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Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst
A New York magazine cover story last week reignited the debate over Rev. Jeremiah Wright when it stated – without attribution – that the former pastor of Sen. Barack Obama was releasing a new book.
But his daughter, Jeri, told me today that the story is absolutely false.
"The only book we're working on is the history of Trinity (United Church of Christ) and I haven't even started editing that," Wright told Essence.com.
After I reached out to her, she called her father, who is teaching and ministering in Ghana (I ran into him last month when I was in the West African nation) and said he "laughed" when she asked about the book.
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Founder, Third Wave Foundation
Let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief, shall we? Now that we've got our nominee, Hillary can get some rest, Obama can read his daughters a bedtime story, and the rest of us can relax knowing our relative peace won't be shattered by another primary-related explosion.
Goodbye Reverend Wright and Bosnia tarmac snipers. Goodbye bitter working-class voters and hard-working white people. See you in November John King and the magic CNN map.
But what now?
Obama has gracefully accepted the victory banner, and a lot of Hillary supporters, especially women, are walking off the field as if they've lost a war. I understand their frustration, but the truth is they didn't lose, not by a long shot...
Senior Editor, Culture and Media Institute
By leaving his church, has Barack Obama put the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy behind him?
Not a chance.
The public still has serious questions about the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, even though the media are trying to help him wriggle off the hook.
Sunday’s New York Times sounded almost desperate to see Obama freed from Wright: “Now that Mr. Obama has addressed his ties to the church and pastor in a long speech and fully broken with both, it is not clear what else he can say or do to ameliorate the continued concerns of some voters about those associations.”
The Times may not see it, but in fact it’s clear as day what Obama needs to do. He needs to answer, credibly, the important questions about his values and character that the Wright fiasco has raised.
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GOP Strategist and Former Huckabee National Campaign Chairman
Who is Barack Obama? What does he really believe?
These are the unanswered questions about a man who could be the 44th president.
That is why there is such a curiosity about him and why the public and media is looking closely at his wife, and his minister and, before this is over, every other element of his life.
Here is what we do know. He is extremely articulate and extremely ambitious. You can throw bright into the mix, too. But what he really is, is inexperienced. No one in recent times has jumped to the front of the Presidential express quicker or with a thinner resume.
He served a few years in the part-time Illinois state Senate and worked part-time as a junior associate lawyer drafting wills and real estate documents.
Prior to law school, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago, whatever that means. He ran voter registration drives and through knowledge he learned from that experience, he got elected in 1996 to a State Senate seat.
Conveniently, Obama ran virtually unopposed after he legally challenged the qualifying petitions of the incumbent and his other three primary opponents and got them thrown off the ballot. Winning the Democrat primary meant victory because Republicans offered only token opposition in the most overwhelming Democrat district in the state.
Before he had served out his term, Obama ran for Congress and got crushed by incumbent Bobby Rush in a primary. He also chose not to vote on many controversial measures in the legislature.
Martin E. Marty
University of Chicago divinity professor, columnist, editor
Editor's Note: Marty issued the following statement this evening.
To all those who have inquired, responded, or asked for comment or interviews:
I am “on the road” this week and regrettably cannot respond personally to the numerous e-mails I have received regarding Pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Earlier this month The Chronicle (of Higher Education) Review and a local TV program asked me to appraise Wright’s role and achievement as pastor of Trinity Church. I attempted to put his pastoral and “preacherly” work into congregational perspective. The article was widely circulated and remains available on the web.
In the past week, however, what in the article I called Pastor Wright’s “abrasive—to say the least!-edges” have completely dominated his public comments. In them he aggressively defended the very items that I had called “abhorrent and indefensible” as well as “distracting and harmful.”
In the new circumstances, I will have nothing more to add, since the new context is entirely political and not churchly. Those who read me in my five weekly or biweekly outlets know that I make it a practice in them not to mention candidates and candidacies for public office, as an interpretation of my vocation in “civic pedagogy,” not partisan expression.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/30/art.obama.clinton.gi.jpg caption="Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are statistically tied in Gallup's national tracking poll."]
President, Center for the Advancement of Women
Presidential politics is a rough game, intensified by the instantaneousness of the information age. Not for the faint-hearted. Thus, it’s hard to understand why Sen. Barack Obama didn’t unequivocally disavow Rev. Jeremiah Wright a month ago,leaving ambiguous the lines along which this minister influenced his perspective on race in America.
Mr. Obama had the perfect opportunity to make a clean break with the incendiary “black liberation” theologian, when he gave his widely-televised speech at Constitution Hall on the state of race relations. Instead, he chose to explain him and even grant him kinship as a cantankerous “uncle.”
Mr. Obama finally renounced his pastor, after the commotion triggered by Rev. Wright’s bizarre and stereotype-reinforcing minstrel performance. Sen. Obama’s belated outrage will likely generate public skepticism and add credence to the reverend’s characterization that he says, “what he has to say as a politician.”
Perplexingly, Mr. Obama missed another opportunity. While he emphatically declared that Rev. Wright’s messages are “antithetical to our campaign,” Americans are still awaiting to know what his presidency will be about on the issues of our daily lives, if he wins the nomination.
Sens. Obama and Clinton have failed to harness the distractions of their surrogates, allowing them to fill in the gaps on sensitive social issues they're not addressing.
In Ms. Clinton’s case - most prominently, strategist Mark Penn and her husband. Instead of a constructive, beyond-the-slogans debate about race, gender and class and how their presidencies will to lead to greater unity - which Americans want to hear - valuable campaign time is given to damage control, undermining their credibility and stoking the fires of cynicism about all politicians.
All Americans and the future direction of our nation are shortchanged. Especially shortchanged are the issues about which women want answers - pay equality, domestic violence, affordable healthcare, educational opportunities, reproductive rights - not on their websites, but spoken as plainly and directly as they do when they defend threats to their political ambitions.
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Editor's note: Eboo Patel is founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based nonprofit that promotes interfaith cooperation. He adapted this from his On Faith blog posted by The Washington Post:
Author, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation.
I discovered in the African American tradition – the poetry of Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks, the novels of Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, the scholarship of Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates, the sermons of Martin Luther King and, yes, Jeremiah Wright - a way of being that gave an honored place to my heritage as an Indian and a Muslim, and an invitation to bring those parts of me to the American project, which is fundamentally about people from the four corners of the earth building a nation together.
When I first moved back to Chicago in late 2001 to start the Interfaith Youth Core, it seemed like I heard Jeremiah Wright’s name mentioned every place I turned. All kinds of people –rich folk and poor folk, traditionalists and progressives, young people and old people, black and white, believers and atheists – told me I had to go see him preach.
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Just wanted to let you guys know about our program tonight:
AC360° will have the first primetime sit-down interview with Michelle Obama, wife of Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.
We’ll talk about how the re-ignited Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy is affecting the family, her husband's campaign, and everything in between….
Join us tonight at 10p ET for the 360° interview
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Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor
360° Contributor and Radio Host
"Why don't Rev. Jeremiah Wright just sit down and be quiet? Don't he know he's hurting Sen. Barack Obama?"
If I had a nickle for every time someone has asked, emailed or texted me that in the last three days, I could retire.
And trust me, I get it.
Wright has had a negative impact on Obama's presidential aspirations because of the constant playing of snippets of his sermons. And many believe that his interview with Bill Moyers on PBS; his speech at the Detroit NAACP; and the appearance at the National Press Club on Monday morning is all about him.
Yes, that is all true.
But what would you do? If your 36 years in ministry was degraded, would you go and hide?
If right wing radio and TV hacks like Sean Hannity, Lars Larson and others called you a bigot and anti-Semitic, and others who don't even realize that you served in the Marines and the Navy for six years castigated you daily as being un-American, would you defend yourself?
Of course you would!
But there is a fine line that you must walk. And depending on how you do could determine how you are viewed and whether the presidential aspirations of Obama are severely damaged.
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Friend of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright
Author of 'White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son'
Much has been said about the role that racism may play in the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election.
But what has been largely ignored is the way that media pundits, by virtue of the language they use, the questions they ask, and the way they frame issues, often reinforce racial division, and make it harder for us to examine race issues honestly.
So consider the way the media has been pushing the question, "Can Obama win working class voters?" Or, "Why is Obama having trouble connecting with working class voters?" Both questions ignore that Obama doesn't have a working class problem—large percentages of the black folks who are turning out to support him at rates of 90% are indeed working class—but rather, a white working class problem.
By implicitly equating "working class" with white, the media reinforces the notion of "hard-working," average (i.e. normal) folks as white. This then leaves blacks to be viewed either as the decidedly non-working and dreaded "underclass," or the elitist types that Hillary Clinton wants people to envision when they think of Senator Obama. Either of these images can reinforce racism, either by stoking white fear of the former or resentment toward the latter.
Or consider the way the media has responded to the Jeremiah Wright controversy.