Obama’s Campaign Fails To Stop Bleeding

Barack Omaba and his campaign thought a simple little speech would solve their problems. Well for the liberals, it did, however those with half a brain are looking at what he said and realizing that he did nothing more than try to divert the issue and blame White America for the racist remarks spewed out by Wright.

If you pay attention to the aftermath coverage, it is blatently obvious Barack does share the same basis as Wright. Barack Obama is continuing the division line in race, even with his words about uniting, he is not going to turn his back on his “African American” Community.  Hey Barack what about your White Community, remember you are a half white, I know you don’t really like to talk about it that much, but remember it was your White Mother that raised you, was there for you and supported you when you Black father abandoned his family…

His refusal to cut the embilcal cord with Wright show Obama’s own contradiction and reverse racism, which is the core of Wright’s “Black Belief” System. You see, what Omaba forgets is that Racism is a two way street, just because you are black does not mean you are not a racist and that your comments are not equally wrong not matter how your ancestors were treated. See below for article on Barack’s call for Imus firing for racist remarks.

Barack’s Speech:

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched Americas improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nations original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time. /**/

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Pattons Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. Ive gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the worlds poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

Its a story that hasnt made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either too black or not black enough. We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, weve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that its based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, weve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

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 Im sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm werent simply controversial. They werent simply a religious leaders effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wrights comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isnt all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing Gods work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverends voice up into the rafters.And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lions den, Ezekiels field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didnt need to feel shame aboutmemories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinitys services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that weve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, The past isnt dead and buried. In fact, it isnt even past. We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still havent fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between todays black and white students.

Legalized discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of todays urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for ones family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. Whats remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didnt make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wrights generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politicians own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wrights sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans dont feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as theyre concerned, no ones handed them anything, theyve built it from scratch. Theyve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when theyre told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments arent always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. Its a racial stalemate weve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs – to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wrights sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wrights sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. Its that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know — what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the worlds great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brothers keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sisters keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wrights sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that shes playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, well be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, Not this time. This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids cant learn; that those kids who dont look like us are somebody elses problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who dont have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesnt look like you might take your job; its that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never shouldve been authorized and never shouldve been waged, and we want to talk about how well show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didnt believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that Id like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. Kings birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and thats when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mothers problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didnt. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why theyre supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man whos been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why hes there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, I am here because of Ashley.

Im here because of Ashley. By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

From ABC News:

Distancing himself from the inflammatory remarks made by his longtime pastor, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., today attempted to move beyond the racially charged tone that has dominated the presidential campaign for the last week with a renewed call to focus on “problems that confront us all.”

Without question, the Illinois Democrat found himself speaking about race in the city of brotherly love because some rather unloving comments made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright were publicized.

Today, Obama called Wright’s statements “divisive,” “racially charged” and “views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation.”

In a 2003 sermon that has seen much media play this last week, Wright said, “The government gives them drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants to sing ‘God Bless America. No, no, no, not ‘God Bless America’ — ‘God Damn America.'”

That clip and others like it led Obama to distance himself from his longtime spiritual adviser and late last week Wright left the campaign’s African American Religious Leadership Committee.

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Still, Obama sought to explain his spiritual history with Wright. “As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me.”

Comparing Wright to his maternal grandmother, he said, “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world,” Obama said. “But a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

“These people are part of me,” Obama said, “and they are part of America, this country that I love.”

Obama’s decision to give a speech on race was born last Friday in light of questions about how Wright’s inflammatory rhetoric squares with Obama’s message of uniting the country, as well as racially charged comments made by the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., most notably those by former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.

“We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demoagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias,” Obama said.

“But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Rev. Wright made in his offending sermons about America — to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.”

Distancing himself from the inflammatory remarks made by his longtime pastor, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., today attempted to move beyond the racially charged tone that has dominated the presidential campaign for the last week with a renewed call to focus on “problems that confront us all.”

Without question, the Illinois Democrat found himself speaking about race in the city of brotherly love because some rather unloving comments made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright were publicized.

Today, Obama called Wright’s statements “divisive,” “racially charged” and “views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation.”

In a 2003 sermon that has seen much media play this last week, Wright said, “The government gives them drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants to sing ‘God Bless America. No, no, no, not ‘God Bless America’ — ‘God Damn America.'”

That clip and others like it led Obama to distance himself from his longtime spiritual adviser and late last week Wright left the campaign’s African American Religious Leadership Committee.

Still, Obama sought to explain his spiritual history with Wright. “As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me.”

Comparing Wright to his maternal grandmother, he said, “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world,” Obama said. “But a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

“These people are part of me,” Obama said, “and they are part of America, this country that I love.”

Obama’s decision to give a speech on race was born last Friday in light of questions about how Wright’s inflammatory rhetoric squares with Obama’s message of uniting the country, as well as racially charged comments made by the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., most notably those by former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.

“We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demoagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias,” Obama said.

“But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Rev. Wright made in his offending sermons about America — to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.”

With a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, Obama sees himself as uniquely able to deliver this call for the nation to move forward together.

Today he said his background “hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts — that out of many, we are truly one.”

That very postracial appeal is at risk with Obama’s 20-year relationship with Wright, a man who says among other things, the U.S. government created AIDS to kill black Americans.

It will be quite the high-wire act for Obama to address Wright’s anger without seeming to justify it, while taking on the most sensitive subject in American discourse.

Todd Boyd, a professor of race and popular culture at the University of Southern California, says the challenge that faces Obama is considerable.

“We’ve never really had a proper discussion about race and racism in this society so when comments come about as they have throughout this campaign we really don’t know how to act,” Boyd said. “We really don’t know what to do with them. Whatever Obama has to say about race at some level he might as well be speaking to the wall because it’s not going to make any difference in a society where people don’t know the ins and outs and outs and ins about talking about a very volatile issue.”

The more pressing questions for Obama, of course, may be the political ones.

Why wasn’t this issue dealt with until now? What else do voters not know about Obama? And how does his pledge to unite the country square with his attendance at a church where those of his mother’s hue might not feel comfortable?

ABC News’ Susan Rucci contributed to this report.

From Fox News:

As Barack Obama wrapped up his ambitious speech on race, politics and the historical origin of his longtime pastor’s heated sermons Tuesday, advisers questioned whether he had achieved a simple and practical objective: halting the “loop.”

The “loop” is the barrage of anti-American invective from Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. that has saturated national television for the past week.

Obama has vigorously disavowed Wright’s inflammatory remarks, but in Tuesday’s speech refused to disavow the pastor himself or the 20-year relationship he’s had with him. Some political observers say the Illinois senator still has some more mending to do.

“I think it goes on,” National Public Radio national correspondent Juan Williams said of the controversy.

Williams, a FOX News analyst, questioned why Obama allowed himself to remain publicly associated with Wright. He said Obama did not address the “judgment and character” issues that he’s running on.

“I think he had to take responsibility … and that’s what he didn’t do,” Williams said.

But CitizenJane.com Editor Patricia Murphy said it’s too late for Obama to try to divorce himself completely from Wright.

“There’s no way he didn’t know the nature of that church. He knows what goes on there, both good and bad. If he were to denounce this church and leave this church right now, it would look like nothing more than political gamesmanship, and for somebody who is selling himself as an honest broker and trying to paint Hillary Clinton as someone cold and calculating, that will be totally unproductive,” Murphy said. “The horse has left the barn on that.”

GOP strategist Fred McClure praised the speech but said it’s no antidote for Obama’s pastor problems.

“The winds are going to keep swirling around Senator Obama as this campaign goes forward, even though he, I think, very strongly denounced the words of Reverend Wright,” he said.

For a solid week, Wright’s comments have been in heavy rotation, with sermon highlights showing Wright blaming the United States for HIV and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, rejecting the Clintons as anathema to the welfare of American blacks and portraying the country as institutionally racist.

Obama’s association with Wright, who officiated his wedding, baptized his children and served as his spiritual adviser, was developing as a potentially damaging credibility problem for his campaign of hope and change. The direct political effects of the relationship remain unclear, but some telling clues showed Obama had a pastor problem.

A Rasmussen survey taken from March 14-16 of 1,200 likely voters showed 56 percent of those interviewed were less likely to vote for Obama because of Wright’s comments.

Other national polls continue to show Obama and Hillary Clinton flirting with the lead in their ongoing fight to become the Democratic presidential candidate.

Seeking the quell the outcry, Obama condemned Wright’s statements on Friday, Saturday and again on Tuesday. But he walked a fine line, using his address to explain and give context to his pastor’s commentary.

“As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. … I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” Obama told an audience at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

He later added: “To simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

Crisis management consultant Mike Paul told FOX News that Obama needs to go a step further.

“Any time you are dealing with a crisis, you have to go to the root of the problem. The root here is the pastor. As those comments continue, the crisis will continue. Unfortunately, the rhetoric of the speech will not solve that,” he said.

Paul suggested Obama sit down with Wright and try to “melt his heart” and change his way of thinking. He said Obama needs to offer the public a “solution” to the controversy Wright has caused.

“That’s something that Barack Obama should be able to do as a potential president,” Paul said. “You’ve got to have a changed man come out.”

But Rev. Jesse Jackson told FOX News he thought the speech was effective.

“I thought he bared his soul today,” Jackson said, urging the candidates to return to the issues. “This campaign is ultimately about candidates, not surrogates and not about supporters.”

Obama is making a clear attempt to move back to issues, announcing what the campaign billed as back-to-back “major speeches” over the next two days on Iraq and the economy. He plans to speak on Wednesday in North Carolina and Thursday in West Virginia.

For her part, Clinton has not drawn attention to Wright’s sermons. On Tuesday, she said she didn’t hear Obama’s speech.

“I did not get a chance to see or read Senator Obama’s speech, but I’m very glad that he gave it,” she said in Philadelphia.

“It’s an important topic. Issues of race and gender in America have been complicated throughout our history,” Clinton said. “But we should remember that this is an historic moment for the Democratic Party and for our country. We will be nominating the first African-American or woman for the presidency of the United States, and that is something that all Americans can and should celebrate.”

Democratic strategist Tanya Acker, an Obama supporter, said she had no idea whether the speech would put the controversy to rest, but she downplayed the fact that Obama never explicitly disavowed Wright.

“What he tried to do is explain that some of those statements … he was really addressing a bitterness in the African-American community,” she said. “That may make other people feel uncomfortable, but it is truly there.”

Barack’s Call for Imus Firing:

In an interview with ABC News Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., called for the firing of talk radio host Don Imus. Obama said he would never again appear on Imus’ show, which is broadcast on CBS Radio and MSNBC television.

“I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus,” Obama told ABC News, “but I would also say that there’s nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude.”

Obama said he appeared once on Imus’ show two years ago, and “I have no intention of returning.”

Racial Slur Stirs Trouble for Shock Jock

Last week, Imus referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, most of whom are African-American, as “nappy-headed hos.” He has since apologized for his remarks, and CBS and MSNBC suspended his show for two weeks.

“He didn’t just cross the line,” Obama said. “He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America. The notions that as young African-American women — who I hope will be athletes — that that somehow makes them less beautiful or less important. It was a degrading comment. It’s one that I’m not interested in supporting.”

Though every major presidential candidate has decried the racist remarks, Obama is the first one to say Imus should lose his job for them.

His proclamation was the latest in an ever-expanding list of bad news for Imus.

Sponsors, including American Express Co., General Motors Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., and Staples Inc. — have announced they are pulling advertisements from the show for the indefinite future.

Tuesday, the basketball team held a press conference.

“I think that this has scarred me for life,” said Matee Ajavon. “We grew up in a world where racism exists, and there’s nothing we can do to change that.”

“What we’ve been seeing around this country is this constant ratcheting up of a coarsening of the culture that all of have to think about,” Obama said.

“Insults, humor that degrades women, humor that is based in racism and racial stereotypes isn’t fun,” the senator told ABC News.

“And the notion that somehow it’s cute or amusing, or a useful diversion, I think, is something that all of us have to recognize is just not the case. We all have First Amendment rights. And I am a constitutional lawyer and strongly believe in free speech, but as a culture, we really have to do some soul-searching to think about what kind of toxic information are we feeding our kids,” he concluded.

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