Senator Barack Obama repudiated his pastor today. In a press conference that veered from the political to personal and back again, he expressed his disappointment, anger and outrage at Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s continued statements concerning the United States, race and other issues. Reverend Wright had spent the past few days at various events and holding press conferences of his own. While it initially appeared he might be toning down his rhetoric, that ended yesterday when he restated some of his more poisonous assertions.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. The Reverend Wright controversy arose weeks before the Pennsylvania primary. It would have been nice for the Obama campaign if it had peaked then allowing him to focus on other matters in the build-up to critical contests in Indiana and North Carolina next Tuesday. Instead, Reverend Wright brought the issue raging back to dominate the last few news cycles. Just in time to distract Senator Obama from applying the political focus he needs to on the nuts-and-bolts issues of importance in Indiana.
So instead of talking about trade and health care and jobs and fuel prices, Senator Obama is talking about race. Race is the last issue his candidacy — which is built in no small part on his transcending the issue — wants to put front-and-center.
The obvious irony here is that Reverend Wright may haved torpedoed the chances of America’s first black president more effectively than the combined might of the Republican Party and the supporters Senator Hillary Clinton. Both have played the so-called race card, but ineffectively. Senator Clinton’s campaign used the issue so ineptly it hurt her campaign and aided Senator Obama. But that’s yesterday. Now all Senator Clinton needs to do is sit back and let Reverend Wright do her dirty work.
Whether Reverend Wright swiftboats his parishiner will be determined by voters in Indiana. If Senator Obama won there he’d be all but certain of the Democratic nomination. Should he lose it Senator Clinton will be able to plausably claim only she can win in November. Prior to the latest Reverend Wright flare-up polls showed the race in Indiana a dead-heat. Those polls don’t mean much now. And more recent ones show Senator Clinton taking the lead.
Thanks to Reverend Wright it’s a new ballgame in Indiana — one that favors Senator Clinton.