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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama Strikes Back

One thing everyone in politics should agree with is that if Barack Obama was going to respond to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s recent publicity offensive, he was correct in doing it quickly, and with some atypically emotional heat.
Obama did that today, in a news conference wherein the implicit message was that Wright had betrayed his earlier refusals to repudiate his pastor by converting his temporary and accidental notoriety into a fresh controversy. Indeed, Obama clearly conveyed the sense that Wright, for selfish reasons, was deliberately trying to damage Obama’s candidacy. Here’s the key quote: `The person I saw yesterday was not the person I had come to know over 20 years.”
In other words, Obama is suggesting that Wright’s latest utterances are not simply a validation of the toxic views featured in the selective videos of his sermons that conservatives and Hillary Clinton’s campaign have been battening on for many weeks. They represent a new repudiation not just of Obama, but of Wright’s own legacy.
This is probably the best Obama could do in his situation, so long as he is unwilling either to defend Wright or repudiate his own past association with his pastor. And to the extent that the candidate is expressing outrage that Wright has chosen to re-insert himself into the presidential campaign in a huge way, he will benefit from a universal sense of sympathy from everyone in electoral politics who has suffered from the publicity-seeking efforts of old friends and family to ride the connection to fame and fortune. That probably includes a few superdelegates.

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