"I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That’s in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That’s who I am, that’s what I believe, and that’s what this campaign has been about," Obama said.They should be denounced? There's a lot of "they" in that statement. The antecedent is "his comments." It's a strong statement, but it does stop short of denouncing the man. He's denounced his comments before. Remember, in the last debate, he held back, as I noted:
"I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday," he said.
Obama also distanced himself from the man in a way he has been reluctant to in the past.
"The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago," he said. "His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church."
"They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs," he said.
"If Reverend Wright thinks that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, I may not know him as well as I thought either."
"I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church," he said. "But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the U.S. wartime efforts with terrorism – then there are no [excuses]. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced, and that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today."
"It is antithetical to my campaign. It is antithetical to what I’m about. It is not what I think America stands for," he said.
Obama is asked why didn't he disassociate himself from Jeremiah Wright sooner. He mainly relies on the assertion that he hadn't heard most of the bad statements. At some point he says "someone I've disowned" and has to correct it to "statements I've disowned."And, of course, in the Philadelphia speech, he famously said:
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.He's stuck to this refusal to denounce, and give him some credit for maintaining integrity over this concept that "these people are a part of me." Whether Americans want him as President if Jeremiah Wright is a part of him is another question.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
ADDED: Glenn Reynolds collects links — including to here — and opines that Obama's being "too lawyerly"... and characterizes my criticism as calling him too lawyerly. Meanwhile, one reader seems to think I'm the one that's being too lawyerly about this. He emails:
You always come up with some way to say that people weren't saying what they clearly were saying. You might have a valid semantic point, but you're missing the big picture. Just endlessly parsing words — boring.WELL: We're all law professors: me, Glenn, Obama... Or should I parse some words again about whether Obama was really a law professor? And "was" not "is," depending on what the meaning of... I need to get some fresh air.... It's a lovely day now... not like this morning.... almost 5 o'clock....