Pete Wehner has thought through the whole controversy still spinning
around the Pastor Jeremiah Wright controversy, and has framed the
lingering doubt and concerns in a set of honest questions.
The first asks Barack Obama to explain some of his own statements, when lined up into cohesive thought.
1. In early March you said your church was not
“particularly controversial.” Later in the month, after video clips of
Jeremiah Wright had been repeatedly played on television, you admitted
that you had heard Wright make statements in church that qualified him
as a “fierce critic” of U.S. domestic and foreign policy and that
“could be considered controversial.” You also said you “strongly
disagree[d]” with some of Wright’s political views. Can you tell us
what you specifically heard Wright say that you considered fiercely
critical of U.S. policy, controversial, and with which you strongly
Here’s a good one for the candidate who has run on the image of being post-racial.
5. In the speech on race you delivered a couple of weeks
ago, you said you could “no more disown [Wright] than I can disown the
black community.” Does that mean you believe Wright is synonymous with
the embodiment of the black community, that they are one in the same?
After all, this has jolted the national psyche into seeing ourselves
as divided again, blacks separate from whites and all of a mind, as if
Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s anger and deep resentment speak for the wider
black community, as if all people of a race could or should be
pigenholed….black or white.
Here’s a good one:
8. When you/those on your campaign cancelled Reverend
Wright’s delivery of the invocation when you formally announced your
run for the presidency in February 2007, what were the grounds for the
cancellation? What did you know about Wright then that moved you to
cancel his appearance?
Intellectual honesty, please.
This next one opens up the deep-seated and fundamental belief system
that informs and animates Jeremiah Wright, his church and like-minded
9. With which elements, if any, of black liberation
theology — as represented by Reverend Wright and Trinity United Church
of Christ — do you strongly disagree? Do you think any of the core
tenets of black liberation theology are racist? Are they consistent
with, or fundamentally at odds with, your expressed desire to end
racial divisions in this country?
That is another question that asks for intellectual honesty,
because they are not mutually supportive motivators for a presidential
candidate, much less a Christian pastor.
The only television show I know of that pastor Jeremiah Wright has been on was Fox News’s Hannity & Colmes in 2007, in which he staunchly and repetitively promoted black liberation theology as the force behind his ministry.
At this point, it’s surprising to me that we haven’t heard any more
from the media about that subject, and people are left suspecting it is
racist and separatist. If it really is not, and is based on the Gospel
values Dr. Martin Luther King preached, then that discussion Obama
opened with his race speech should continue with some direct answers to
these honest quesions.
Right now, there’s a new concerted effort by party leaders and
pundits to declare him the inevitable Democratic nominee for president.
Sooner or later this conversation will have to be engaged.