Friday, March 28, 2008

Garbo - I'm Looking At You Here

On ABC's The View this morning, Obama had the following exchange with Barbara Walters:
BW: Had the Reverend not retired, were he still there, would you then have left the church, or said 'I just can't have anything to do with him?'

BO: Had the Reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I beleive is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church.
Two weeks ago, in his highly praised speech on race, Obama said
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
Maybe its just me, but if Obama has heard him say controversial remarks, and knew of his criticisms of US policy, then doesn't his statement this morning imply that he should, in fact, have left the church?

I'm not sure how to reconcile these statements. If Wright's publicly expressed views were so out of bounds that they would have caused Obama to leave the church if Wright were not retiring, then why didn't Obama leave the church? The retirement answer explains why he is not now leaving the church, but Wright's retirement is recent. This leaves wide open the question of, if Obama was aware of Wright's views, why was he there for the past 20 years?

To me, the two possible answers that would have made sense are a) his views aren't too extreme, there's some justification to them, and I don't find them so deplorable that they merit my leaving the church; or b) I didn't know how nutty Reverend Wright was, but had I known about all of this, I would have left the church. I think it seems he's trying to play it both ways, but they seem mutually exclusive, no?


Garbo said...

Church membership and total agreement with the clerical leadership of that church are not the same thing. I do not see why it cannot be both. Hypothetically, most of what Wright said or preached could have been acceptable, justified, and wholly within the mainstream, but some of his sermons were not. Just because Obama did not publicly denounce the Reverend does not mean that he did not register his disagreement with him. This does not require him to leave his church.

hot zone said...

That is a lot of weasel words there in one sentence. Hypothetically and could have been. There is no proof that Obama registered any disagreement beforehand. What we do know for sure is that there many things were said that are totally unacceptable.

I don't think most people think Obama agrees with everything Rev. Wright does. They are simply concerned that the man did not have the good judgment to leave or fight these statements publicly. Were there no other churches in Chicago? I understand that it is hard to move on from a mentor instead he originally invited him to lead an invocation at his presidential announcement.

Garbo said...

I had had a long comment discussing the need for coverage of McCain's active pursuit of right-wing religious endorsement and the need for tolerance of opinions with which we disagree and so on and so forth.

Except that Google decided not to post it. It has now made the list.

hot zone said...

Just to clarify, I disapprove of McCain courting the religious loon vote too. McCain actively courted Hagee and very few people in the media cared.

I tolerate opinions that I disagree with but I don't have to approve of their endorsements or associations.

Lang said...

I disaprove of McCain courting Hagee, but at the same time, courting someone and asking for their support is not the same as attending the church that an individual leads for decades.

I'm not saying that Hagee is better in any way than Wright, but McCain's relationship with Hagee is not really analogous to Obama's relationship with Wright.

Garbo said...

You're right, actively seeking an endorsement is far different than a primarily non-political relationship. in which neither side sought to endorse the views of the other.

McCain wanted (and presumably wants) Hagee's views to be associated with his campaign, though Obama clearly does not want Wright's.

hot zone said...

You are both right. They are different relationships, but you are both wrong that these both don't represent views that must be associated with the candidates.

Courting an endorsement is pretty much exactly that. I am not sure how long you have to attend something before its views are deemed to be associated with you, but it is definitely before twenty years.

Lang said...

BTW, i just reread Garbo's original response, in which he said that "This does not require him to leave his church."

I'm not saying it requires it, the problem is OBAMA has now said that. You're using the first explanation that I mentioned in my post to explain the Wright/Obama controversy, that what Wright said wasn't too extreme, it doesnt merit Obama leaving the church. Fine. That's a valid opinion. But it contradicts what Obama has said. You're choosing one of the two explanations for excusing their relationship, that doesn't explain how Obama can use both of them and not be contradicting himself.