T Nation

Meanwhile, Back at Trinity United

Not much seems to have changed…

[i]Meanwhile, Back at Trinity United
By JAMES TARANTO
May 29, 2008

Blogger Armando Llorens of the pro-Clinton site TalkLeft.com ( http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/5/29/9431/74527 )has an eye-opening video from the Trinity United Church of Christ, which remains Barack Obama’s church. The video was uploaded to YouTube this past Sunday ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H11x6bMu4Y ), though it is unclear if it was shot then or earlier. But to judge by the subject matter, it is quite recent.

The video features Father Michael Pfleger, with an introduction by the Rev. Otis Moss, Jeremiah Wright’s successor at Trinity United. As we noted last month ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120956688571556385.html#MOSS ), the Democratic presidential front-runner described Moss as a “wonderful young pastor” after Obama renounced Wright.

Blogress Michelle Malkin has transcribed the video ( http://michellemalkin.com/2008/05/29/hes-baaaack-obama-supporter-rev-michael-pfleger-flogs-hillarys-white-entitlement-on-the-pulpit/ ), in which Pfleger, described by Moss as “a friend of Trinity . . . a brother beloved . . . a preacher par excellence . . . a prophetic, powerful pulpiteer . . . our friend . . . our brother,” delivers a hateful rant against Hillary Clinton:

[quote] When Hillary was crying [gesturing tears, uproarious laughter from audience]–and people said that was put-on–I really don’t believe it was put-on.

I really believe that she just always thought "This is mine" [laughter, hoots]. "I'm Bill's wife. I'm white. And this is mine. And I jus' gotta get up. And step into the plate." And then out of nowhere came, "Hey, I'm Barack Obama." And she said: "Oh, damn! Where did you come from!?!?!" [Crowd going nuts, Pfleger screaming]. "I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show." [Sobs.] She wasn't the only one crying! There was a whole lotta white people cryin'![/quote]

Who is Michael Pfleger? As we noted last month ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120767493480598383.html#PFLEGER ), he is a strong supporter of Louis Farrakhan and has been described as a “spiritual adviser” to Obama. He also publicly threatened the life of a Chicago businessman and, according to one report, “is known for climbing ladders to deface liquor billboards.”

In his Trinity United oration, Pfleger asserted that white people have a moral obligation to surrender their assets, which, he suggested, properly belong to blacks (the video clip begins in midsentence):

[quote]--honest enough to address the one who says, "Well, don't hold me responsible [gesticulating] for what my ancestors did." But you have enjoyed the benefits of what your ancestors did and unless you are ready to give up the benefits [voice rising], throw away your 401 fund, throw away your trust fund, throw away all the money you put into the company you walked into because yo' daddy and yo' granddaddy and yo' greatgranddaddy--[screaming at the top of his lungs]--unless you're willing to give up the benefits, then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation 'cuz you are the beneficiary of this insurance policy![/quote]

Pfleger is white. Many Illinois taxpayers are black. The New York Times reported earlier this month ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/11/us/politics/11chicago.html?pagewanted=all ) that the latter have been forced to subsidize the former, through the good offices of one state Sen. Barack Obama:

[quote] Mr. Obama more eagerly met the demands for spending earmarks for churches and community groups in his district, said State Senator Donne E. Trotter, then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I know this firsthand, because the community groups in his district stopped coming to me,” Mr. Trotter said.

Typical of Mr. Obama's earmarks was a $100,000 grant for a youth center at a Catholic church run by the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a controversial priest who was one of the few South Side clergymen to back Mr. Obama against [Rep. Bobby] Rush.

Father Pfleger has long worked with South Side political leaders to reduce crime and improve the community. But he has drawn fire from some quarters for defending the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and inviting him to speak at his church. Father Pfleger, who did not return calls for comment, is one of the religious leaders whose "faith testimonials" Mr. Obama has posted on his presidential campaign Web site.[/quote]

We searched the Obama Web site in vain for Pfleger’s endorsement. It appears the campaign has suppressed it, although a copy appears on the Michelle Malkin page linked above.

Llorens, the TalkLeft blogger who posted the video, says twice in his short post that “this has nothing to do with Barack Obama.” It seems to us Llorens is quite wrong about this, although possibly he is being ironic. For one thing, it raises serious questions about Obama’s moral judgment that he not only attends but sends his two young daughters to a church whose pulpit regularly features such hatred.

It also renders doubtful one of the most frequent arguments for an Obama presidency: that he would diminish anti-American sentiment around the world through his conciliatory mien and tough diplomacy. His response to the political crisis over his spiritual advisers has been vacillatory, not conciliatory: first he stood by them, then he distanced himself from them. Now he pretends they don’t exist–which differs from the putative Bush administration approach to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad & Co. how exactly?

Obama does not appear to have succeeded in diminishing anti-American sentiment in his own church, from religious leaders who fervently support him. The danger is that he would show similar weakness on the world stage, and that America’s enemies would find such weakness provocative rather than meliorative.[/i]

Obama has a second pastor problem?

The danger for Obama is that he can’t racially dissemble this pastor and equivocate his presence. A white radical, Pfelger actually advised Obama after the dustup with Wright, so the “distancing” isn’t going to work.

Interestingly, Pfleger’s testimonial quickly disappeared from Obama’s website after his sermon was YouTubed.

And here it was, I was sure Obama was a different, more enlightened kind of politician. He told me so.

This will revive the pastor controversy that had to some degree died down. And I believe this is one of the main reasons why Clinton wanted to stay in the race.

Isn’t it fun to paint people by association?

McCain isn’t responsible for the statements of some of his endorsing pastors any more than Obama is responsible for his.

[quote]vroom wrote:

Isn’t it fun to paint people by association?

McCain isn’t responsible for the statements of some of his endorsing pastors any more than Obama is responsible for his.[/quote]

Faulty comparison. You can’t necessarily control who endorses you (outside of repudiating the endorsement) - you can control who your close confidantes and advisers are.

Wright and Pleger aren’t mere endorsers - Wright has been covered, Pfleger was actually an adviser to Obama after the Wright debacle and had his testimonial on Obama’s website (curiously, gone).

If McCain affirmatively surrounded himself with a circle of people as advisers/friends, the associations would matter. If McCain attended a white supremacist church for 20 years, it wouldn’t be a mere “guilt by association”.

Obama knows he is riding the tiger - hence removing Pfleger’s testimonial in short order after the radical rant from the pulpit broke.

Obama was a member of this weird church for 20 years!

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:

Obama was a member of this weird church for 20 years![/quote]

And, of course, Obama explicitly said that he shouldn’t be measured by Experience or Resume, but by Judgment. Well, we’re probing that Judgment, even while his navel-gazing admirers cry “foul!” at judging Obama by the very criterion he chose.

LOL.

You guys are searching WAY too hard for ways to find fault with Obama. You sound like the equivalent of Bush haters when discussing democrats.

CNN showed the clip. It was in poor taste, perhaps, suggesting Hilary expected to win, simply because she was white.

However, in a wider perspective, I suspect that churches in nearly any predominantly black community might be surprising to white people. I suspect a lot of frustration with race relations has been expressed in them over the years.

If you want to judge Obama on his views, you should review the race relations speech he made.

It is VERY possible for someone to hear the words of people like these pastors, extract value from underlying nuggets, and chart their own course.

For example, I have a friend who is a bit more racially driven then I’d like. He makes statements that are dumb and embarrassing in that regard. However, the fact I continue to associate with that person does not reflect my views on these issues.

If you want to learn about Obama, then you should read his book. No, I haven’t, though I did flip through a copy in the book store for a good while. You should also listen to his speeches directly – if you can stomach it. That I have done, via CNN, which has covered a fair number of speeches from Obama and Hilary (especially on primary nights).

Reading partisan summaries and slants of his words will NOT give you a real impression. His words, and not those of his associates, are the place you will find his opinions and ideas, so you can determine whether or not his judgment is good.

[quote]vroom wrote:

If you want to judge Obama on his views, you should review the race relations speech he made.

…[/quote]

Listen to his carefully prepared words and ignore his actions and associations for the last 20 years?

Did we not ignore Bush and his association with alcohol and possibly other drugs?

Yes, because apparently, according to you guys around these parts, he’s changed and we should take him at his word.

Your assumption that Obama is lying, because you don’t like his political stance, and the assumption that Bush is telling the truth, because of his political stance, is what the real issue is.

How about using the same standards you guys have been arguing for with respect to Bush over the last N years and applying them to Obama and what he says he plans and intends. Or, do you fear some Obama led uprising to put down whitey?

[quote]vroom wrote:
Did we not ignore Bush and his association with alcohol and possibly other drugs?

Yes, because apparently, according to you guys around these parts, he’s changed and we should take him at his word.[/quote]

  1. Drugs don’t believe in taking property to make political reparations.

  2. The whole point of the original piece, if you read it, was that this stuff is recent - all post-Wright-controversy. Kind of different from quitting drinking 20 years previously, or rumors one did drugs in college (which are also different from admissions one did drugs in one’s biography, to make another comparison).

[quote]vroom wrote:
Your assumption that Obama is lying, because you don’t like his political stance, and the assumption that Bush is telling the truth, because of his political stance, is what the real issue is.[/quote]

The new, recent evidence would indicate the pretty words don’t match the actions.

[quote]vroom wrote:
How about using the same standards you guys have been arguing for with respect to Bush over the last N years and applying them to Obama and what he says he plans and intends. Or, do you fear some Obama led uprising to put down whitey?

[/quote]

Those are the same standards - they’re just applied to different facts, which leads to different conclusions - or at least different questions…

Vroom,

Whites have their entire careers and reputations ruined for one gaffe off-color joke in the minefield of PC race speak, but Obama and his wife are allied with black power bigots for over 20 years and should get a pass? Whatever you say, glad you don�??t get a vote.

We all know Obama sounds good in his speeches but his actions don�??t match his bullshit. A person�??s actions, who his wife is, who his friends are speaks more to me about who he really is than flowery rhetoric.

And Bush is a good example of rhetoric not matching actions. Using him as an example is not helping your case.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Isn’t it fun to paint people by association?

McCain isn’t responsible for the statements of some of his endorsing pastors any more than Obama is responsible for his.[/quote]

If you live in a particular environment and are seemingly happy there, then you quite probably are in agreement with others who are there. The leap is not all that great.

He goes to a church that has crap like this going on. Huge crowds rollicking to such insanity. It is NOT wrong to question him.

I personally think that there’s a lot of hidden anger against white people latent in the black community. He (Obama) is trying to distance himself from that, to get elected. However, my guess is that he agrees with it. Either that or he is disingenous by remaining in a church just to get their support. Either way, he’s a crud.

[quote]vroom wrote:
LOL.

You guys are searching WAY too hard for ways to find fault with Obama. You sound like the equivalent of Bush haters when discussing democrats.

CNN showed the clip. It was in poor taste, perhaps, suggesting Hilary expected to win, simply because she was white.

However, in a wider perspective, I suspect that churches in nearly any predominantly black community might be surprising to white people. I suspect a lot of frustration with race relations has been expressed in them over the years.

If you want to judge Obama on his views, you should review the race relations speech he made.

It is VERY possible for someone to hear the words of people like these pastors, extract value from underlying nuggets, and chart their own course.

For example, I have a friend who is a bit more racially driven then I’d like. He makes statements that are dumb and embarrassing in that regard. However, the fact I continue to associate with that person does not reflect my views on these issues.

If you want to learn about Obama, then you should read his book. No, I haven’t, though I did flip through a copy in the book store for a good while. You should also listen to his speeches directly – if you can stomach it. That I have done, via CNN, which has covered a fair number of speeches from Obama and Hilary (especially on primary nights).

Reading partisan summaries and slants of his words will NOT give you a real impression. His words, and not those of his associates, are the place you will find his opinions and ideas, so you can determine whether or not his judgment is good.[/quote]

Obama’s pastor is an illiterate kook who belongs on a park bench like a ranting homeless schizophrenic.

The alarming thing is not his pastor’s stance on race relations, but the fact that Obama would find Wright’s poor Biblical scholarship and ridiculous gesticulations from the pulpit somehow intellectually appealing.

BTW, if YOU want to learn about Obama, be sure to pick up “Dreams from my Father.” It’s an interesting treatise on race by a racially-confused and hypocritical individual.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Did we not ignore Bush and his association with alcohol and possibly other drugs?

Yes, because apparently, according to you guys around these parts, he’s changed and we should take him at his word.

Your assumption that Obama is lying, because you don’t like his political stance, and the assumption that Bush is telling the truth, because of his political stance, is what the real issue is.

How about using the same standards you guys have been arguing for with respect to Bush over the last N years and applying them to Obama and what he says he plans and intends. Or, do you fear some Obama led uprising to put down whitey?

[/quote]

Remember how annoying and logically inconsistent it was when Republicans would inject Clinton into every thread? Stuff like: “Well your hero Clinton went into Bosnia, so there!”

It’s going to be equally annoying and logically inconsistent every time you inject Bush into threads about Obama.

[quote]Moriarty wrote:

Remember how annoying and logically inconsistent it was when Republicans would inject Clinton into every thread? Stuff like: “Well your hero Clinton went into Bosnia, so there!”

It’s going to be equally annoying and logically inconsistent every time you inject Bush into threads about Obama.[/quote]

My hero is Richard Nixon.

[quote]Moriarty wrote:
Remember how annoying and logically inconsistent it was when Republicans would inject Clinton into every thread? Stuff like: “Well your hero Clinton went into Bosnia, so there!”

It’s going to be equally annoying and logically inconsistent every time you inject Bush into threads about Obama.[/quote]

Dude, would you wake the fuck up?

I’m talking about how we discussed his issues and how republican supporters applied critical reasoning towards him. I’m not trying to raise actual issues with Bush for fuck sakes.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
You can’t necessarily control who endorses you [/quote]

Funny. I never heard you peep a word when people were criticizing Ron Paul based on who endorses him.

In fact, I distinctly remember you paint all his supporters with the same brush as whatever questionable might have endorsed him.

[quote]PRCalDude wrote:
Obama’s pastor is an illiterate kook who belongs on a park bench like a ranting homeless schizophrenic.

The alarming thing is not his pastor’s stance on race relations, but the fact that Obama would find Wright’s poor Biblical scholarship and ridiculous gesticulations from the pulpit somehow intellectually appealing.

BTW, if YOU want to learn about Obama, be sure to pick up “Dreams from my Father.” It’s an interesting treatise on race by a racially-confused and hypocritical individual. [/quote]

Okay, two points.

  1. I’d like to pick up a book or two on Obama and try to see where he’s coming from. I actually agree it is somewhat important – as any US president can have a large impact on the slant of international affairs.

However, let’s agree that people can learn, broaden their thinking, and slowly adjust their views over time as things around them either change or become clearer to them.

  1. How many sermons have you heard from Wright? How do you know what he actually was likely to talk about and whether or not he made people think about issues important to the people that were living through them? The fact you very much dislike the statements you have heard from Wright does not mean that they are representative. Shit, I’ve said stupid things that I’d be embarrassed of if they were on YouTube!

Look, I don’t think Wright is anything other than some older person, with older ideas, who has a habit of saying ridiculous things and perhaps enjoying the limelight it gets him.

Perhaps in the past Wright was able to introduce Obama to people and help him become known in the circles that would let him enter politics. I have no idea. Again, it’s worth investigating, but watching the same clips and reading the same slanted political diatribes is not actual investigation.

[quote]GreenMountains wrote:
Vroom,

Whites have their entire careers and reputations ruined for one gaffe off-color joke in the minefield of PC race speak, but Obama and his wife are allied with black power bigots for over 20 years and should get a pass? Whatever you say, glad you don�??t get a vote.

We all know Obama sounds good in his speeches but his actions don�??t match his bullshit. A person�??s actions, who his wife is, who his friends are speaks more to me about who he really is than flowery rhetoric.

And Bush is a good example of rhetoric not matching actions. Using him as an example is not helping your case.[/quote]

Here’s what I would interpret as Obama’s viewpoint – but obviously I have to guess – so take it for what it is worth.

He’s black. He’s experienced a lot of racism in his day, especially given how old he is. He didn’t enjoy it. His church addressed the issue of racism in a way that helped him deal with it… perhaps getting appropriately angry about it instead of accepting it.

I don’t think he was out there plotting against whitey or anything stupid like that. Seriously, it’s okay for people that deal with shit they shouldn’t have to deal with to get angry about having to put up with it.

I can also understand the comments from his wife, the ones that have caused so much strife, about being proud for the first time. Horrible words to utter in a political environment, though perhaps true.

From her point of view, she is seeing that all the (racial) problems of the past may be being put aside, her husband is running for the Presidency on a platform of changing the way Washington is run, to help put things right (let’s not get into whether or not that is really possible at this point).

Before this, the great equality of the US, the great promise, was present in words but not reality – at least not for everyone.

So, where does this all take us?

What does Obama believe right now? How does he feel about race relations and the future of America? How does he feel about the radical statements made by Wright?

I don’t know.

The thing that I am most willing to judge him by is the fact that he is doing a reasonable job of keeping his campaign positive. In this small thing it is possible to see him walking his talk. If he could take that attitude to Washington, to remove some of the divisiveness of the past (in general, not trying to point at any particular person or party), that would be good.

If he could in some way help show that the entire American dream is possible for anyone, even a black person, it might lift a perceived weight on race relations (perhaps from a right wing point of view, stop the excuses proffered due to race relations), and finally put the US on a path where race isn’t such a big part of life.

The biggest question, to me, is whether or not he can be trusted. He’s a damned politician. How strong is his character? I don’t want to look back twenty years and guess based on the words of people he has been associated with to some degree. I want to judge his words, his actions, and how the two match.

In the past I’ve been (wrongly) judged based on the views of people I’ve been friends with. It’s easy to do. However, who you know is not necessarily an accurate way to determine what you think. Hell, the excesses of some of my friends shapes my views towards the opposite of theirs.

Anyhow, I’ll be trying to watch Obama to see what he says, to see if his actions match his recent words, to see if everything fits together. As others have said, there is a lot of time between now and the election, so we’ll have plenty of time to get to know him if he’s the candidate.

However, I expect swift-boating or other nonsense to displace any real investigation or thought. After all, it’s work to try to figure out who someone really is, and it’s so much easier to trust a few sound bites from people who’s political views are similar to our own.

The job of a Christian minister is not politics and social activism. I know what liberation theology is and it’s not historic, orthodox Christianity and I don’t need to hear the rest of his ‘sermons’ to get a read from him. Here’s an example of the drivel coming from his pulpit:

http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=4808fe74-023d-417b-8537-33763c33e399

He comes across as a complete kook and perhaps a mental incompetent who needs to give limited power of attorney to a caretaker, just like that Pfleger guy.

My take on Obama is that his wife wears the pants and probably pushed him more in the black radical direction than he would have otherwise gone, but by now we should be used to presidents with marital relationships that are a little bit ‘complicated.’

Obama doesn’t strike me as a guy who knows who he is or what is true, but his incompetence should keep us from making the world safer for Islam as Bush has done. McCain is more of the ‘invade the world, invite the world’ mindset and we certainly don’t need that.

The way Obama threw his white grandmother under the bus in his latest speech on race is not something a real man would do to somebody who raised him, especially considering that his African bigamist Muslim father abandoned him.