03/14/2008 09:11 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Barack Obama Sets the Record Straight

At the gym today I saw Fox News on one of the monitors as the Republican mouthpiece constantly ran footage of Reverend Jeremiah Wright preaching followed by footage of Senator Barack Obama with the aim of creating a strong visual bond between the two men.

With Fox News apparently converted to the "all-Reverend Wright-all-the-time" channel, and the Hillary Clinton campaign throwing a "kitchen sink" worth of racially-tinged innuendo his way, Barack Obama gave a brief interview tonight with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" where he set the record straight on his decision to distance himself and his campaign from the views of Reverend Wright.

Senator Obama spoke of the passion that many African Americans feel, including Reverend Wright, who were among the pioneers of the generation that fought for their fundamental civil rights in America. He implied, (in my impression of the interview), that the injustices of the Jim Crow South are fresh in the memories of many black civil rights activists, which sometimes leads to heated rhetoric. Obama acknowledged the debt he has to those activists who broke open the doors of opportunity for him, and he is clearly deeply grateful for their struggles and their contributions to American life. He reiterated his love for his country and his strong sense of patriotic duty, (which has led him to run for president).

Senator Obama should in no way be held accountable for the impolitic utterances of his former pastor. It is unfair to engage in guilt by association. Obama showed good judgment by distancing his campaign from the more radical views of Reverend Wright and relieving him of any formal connection to his organization, but Obama also showed an admirable character trait by refusing to denounce Rev. Wright the person.

Obama also acknowledged that Swift Boat 527 groups are sure to use Wright's fulminations against him if he were to win the nomination. His interview tonight and actions taken I think show clearly that Obama is better prepared to take on the inevitable Swift Boating than was John Kerry in 2004.

We should recall that the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who is honored with a national holiday and politicians including George W. Bush and John McCain have paid homage to his memory, in April 1967 called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." In my opinion, Reverend Wright says nothing in the taped vignettes I've seen on TV that is untrue about America, despite the "tut-tutting" of liberals and conservatives among the chattering class. Obama showed that he is nimble in taking care of potential pitfalls in his campaign and that shows he would be a great candidate in the general election against the Republican smear-meisters.