Disrespect and respect in Obama's press conference

Thomas Lifson
There was an odd confluence of respect and disrespect in Barack Obama's press conference distancing himself from the specifics of some of Jeremiah Wright's vicious and insane statements.

He told us yesterday that it was Jeremiah Wright's disrespect that finally pushed him to denounce him at last.

"But at a certain point, if what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally, and then he questions whether or not you believe it in front of the National Press Club, then that's enough. That's -- that's a show of disrespect to me. It's a -- it is also, I think, an insult to what we've been trying to do in this campaign." [emphasis added]

Wright's comments about the government creating AIDS to kill blacks and all the other craziness previously evaded specific denunciation by Obama, and were just vaguely alluded to as "controversial statements" until his spiritual mentor dissed him. So it's all about respect.

On the other hand, the candidate continues a very odd show of respect for (even while distancing himself from) another mad minister, Louis Farrakhan, once again calling him by his honorific title, "Minister Farrakhan."

"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 United States 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."

When Obama called the man obsessed with the number 19 "Minister Farrakhan" while also denouncing his views in the Ohio debate, I also thought it odd:

"You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments," Obama said. "I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally, with Minister Farrakhan."

Why does Obama refuse to call him simply "Louis Farrakhan" or maybe or "Mister Farakhan" or (if he really disapproves) just "Farrakhan"? And why is the denunciation limited to just the anti-Semitic comments which are "unacceptable" (as in driving away Jewish support) and "reprehensible" (which actually means "worthy of censure" -- for instance, for driving away support for Obama).

Obama, a Harvard-trained lawyer, has a history of carefully choosing his words to imply in casual listeners' minds far more than he actually said, or can be held accountable for. Just like Bill Clinton's famous ""it depends on what the meaning of is, is."

With Obama, it looks as thought we are getting someone is simultaneously less (in terms of actual political accomplishments) and more (in terms of unspoken values behind the superficial meaning of his words) than he appears.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky
There was an odd confluence of respect and disrespect in Barack Obama's press conference distancing himself from the specifics of some of Jeremiah Wright's vicious and insane statements.

He told us yesterday that it was Jeremiah Wright's disrespect that finally pushed him to denounce him at last.

"But at a certain point, if what somebody says contradicts what you believe so fundamentally, and then he questions whether or not you believe it in front of the National Press Club, then that's enough. That's -- that's a show of disrespect to me. It's a -- it is also, I think, an insult to what we've been trying to do in this campaign." [emphasis added]

Wright's comments about the government creating AIDS to kill blacks and all the other craziness previously evaded specific denunciation by Obama, and were just vaguely alluded to as "controversial statements" until his spiritual mentor dissed him. So it's all about respect.

On the other hand, the candidate continues a very odd show of respect for (even while distancing himself from) another mad minister, Louis Farrakhan, once again calling him by his honorific title, "Minister Farrakhan."

"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 United States 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."

When Obama called the man obsessed with the number 19 "Minister Farrakhan" while also denouncing his views in the Ohio debate, I also thought it odd:

"You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments," Obama said. "I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally, with Minister Farrakhan."

Why does Obama refuse to call him simply "Louis Farrakhan" or maybe or "Mister Farakhan" or (if he really disapproves) just "Farrakhan"? And why is the denunciation limited to just the anti-Semitic comments which are "unacceptable" (as in driving away Jewish support) and "reprehensible" (which actually means "worthy of censure" -- for instance, for driving away support for Obama).

Obama, a Harvard-trained lawyer, has a history of carefully choosing his words to imply in casual listeners' minds far more than he actually said, or can be held accountable for. Just like Bill Clinton's famous ""it depends on what the meaning of is, is."

With Obama, it looks as thought we are getting someone is simultaneously less (in terms of actual political accomplishments) and more (in terms of unspoken values behind the superficial meaning of his words) than he appears.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky