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If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now

I highly recommend a very articulate and intelligent 'bloggingheads tv debate' with one Glenn Loury, former highly selected Reagan Education undersecratry, now moderate Clinton supporter in discussion with John McWhorter linguist, Manhattan Institute, New York Sun, and a moderate Obama supporter.

Obama made a brilliant speech in Philadelphia (video) which refused sound bites and which talks about the perplexity of race in United States. A soon as many whites saw that Obama had a background that is not post-racial but that he actually spent much of his adult life in the radical South side of Chicago, maybe the biggest uniformally black ghetto in the US, where the University of Chicago enclave is, many voters became scared. Trying to conjure up the image that Wright's afrocentric church is so much different in the pews and in the pulpit than their own suburban church, though ironically with many of the prophetic traditions and language of their evangelical church, whites nevertheless recoil, take cover and run from Obama who seems blacker now, than he was a week ago.

But it seems that white America wasn't so bothered that Obama had black skin, though some certainly are, but what scared white and non-black people is that they suddenly realized that the elegant, eloquent, slow to anger Obama, living by choice, in a ghetto environment for 20 years, where he was a community organizer, attended the leading prophetic Chicago South Side black church and consequently was exposed to some very inflammatory rhetoric by his pastor Jeremiah Wright.

Wright may have become Obama's Willie Horton. Many whites and non-blacks can't get beyond the idea that Obama didn't run out of the church when Jeremiah Wright began bashing the 'other America'.. But people like Obama understand that life is more than agreeing and disagreeing; that you don't break off with people that you love. Of course, this conception will be lost on many because for them, the old politics in America is more about tearing down, than bulding up and understanding or trying to do some sustained thinking about the complexity of an issue.

Listen to this excellent bloggingheads tv debate, but I warn you, it is almost an hour, and it's for people who are over 18 years old.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (16)

A Black House rather than a White House? The First Lady lived her entire life being not proud of America. Oh, it's OK now. She is proud now, just a late bloomer.

If you were a detective making a background check and creating a profile, would that profile complement the idea that Obama's finger should be inches away from the nuclear button?
Don Jones

Steve Crickmore:

Yes, Don Jones, because of the 0peration Northwoods, Curtis Lemay mind set. Jack Kennedy had to prevail against the Joint Chiefs of Staff. From the Cuban Missle Crisis wikipedia,

Unanimously, the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that a full-scale attack and invasion was the only solution. They agreed that the Soviets would not act to stop the U.S. from conquering Cuba; Kennedy was skeptical.

What would McCain have done and Russia/ Cuba had nuclear missles aimed at the US ninety miles away? Guess!

Bush's press secretary, Dana Perino had never even heard of the Cuban Missle Crisis -that 's reassuring of how the present administration sees its responsibilities about informing and educating the public.

Many experienced military people would rather have Obama on the red button than McCain or Clinton, because of Obama's temperment.

"It's 3 a.m. Who do you want answering the phone?
Not John McCain, say some military leaders: "I think his knee-jerk response factor is a little scary."

This isn't complicated.

"A soon as many whites saw that Obama a had a background that is not post-racial but that Obama actually spent much of his adult life in the radical South side of Chicago, maybe the biggest uniformally black ghetto in the US, where the University of Chicago enclave is, many voters became scared."

Voters became concerned, and some, yes, scared when they watched with their own eyes the videos of Wright last week. That he spent much of what you say, in your own words, was much of his adult life simply begs the question of his judgement.

"Trying to conjure up the image that Wright's afrocentric church is so much different in the pews and in the pulpit than their own suburban church..."

There was no need to conjure up anything. The videos, SOLD BY THE CHURCH, were evidence enough.

"Of course, this conception will be lost on many because for them, the old politics in America is more about tearing down,.."

Let's talk about tearing down. Wright's words and rhetoric were certainly not about building up anything except anger and rage. Wright tears down the exceptional history of the United States, a country that lost 600,000 soldiers to settle the issue of slavery. Wright tears down the historic legislation of the 1960's that ended government sponsered discrimination. Wright tears down the great legacy of the United States in finding ways to cure people all over the globe of incurable diseases by accusing the US of creating HIV to intentionally harm blacks. Wright lies about our great country's legacy of freeing oppressed people (at the cost of our own blood).

"Wright may have become Obama's Willie Horton. Many whites and non-blacks can't get beyond the idea that Obama didn't run out of the church when Jeremiah Wright got on the lecturn."

You still don't get it. Wright was preaching from the pulpit (not a lecturn) and Obama is a self professed Christian. This has nothing to do with Willie Horton and everything to do with something you obviously know nothing about. Those other Christians, you know...the ones that attend church in the suburbs (your word, not mine)have a certain respect for pastors, the pulpit and their church. When these "suburban" Christians viewed Wright's videos they became, understandably, alarmed. Therein lies Obama's problem.

You may not understand this, but I can assure you that Obama understands the problem very clearly.

I don't see why Obama having a "close friend, mentor, and adviser" and being a member and financial supporter of his church for a couple of decades while the guy foams at the mouth with his anti-capitalist, anti-white, anti-America, anti-Jew vitriol would be a problem.

Why should reprinting articles from Hamas leaders in his church bulletin concern anyone? Who cares if he employed NOI members in his Senate campaign and staff?

That he lied about Wright and what he knew about his preaching up until this past week might alarm some of those idealistic young people who've signed onto the campaign for a "new kind of politics," but frankly most of them don't really pay much attention to detail and are far more enamoured of being part of the Great Movement than they are concerned about such minutiae.

If anything, it strengthens Obama's grip on his followers, whose loyalty is being tested with these False Issues, which are obviously being planted by The Monster or some other White Devil or Jew.

Nah, big false alarm, nothing to see here. Guess we'll just have to keep watching the Rezko trial . . .

Steve Crickmore:

HughS, basically I see that we have two entirely different views of American history..You are 'praising' the civil war, because 600,000 men died over a war caused initially by the Federal government's desire to forbid slavery not in the South but in the territories, doesn't seem like much of a blessing. And, I don't think the Union soldiers were fighting not so much to end slavery, but because they didn't want to see the South separate; they wanted to preserve the Union or country. And much of the civil war legacy in the South and border states were Jim Crow' separate but equal' laws, great.

Anyway, lots of people have suggested this about Aids...As you know America, under the Reagan government was very,very slow to react to the outbreak of Aids, in it's beginning in the early eighties.

As far as cocaine coming in, check out Garry Webb/San Juan Mercury News..Pultizer Prize or the Congressional House Contra Investigation officially linking the CIA bringing cocaine into the USA, one of their main airports for trans-shipment place if not the main one, was in Meena Arkansas, during Governor Clinton's governorship.

It sems okay for Hillary to publicly use "Jew bastard" and the Clintons to repeatably use the 'n' word personally when they were in Arkansas, that's okay because they are members of the governing class and that 's what most white folk were like in that era and region, and it is okay for McCain to call, the nation's capital "the city of Satan" as he did last week..that's alright, that's straight talk from the conservative white candidate. He is not a threat to middle Amercia He is one of them so they think. What's the difference betweem "God damn America" and "the city of Satan"..If Pastor Wright had called America the "country of Satan" or Washington the "city of Satan"...what would you have said, Jim and Hugh? Would just have passed that off. I don't think so ..or if Obama had uttered those words?... But a pastor of an afrocentric church in the biggest ghetto in the US, in South Side Chicago, says "God damn America" for some of the country's wrong doings, or don't you admit any,(probably not) you become very indignant and it is not even the candidate but a pastor in the middle of a fiery sermon..What kind of sermons do you expect, "let's hurry out of here I have a 3 oclock tee off at the country club later this afternoon"..No wonder America has such a hard time understanding the resentment most of the Middle East except for Israel has for them, they are constantly invoking this God Bless America,(which to me is more like God bless us) idea which has led America to think of it as the World's policeman, answerable only to God,(conviently) that is costing America so dearly, in so many ways, and now in the pocketbook.

By the way, you were passing on some misinformation, about Rezko's trial, Jim..The only time Obama's name was brought up was on a municipal memo about another bylaw or state ruling, completely unrelated to the Rezko charges. Look a lttle more closely. The Chicago Tribune has been covering this pretty extensively.

During the Reagan administration researchers didn't understand AIDS like they do now. Remember ARC? During the 1980's research into aids treatment attracted BILLIONS of dollars in investment. MENA was not ground zero for CRACK cocaine, the drug at the heart of Wright's accusation. But don't let these facts get in the way of your revisionist history.

The rest of your comment is equally without merit

Steve Crickmore:

Hugh, I'm not really trying to justify the facts of Jeremiah Wright's remarks. I'm saying that they are not so uncommonly held in the black comumnity. There is much victimizing in the black ghetto. Obama is well aware of this, and has spoken and written about this, and been criticized for not being 'black enough', for example for dis-inviting Wright to come to his campaign kickoff in Springfield, Illinois in 2007 when Wright was going to give the prayer muntil Obama stepped in.

I'm more interested in what Obama taught as a Constitutional lecturer and not what his pastor said. Above all, let's look at his writings, public speaking, recorded interviews, eye witness accounts of what he said,and did and judge him on that.

I have been to some controversial religious services in my time, for example. at the height of 'the troubles' ,with absoulutely no security check, Reverend Ian Paisley in Belfast at his church called Catholics "papists" in a sermon, I heard, but I never recall recall anyone stomping out in protest and there must have been a few Catholics there as well..It is just not something you do in church, whatever the church, United Presbyterian -Paisley or the the United Church of Christ- Wright. Criticizing a pastor or reverend by someone in the pews is simply not done. There is a kind of 'reverential' deference to the man speaking at the pulpit.

Hillary (*and McCain I believe) go to morning prayer meetings with some radical fundamentalist evangelicals in Washington, with other senators...Bush 41 is criticized for being an Episcopalian and never being born again, George Bush 43 for being born again, but rarely going to Church and not paying tithes..Obama for going to a quasi -radical black church..Reagan for being Christian but for going to no Church...Of course all this is much better than being considered agnostic or atheist, then you would really be in trouble, if you were a politician., aspiring to high office.

Just a couple of points:

"Criticizing a pastor or reverend by someone in the pews is simply not done. There is a kind of 'reverential' deference to the man speaking at the pulpit."

Again, you show little knowledge of, at a minimum, Protestant Churches....whether they be Episcopalian, Baptist, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Methodists, Presbyterian etc. These churches are governed by deacons, wardens, elders and other official church officers. I have been both a deacon and elder. I can assure you that criticism so a sitting pastor or reverend not only happens, it happens frequently. Pastors are routinely held accountable for their behavior and opinion. Are there exceptions? Of course. But they are just that: exceptions, not the rule.

Bush 43 attends church regularly (except for security reasons) and tithes:



Reagan stated publicly that he did not attend church for security reasons. His point was that he did not want to put other people in church at risk. That is a wholly understandable position in light of the fact that he was the target of an assassin who almost killed him.

Steve Crickmore:

I was confirmed in a Presbyterian Church in my last year of high school and you are correct elders and deacons play an important role. Of course in my day, the minister never said remotely anything controversial, and much of the discussions were over the running and the financing of the church, not the sermons, but then it wasn't in the middle of the South Side of Chicago. I appreciate your point of view...I'm willing to bet that there perhaps should have been more oversight at the Trinty Church, and maybe that is where Obama should have stepped in. And perhaps educating Wright on the real political facts and realities. It is dangerous leaving so much power to one charismatic figure- Wright.I will look into it..But of course the media doesn't focus on how the church was run or where the money went? Shall we leave it for the next time.

"...I'm willing to bet that there perhaps should have been more oversight at the Trinty Church, and maybe that is where Obama should have stepped in. And perhaps educating Wright on the real political facts and realities. It is dangerous leaving so much power to one charismatic figure- Wright.I will look into it..But of course the media doesn't focus on how the church was run or where the money went?"

We are in total agreement on that. When the Wright story broke, my first thought was about the governance of that particular church.

I urge you to look into that...it might make for an interesting post topic. And I appreciate your comments and dilligently following this story, even if we disagree.


The attempt to taint Obama through his association with Jeremiah Wright derives from the underlying racism which continues to exist in this country. Those in the media who have made this their #1 issue for the last week, read: FOX and the right wing radio talkers, always stop just short of the accusation that Obama is secretly a radical black separatist who will unveil his true agenda once he is elected; they leave that connection to be made by those who are blinded by the sensationalized rhetoric.

Maybe the "true" Obama is just who we have seen in his Philadelphia speech and throughout the campaign, an intelligent, eloquent man who truly wants to try and bring this country together. The right is terrified of his easy appeal and genuine passion and are afraid that if too many Americans hear his message, particularly when contrasted with the four-more-years, tired, old persona of McCain, the jig will be up on their run of fear-mongering, divisive rule.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

"living by choice, in a ghetto environment for 20 years,"

Obama lives in a $1.6 Million dollar home that his indicted pal Tony Rezko helped him purchase.

Law Professor's make big bucks by the way. I don't know what neighborhood Obama chose to settle down in and start his family but, based on his fat salary I suspect it wasn't a ghetto.

So if Obama graduated from Harvard in 1991 and returned to Chicago in 1992, and was on the faculty from 1993-2004, in addition to his well-paying gig in the Illinois Congress beginning in 1996.

Ahh-OOO-Ga! He didn't live in a ghetto environment for twenty years. Where did you dig that one up?

Steve Crickmore:

Lee, perhaps you are right. Hyde Park is considered an enclave in the South Side. He lived in Chicago in the Hyde Park (intergrated upscale) enclave, working as a comunity organizer a year or two before he went to Harvard and during breaks this is where he would come home when he wasn't at classes, I think.. I was just reading this today from the the London Sunday Times..

Kellman needed a black organiser to work in the African-American communities on the far south side of the city. The locals were getting fed up with Kellman's promises that he would find someone soon. It wasn't easy. Bright young African-Americans could find better paid jobs elsewhere. Organising was a thankless task, with only frustration and failure stretched out before it. As Kellman said, if you were bright enough to be an organiser, you were smart enough to know not to do it.

There was no political ambition at this stage and, as Kellman told me, nobody in their right minds would take an organising job as a stepping stone to politics. Organising had its origins in the labour movement, in opposition to state or federal governance. It was, pretty much, a stepping stone to nowhere, a means only to its own end, of serving and enabling disenfranchised people.

Kellman could see that Obama was politically naive but idealistic. He asked Obama what he knew about Chicago, and he replied that it was America's most segregated city. He added something about the notoriously dirty politics of the city, its first black mayor, Harold Washington, then facing enormous hurdles from the white infrastructure, amid a long history of corruption, self-interest and racism against the south side, where "white flight" had isolated African-American communities such as Altgeld Gardens and Roseland. These faced hardships on all fronts from unemployment and housing to education and, inevitably, drugs and crime.

Kellman employed Obama initially on a probationary salary of $10,000 a year (it doubled after three months), plus a one-off resettlement payment of $2,000 that Obama used to buy an old Honda car and transport himself from New York to his new home. This was an apartment in the integrated district of Chicago known as Hyde Park, where Obama still lives, albeit now - several moves and two bestselling books later - in a large house on one of the grandest streets in the neighbourhood, with his African-American wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Malia and Natasha.

I haven't been to Hyde Park myself in 38 years when I spent a week at University of Chicago in 1970, but I presume it is still surrounded by the bigggest black inner city in the US... so confirms Glenn Loury the academic who grew up on the South Side in the blogging heads tv report I linked to.

Steve Crickmore:

The previous paragraph is interesting too.

He had thoughts of becoming a writer, and when he got to Chicago would be busy taking notes and drafting some short-story fiction based on people he met. As he explains in his book, his quest to find a place in black America was far from over. He was looking to live and work among African-Americans.

It probably sounds fanciful to many people but I can understand this, and it is one reason why I identify with Obama.. He goes against the grain in so many ways. I've worked and lived in enough American ghettoes in the early 70's, being the victim of muggings etc. (two in South Central LA on the same night, which left me minus my wallet and in the hospital, as well) and so eventualy I came to the realisation that I didn't really fit in there. So when I had a chance I to travel thousands of miles to live somewhere else, I chose to live in Natchez, Mississippi because it was the most ante-bellum quiet town 'old South' town, I could think of-, kind of reverse journey to Obama's.

Actually the previous owners of the house at Johns Hopkins comfirmed by the Tribune's sleuth reporters working on the story..it is in the linked article on my piece on Rezko) that the purchase of the lot and the house were completely separate...Obama did the normal bargining down from the asking price..Don't forget the house had been on the market for many months with no one willing to pay the asking price.


I'm having a hard time making sense of it all.

You tell us this:

"There was no political ambition at this stage and, as Kellman told me, nobody in their right minds would take an organizing job as a stepping stone to politics."

That is pure speculation, to say it politely. Organizing jobs are the trade school of political aspirants, especially in Chicago.

"He asked Obama what he knew about Chicago, and he replied that it was America's most segregated city"

The most segregated city? In the US? In the 1980's and 90's? Hmmm? Do those names ring a bell? Memphis? Birmingham? Little Rock?

Or did Obama (not the naive and idealistic Obama but the politically opportunistic, Columbia University educated Obama) see the opportunity for some political traction?

Steve, this story can be spun a hundred ways but when the election cycle is over, the BHO revisionist history that now passes for news will be seen for what it is. Another liberal elitist who fashions himself as something other than that; however, the stakes this time are the very heart and soul of the Democratic Party. If he fails, he takes the whole party (and the Supreme Court) down with him. That is the wager that consumes the minds of party officials and SD's now.

And you may wonder why I'm interested. Obama may win the election. As a conservative I'm not sure our country can afford to make a major blunder in the choice of the Executive. It is a critical time in history. A Cinton, Dodd, or Biden would bring the requisite gravitas and experience if my Republican candidate lost. Obama, a candidate whose only accomplishment on a national scale is a Senate victory over a damaged opponent, clearly lacks experience. If you want a point of reference, look at JFK's experience. He was tested early in office (and JFK had some real war experience to draw on) and failed (Bay of Pigs) before he got it together.

Steve Crickmore:

Hugh, are you criticizing Obama for political opportunism for taking a job no one wanted- ten thousand a year, plus a 2 thousnd moving bonus for community organizing in the South Side of Chicago, after graduating in International Politics at Columbia, before he went to Harvard and graduated magnum cum laude, first Black president ever 'Harvard Law Review, and later became lecturer of Constitutional Law with glowing student reviews for 10 years at the University of Chicago..Thats the kind of background we need for our politicians. On the other hand , when George Bush says early (and repeatably) that 9/11 provided a great opportunity for the US,

September 11, 2001 Hours after the attacks, during a 9:30 p.m. meeting with his key advisers, Bush declared: "This is a great opportunity. We have to think of this as an opportunity."

that's the kind of political opportunistic thinking that we don't need, which led us into the quagmire of Iraq.

It is not only grass roots support that Obama has, but almost all the 'gravitas' Dem politicians to use your word, are endorsing Obama: Pat Leahy, whom I like, Chris Dodd whom you mentioned, Ted Kennedy, who worked very closely with Hillary on the healthcare, Jay Rockefeller, who was her closest senator in the Senate, on healthcare, (that endorsement really hurt) John Kerry, Bill Richardson... and Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi are leaning to him, but can't openly endorse him as I presume Gore (who can't stand Hillary) and perhaps John Edwards are. As a matter of fact, except for a couple of regional governors, I can't think of one elected major 'gravitas' politician aside from her husband, who has endorsed Clinton. Yes, she has many of the the ex-official non elected superdelegates from the Clinton machine, who were obliged to pledge for her early on. And yes, Obama has had one easy Senate victory race...and Clinton two, the last one she has spent the most of any US senators and defeated an ex-Yonkers mayor in 2006, that nobody can remember, and Giuliani dropped out in the 2000 race because of prostrate cancer, leaving her to fight a realtively unknown young Congressman, Rick Lazio of Long Island.

I think it is her name, all things Clinton that impresses, not anything she has done on her own, but the senior elected Democratic politicians are not so fooled and recognize Obama as an extraordinary politician and Hillary as well Hillary.

JFK realized he didn't stand up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in signing on to the Bay of Pigs plan which was really a leftover military plan from the previous Eisenhower administration; that, and allowing the raid to take place without proper air cover. I believed the fiasco cost JFK his life.


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