Who Cares About Wright the Second Time Around?By Karin McQuillan
When the videos of Obama's angry pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, hit voters' TV screens in March of 2008, Obama's favorable ratings plummeted. The number of Democrats saying he would be their nominee fell 20%. In a Rasmussen poll, a strong 56% of likely voters thought Obama shared some of Wright's views. Soon after, we were told the Wright story was over, that it was racist, and never to mention it again.
Democrats and mainstream media then and now insist that Obama's church is off-limits, while simultaneously attacking Mormonism. "If Mormons are such responsible people, why are voters turned off?" asks the New York Times, while TIME magazine piously intones, "Associating Obama with Wright's radical views raises the specter of racial stereotyping ... knowingly discounting his stated positions and making assumptions that may be influenced by his race."
It is less clear why Republicans continue to cave in to the Democrat pressure to shut up. The polling data at the time showed that Obama's closeness to the odious Rev. Wright went over very badly indeed with more than half of independents, precisely those voters essential to Romney's re-election.
Obama won in 2008 with 52% of independent voters. We will never know how many of those votes Obama would have lost if more voters had seen the Wright videos. Independents are not news junkies. Indeed, they are notorious for not paying attention to the news until just before the election. By the fall, there was a complete news blackout about Obama's black liberation theology church. McCain refused to run campaign ads to inform voters who missed the original story.
Outside conservative media, there was no in-depth reporting to provide details about Obama's openly Marxist church. Obama wrote in Dreams that he chose the church because of its political gospel, not because he was seeking religion. Yet most voters to this day do not know that Obama's church explains the world through a lens of white greed, teaches that America is fundamentally unfair, and promotes income redistribution. In 2012, the story of Obama's church would have a greater impact on the election, since these are -- no big surprise -- Obama's central campaign themes. It turns out that Wright was relevant. It would have been nice to know that before electing a son of this church to the presidency.
How much were voters affected by the Wright story in 2008, even with the paltry coverage it received? When the story broke in March, according to Pew, only 31% of Americans heard about Wright's sermons -- fewer had seen the videos. There was hardly any news coverage until three months later, when Obama's speech repudiating Wright was covered by the mainstream media. Even then, less than half the citizens polled saw the videos of Wright damning America. Immediately after the speech, Republicans ceded an unearned victory to Obama and dropped the story.
The videos were powerful. Among Americans polled, 52% of independents and 43% of Democrats reported themselves offended. Thirty-five percent of Americans polled said their opinion of candidate Barack Obama grew less favorable.
In May of 2008, Obama recognized that his loyalty to Wright was a threat to his chances for election. In a well-covered story, Obama at last repudiated his pastor. Rasmussen's polling showed that only 40% of likely voters saw the repudiation as genuine. That week, McCain broke his tie with Obama and took a lead in the polls.
Yet then and now, Republican "experts" tell us that talking about Obama's black liberation church will damage Republicans more than Obama. What is their evidence? To say that voters care more about the economy is true. To say that Romney himself should stay positive and focus on the economy makes sense. But none of us lives by bread alone.
When voters are questioned about issues, the economy dominates. Yet voters also choose a president based on his perceived leadership qualities and character. A recent Real Clear Politics article by David Kuhn is entitled "Presidential Campaigns Always Concern Character." He writes:
Obama won because voters liked what they saw. They didn't see the videos of Reverend Wright damning America and being cheered by Obama's fellow congregants the Sunday after 9/11. Progressives who share Obama's apology worldview don't care. They agree with Rev. Wright that 9/11 was America's fault because we protect Israel and because we are an evil imperialist power.
But most of us remember our feelings the week of 9/11 vividly. We will never forget the images of the World Trade Towers, the national sorrow and grief, our anger at the terrorists and our gratitude to Giuliani and Bush for their leadership at that moment.
Liberal secularists who never set foot in a church don't get it. Most Americans attend church regularly, and they do get it. They've heard their minister, priest, or rabbi say things that they don't agree with -- that's normal. But to stay in a church where the pastor led the congregation to cheer 9/11? Few Americans would remain in such a congregation. Obama did. In 2008, the Democrat mainstream media argued that Obama was a centrist and surely did not share these offensive progressive views.
In 2012, the excuses would be a harder case to make, given Obama's apology tours abroad, his repudiation of America's moral stature on the world stage, his bowing to the hate-exporting Saudi princes, his handing over the Middle East to the jihadi Muslim Brothers. In 2012, we can see that indeed, Trinity was Obama's true church.
Blaming America as racist and imperialist is only half the agenda of Obama's church. The other half is their vision for the future. Voters still have not heard Obama asked uncomfortable questions by the press about why he chose to attend for two decades -- almost his whole adult life -- a black liberation theology church whose congregants are asked to sign on to a value statement that explicitly condemns "middleclassness." They have not heard descriptions of the church he sat in:
How comfortable would the average voter be that their president cherished a preacher who talked of white greed as a credo, was openly Marxist, and lionized the racist anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan? Would they feel comfortable that Obama's church bookstore carries as many political books as religious ones, "books glorifying violence and black supremacy racism"? Kyle-Anne Shiver reported on her visit to Obama's church in an article in American Thinker, but no mainstream reporters picked up on the story:
The public never heard Obama asked a single awkward question about why his chosen mentor and advisor, the Rev. Wright, went with Farrakhan to Libya to fawn over Moammar Gaddafi, the monster who had bombed Pan Am 103. They never heard any interviewer ask Obama how he could feel close to such a pastor.
According to the Pew Forum, 50% of the campaign stories that covered religion in the 2008 election were about Romney (as primary candidate) being a Mormon. Only one half of one percent were about presidential candidate Obama's black liberation theology.
One half of one percent. And then the journalists and the pundits and the campaign advisors tell us the public doesn't care about Obama's church. The public never got a chance to show whether they care or not. They never got a chance to learn in any detail about Obama's religion of resentment and envy, until it was too late.
Voters liked Obama in 2008 because he promised us he'd be a leader on race, a black president who would put hate and resentment and the past scars behind, and recognize that white America is no longer racist. He promised us that his character was bigger and better than that of those loser black politicians who stoke racial resentment and push payback agendas. Obama's core appeal as a candidate -- then and now -- is based on his being the opposite of his chosen mentor and cherished advisor, the angry Rev. Wright. No wonder that learning about Wright and how Obama cherished him was devastating to Obama's appeal. The one week the videos were aired, his approval ratings dropped 20%.
Tell me again why the New York Times can run stories such as "There Is a Dark Side to Mormonism" on Romney's faith, but we mustn't talk at all about Obama's chosen creed of black liberation theology.
It is now four years since the Wright videos surfaced. It is no longer a hypothetical whether or not Obama meant it when he said the Marxist Rev. Wright was his mentor and guide. Voters can easily see the connection between Obama's politics of envy and resentment and his church of 20 years. Obama's record and his current campaign show that he is a loyal son of Wright's church.
It is all too easy to see what a suave Ivy School version of black liberation theology looks like in the White House. It looks like a ruined middle class; a massive entitlement government; and a lot of attacks on rich, successful white men. In Rush's brilliant formulation, Obama is running against capitalism. Let's make sure every voter in swing states sees those Wright videos connected to Obama's campaign talking points, so that can make up their own minds if Obama ever left Wright's church. It is hard to trust Obama or feel he is that likable after you see the connection. That is why Obama's church matters.
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