The Swiftboating of Obama

Now that Barack Obama has fully denounced Rev. Jeremiah Wright, perhaps we can close the book on this sideshow and get back to the real issues of the campaign. This whole brouhaha over Rev. Wright has been a distraction of irrelevance from jump. The retiring pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ should never have been an issue in the first place.

Obama distanced himself from Wright way back before most of the nation had even heard of the reverend (Obama excluded Wright from his campaign launch event), and ever since those controversial sound bites hit YouTube, Obama has consistently taken issue with Wright’s most controversial claims. But, no matter how many times Obama said that he disagreed with Wright, the haters kept trying to stir things up by linking him to the pastor. The Republican campaign ad introduced in North Carolina last weekend is one of the most egregious examples.

Well, on Tuesday, Sen. Obama blasted Wright in uncharacteristically strong terms and made it clear that he had severed ties with his former pastor. So, can we please move on?

The trumped-up controversy over Jeremiah Wright is the worst example of the racially-charged swift boating that Obama has been facing from both the Republican Party and his Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton (with help from the media which, all too often, focuses on scandal rather than issues).

It started during the run-up to the Pennsylvania primary, when both Clinton and McCain accused Obama of being an “elitist” (after they deliberately distorted his comment about working class voters feeling “bitter”). Clinton and McCain are both smart people who’ve got a lot of other smart people working for them. So, they had to know that many of the white, blue collar voters they were courting would interpret the word “elitist” to mean something a lot less charitable. Something like “uppity nigger,” perhaps?

Surely Clinton and McCain knew that labeling Obama in this way would embolden certain voters to do what many of them were probably planning to do already: vote against Obama because he’s black. Exit polls reveal that 16% of Pennsylvania’s white voters said race was a factor in their decision; 75% of those voters cast ballots for Hillary.

When Rev. Wright re-entered the national spotlight less than a week after Pennsylvania, the stage was set for Obama’s enemies to close in for the kill. They went on the attack, behaving as if Obama had not repeatedly denounced Wright’s remarks. McCain gave lip service but did nothing to stop the North Carolina GOP from running ads that drew a false connection between Obama and Wright.

The television news media, playing its typical game of follow-the-leader, made a grand show out of Rev. Wright’s appearances before the Detroit NAACP and the National Press Club and continually asked, “What does Barack Obama think of all this? How will this affect his campaign?”

Well, Obama had already answered the first question a bunch of times (including the day of the NAACP speech), and his answer should have made the second question unnecessary.

Okay, so now Obama has slammed Wright hard. Don’t expect his enemies to drop the matter (even though McCain said on Tuesday that he takes Obama at his word and wants to campaign on the issues). But the anti-Obama forces are forgetting one thing: the truth. Barack Obama is not some crazy radical with a hidden agenda to stick it to white folks once he gets into office. He is an honorable man of the people who has shown, time and time again, that he is dedicated to uniting all Americans and bringing about positive, social and political changes that will benefit everyone in the United States.

That is why he has been able to inspire Americans across the board, and run a winning campaign against one of the most popular candidates in Democratic Party history.

This is the truth about Barack Obama. And truth, as Dr. King was fond of quoting, crushed to earth will rise again!

Thanks for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.


Cameron Turner is a Los Angeles-area native whose editorials, entertainment news features and audio documentaries have appeared on national radio networks, online and in print for over 20 years.

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