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Sylvia Welsh Headshot

Honesty Not Race, Expediency Not Courage

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I have been asking myself over the past several weeks why pundits like Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and, strangely, Tim Russert, to name only a few, didn't pursue their line of questioning beyond the artful rationalizations offered up by Mr. Obama. While I understand that these men and others have a personal right to be for a particular candidate, nonetheless I do no understand how they rationalize as newsmen their obvious bias in reporting.

For example, I would love to hear an explanation of why any one of them so readily accepted Mr. Obama's "I wasn't sitting in the pew" explanation for not knowing about Reverend Wright's sermons and then proceeded to laud Mr. Obama's "disown my white grandmother" sermon to effectively get the entire matter shut down in the media.

The pontifical nature of Mr. Obama's speech shifted focus from the specific, his association with Reverend Wright, to the general, race relations, even bringing in Geraldine Ferraro's remarks which were in no way the same category as Reverend Wright's. Mr. Obama's disingenuousness extends to his claim that had Mr. Wright not stepped down now as Pastor of the Trinity Church, he would have left it. Surely Mr. Obama cannot claim that in his 20+ years as a member of this church he was absent for every sermon in which Mr. Wright expressed his particularly hate-filled and angry thoughts about race and patriotism.

And, as is obvious by his embrace of Mr. Farrakhan, the Reverend Wright could not be said to be "objective' when it came to his Jewish "brethren," either. Reverend Wright's passionate statement that Jesus's own people "betrayed him" (i.e., the Jews), makes it sadly clear where he stands on this age-old issue.

Hence, where Mr. Obama is concerned, his refusal to "disown" Reverend Wright based on his ludicrous claim that he had not been "present" for any of such sermons makes this an issue of honesty, not race, of political expediency not moral courage.

Mr. Obama was not readily accepted by the constituents of the 1st District of Illinois when he moved there in the 1990s. He lost an election to Bobby Rush, a four-term congressman and ex-Black Panther in 2000. The Trinity church has a membership of 8000 members, which looked like a match made in heaven to get one's local political credentials in order, an important reason Mr. Obama joined this church and why he associated with Reverend Wright, an influential local figure. To claim that he had the audacity of hope not to know of Reverend Wright's sermons is, again, disingenuous.

Furthermore, gearing up for a 2003 U.S. Senate election, in late 2002 Mr. Obama came out with his strong anti-Iraq War speech, trumpeting this as an overpowering example of the clarity of his judgment. However, it would have been political suicide to take any other position and was extremely expedient to do so. Claiming that this was a brave moral act and contrasting himself with Mrs. Clinton's "injudicious" vote as a senator to authorize the war strains credibility and echoes the dishonesty of his "I didn't hear it in the pew" excuse. In fact, the true nature of Mr. Obama's intentions serves to undermine the moral purity of his anti-war posture, especially since it is the major device he uses to distinguish himself from Mrs. Clinton.

By his own late-in-coming admission, Mr. Obama's judgment was in hiding during his dealings with Mr. Rezko, as well, and recently, when his "typical white person" remark provided yet another insight into his judgment. His "present" votes in the Illinois legislature and lack of activity in the U.S. Senate have allowed Mr. Obama to escape the dangerous political pigeonhole and is an further evidence of the one thing Mr. Obama has managed masterfully; his own political ambition.

Mr. Obama uses sophistry (which many mistake for eloquence), a form of dishonesty, to avoid taking responsibility for his actions and assumes a holier-than-thou posture that is more Teflon than tincture. And what is even more distressing and damaging to the American public are the reams of wool pulled over the eyes of big-mouthed media pundits who are more punt than prophesy.