or one of her surrogates gets really nasty I think to myself she is not being a good loyal Democrat. It comes off like she is only worried about winning for herself and could give a damn about the party and the country, that probably isn't %100 true, but it disturbs me deeply and makes me very glad that Obama is so far ahead of her. So far, he has been a much more dignified candidate, even when under fire.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  48. Richard Ayi

    Anyone who believes America has reached a point where race doesn't really matter and that BLACKS in particular have equal standing with whites, may be deceiving themselves. There is no doubt we have made some advancement but there is a lot we need to do. I am just curious, why is a person of mixed race (black & white), classified black. Is it because the mixture is impure? If so, it is a clear indication we are still far from bridging the racial divide. Has anybody thought about the fact that GOD could be black? Outrageous eh?!

    I wish to say that the speech Barrack delivered today was smart, sincere, emotional, honest and above all excellent. He rescued both his candidacy and his Pastor, challenged America and above all inspired each one of us, once again to rise above our divisiveness and come together for the common good. EXCELLENT SPEECH!

    March 18, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  49. Renee

    Either American will rise above all this rhetoric or they will not. This country is in such dire straights. Even during a time like this, we still focus on race. As much as I love this country, it deserves the pain it will go through in the next decade. Maybe then, will people wake up and stop focusing on race. Sadly, however, history shows that when people are hurting, they don't come together, they get uglier. So here's to the next decade, America.

    March 18, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  50. Ben Joseph

    I agree with what the gentleman Kojo said above. Also adding to it, this is something that has been fuelled by the Clintonians and in mass by the Repubicans. If it continues this way with the 'RACE' thing then its John McCain who will be the next President.

    People need to get beyond the RACE thing and move forward onto what Obama as a person is capable of doing to an already ailing that country that is in the midst of two wars and the economy in shambles. Can he fix the real issues that this country is facing and not worry about his Preacher's sermon. It would've been a real issue if he had passed such a sermon but fortunately its was his Reverand. So People get off the jolly good race ride, step back and think!!!!


    March 18, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
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