Recently, Senator Barack Obama officially denounced his pastor Reverend Wright. How do you think Reverend Wright’s public comments, as well as Obama’s reactions to them, have affected and will affect his campaign?


This has been a disastrous couple of weeks for Senator Barack Obama, perhaps the worst in his political life. Had the Wright comments surfaced before Obama garnered his pledged delegate lead after the first Super Tuesday in February, he would be in graver trouble than he is today.

But as things stand, it will take a Hillary Clinton win in North Carolina (Indiana will not be enough), the seating of the Michigan and Florida delegates at the convention in a pro-Clinton way, and two thirds of the remaining unpledged superdelegates to go for Clinton to reverse the math so heavily still in Obama’s favor.

Since the horse-race aspects of the Democratic nomination will remain largely unchanged, the real impact of the Wright controversy will not be evident until the general election campaign goes into high gear. Coupled with Obama’s “bitter” comments in San Francisco, the Wright connection will make for a potent Republican ad in the fall.

To win in November, Obama must learn from this experience that quick response and counter-response are at the heart of the art of politics in our time and still stay above the fray, for the latter constitutes the Obama brand. After all, Wright’s biggest and most damaging charge is that Obama’s renunciation of him was merely a politically expedient act. Paradoxically, Obama must forcefully counter this charge without appearing to do so. And so it remains to be seen if Obama will successfully negotiate the Faustian bargain for (the skills to) power while retaining his soul.

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