Barack Obama has rejected some of the controversial comments coming from his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. I think it's fair to say that Obama's response has not been forceful or strong enough as he even compared him to the old family uncle who makes disagreeable statements from time to time. But there are some lingering questions.
Obama has known Wright for years. He is special friend of the Obama family. Surely Obama was present in the congregation for some of Wright's controversial remarks regarding America or simply choose your topic. Even if he wasn't present, he sure knew about what his own pastor was saying for years. So the question is this: Did Obama at any time during his relationship with Pastor Wright express reservations or concerns to him directly about some of this talk? It's not like Obama was a Sunday worshipper with no relationship with the man, right? The assumption is Obama heard this sort of talk, so did he challenge Wright on it? Did he agree? If he disagreed with what was being said, why didn't he find another church? Why did he stay? If your pastor was saying these sort of things, would you stay or find another church home?
Nobody is saying here that Obama believes what his pastor believes. That's missing the point. And I'm sure Obama's church does some great work in the community and the folks who attend are passionate in their walk with Christ. That's not what we're talking about here. The larger issue is Obama says words do matter. That speeches and words can be uplifting and make a difference. But these words from his pastor contradict everything that Obama says he stands for. These words divide not bring unity. So let me ask you: does Obama need to do and say more on this? Does he need to speak out more forcefully on this or has he said enough?
One last thought: Is this all overblown? In other words, some folks who attend this church which resides on the south side of Chicago say this is part of the black church experience? What are your thoughts on that?
All I know is that Obama's pastor could really be a big problem for him in the future. Obama is in a tough spot. Pastor Wright is a dear friend so he doesn't want to trash the guy but if he doesn't go further in denouncing these comments then he runs the risk of this issue dominating the headlines for months to come. This could be an opportunity for Obama to bring up the sensitive issues his pastor has raised and discuss them in town halls, speeches, etc. I know the gut reaction by political handlers is to pivot away from controversy but by tackling these racial issues head on in a constructive way with real meaningful dialogue, Obama could end up turning this whole thing into a positive and it would play perfectly into his new way of doing politics.