Mazzuca: Obama’s pastor disaster |

Mazzuca: Obama’s pastor disaster

Senator Barack Obama is not a racist, nor is he anti-American or an Islamic Trojan Horse; and portraying him as such is uncalled for. Nevertheless, it’s fascinating to watch the Barack Obama/Reverend Wright imbroglio unfold.

The mainstream media led by the New York Times first attempted to bury, and then to downplay the story. Having failed at both, the media now insist on finding “moral equivalents” and routinely reference non-analogous comments made by supporters of other candidates. But Americans realize this matter isn’t about race or even guilt by association ” the real issues are the judgment and consistency of Barack Obama.

Sen. Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ as a matter of political expedience, which is no big deal. A black politician from a mixed marriage, born in Hawaii, with degrees from Columbia and Harvard doesn’t have a lot of “street cred” on Chicago’s South Side. So in order to gain an entree into Chicago’s black community and advance his political career, the senator became a member of Reverend Wright’s high-profile black church.

However, now that Wright’s hate-sermon videos have surfaced, the senator is being asked to explain his association with a racist, anti-American pastor. Among Reverend Wright’s assertions were that the white government of the United States was responsible for 9/11, and the United States sponsored terrorism against blacks in South Africa. Obama eventually admitted to hearing some of the reverend’s statements, so he’s certainly not denying anything. Nonetheless, the senator’s answer begs the question of why he didn’t renounce Wright’s remarks the minute he heard them instead of waiting until they appeared on CNN.

Senator Obama’s claim that he has exercised better judgment than Hillary Clinton is predicated on a single issue ” that he spoke out against the Iraq War while he was a member of the Illinois Senate. But good judgment isn’t a “one-time thing” ” good judgment is cumulative. And while hate-speech from a single pastor on the south side of Chicago is hardly an earth-shaking event, a 20-year association with the anti-American Wright calls the senator’s judgment into question.

All of us make mistakes ” we’re human. But what must clearly be categorized as a complete meltdown in the judgment department was exposing his two children to Wright’s racist and anti-American diatribes every Sunday morning. Almost as bad was failing to tell his pastor in no uncertain terms that statements such as, “The United States government purposely introduced the AIDS virus to infect people of color” were patently false and must not be repeated.

Another question being asked is why a man who might be our next commander-in-chief gave tacit acknowledgment to Reverend Wright’s vicious anti-Americanism. But perhaps the senator’s most enduring lapse in judgment was lending the stature of a sitting U.S. Senator to a virulently anti-American pastor. As a sidebar, Oprah Winfrey was once a member of Wright’s congregation; but for reasons of her own, she no longer attends that church.

The Wright controversy has also raised the issue of the senator’s consistency. Obama called for Don Imus to be fired ” “Nobody on my staff would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about any ethnic group,” but he waited until Jeremiah Wright’s hate sermons appeared on the evening news before choosing to address the issue.

Obama initially told the media he didn’t recall hearing Reverend Wright’s comments. However, prior to making his presidential announcement speech in Springfield Illinois last February, where Wright was scheduled to give the invocation, the senator dis-invited the reverend with the words “Your sermons can get kind of rough.”

In his recent speech in Philadelphia, Senator Obama said he could no more disown Reverend Wright than he could his own grandmother, and then compared Wright to an old cranky uncle. But Obama’s grandmother is family and has been since his birth; in contrast, the senator actively sought out Reverend Wright and knowingly made him his spiritual advisor. These are two entirely different situations, which I suspect Obama cleverly conflated in order to keep from having to fully explain a 20-year membership in a church where anti-American commentary is not uncommon.

Let’s be clear: A close association with Reverend Wright for 20 years does not make Senator Obama a bad man, judgment and consistency aside. However, the manner in which this episode came to the public’s attention and how the Obama campaign is dealing with it has caused many voters to ask if the senator really is a “different” kind of politician, or if he’s simply a continuation of the same old “Washington two-step” in more stylish packaging.

Quote of the day: “Actions speak louder than words.””Gersham Bulkeley

Butch Mazzuca is a business consultant and writes a column for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at

Support Local Journalism

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User