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By the time you finish watching this YouTube video (which had about 95,000 showings as of this morning) it will be well on its way to reaching: 1) its one millionth viewing, and, 2) its one billionth close reading by Clinton and McCain staffers.
The action took place last Sunday at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Yes. That Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago! This time, however, the valedictory is made not by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but by a white Chicago Catholic priest by the name of Rev. Michael Pfleger.
During his sermon, Father Pfleger mocked Hillary Clinton’s tears before the New Hampshire primary. He opines that she cried because she felt “entitled” because she is white “and there’s a black man stealing my show.” Father Pfleger apologized late Thursday for the remarks, saying his sermon was “inconsistent with Senator Obama’s life and message.”
But by delivering his remarks, Father Pfleger seems to have officially submitted his entry to the What Else Can We At Trinity Do to Further Assure that the United States Does Not Have Its First African-American President Any Time Soon? video competition. And this application has “Finalist” marked all over it.
It achieves this status because Father Pfleger has more than a passing acquaintance with the person who stands on the verge of winning the Democratic Party’s nomination.
His precise relation to Senator Obama is presently being pieced together and rehearsed in articles across the internet (such as this one, and this one). As of now, it seems fair to say that Pfleger (who has suddenly disappeared from the candidate’s website) and Obama have known and liked one another for a long time. The former appears to have financially contributed to previous campaigns and to have worked for the present one prior to the Iowa Caucus.
According to widely circulated reports (although I have not been able to track down the original source in the few hours since this story broke) Obama once referred to Pfleger as a “spiritual adviser” in a 2004 Chicago Sun-Times article.
It’s going to be a long weekend for the Obama people.
We have recently had the opportunity to see John McCain’s Pastor Distancing Techniques on display. Barack Obama, also well versed in Faith Based Disaster Management, has swiftly and unambiguously denounced the remarks. This rapid response might minimize the damage. In his own words:
As I have traveled this country, I’ve been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that that unites us. That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause.
After watching — slackjawed — Father Michael Pfleger’s remarks about Hillary Clinton and White privilege I have queries. First, what is it about that particular pulpit that brings out the inner Chris Rock in assorted Men of God?
Second, are there any guys on the face of the earth having more fun than the four fellows in robes whooping it up directly behind Father Pfleger? Third, are we going to be told by Obama operatives that the remarks were taken out of context? Fourth, and most importantly, what will be the fallout for the Obama campaign?
In a general election a presidential candidate typically moves to the center. It is now going to be even harder for Obama to do that since America keeps seeing footage of his friends who stand to the left of Fidel Castro.
But that’s not all. The Senator from Illinois has his share of difficulties with White Blue Collar voters. I have observed elsewhere that this group loathes this type of rhetoric (unless it comes from Chris Rock).
There’s more to be concerned about. Obama has demonstrated some weakness with Catholic voters. The fact that he finds himself receiving glowing praise from a priest who has been in a running, public feud with his local Cardinal might aggravate the problem.
Let’s not forget Senator Clinton. She surely will chime in on this controversy later today. It will deflect attention from her own recent gaffes. And it will strengthen her supporters’ conviction that the racial hang-ups of Obama’s inner circle will accrue to John McCain’s greater glory. Too, there is more than a touch of misogyny in the priest’s oratory and (as the Male Space Invader Rick Lazio learned the hard way) many women voters rally to Hillary when they feel a gendered slight.
I don’t doubt that the Senator’s aforementioned words of regret are sincere. I don’t doubt that he truly deplores this type of rhetoric. But how many more radical Left- wing confidantes from the South Side can undecided voters withstand? At what point do they start questioning the man’s claims about being a unifier who is above Red States and Blue States, Republican and Democrat, Conservative and Liberal?
(For more information about religion and the candidates check out Faith 2008 by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.)
By Jacques Berlinerblau |
May 29, 2008; 7:53 PM ET
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