While there were some rumors that supporters of Hillary Clinton had been attempting to use the controversy around Rev. Jeremiah Wright to dissuade superdelegates from backing Barack Obama, the campaign more or less laid low on the matter. After all, the media was doing a ...
While there were some rumors that supporters of Hillary Clinton had been attempting to use the controversy around Rev. Jeremiah Wright to dissuade superdelegates from backing Barack Obama, the campaign more or less laid low on the matter. After all, the media was doing a fine job of replaying the controversial snippets of Wright's sermons and demanding revocations and denouncements from the Obama camp.
But now that Obama's numbers seem to be rebounding and the media has turned its attention elsewhere -- including to Hillary's embellishments of her foreign policy experience -- the Clinton campaign is suddenly bringing up Obama's former pastor left and right, going so far as to describe the controversial statements as "hate speech" and to compare Rev. Wright to David Duke.
(More after the jump ...)
Here is Clinton herself talking about the issue during an interview this morning with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
"He [Wright] would not have been my pastor," Clinton said. "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend." [...]
"You know, I spoke out against Don Imus (who was fired from his radio and television shows after making racially insensitive remarks), saying that hate speech was unacceptable in any setting, and I believe that," Clinton said. "I just think you have to speak out against that. You certainly have to do that, if not explicitly, then implicitly by getting up and moving."
And here's Niall O'Dowd, a member of Clinton's finance committee, talking about the Wright issue with RTE Radio in Ireland:
"I think the issue that the Clinton campaign has seized on is that Barack Obama, you know, never once raised his voice to his pastor and said, `I think your language is quite extreme here, and I think you language is probably wrong.' Because let's turn this around. If this was David Duke and he was preaching on behalf of, and Hillary Clinton was in the pew, there would be outrage about this. And there can't be this double standard. Barack Obama has used race where it suited him, but when it doesn't suit him he backs away from it."
While O'Dowd's comparison of Wright to David Duke is reprehensible, there are other problems with this. In both cases, Clinton and O'Dowd suggest that, regardless of Obama's response to the controversy, the only issue that matters is that he never criticized Wright directly about the controversial statements that would occasionally surface in his sermons.
Of course, this is quite misleading, as Obama has repeatedly said that he wasn't in the pews during the particular statements replayed by the media. Moreover, during a recent radio interview, Obama stated that when he previously learned of some controversial remarks by Wright, he confronted his pastor about them:
MICHAEL SMERCONISH (Philadelphia radio host): Would the speech have come as a surprise to Wright?
OBAMA: No, I think he recognizes. When some these remarks first came to light were a year ago, and I actually called him and it created some tensions that were reported in the newspapers. He understood that his perspective on some of these issues were very different from mine and hopefully we could agree to disagree on some of these issues. I wasn't familiar with some of the most offensive remarks that had come up otherwise we probably would have a more intense conversation.