Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Speech

About a year ago members of Senator Obama's campaign staff noticed some remarks by Reverend Jeremiah Wright that could cause a bit of controversy for their candidate. However they severely underestimated the firestorm that the hateful sermons has produced. Finally members of the media are probing into Barack Obama's past and examining his background.

Reverend Wright was a spiritual advisor to Obama for more than twenty years: He presided over the Senator's marriage, gave him guidance during his college years and even provided the inspiration behind the name of Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" (title lifted directly from a sermon given by the reverend). Wright plays a vital role in Obama's life and the electorate must keep that in mind during this campaign. The racist and hateful rhetoric expressed in this man's sermons is utterly reprehensible, even proclaiming in a now infamous soundbyte "God Bless America? God**** America!"

Early observations and reviews of the speech have been quite positive. The crowd in Philadelphia was very receptive (Philadelphia being a strategic choice by the campaign as Pennsylvania's primary arrives in a matter of weeks). It was eloquently spoken and carefully constructed. Obama manages to tie in his connections to both the black and white communities and argues that this generation of America, his generation, is ready for change.

Just how the American electorate will perceive this speech is another issue entirely. Mitt Romney's 'groundbreaking' speech on religion in America won mass praise in the days after its' delivery but his popularity did not improve.

Has the damage inflicted by the Wright controversy spelled certain defeat for Obama's quest? Only time will answer that question. A Fox commentator remarked that Obama's past was best represented by an empty slate. Now with the surfacing of Reverend Wright, it is as if someone shot a paintball at that slate.

I was undecided in regards to Senator Obama's integrity prior to this latest controversy. But given his close personal friendship with a hate-mongerer the likes of Reverend Wright, his warm association and campaign contributions from soon-to-be convicted felon Anthony Rezko, as well as his friendship with William Ayers (an admitted member of the terrorist group 'Weather Underground' who declared war on the U.S. government in the 1970s) I am reminded of the Japanese proverb:

When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.

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