“I strongly condemn” Wright’s statements, but “I would not repudiate the man,” Obama said. “He’s been preaching for 30 years. He’s a man who was a former Marine, a biblical scholar, someone who’s spoken at theological schools all over the country.
“That’s the man I know,” Obama said. “That’s the man who was the pastor of this church.”
But Obama acknowledged that “there’s no doubt this is going to be used as political fodder, as it has been in the past.”
“What I hope is [that] what the American people will trust is what I believe,” he said, that “my values, my ideas, what I’ve spoke about in terms of bringing the country together will override a guilt by association.”
This won't end the debate, and shouldn't. But it's a classy move. You don't disown a man this close to Obama's spiritual development over the years for political reasons. Obama's not a Clinton. But a more forceful explanation of why and how Obama rejects Wright's most inflammatory sound-bites would be helpful at some point. A bigger speech reiterating his own rejection of racial resentment would be even better - soon. Why not in a black church? Obama's more developed explanation for his membership of Wright's church and closeness to the man is in his first book. A critical passage can be read here.