Sen. Barack Obama’s pastor has been all over the place these past
few days, literally and figuratively. He’s a loose cannon on another
deck (it’s his own boat at this point) but unfortunately for Obama it’s
one that’s tethered to his own campaign ship.

The New York Times states the obvious in calling Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s televised speeches ‘lluminating displays.’

And he went deep into context — a rich, stem-winding
brew of black history, Scripture, hallelujahs and hermeneutics. Mr.
Wright, Senator Barack Obama’s former pastor, was cocky, defiant,
declamatory, inflammatory and mischievous…

And enjoying the spotlight. But he has been dividing the country,
which poses a significant problem for the ‘post-racial candidate’ who
runs on unifying the country. His own party is ruptured.

Much of the tension is based at least in part on racial
divisions — and into the dynamic walked the Rev. Jeremiah Wright,
Obama’s controversial former pastor.

He has been putting on quite a show, between the Sunday evening
address before the NAACP and Monday’s speech to the National Press Club.

Obama’s controversial former pastor was defiant as he
spoke to a room packed with non-journalistic supporters, defending
himself, dismissing Obama’s criticism of him as mere political
expedience, and jokingly offering himself as a vice presidential
prospect. He clearly was not doing Obama any favors, not only by
reappearing before a ravenous media thus distracting from Obama’s
attempt to relate better to white working class voters in Indiana and
North Carolina, but by implying Obama’s condemnation of some of his
sermons was not sincere.

That was enough. Sen. Obama came out and said so, today.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama denounced
his former pastor in his strongest language to date on Tuesday, saying
he was outraged by Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s assertions about the U.S.
government and race.

“His comments were not only divisive … but I believe that they end
up giving comfort to those who prey on hate,” Obama told reporters.

“Whatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright has changed as a consequence of this,” Obama said.

The first headlines are just coming out after Obama’s press conference denouncing Wright’s performances, like “Obama Rips Rev. Wright

On Tuesday, Obama sought to distance himself further from Wright.

“I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia
explaining that he’s done enormous good. … But when he states and then
amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow
being involved in AIDS. … There are no excuses. They offended me. They
rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced.”

Obama said this was a new side of Wright, but we saw a new side of Obama. Though still measured, he’s angry and outraged.

In a press conference in North Carolina, the Illinois
senator used his strongest language to date to condemn Wright’s
controversial sermons, which have remained a burden on his campaign
since they became national news more than a month ago.

This response was overdue, not immediately after Wright’s Sunday
night spectacle. It was a full day after Monday morning’s spectacle, at
the National Press Club.

“I am outraged by the comments that were made, and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday,” Obama said…

Wright used his appearance to taunt reporters, criticize
his country’s foreign policy and suggest that Obama only distanced
himself from Wright out of political posturing.

Obama said he was particularly “angered” by that suggestion.

“If Reverend Wright thinks that that’s political posturing, as he
put it, then he doesn’t know me very well — based on his remarks
yesterday I may not know him as well as I thought either,” Obama said.

Which now raises the question anew that some media asked more than a
month ago, what does this say about Barack Obama’s judgment? And do his
supporters know him as well as they thought?

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....