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For Obama, a Voice of Doom?

Post columnist Dana Milbank sketches the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's speech at the National Press Club this morning, which he believes may be a turning point in the race.

"Should it become necessary in the months from now to identify the moment that doomed Obama's presidential aspirations, attention is likely to focus on the hour between nine and ten this morning at the National Press Club," Milbank writes. "It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered -- and added lighter fuel."

Read the whole column here.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 28, 2008; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  Today at The Post  
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Comments

http://www.suntimes .com/news/ otherviews/ 825571,CST- EDT-open05. article

Obama's middle name -- my last name -- is 'Hussein.' So?

March 5, 2008

BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN
Who says someone named "Hussein" can't be president of the United States? I was. Granted, it was only a school play, and I spell my name "Hussain." But I thought I did a pretty good job as the commander in chief, even if my wardrobe consisted of an old tweed jacket from Sears.
As a Muslim woman, I'd have an easier time climbing the Himalayas in my bare feet than landing in the Oval Office. I'm aware, post 9/11, why a presidential candidate's real or perceived ties to the Islamic faith translates to campaign kryptonite. Still, that doesn't mean I'm cool with the sinister insinuations that all Muslims are suspect and therefore, unfit to lead the country.
I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry a few days back listening to radio talk show host Bill Cunningham repeatedly scream Barack Obama's middle name -- my last name -- as if he had anti-Muslim Tourette's. "Hussein," Cunningham hissed like he was beckoning Satan when shouting the Arabic word for "good," "handsome" or "beautiful."
No matter how many times Obama insists he's a Christian, bigots' panties get twisted tighter than the turban in that recent photo intended to "slander" the Democratic presidential hopeful. Wake up. A lot of African-American Christians have Muslim names. Obama happens to be one of them.
When I was growing up, "Hussein" was simply code for "foreigner," despite my birth in a North Side hospital. The stares and smirks started only after the Persian Gulf War. At the beginning of every semester in college, my classmates practically got whiplash, straining to glimpse a Saddam Hussein look-alike only to spot a 5-foot-2 pseudo-hippie wearing Chuck Taylors.
My parents viewed the demonization of our surname as a blessing in disguise. No newspaper would welcome a "Hussain" byline, they decided, coaxing me toward medicine, the only acceptable career for "obedient" children of most South Asian immigrants. (They were glad I proved them wrong.)
Honestly, my last name's shock value has diminished over the years, a testament, I believe, to our country's growing diversity. Many Americans understand that common names don't only come in the form of a "Smith" or a "Johnson." Perhaps, they have a neighbor, mechanic or teacher named Hussein. Or maybe they've seen fashion designer Hussein Chalayan in the pages of Vogue or recall King Hussein, our ally in the Middle East.
Sure, I occasionally elicit nervous giggles when I introduce myself, but nobody runs for their lives. Some, in an effort to be polite, tip toe around the pronunciation of "Hussein/Hussain. " "Ms. Huh ... Huh . . . Huh . . . Hassan." "No it's Hussain," I correct them, wondering if they have a stutter.
Strangely enough, my last name is more exotic overseas. I got an "uh-oh" in South America. And in Rome, a pair of cops got their jollies by addressing me with a "Ciao Saddam."
Incidentally, "Hussain" isn't really much of an ancestral name. There were no surnames in my late father's Indian village, so when he emigrated to the United States, he designated his middle name as his American family's last name.
Now that my father is gone, my siblings and I cherish every intangible heirloom he left behind.
I'm sure Obama is just as proud of the name passed on by his Kenyan grandfather.
Those Americans who have a problem with that might as well pledge their loyalty to that infamous mustachioed dictator whose last name also begins with an "H." And no, I'm not talking about Saddam.
Rummana Hussain is a general assignment reporter at the Sun-Times

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Folks, Barack Hussein was a Cosmopolitan Hawaii raised Dude, who changed his Muslim Faith for a Racist, Anti-American, Segregated, Church that espouses the same rhetoric al-Sadr and al-Nasrallah Rant. His Cleric that allowed him to do this Politically expedient thing is building a Ten Million Dollar Mansion off the Deducted receipts his "Followers" threw away to him.

The whole thing stinks to high Heaven!

STOP, trying to "Colorize" it as anything even remotely justifiable or acceptable.

You will NEVER persuade Obamabots to think, and you will never convince me Obama is anything but very bad news.

Give it a Rest! He is a Sure and Certain Loser in November, and because all the garbage came out after he gained his Lead the Dimocrats are Stuck with him! :-(

Let's get focused on Issues so McCain is FORCED to get Smart, and get Romney on Board to prove it! ;~)

Posted by: RAT-The | April 28, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Obama missed a great opportunity for a "Sistah Souljah" moment where he could have appeared strong and decisive while knocking down a straw man. As it turned out he looked weak and indecisive as he changed his story almost daily.

It would have been somewhat of a gamble because Obama would have run the risk of being called a turncoat or an "Uncle Tom" by Wright and other African-American religious leaders but the rewards would have out weighed the risk.

Obama would have looked strong and would have reassured moderates and conservatives. If Wright took shots at Obama then Obama could respond in a reasonable manner and win the comparison and also stay in the news.

Chances are that any blacks that would have been offended by a strong response to Wright would have eventually returned to the fold because I don't see them going to McCain and it is too late for them to shift the contest to Clinton.

I don't know if Wright's comments and Obama's tepid response to them will sink his campaign but you can file this under missed opportunities. It could have been a masterstroke for him.

Posted by: Daniel Hancock | April 28, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

This is a wedge issue. It's meant to divide and conquer. Karl? BILL CLINTON???? What is the difference. I can't tell anymore.

"Wedge issue is a social or political issue, often of a divisive or otherwise controversial nature, which is used by one political group to split apart or create a "wedge" in the support base of an opposing political group, with a view to enticing voters to give their support to the first group. The use of wedge issues gives rise to wedge politics.

Political parties are usually fairly diverse groups though they will always try to project a united front. A wedge issue may often be a point of internal dissent within the opposing party, which that party tries to suppress or ignore talking about because it divides "the base." Such issues are typically a cultural or populist issue, relating to matters such as crime, national security, sexuality (e.g. gay marriage), or race. Another party may exploit this dissent by publicly supporting the issue, and in effect align itself with the dissenting faction of the opposing party. A wedge issue is intended to bring about such things as:

* A debate, often vitriolic, within the opposing party, giving the public a perception of disarray.
* The defection of supporters of the opposing party's minority faction to the other party if they lose the debate.
* The legitimising of sentiment which, while perhaps popularly held, is usually considered inappropriate or politically incorrect; criticisms from the opposition then make it appear beholden to special interests or fringe ideology.

To prevent these three consequences from occurring, the opposing party may attempt to take a "pragmatic" stand and officially endorse the views of its minority faction. However, this can lead to the defection of supporters of the opposing party's majority faction to a third party, should they lose the debate."

Posted by: katman | April 28, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

rgmdc:

I was not aware that Brian Ross and Rehab El-Buri from ABC News were "radical right":

"Obama's Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11", ABC News, March 13, 2008

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=4443788

Posted by: JakeD | April 28, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

"It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered -- and added lighter fuel."

You mean the race controversy that never negatively affected Obama's polling numbers? Oh no, not that again. Yes it was a distraction to the headlines, but not much influence on voting (nor should it be).

Why on Earth should Obama have to answer for anything Wright does or says? I thnik the issue is more that the journalists are all going crazy trying to think of something new to write and jump on anything that sounds like a story since there are news deadlines to hit.

Posted by: Matt in Kansas City (KS) | April 28, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered -- and added lighter fuel."

You mean the race controversy that never negatively affected Obama's polling numbers? Oh no, not that again. Yes it was a distraction to the headlines, but not much influence on voting (nor should it be).

Why on Earth should Obama have to answer for anything Wright does or says? I thnik the issue is more that the journalists are all going crazy trying to think of something new to write and jump on anything that sounds like a story since there are news deadlines to hit.

Posted by: Matt in Kansas City (KS) | April 28, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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....................HILLARY VOTED FOR THE WAR

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Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The only reasonable, possible explanation to the Wright/Obamba debacle is that Obama agreed with his mentor for 20 YEARS. That is why Wright feels free to give his Anti American Speeches while Obama shies away from denouncing him. Obama cannot denounce nor refused Wright because the truth will come out. Wright is Obama's true political liability. Expect the following, Wright will :
1- WRITE A BOOK.
2- CONTINUE TO GIVE NATIONAL SPEECHES.
3- HE WILL CHARGE FOR THOSE NATIONAL SPEECHES.
4- HE WILL APPEAR IN MORE COMMENTARY PROGRAMS.
5- DONT BE SURPRICE IF WRIGHT HIMSELF RUNS FOR SENATOR.
6- THERE WILL BE A WRIGHT IDIALOGY BASED ON HIS POLITICAL ANGLE.
7- OBAMA WILL NOT DISASSOCIATE, NOR RENOUNCED REV. WRIGHT.

SO ASK YOURSELF WHY? Why CANT THE NEXT POSSIBLE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES DENOUNCE AND RENOUNCE HIS CRAZY, ANTI-AMERICAN PASTOR? EASY; WRIGHT KNOWS TOO MUCH.

Posted by: Leanza Cornett | April 28, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

This has nothing to do with Hillary and Obama supporters eating each other alive while they loose sight or the real target which is making shore we do not have four more disastrous years of Republican policy. This story has everything to do with the Electoral College and the demographics which win an election in the U.S. Obama's patriotism is now in question and he has been painted as an elitist. Does this sound familiar? This is the strategy that Karl Rowe used against John Kerry. These stories DO resonate in electoral rich rust belt states like PA and Ohio as well as everything between the blue states on the coasts. Kerry lost Ohio - Bush won. This is a classic example of how the Republicans play the game. It is the politics of divisiveness and distraction. It is no coincidence these sermons were released by the radical right (not Hillary Clinton). They are aiming to destroy Obama and divide the Democrats so they will not coalesce around the eventual nominee. No matter what your opinion, tonight's headlines, and tomorrows, and the day after that will be inundated with thirty seconds sound bites from Mr. Wright "radical" beliefs. These thirty second sound bites will be the only source of this story that many Americans will see. He will now be associated with an "American hating, crazy black pastor who thinks the U.S is a terrorist state and believes Farrakhan to be the most influential American in decades." Obama's election is in series jeopardy. I don't really care about Mr. Wright or his beliefs. They have nothing to do with the faltering economy and the disastrous foreign policy of the Republicans but as George Bush proved elections in the U.S. are not won on truth or substance. It is all about perception and who appears to be more likable.

Posted by: rgmdc | April 28, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

On October 2, 2002, Barack Obama's judgment told him that starting a war in Iraq would be a big mistake and he forcefully said so. Much to the contrary later that same month both Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain voted for funds authorizing President Bush to begin the Iraq war.
When Barack Obama decided to run for president, unlike Hillary Clinton and John McCain, he made the significant decision that he would not accept campaign contributions from lobbyists and special interest political action committees. It was Barack Obama's judgment that if he was going to become the next President of the United States that he be elected by the American people without the distorting influence of the money peddlers in Washington.
That's the kind of change that Barack Obama represents which concerns so many in Washington who don't seem eager for the American people to reclaim their democracy from the influence of special interest political action committees and lobbyists, the Washington money peddlers who currently arrange to provide huge amounts of financial support to political candidates whom they believe have a good chance of winning, and whom they can then "work with" later on.
This election is not about whether you happen to be a woman or a man, or whether your father was a black man or a white man, an Asian or a Hispanic. It is not about remarks made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. or anyone else. This election is about the future of our country and is about whether the majority of Americans are ready to elect as their next president an individual with integrity, intelligence, and fresh ideas, a 47 year old biracial man who is much less interested in political games than he is in seriously addressing the significant problems facing our country and the rest of the world.
We are at a historic moment in America. Barack Obama is a very special individual who as president will bring a much needed breath of fresh air to Washington and help ordinary Americans begin reclaiming their democracy.

Posted by: William | April 28, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

You know what you have to do when your antie is going to be nuts. Right? But do you know you what you have to do when your pastor is going to be nuts?

Posted by: maz hess | April 28, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

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N E O C O N S

F O R

C L I N T O N

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Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan,
Joe Lieberman, Rubert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, Carl Rove.......

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war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war war !
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Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Voice of Doom now or in November. He doesn't have enough delegates to win yet and it's looking bleaker and bleaker for Obama. Yes moderate dems and independents do care about Obama supporting a church and a man like Wright for 20 years. YEARS! Not minutes. I will never vote for the guy nor will many I know. It's really not that hard to understand if you don't worship Obama blindly. It's about being anti-racist and pro-america which I for one am.

Posted by: Haley | April 28, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Voice of doom? You mean in November? Because Obama has already won the Democratic nomination: IT'S OVER, OBAMA WON!

GO OBAMA !

.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

let's talk about real issues, shall we?


HILLARY VOTED FOR THE WAR !


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Posted by: Anonymous | April 28, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

With all the problems we have:
i) sky rocketting gas prices
ii) mortgage crisis
iii war etc

Is Rev. Wright the issue that Americans would like to vote on?

Posted by: XXX | April 28, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Enough already! Independents are not swayed by this Rev. Wright nonsence!

Please stop, or at least spend some time on Hillary's relationship to Rev. Wright. She called him into the Whitehouse for "spiritual counseling" during the Monica situation.

Posted by: lizard3 | April 28, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: WWW.POLITICALINSIDER.NET | April 28, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Let White people step and vote for Obama instead of using Rev. Wright as an excuse.

Posted by: xxx | April 28, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Why should Barack Obama be held responsible for what his former pastor says, does not say, does, does not do? He is not Reverend Wright's keeper.

In all fairness, if the media is going to continue to ride this horse, let's pull out "The Family," the religious group Hillary Clinton belongs to? Let's discuss why John McCain refuses to discuss his religious beliefs.

Come on, be fair, just because blacks worship differently does not mean black churches need to be probed with a cattle prod. If you are going to continue harassing Barack Obama and the black church, come on with it for Clinton and McCain.

Posted by: Cora | April 28, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

WaPo-Have you guys LOST IT?

ENOUGH about Wright, Obasama, and Billary.

At this Point who CARES?-Other than a handful of neurotic Obsama Worshipers?!

Can't you find ANYTHING Else even Remotely interesting to talk about? OR, is this some way to make the entire Wright issue a moot point before November?

Take a Good Look at your Topics people!

You are in a RUT!

Posted by: RAT-The | April 28, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

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