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Jeremiah Wright introduces candidate 18 days after Hampton University speech.
(Page 4 of 5)
Wright ends by asking the attendees to “please put your hands together and welcome this Christian gentleman, a member of Trinity United Church of Christ Chicago, Senator Barack Obama.”
The image of this exceedingly calm, polite pastor who speaks on video tape from Chicago fades from the screen, the applause rises — and in Hartford, Connecticut, out onto the arena stage steps Senator Obama. He receives a bear hug from Reverend Thomas and settles into his talk.
Obama begins by acknowledging all manner of people from the UCC hierarchy who are present — reading from notes. Finally mentioning “of course, my pastor, Dr… Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.” He recommends Trinity and Trinity’s choir. He invites everybody to visit. Then, in a performance that Americans have now seen countless times, he begins relying on his teleprompter.
What followed (here’s the official text) is a speech titled “A Politics of Conscience.” Tracing his own journey of faith, Obama returns to the topic of the quiet, peaceful pastor UCC Synod delegates have just seen on the large screen behind the podium. In words that would become a familiar part of the Obama campaign pitch until the Obama-Wright relationship exploded in full public view, with Obama giving a speech denouncing Wright, he said this:
So one Sunday, I put on one of the few clean jackets I had, and went over to Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street on the South Side of Chicago. And I heard Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright deliver a sermon called “The Audacity of Hope.” And during the course of that sermon, he introduced me to someone named Jesus Christ. I learned that my sins could be redeemed. I learned that those things I was too weak to accomplish myself, He would accomplish with me if I placed my trust in Him. And in time, I came to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world and in my own life.
The rest of the speech is the calm, deliberate presidential Obama of today — albeit filled with left-wing boilerplate. Occasionally the voice rises as liberal indignation sets in over Iraq or the role of “the Christian Right.” But that’s it.
So the question.
Why is this old tape from 2007 important now?
Because what America is seeing here is a pattern of deceit.
The racially divisive Barack Obama of a mere 18 days earlier has vanished. There is no divisive shouting of racism in front of this mostly religious, white audience as there was in front of a religious black audience. There is no angry accusation of the U.S. government abandoning blacks in New Orleans. After all, while the UCC has a lot of liberals in its ranks — it has a lot of conservatives who voted over the years for Reagan and the Bushes. There is no mileage here in accusing some in his UCC audience of being racists. Instead, when it comes to race Obama waxes enthusiastically about being inspired by the civil rights activists of the 1960s. While he was too young for that moment, he calls himself a member of the “Joshua Generation” — which is to say the generation after Moses.
Wright’s video too is totally devoid of “God Damn America” language and sentiments. It was the kind of bland pastoral pabulum that could have been delivered not just by Wright but any pastor, the late Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson included.
Was it written by Wright? Was that video vetted by Axelrod or some other Obama campaign functionary? A functionary “mother hen” who knew all too well what Wright was capable of? A functionary who was determined to make sure Wright was as far away from Obama that June day in Hartford as he could possibly be? A functionary who insisted on Wright appearing only on a vetted video tape made in Chicago and using a wedding as an excuse for absence?
In truth, we do not know.
What we do know now after this week’s double-revelations of the Hampton University video tape and the Obama performance in the debate with Mitt Romney, is that like the famous scene in The Wizard of Oz, the curtain has been pulled back on the real Barack Obama.
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