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April 30th, 2008
09:52 AM ET

Back to the Future: Obama's Pastor Plan

Amy Holmes
CNN Political Analyst

Editor's note: This first appeared in the National Review, on March 18, 2008.
________

I just figured out how Obama gets out of this. It's devious. But it may be only way.

He leaves this thing alone for the time being and suffers through the next few primaries. He hangs onto his pledged delegate lead, makes the argument that pledged delegates are all that matter. So far, polling shows Democratic voters agree.

He prevails and wins the nomination. Then, he deploys The Pastor Plan. It goes like this. Pastor Wright arranges to give a speech. In it, the pastor makes such outlandish and slanderous claims, not unlike we've already heard, that Obama has no choice but to say, "Enough! Jeremiah has gone too far. I cannot abide his divisive, harmful, and inappropriate language. He does not speak for me or my family which is why we must, with heavy hearts, sever our relationship. He will always be a friend and welcome at my door. But I cannot continue to take his counsel, religious or otherwise." It helps here if the pastor has used some swear words and invented new conspiracies.

Obama sends Pastor Wright a heartfelt letter, more in sorrow than in anger, which he posts on his website. He holds a press conference to inform the public that he has spoken with the pastor privately and explained his position. Obama vows to carry on the church's work of charity and compassion. He stages some events showing him involved in a multicultural community service project, visits a West Virginia coal mine, stuff like that. And he exhorts his fellow Americans to join him in the journey toward racial reconciliation.

Timing is key. Sometime right after the inevitable 527 Pastor Wright ads start running. In fact, they can be the pretext of the pastor's speech. The 527 ads provoke the Reverend's fury. Obama reacts. Bam! It's over. Pastor problem solved.

Think the Clintons wouldn't do it?


Filed under: Amy Holmes • Barack Obama • Raw Politics
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Dr. Jim McClinton

    Amy – What’s The Problem? I don't understand why Senator Clinton is continuing... I don’t understand what the Super Delegates are waiting for… The truth is: Obama has ran an almost Perfect clean campaign; he has changed the way a campaign could/should raise funds; he has raised more money than all the candidates put together; he has won more pledged delegates; he has won more – if not every caucus; he's won many more states; more Super Delegates has endorsed him during the course of the Primary (Clinton’s SDs endorsed her much earlier); he has more celebrities and/or Stars that have endorsed him; more Senators have endorsed him; more of Clinton's supporters have crossed over to Obama (non of his supporters have left him for Clinton); he has the ultimate majority African American voters; he’s won the majority up-scale -educated voters; he is the only nominee that has had more Republicans change over to the Democratic Party (Obamacans); he's ignited/inspired the largest young adult and college students to register and be involved in the voting process that historically never happened before – that I know of... he’s the only candidate who is far from being an Elitist than Clinton or McCain, considering where he came from and how much money he has/made last year; and, he has been the most inspiring and exciting presidential nominee, since President Kennedy! The only nominee that's become a National and Global MOVEMENT...!

    May 5, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
  2. hana

    I have been wondering since the issue of a candidate's pastor has become an issue. I wonder why Clintain's and McCain's pastors are not being scrutinized? I don't think they will be as colorful as REverend Wright, however, since the media seems to think that a candidate's church and pastor is important, let us see from who and where they get their spiritual 'influence.'

    May 5, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  3. Norma J

    Holmes, your one smart cookie...I also feel that it was staged, I counted over 20 "change is coming", in the remarks the Rev. made at the Press Club.

    May 3, 2008 at 11:03 am |
  4. Benny from Philadelphia, PA.

    Amy , you are a disgrace because saying what is true about Obama is STRANGE to you. A person like you finds it difficult to win respect of intelligent and responsible people.

    May 2, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  5. nate

    Obama's unfortunate connection to Reverend Wright has already damaged his image with discerning voters who vote regularly. If he should be the Democratic nominee, he will most certainly be defeated by John McCain in an 'electoral college' process regardless if he wins the popular vote. History will note this in its archives.

    May 2, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  6. cj-delhi ny

    I am a white, blue collar working female, 42 years old and I am voting for Obama and NOTHING can change my mind unless maybe, I witness him sticking a needle in his arm.
    I watched the moyers/wright interview and i thought that Rev. Wright was brilliant. He seemed like such an interesting guy and knowledgeable about the bible as well as world issues, again i thought he was brilliant. I understood why Obama called him his pastor and had so much respect for him.
    I understand the fear in my fellow white, blue collar working brothers and sisters, but i truly believe that Rev. Wright is harmless and that all of this will later bring us all closer.

    May 2, 2008 at 7:57 pm |
  7. Lora Buchanan

    Can anyone seriously believe Obama attended that church for 20 years and remained unaware of Rev. Wright's schtick? Please!

    May 2, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  8. Nick

    I have no idea, why CNN asks your opinion. All I have heard from you are emotional outbursts that are blatantly Republican biased and not accurate or analytical at all. You are just a milder version of Ann Coulter. I don't know if you were dumped by an African American or what, but you seem to have trouble identifying with blacks or whites. When it suits you, you pretend to be black, but you are too young to have experienced black life in the USA unlike rev. Wright and have not got the intelligence to be able to understand that you cannot know how they feel, and be able to find the logic in their outbursts.
    Secondly, has anyone got the intelligence to identify scare mongering by applying guilt by association? How many times must a man say "that’s him and this is me”? I hope MSNBC does not stoop to your level, just to get attention.

    May 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  9. Sean in Dallas

    So when is Amy Holmes going to make some more predictions?

    BTW Ms. Holmes, It is unbelievable that you foresaw these events back in March. I mean, you were spot on (still waiting for the 527 ads)! I have a prediction as well...

    Rev. Wright isn't finished. He feels disrespected by Senator Obama. When Reverend Wright is angry with you he starts taking shots at you. That's what the whole thing is about for him. He feels snubbed by Senator Obama.

    Now that Senator Obama has started not only speaking out against RW's comments but publicly challenging his character the sparks will really start flying. I mean, after all RW has to defend himself doesn't he?

    So, my prediction is that RW will denounce Senator Obama stating that he and Michelle knew full well his views and concurred with them for almost 20 years. This will further call into question the good Senators electability in November. Wright will single-handedly bring this campaign's progress to a grinding halt. Once Obama has lost the nomination Wright will be able to say "I told ya so". And he will.

    Sean

    Sean

    May 2, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  10. patt

    Wright is not wrong, he is outspoken, flamboyant and a narcisist. I have never considered who a candidate's pastor was in previous elections, and do not see any reason to do so now. It was a great flap, continously fanned by the media, and really, how important is it? I am more upset about the question of elite.. I hope our president is the smartest man in the room, and surrounds himself with such. The votes of the PhD's are as important as the votes of the GED's. Let's leave religion in the church.

    May 1, 2008 at 9:42 pm |
  11. Sean in Dallas

    I really love Amy Holmes. She's my favorite republican. Always courteous, usually funny, cute as a button (she prolly hates that), and does an excellent job of framing people and issues according to her parties wishes.

    I have to say Ms. Holmes that your "plan" sounds pretty close to what's already happened doesn't it? I mean, take out the 527 ads and your pretty much up to date on things. What's next? I guess Rev. Wright and Senator Obama will have to go on a denouncathon before this thing finally goes away for him.

    Great read Ms. Holmes! 😉 Thanks!

    May 1, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  12. Peggy Shelton

    Hillary said it best
    "It took a Clinton to clean up the mess after the First Bush,
    and it just May be we need a Clinton to clean up after the second Bush!"
    I don't know about the rest of you but my financial security and our schools were in a lot better place in the 90's than they are now!
    Hillary 2008

    May 1, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  13. Peggy Shelton

    I would like to know what Questions , Michelle Obama answered.
    I heard her say a lot of words but I heard NO answers. I felt her attitude was very inappropriate.
    I didn't expect her to grovel but I do think she should have shown more openess.

    May 1, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  14. Paul-Williams

    Obama is a fraud! Enough said.

    May 1, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  15. Y

    I'm so glad the Rev. Wright thing has been put to rest. And if the Republicans & Hillary want to keep riding on Wright then my argument to them is since they've decided that a persons church is going to be the determining factor of becoming President, does that mean that out of the thousands of Americans attending Rev. Wrights church, John Hagees church, Rod Parsleys church, Jerry Falwells school and Pat Robertsons school, not one of them can become President? These are all Christian churches with similar Statements of Faith, with pastors that have various questionable points of view, but they never waiver from the truth of God's word. Thats all we should be looking at. A church is also a place of fellowship, family and friends.

    If the Republicans want to continue criticizing Obama for faithfully attending a church since 1992, then I also want them to publicly say to all the children, youth and members of those churches that they have bad judgment and they should never consider becoming President of the United States. If the Republicans cannot do that, then they should zip it.

    May 1, 2008 at 1:23 am |
  16. olokpade akiotu

    Obama is only crying now that the polls are down, simply confirming what his pastor said! Had he been leading Hilarry by double digit in national pool he would go on the campiagn trail and brush the issue off his shoulders! Now he and his wife want us to move on when since 2001 when the first issue about his pastor's preaching the very sunday after 911occured!
    Give me a break, I listen to Michael Moore on Lrry King tonight, he just like all obama supporters credits obama for not supporting the war in irag but hey simply forget to state that obama changed his mind in 2004 when he was supporting John Kerry, that's another politician for you!
    Obama is fake!

    May 1, 2008 at 12:57 am |
  17. jes

    HI Amy, Do you think because Obama has denounced Rev. Wright & his ministry the Rev. will write a bestseller? If the Obamas become the "First Family" Wright will have plenty of ammunition. For over 20 years he was the advisor, confidant, friend etc. to both Barack & Michelle Obama. Now that Obama has disowned him Wright will be free to tell all I betcha he will.

    April 30, 2008 at 8:50 pm |
  18. anita

    First of all we are all human and will fall short and should not be judge by man but by god and you better believe god know our hearts. This is sad that rasicm is going to the devil in the race and cause all of us a great pain of financial and mental hardship in the future.

    April 30, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  19. Larry

    The ONLY reason Barack said what he did is because it may affect his campaign. Everything Barack responded with in relation to what Rev. Wright said was ALL about me,me,me.

    April 30, 2008 at 8:10 pm |
  20. em

    to all the people that ask WHY did Obama stay in the church for 20 years, im asking the same question about all the catholic people that went to curch every sunday KNOWING what was going on behind closed doors; about all the people that after the sex scandal exploded STILL contnued to go to attend service in these same curches. And why all the catholics are still catholics after knowing that most of the high power KNEW and did nothing.
    Isnt this a bit more scary than listening to the ranting of 1 guy?

    Grow up ppl and stop repeating the same questions!

    April 30, 2008 at 8:09 pm |
  21. Legal Diva

    I have to ask a question because this issue keeps me up at night.

    Put aside for a moment Wright's theatrics...I am by far not a Wright supporter! But put it aside for a sec. And ask yourselves, honestly, why is his speech considered "hatred?"

    Hate is to tell his congregation to go out and seek out those white demons who have enslaved you for so long.
    Hate is to tell the world that blacks should be intolerant of all whites or anyone who doesn't look like them.
    Hate is when someone incites the demoralization and total annialation of anyone who doesn't agree with him or their kind.

    Hate is what the KKK preaches. Not what JW preaches. This is a man stuck in a time that this country was not so nice to him and many people that looked like him. It was a time when we loved this country and America didn't love us back. That wasn't 150 years ago when slaves were finally freed, it 20-30 years ago and depending on where you are, it's still happening.

    Scars that deep don't go away because some people would like for them not to be exposed. I agree that many things that he said was off the mark, outrageous and that he should not be in the spotlight, but who put him there? CNN, Fox, Hannity, etc.

    I ask the question because your bars and standards seem to be high for a black man in America than it is for a more than prevalent organized group of people with millions of undercover white hooded members who are responsible for furthering hate of blacks and jews and anything not pure white. Why?

    Why is there a difference? Why the disproportionate treatment? One man versus people who actually do commit murder on others in the name of hate. WHY is the bar set differently? Think about it and let me know. I'm very curious why this is the American way.

    April 30, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  22. Marti

    I think everything Obama does is "staged". He is ALL politician....lie when you have to....cover up when you have to.....change your story when you have to....do whatever it takes to get the votes.

    The kind of CHANGE we would get with Obama is not the change Americans are looking for.

    Lately when I watch Obama, his speech, facial expressions, and hand movements are starting to resemble Rev. Wright's. Maybe Obama learned that from sitting in the pews for 20 years.

    April 30, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  23. Carol Salazar

    I believe what Obama has said and I feel he will do what is necessary to when in November. It hurt him deeply what Rev. Wright has done. The Reverend let him down spritually and personally. We need Obama in the White House for all of us. I dont think Obama has to go to drastic measures to win.

    April 30, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  24. Mary

    I can't believe Anderson is going to rehash the Reverend Wright issue! ENOUGH ALREADY. Blitzer, Crowder, and Anderson need to give it a rest! Suddenly CNN is on an attack and sounding mean and cruel. Is everybody out to destroy Obama??? Wright is a sick man and I am sure he has been proded by an outside source to get up in public and say those horrible things . Why, oh why are you helping his cause???!!!
    Mary

    April 30, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  25. Joyce-Houston

    Obama is very much a gentleman he don't have to stoop low to cater to the whims of the media and the public you can never satisfy all of the people to me it is like a media circus.
    Why don't you get on the Hillbillies about their anger ,and I was in sniper fire, Monica lewinsky in the oval office.
    Cnn you are prejuiced you are just like Fox news pull some skeletons out of your closet.

    April 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  26. Larry

    The Clintons aren't smart enough to do something like that; white folk don't think with that par of the brain apparently.

    Sounds like something the Kennedys would have had no problem in going forth with.tho.

    April 30, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  27. sharon johnson

    mr wright should go somewhere and sit down he is acting like a little boy who can not have this way.
    whatever obama has listen to in the past ,is not inportant it' time for change and i beleive abama is the one to bring change about.
    what kind of pastor is he ,to turn on a friend like this. stupid a.........

    April 30, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  28. Susan

    We feel there's more 'to the story' with Obama and Wright.

    And WHY did Obama take SO long to denounce Wright? He has known him for 20 yrs and knows how he is.

    The timing is a little 'too convienent'.

    Wake up America

    April 30, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  29. Carla Ontario Canada

    Amy, I agree with you totally. I think it was staged as a political move and to win sympathy from voters. Rev. Wright will not go away quietly and if he does he will be back in the fall. (or in the White House if Obama gets that far).
    Rev. Wright is getting attention so he can promote his new book.
    I think people are smarter than this and see for what it is.
    A new kind of politics, like Obama says, I dont think so.
    Meanwhile, people continue to lose their home, high gas/oil, losing jobs. Why dont they spend more time on the issues and forget the charades.

    April 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  30. Letha, Sioux Falls, SD

    Are you ever going to get past the Clinton comments? How about almost all correct in this message but one wrong doesn't make it Wright? I will add that the final vision amybe Omaba with his hand on the bible on the steps of the White House while Reverend Wright administers the pledge then the race card can become complete.

    April 30, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  31. jimmy vekmen

    FIRST CHECK OUT OBAMA'S STORY ABOUT HIS PASTOR'S LIFE.
    PASTOR WRIGHT WAS NOT A POOR BLACK MAN LIVING IN THE SLUMS OF CHICAGO IN A CRIME INFESTED NEIGHBORHOOD.
    ON THE CONTRARY, PASTOR WRIGHT LIVED IN COMFORTABLE
    CIRCUMSTANCES AND WENT. TO GOOD SCHOOLS.
    OBAMA 'S MISSTATEMENTS ON HIS PASTOR IS MEANT TO
    BLAME THE PASTORS ANTI-AMERICAN RACISM TO HIS "POOR"
    UPBRINGING. NO SUCH THING.
    OBAMA STILL HAS NOT TOLD AMERICANS WHAT HE WAS LEARNING F0R 20 YEARS FROM PASTOR WRIGHT AND HIS CHURCH.

    April 30, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  32. Michelle

    I've thought of that scenerio as well. The question is why does the media and the political machine in this country make it almost impossible for a candidate to campaign without employing political gamesmanship and getting really dirty in the process? Is that just "politics as usual"? Why does it have to stay that way? Can we become citizens of the 21st century and create a new kind of politics?

    At least Obama has refrained from burying the Clintons in the load of fecal matter they have created for themselves over the course of their political career. They are good fighters but they have honed their self-defense skills fighting to get out of foolish situations they created themselves.

    I'd rather see a dialogue about racial bias in this country than a rehashing of the soap opera that has defined the Clinton administration.

    Obama 2008

    April 30, 2008 at 2:08 pm |
  33. Stan, Houston, TX

    Kinda wimpy plan in some ways. It's still not forceful enough! I would definitely NOT say: "He will always be a friend and welcome at my door." That's too wishy-washy and reinforces Obama's *weak* image...

    April 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  34. Ann Marie

    I think we've forgotten the God-factor in all of this. Always remember that God is the one that puts up and takes down. God already knows the outcome of the election. If the Republicans think they can use the Rev. Wright episode against Obama in the general without a divine backlash, then their judgment is off. God is a just God. If it were not for God, we'd still be in slavery. I believe there is going to be a sway in favor of Obama and he does not have to do a thing. It could be the biggest win in Democratic history in November. And that's coming from someone with conservative views like you. Don't forget the God-Factor.

    April 30, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  35. gwendolyn p.

    All you are suggesting is that Obama reduce himself to some immature pandering game in which most people don't want to see him play.

    Lets' please move on. Obama is a moral man who would make a wonderful president. There are those who will not vote for him even if he was endorsed by the pope, and there are those who will vote for him even if this maniac call wright inject himself into the political race, I am one of those who support the latter.

    Grow up Amy.

    April 30, 2008 at 12:10 pm |
  36. Audrey

    The difference is Obama will get away with it. Last night, people used the words courageous, brave, etc. to describe what he did.

    April 30, 2008 at 12:01 pm |
  37. Annie Kate

    Sounds to me like what has already happened. I'm sure any of the established politicians would do it but isn't Obama suppose to be different? Not like the old politicians? He's been saying that – if he did this that would kind of negate the claim.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 30, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  38. Jean Michelle

    America wake-up.

    Barack Obama did not "denounce or divorce" himself from Pastor Wright. He, once again, only denounced/divorced his comments - not the relationship.

    He only said that his relationship had "changed"? That does not mean denounce or divorced. It only means changed. Changed into what context. Mr. Obama is running for the President of the US. His response was not definitive enough for the american people; especially the blue collar voters.

    April 30, 2008 at 11:25 am |
  39. Tina

    As far as I'm concerned Obama has already done what he needs to do to deal with the Rev. Wright story. Move on!

    April 30, 2008 at 11:10 am |
  40. Alex

    The Uniter can not Unite the people who are related to him in one way or another. Our Country has bigger and more difficult issues than this family feud between Obama and Rev. Wright. Obama has not been able to put this behind. What can we expect from him about his performance when it comes to bigger issues concerning our Country??. How is he going to change our system if he can not change the disagreements and hate in his own life, specially when is so close to him. Probably CNN and MSNBC will avoid the issue as much as possible, but they can’t erase the damage. Many people wanted to know who Obama is, and during the last month we’ve seen drips of information that are undeniably giving us a draft of who he is. It’s just a matter of digging deeper.

    April 30, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  41. Jan J

    Isn't this exactly what just happened?

    It would not surprise me at all if this whole Rev. Wright thing was a conspirarcy so Obama could finally divorice himself from the guy and stop having to answer questions about him. Something he should have done a long time ago.

    I mean really! This just reeks of a conspirary to me.

    But honestly folks, the man went to this church for 20 years – a potential 1,040 Sundays. He said the man was like a father to him. Do you honestly believe that Obama did not know what was in the man's heart and mind? Do you honestly believe that he NEVER heard him preach that kind of hatred? If you do, you're a fool!

    April 30, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  42. phil

    It seems to me that obamas camp knew wright wasnt going away so they brought him back out and staged the whole thing in hopes of finally putting an end to it....more politics as usual

    April 30, 2008 at 10:13 am |