Wright's Praise for Farrakhan Is ‘Ridiculous,’ Obama Says in Repudiating Pastor

Barack Obama took off the gloves in going after his longtime pastor over his appearance yesterday at the National Press Club:

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Will Obama’s remarks put the Wright controversy behind him? Here’s the verdict from the partisan peanut gallery:

Obama booster Andrew Sullivan cheers:

But Jennifer Rubin, an Obama critic at Commentary’s Contentions blog, jeers:

The first round of online commentary, reacting to Wright’s National Press Club remarks (before Obama had responded), also featured some interesting takes:

On the excellent new black-oriented online journal The Root, former Time columnist Jack White writes that Wright’s latest antics confirm his view of the preacher as “a loud-mouthed extremist” — and asks whether he’s purposely trying to torpedo his congregant’s campaign. Also on The Root, Princeton academic Melissa Harris-Lacewell — who has previously stood up for Wright — compares the pastor to the biblical Jonah, swallowed up not by a whale, but by a political campaign.

To my surprise, Ari Berman, who covers the campaign for the left-wing magazine The Nation, expressed concern that Wright’s latest round of remarks could hurt Obama. “Ten days before important primaries in Indiana and North Carolina, the re-emergence of Wright was the last thing Obama needed–and a gift from heaven to Hillary Clinton and the Republican Party,” he wrote. Why is this fairly conventional analysis surprising? Because when video of Wright’s pulpit rants first hit the airwaves back in March, here’s what Berman had to say: “Wright has always been an outspoken maverick and some of his words will likely turn some voters off, although these are probably people who would never vote for a Democrat anyway.” (I guess Berman came to the belated realization that some Democrats actually do take exception to the phrase “God Damn America,” after all.)

While many commentators are now focused on how Obama’s latest response to Wright will play with the electorate in general, more specifically there’s a question of how they’ll play with black voters in particular. Politico’s Jonathan Martin notes that some of black America’s leading lights were in Wright’s corner a the National Press Club, and cites a Republican adman who suggests that trouble may be brewing for Obama with the African-American community’s “old guard.” Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan notes that the Rev. Al Sharpton is already attacking Obama over the Illinois senator’s response to New York’s Sean Bell shooting verdict. The question now is: How will Obama’s repudiation of Wright — a figure with significant support in at least some segments of the black community — play with the candidate’s black base?

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Wright's Praise for Farrakhan Is ‘Ridiculous,’ Obama Says in Repudiating Pastor

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