The Rev Wright —  mentor, friend and pastor to Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama for over twenty years — finally went one step too far.

After maintaining in a speech on Monday to the National Press Club that the US government was capable of spreading AIDS through the black community, accused the government of committing terrorism abroad and called criticisms of such remarks an attack on the “black church”, Obama finally slammed the preacher’s comments.

“I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday,” Obama said in a last-minute press conference on Tuesday. “…what became clear to me was that he was presenting a world view that contradicts what I am and what I stand for.”

Obama said “there are no excuses” for such comments. “They offended me. They rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced.” 

In his speech Wright accused Obama of playing politics by disowning his comments. Obama responded: “What I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing.”

But a Rolling Stone article floating around from February last year, which listed the Rev Wright’s ‘top ten comments about America’ and which Obama was asked about in the last Democrat debate is doing the rounds again… suggesting that Obama has known about the Reverend’s inflammatory comments for a lot longer than he’s made out.

Obama washes his hands of his pastor: After days of largely ignoring the media blitz his former pastor has waged, Barack Obama reversed course and denounced the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in the strongest and most direct terms yet on Tuesday. It was a decision that may help him reclaim some of the initiative in a tight presidential primary contest, but it is not without risks. The decision to specifically address Wright’s controversial statements came after the campaign maintained for days that Obama had said all he had to say on the subject – a sign that there has been growing concern that the controversy was damaging his candidacy. — Vaughn Ververs, CBS News

McCain tiptoes around Obama: While Obama deals with question after question about his spotlight-dwelling mentor Reverend Wright, McCain introduced us to his salt-of-the-earth English teacher who, McCain says, influenced his character and values. The implicit message is that the other guy has Wright’s invective and McCain has Mr. Ravenel’s honor code. As Obama suffered defeat in Pennsylvania, losing many rural areas by thirty points, where was McCain? In Inez, Kentucky, extolling the virtues of coal miners, and discussing Obama’s “bitter” comments in front of a cheering crowd heavy with religious, gun owners. The tours may be the best solution for the dilemma that plagues the McCain campaign: they desperately want to refight the culture wars but have a candidate who doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. The tours provide him with venue after venue to make the arguments about character and values which will form a key portion of his campaign message. — New York Observer

It’s class, not sexism, stupid: Not only does Clinton’s Pennsylvania win last week muddy most of the sexism charges; it makes the feminist critique of politics look as exhausted as the candidates themselves. At this point, gender has become just another force in the turbulent demographic cross-currents of American politics. In the Keystone State, the clincher was class, not gender. — City Journal

Wright is right: Much of what Wright said was absolutely true–yet too hot for white America, for the National Press Club, and for a mainstream U.S. Presidential campaign. It was not great for Obama, whom Wright hinted has distanced himself from his former minister only because he’s “a politician” doing “what politicians do.” In his appearance on Bill Moyers’ show Friday, as well as his Press Club speech, Wright blew away any hope the Obama campaign may have had that he would stay mum and let the storm of controversy he kicked up with his impolitic sermons pass. — Ruth Connif, The Progressive

Wright is poisonous: Wright’s speech was not meant to be helpful to Obama. It was meant to soothe Wright’s wounded ego and punish Obama for trying to push him away. And Wright knew who was superior. “I do what pastors do,” Wright said. “He does what politicians do.” Which is not to say Wright was entirely negative. No, he had high praise for Louis Farrakhan. “He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century,” Wright said. “That’s what I think about him.” Got that? Obama is just another hypocritical politician saying what it takes to get elected, but Farrakhan is one of the most important voices of our time. Wright is not just a loose cannon; he is a loose weapon of mass destruction — and one that can easily be used by Obama’s opponents. — Roger Simon, Politico

Obama hasn’t been fully forthcoming: We now know from Obama’s answer at the last debate that he had seen Rev. Wright’s remarks in Rolling Stone in Feburary of 2007 and deemed them to be enough of a problem to deep six the Reverend from speaking at his announcement. At the same time, Obama is now characterizing those remarks as “not of the sort that we saw that offended so many Americans.” Go read the quote from the Rolling Stone article again. I doubt most Americans would agree, which only lends itself to the notion that Obama hasn’t been fully forthcoming about what he knew about his pastor’s incendiary language and when he knew it. — Tom Bevan, RealClearPolitics

Peter Fray

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