March 17, 2008

Did Obama Attend Wright's Most Provocative Sermons? It Doesn't Matter.

There is a lot of heat flying around the blogosphere (and even the mainstream media) this morning over whether or not Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama attended Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) on days that the church's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., uttered inflammatory rhetoric that most Americans seem to feel is at least occasionally anti-American and borderline racist in nature.

Obama claimed late Friday that he was not in attendance for any of Wright's most explosive sermons over the past 20 years he has been attending TUCC, including sermons where Wright lambasted this nation as "United States of KKK A" and stated "No, no, no, not 'God bless America,' God damn America" amid other provocative statements uttered during other sermons published on Youtube and in news outlets Friday and over the weekend.

Writing in Newsmax—a news outlet with a less than sterling reputation for accuracy—over the weekend, Ronald Kessler cites fellow NewsMax reporter, Jim Davis, who claims that Obama was indeed present for a Wright sermon he attended at TUCC on July 22, 2007, where:

...the minister blamed the "white arrogance" of America's Caucasian majority for the world's suffering, especially the oppression of blacks.


If Obama's claims are true that he was completely unaware that Wright's trademark preaching style at the Trinity United Church of Christ has targeted "white" America and Israel, he would have been one of the few people in Chicago to be so uninformed. Wright's reputation for spewing hate is well known.

In fact, Obama was present in the South Side Chicago church on July 22 last year when Jim Davis, a freelance correspondent for Newsmax, attended services along with Obama. [See: "Obama's Church: Cauldron of Division."]

In his sermon that day, Wright tore into America, referring to the "United States of White America" and lacing his sermon with expletives as Obama listened. Hearing Wright's attacks on his own country, Obama had the opportunity to walk out, but Davis said the senator sat in his pew and nodded in agreement.

The claim has quickly been disputed by those who have cited video evidence of Obama speaking at La Raza's annual conference in Miami, Florida that same day. Newsmax is still sticking to the claim, stating that Obama was at the church on the day of Wright's "white arrogance" tirade, along with a Secret Service protective detail, and that with early morning and an evening service, Obama had time to attend two of the three sermons and the La Raza conference that day.

I've contacted the Secret Service Public Affairs Office to see if they will be able to confirm or deny a protective detail guarding Obama at TUCC in Chicago on July 22, 2007 as they seem to be in the most credible position to resolve these claims, but I do not know if they are able to address such concerns, and even if they are about to confirm of deny Obama's attendance, I'm not sure that playing a game of "gotcha" pinning down Obama as an attendee at one of Wright's more explosive sermons is even of major relevance.

Certainly, confirming Obama's attendance would be a huge blow to his credibility as he stated categorically that he never attended church on days where Wright delivered one of his more inflammatory sermons, but that almost seems beside the point.

Whether or not he was there for one of "those" sermons, Barack Obama attended Wright's church for 20 years, and it is implausible that he was completely unaware of his rhetoric and radicalism during that entire time period.

Barack Obama is forcing us to chose between one of two narratives. Either he:

  1. attended a church for two decades that featured a radical minister preaching a seemingly separatist and occasionally anti-American "Black Value System" (which curiously, was scrubbed from the church's web site over the weekend), considered Wright a mentor, was married by him, has his children baptized by him, and added him in an official capacity to his Presidential campaign (though in a largely ceremonial role), without ever really knowing anything about him or his beliefs, or;
  2. Barack was aware of Wright's pronouncements and beliefs and agreed with him enough that he was a member of Wright's congregation for 20 years, only to then see Obama threw Wright "under the bus" when those beliefs became a threat to Obama's presidential campaign.

Which is it?

The latter seems far more plausible than the former, with or without the media being able to pin down Obama as having attended Wright's more bombastic recorded sermons.

Obama either displays a Gumpish cluelessness and a lack of self-awareness as a human being (not exactly sought-after traits in a President), or he agrees with the teaching of Wright to the extent that he became a member of his church and spent the last two decades as part of a congregation that was captured loudly applauding during extremist and conspiracy theory-laced sermons.

Voters polled by Rasmussen seem to have made up their minds:

Seventy-three percent (73%) of voters say that Wright’s comments are racially divisive. That opinion is held by 77% of White voters and 58% of African-American voters.


Last Thursday, 52% of voters nationwide had a favorable opinion of Obama. That figure has fallen to 47% on Monday...

Despite recent claims that he shared none of Wright's extremist statements, Obama's chickens seem to be coming home to roost.

Update: As noted by "JustADude" in the comments, Obama was in Chicago July 22, 2007, which was noted at HuffPo, though Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor "stressed that the senator did not make a stop at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ."

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 17, 2008 12:36 PM

According to WaPo political tracker

Obama had an appearance in Chicago in the morning and the speech in Miami later.

His staff confirms the schedule to HuffPO

Obama's spokesperson Tommy Vietor confirmed that the schedule was accurate but stressed that the senator did not make a stop at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ

Posted by: JustADude at March 17, 2008 12:59 PM

Seems like Obama dosnt have any good outcomes here, either he was at a racist sermon or attending a Mexican supremist group meeting.

Posted by: grrrrrr at March 17, 2008 12:59 PM

I was hoping this election would bring out a real debate about the nature of the US that we've been missing since the end of the Cold War. I really, really wanted to see a Newt Gingrich vs. Hillary Clinton knock-down-drag out, but that didn't happen. I was going to pretty much ignore this election --- until now...

The media is a darn pickle here.

They built Obama into a national figure last year, and a few months ago, a sizable portion of the media and Dem. elite decided to actively promote Obama and bury Hillary (though Hillary has some supporters in those circles still)....but now, after those others have made their choice, this big huge roadblock pops up....and what can they do?

They can't dump Obama for Hillary as neatly they did Dean for Kerry. We are later in the game and they invested in Obama while Dean forced them to take notice.

More than that, if they had already decided Hillary was unelectable and thus they had to go for Obama, I doubt they would now view her as any more electable just because Obama's campaign has hit an iceberg.

So, at least for now, they are pretending the iceberg isn't there or at least doesn't matter.

I give it about 2 weeks before they start championing Hillary - with the "they" being the whole of the media and the party.

A sign to watch for will be Kennedy jumping back into the Hillary camp....

Posted by: usinkorea at March 17, 2008 01:03 PM

If Obama attended, the Secret Service would have accompanied him. Has anyone asked that the SS schedule - a public document - be made available under FOIA?

Posted by: arch at March 17, 2008 02:03 PM

What's wrong with everyone? Whether or not Obama listened to Wright, and/or agrees with him doesn't mean that he's not a great candidate for president. What presidential candidate is lilly white? None of them are. You can't possible believe that America is totally unbiased, because it's not. That doesn't mean that Black Americans don't love the United States of America, because we do. How many Black American spys have there been? We love America, but that doesn't mean that we don't see the bias that exists here.

We may have children, or relatives who have acted or committed an offense to themselves or others, but we still love them. I'm sorry, but some of what that pastor was saying hits a nerve, and is based on the sad truth that still exists in this country. No, not like years ago, but we're still improving. That's all we can do.

You know this is true by the way Obama is being attacked in the media by people like the ones who are submitting comments to this site. Calling him "Glowbamma", or whatever. Do they have a similar name for Hillary, or John McCain?

Oh, and that ignorant comment someone made about Obama knowing where his friend's money came from. I wouldn't dream of asking my friend how they could afford to buy a BMW, or a big house, or any other purchase they may have made. I might think something was up, but it's offensive to ask someone about their money. Duh.

I'm not even sure whether I want to vote for Obama or not, but I can't stand watching people attack any candidate on a personal level. Stick to politics. Personally, I don't believe in abortion, but if I were to run for a political office, I'd defend a woman's right to choose. Unless Obama committed a crime, he can believe whatever he wants to believe. There is no evidence that he's racist, but can you say the same about Bush, or any of the other president's we've had? If being racist keep a person out of office, a lot of former presidents would never have had the opportunity to be our president.

Let's just stick to the issues, and allow these fine people to compete with each other based on their political merits. Thank you.

Posted by: Grace at March 17, 2008 02:27 PM

I'd have to go with choice B. Obama is too smart a fella to be choice A. It just goes to show what happens when a candidate has not been completely vetted before they dive into something as big as the race for the Presidency.

Posted by: MajorJB at March 17, 2008 02:40 PM

Obama can believe whatever he wants to believe, but if that's God D*** America, then he has no business being a Senator, much less the Head of State.

Posted by: Techie at March 17, 2008 02:50 PM
What's wrong with everyone? Whether or not Obama listened to Wright, and/or agrees with him doesn't mean that he's not a great candidate for president.

Utterly false. If Obama subscribes to or even tolerates Wright's sometimes anti-white, anti-American, and anti-sane rants and vitriol, he exposes himself to be just the opposite of the uniting "change" candidate he pretends to be, and if he didn't know of Wright's demagoguery as he now claims, then he exposes himself as a dunce for not picking that up in 20 years at the church.

Both matter very much in determining whether or no the's a decent presidential candidate, and as I've argued before, whether or not he's even a decent father for exposing his children to such a toxic environment.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at March 17, 2008 03:04 PM

The realtor involved in the Obama-Rezko land deal is a self-claimed "Hillary girl". She said this about Obama: I have been there. It is just like a hot date with a cool man. You just don't what to ask too many questions to kill the dream". Obama supporters, ask yourself: Are you trying to keep that Dream by suppressing any inkling of your doubts?

Nobody is accusing Obama of being a racist, or having done things illegal. The issue here is his entire platform he has built to make him so high and so above the rest of the political contenders is collapsing.
1. Honesty: he was not honest when he answered questions about Rezko and Wright. His story kept changing. There is more to come. I am 100% sure by Nov. there will be a tape surfacing out showing him nodding with Wright when those hateful words were said.
2. Ethics: he shows no ethical concerns when he entered the land deal with Rezko. Also look at his earmarks from the senate, to the hospital where his wife was VP; to things associated with his biggest donor.
3. Good judgment: Obama chose to be associated with Rezko and Wright intentionally. This is not just bad judgment, there is more than that. I have the suspect that deep in his heart, Obama is a completely different person. All he is saying in the campaign is carefully calculated "positioning".
4. Iraq: the only thing Obama can talk about as reflecting his good judgment. The NYT had an article about him recently. It turned out, except his 2002 speech, Obama did nothing to change the Iraq course, he even voted against troop withdrawal. His tones and strategies changed AFTER he started his pres. bid.

Posted by: kk at March 17, 2008 03:10 PM

The problem with running an empty vessel for President is that they sometimes turn out to not be so empty. Barack Obama expects us to believe that he had the kind of relationship with Wright that he says he had and didn't know about Wright's virulent anti-American beliefs. Either he's an idiot or he thinks we are. I suspect the latter.

Posted by: Army of Dog at March 17, 2008 03:17 PM

Contrary to Senator Barack Obama’s claim that he never heard his pastor Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. preach hatred of America, Obama was in the pews last July 22, 2007 when the minister blamed the “white arrogance”of America’s Caucasian majority for the world’s suffering, especially the oppression of blacks.

The Reverend Wright’s anti-white theology, that Senator Obama expressed surprise over with claims that he never heard about it until just recently, is evident in Wright's sermon last July 22, 2007.

Wright tore into America, referring to the “United States of White America” and lacing his sermon with expletives as Obama listened.

Hearing Wright’s attacks on his own country, Obama had the opportunity to walk out, but the senator sat in his pew and nodded in agreement.

Wright laced into America's establishment, blaming the "white arrogance" of America's Caucasian majority for the woes of the world, especially the oppression suffered by blacks everywhere. To underscore the point, he refers to the country as the "United States of White America." Many in the congregation, including Obama, nodded and cheered in apparent agreement as these statements were made. Members of the congregation laughed and applauded and slapped one another on the back as Wright damned our country and blamed the "rich whites" for AIDS and every other disappointment ever to befall the black race.

Americans need not ignore the racist hatred coming out of the mouth of Rev. Wright, they should also not ignore the crowd cheering it on like they are a football game at the church of the possible next president of the U.S.

Vote accordingly.

Posted by: IndependentVoter at March 17, 2008 03:23 PM

Amazing Grace:

How could you possibly consider as Obama a candidate for the presidency? At best Barack is a liar; at worst, a foolish, inexperienced, racist, fascist, anti-American liar.

Obama has known what Wright represents and has supported him for twenty years. His parish in Chicago has 10,000 members, all of whom have heard these rants. It is an insulting lie to imply that he was not aware of the black master race message.

Obama does not respect this country enough to render customary courtesy during the playing of the national anthem. His wife only recently felt pride in America. How would he function as head of a state he and his wife and pastor all detest?

Commander in Chief? I don't think so.

Posted by: arch at March 17, 2008 03:23 PM

I love this - he was at a La Raza function instead?

"I wasn't cheating on you, honey - I was drunk off my ass in a ditch."

Posted by: tsmonk at March 17, 2008 03:54 PM

You can still get to The Black Value System, but it's no longer a PDF:

That's clickable from at "Click here to read about The Black Value System."

However, they have scrubbed the 12 bullet points of The Black Value System from the "About Us" page.

Posted by: huxley at March 17, 2008 04:48 PM


So, if a politician had a great set of ideas on how to get the economy right, but was a member of the World Church of the Creator, you'd be okay with that?

Or, if a politician had an excellent foreign policy, but was present at some cross-burnings (but didn't even wear a hood), would that be alright?

Personal beliefs sometimes don't matter; sometimes they tell you a lot about the person's actual character. And that, I would suggest, the content of their character, is as much at issue in an election for the White House as their policy stances.

Now, that doesn't mean one cannot vote for Obama. I don't think much of the contents of Hillary's or McCain's character either, frankly. But suggesting it doesn't matter at all, well, I just don't cotton to that.

Posted by: Lurking Observer at March 17, 2008 04:54 PM

Grace, oh Gracy please -- I agree with arch but I think you name gives you away. Certaily there is Grace for anyone seeking the truth but the blind are blind and I am afraid the reasoning used by Grace to FORGIVE and not to JUDGE the less than honorable Barack Obama all under the cover of "the Issues" is truly a blind follower. Please forgive me for making that judgement. Hate is hate, and lies are lies, no matter how noble the issues might be. Satan himself mixed truth with lies and you could argue a case for him if you ignored the lie and focused on the issues of what he, Satan, was conveying to the innocent Eve. Twenty years Obama listened to this preacher of hate -- twenty years -- and you think the issues are what count when considering this individual as the next president? There is an old saying, as true today as yesterday, "you are known by the company you keep". Twenty years -- and he heard nothing? Shame on you for defending him and shame on him for betraying you.

Posted by: Danmy at March 17, 2008 05:20 PM

One wonders if Grace thought less of George W. Bush for a single (that's one only) appearance at Bob Jones University in 2000.

Posted by: C-C-G at March 17, 2008 05:51 PM

That backslapping and cheering upon hearing the remark the "chickens comin home to roost" among Obama's friends in the days after 9/11, remind me of videos I saw of Palestinians celebrating in the streets, as they began first hearing of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Posted by: bl at March 17, 2008 06:08 PM

Grace ... you are being conned by Obama. He is neither a uniter nor a healer. He has never tried to heal his pastor ? Why is that ? Its must be because he agrees with the man.

Posted by: Jeff at March 17, 2008 08:12 PM

I think that we have seen the political death of Barack Obama…I don’t think that anything he can say at this AM’s press conference can repair the damage that this one incident has caused on his campaign and may have cast any doubts on the Democratic party fielding another African American candidate in the foreseeable future

Posted by: fmfnavydoc at March 18, 2008 08:14 AM

"Utterly false. If Obama subscribes to or even tolerates Wright's sometimes anti-white, anti-American, and anti-sane rants and vitriol, he exposes himself to be just the opposite of the uniting "change" candidate he pretends to be,"

Not only that. But lets say that he does not believe in what the "preachers been preachin" does it not show some serious lack of judgment, and lack of moral courage to keep going?

As I have said before. Any sane person, that believes in his faith, will find a different preacher when they are not preaching the word.

Posted by: Matt at March 18, 2008 05:08 PM

This issue is not about race. I am so confused, so many news stations/media, praising Obama's speech about race. Why are they not concerned about how he was able to be part of a church, that hates the United States. He could have walked out, but he continued to support the church by attendance and donations. His daughters have sat there and heard these words. No one is upset about the fact that Senator Clinton was called names, what if her minister would have called Senator Obama a young black articulate man. Everyone was all over Senator Biden, when he said that. I have not walked in the shoes of a black man, but I have walked in the shoes of a white women, of grandparents from another country, heard people call my grandparents a Dumb Hunky, others called a stupid Polock, jokes made, on and on. But I got though it. Yes I
resent those remarks. But I attended an Orthodox Serbian Church, and during one of our payers, we thanked God and God Blessed America at each sermon.
After 911 we prayed for the families and asked for strenght for our country the United States. If my preacher would have said what Rev. Wright said, I would have walked out, but I would also let that prist know what I thought and I am not running for the President of the United Sates of America. Above all the man or women that is President of the United States, must defend it , honor it, respect it, by allowing some one to be dis-respectful to the country you believe in, is not a allowable quality for a future President of the United States. Mr. Obama, if you love this country, you need to withdraw from the race, and try to heal your church and address the race issue if it exists as you say. I grew up in the sixties, in a very diverse neighborhood, I never had the hate for any race as your church appears to have. I am glad I have had the privledge to have the friendship with other African Americans, that do not hate me as your church appears to.

Posted by: June at March 20, 2008 03:11 PM

To June:

The media has made there choice that is why we(meaning you, me and anybody else who will come along with us) need to get this stuff out there some how. The media also chose to cover up the fact that he lied to the american people for four days until he got caught and decided to come clean. He even says in one of his books quote "I searched long and hard for a church that FIT MY VEIWS" You can't get any clearer that that.

Posted by: John at March 22, 2008 06:21 PM

FOX Lies!!! Is Rev. Wright .Support Barack Obama.

People of America, check out the real 911 sermon by Rev. Wright on you-tube, so that you can see it in context. Because much of what he talked about was not racism, but oppression. I support Obama, although I don’t agree with Rev. Wright on HIV and the black community. However, there is evidence to suggest that the CIA did smuggle in 1 ton of Cocaine into South Central L.A. Check out American Drug War Documentary- the Great White Hype! I saw it in one of my college classes, good video.

God bless America, and also other countries!

Posted by: Angello 26 at March 24, 2008 03:45 PM