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I'm Brendan Loy, a 26-year-old graduate of USC and Notre Dame now living and working in Knoxville, Tennessee. My wife Becky and I are brand-new parents of a beautiful baby girl, born on New Year's Eve.

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Obama race-baiting update

At a conference call with reporters this morning, somebody asked Barack Obama about the Clintons' recent controversial remarks and Hillary Clinton's response to the kerfuffle. Thus, Obama had a golden opportunity to make clear that he does not believe the Clintons' remarks were racist or racially insensitive -- and he chose not to do so. Instead, he said a bunch of other stuff that I have no problem with, but failed to do the one thing he needs to do, which is to unambiguously disassociate himself from this race-baiting nonsense.

As I wrote in a comment on my earlier post:

What is...surprising about this particular round of race-baiting is that the allegations of racism are so facially implausible. I mean, there is really not even a remotely plausible argument that the Clintons have said anything racist here. The whole thing is completely illogical.

Now, I realize these sorts of accusations are always rooted in emotion, not logic. But usually, when people cry "racism," racism is at least one of three or four potentially plausible explanations for whatever the underlying offense is (and the main issue is that they're jumping to that one conclusion instead of considering the other, more innocent possibilities). But here, the cries of racism don't even make sense, particularly with regard to the "fairy tale" comment.

So this whole controversy is really bizarre, and I keep thinking maybe Obama will come out and say, "Um, WTF are you guys talking about? Can we please get back to discussing things that are real?" Alas, it hasn't happened yet.

And it doesn't look like it's going to. Indeed, his spokesman told the New York Times, "People were offended at her words, and she can explain them however she'd like." In other words, we're not going to bail her out; if people want to vote against her on the basis of this self-evidently ridiculous nonsense, more power to them. As a political decision, I understand that, but it's very much politics-as-usual. Obama had a chance to take the high road here (while still attacking Clinton on substance), and he has clearly made a strategic decision not to do so. He is, it turns out, perfectly willing to let this racial stew fester, so long as he thinks it will work to his advantage -- even though the controversy is totally baseless, and he knows it. That suggests to me that, as president, he would let any racial controversy fester if he deems it politically advantageous. After all, if he won't distance himself from allegations as obviously insubstantial as these...

Anyway, this whole thing makes me genuinely sad. I thought maybe Obama was different. I guess not. I'm back to being thoroughly undecided. Congrats, senator, you've just lost a supporter.

UPDATE: I just noticed that I got Instalanched again this morning. And Classical Values also linked to this post. Welcome, new readers!

I agree with what Glenn wrote:

You know, I've noted before that if Hillary attacks Obama too hard she risks losing black supporters -- and others who've invested in Obama. But it works both ways -- if Obama looks too much like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, or even like he's too close to those two politically, he'll lose a lot of people who've rallied to him precisely because he promised "a new kind of politics." You can't run as a uniter, and engage in racial politicking at the same time. Well, you can -- but it won't work very well.

However, as I note in my latest (and perhaps final) post on this kerfuffle, I'm probably overreacting a bit. Ah well, you be the judge, I suppose.

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obama has no responsibility to let hillary off of the hook. people should judge her and her campaigns remarks on their own. i dont see why obama should bail her out here, its hillary's responsibility to clarify her message not obama's. you also ignore the possibility that hillary's campaign has subtly been policizing race.

i think obama is playing this perfectly, stay out of it himself, but let the voters decide if her campaign's conduct is appropriate.

I absolutely disagree. Obama has a responsibility to practice what he preaches with regard to promoting a less cynical, more unifying and edifying discourse. His rhetoric is meaningless if he isn't going to be exercise leadership by actively promoting the sort of discourse he says we should have. There is no reason why he can't -- and every reason why he should -- come out and say, "I do not believe that Bill or Hillary Clinton are racists, and I do not believe the remarks in question were racist or racially insensitive. I do, however, take issue with those remarks because..." and then he can proceed to attack their substance. But his silence on the racial aspect of this controversy speaks volumes, especially when some of the people creating the controversy in the first place are his own supporters.

As for "the possibility that hillary's campaign has subtly been politicizing race," if he can point to specific examples of that, then he should criticize those things, or let his surrogates do so. But these particular statements are not evidence of that alleged phenomenon , even if the phenomenon exists. The specific remarks in question had ***NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH RACE***. If the Clintons have said other things that are "subtly politicizing race," then let's talk about those things. But two wrongs don't make a right, and with regard to these comments, it is Obama who is "subtly politicizing race" by allowing his surrogates and supporters to continue spreading racially tinged innuendo about these non-race-related comments.

I mean, "fairy tale"?? WTF?? That is not racist!! Good freaking lord. It's like I'm living in Never Never Land all of a sudden.

obama has no responsibility to let hillary off of the hook.

No, if Hillary is "on the hook" because of the erroneous, unfair, race-baiting characterizations of her remarks by Obama's campaign (whether he made them himself is irrelevant; a candidate is responsible for the actions of those campaigning on his/her behalf), then Obama most certainly does have the responsibility of correcting the record.

Brendan,

I'm an Obama supporter.

To your recommended approach, ""I do not believe that Bill or Hillary Clinton are racists, ..."

Whether or not the Clintons are racist personally is not the question. The question is, will they use racist tactics in pursuit of their ambitions.

The "fairy tale" quote, or mis-quote if you prefer, is not isolated. There's been a whole pattern of Clinton surrogates, in full plausible deniality mode, smearing Obama as a drug-dealing, coke-snorting, Muslim Manchurian candidate, scary brown guy.

I'm not so sure that Bill Clinton's comment that Obama's run is a "fairy tale" is racist, but it doesn't seem to me that it's OBVIOUSLY not racist (which seems to be the assumption of the post).

On meet the press today, Hillary said that the "fairy tale" is referencing Obama's revisionist history on his opposition to the war in Iraq. This may well be true. But if you hear that comment without ten minutes of context, what else can "fairy tale" refer to than some veiled, probably unintentional, criticism of the idea of a young black senator running for political office.

The assumption in the post is that to say something is racist is to say that it's intentionally racist. But though something may not be intentionally racist, it could still be racist, and so still blameworthy. So, I think a somewhat reasonable argument can be made that these comments were some kind of veiled racism, though no good argument can be made that it was intentional racism.

Stephen, if I will grant for the sake of argument that the pattern you describe exists, can you please explain to me how on earth the "fairy tale" quote fits in with it?

As far as I can tell, that quote has NOTHING to do with race. NOTHING. I don't even see how it is arguably related to race. And I have yet to see anyone even attempt a convincing explanation of why I'm wrong.

what else can "fairy tale" refer to than some veiled, probably unintentional, criticism of the idea of a young black senator running for political office.

It can refer to exactly what it was talking about, namely Obama's position on Iraq, which is 100% clear from 30 seconds (not 10 minutes) of context. You say "this may well be true." It isn't that it "may well be true." It's that it clearly is true. That fact is simply not subject to dispute, for anyone who has heard the statement in question. And, needless to say, it is grossly irresponsible for anyone in public life to make a comment on that remark without bothering to listen to, or read, the statement in question. I'm not asking people to listen to 10 minutes of Clintonian rambling. I'm asking them to listen to more than two words of it. If you're only going to listen to two words, and then you're going to supply your own meaning to those words, your commentary should not be taken seriously by anyone with a brain. (By "you," I don't mean "you" Condor, but "you" the people who are saying this stuff.)

Moreover, it's not like the words "fairy tale" are racist absent context!! Absent context, the phrase is meaningless. With context, it has a clearly non-racist meaning. The only way it can possibly become racist, "intentionally" or "unintentionally," is on the basis of a totally unjustified inference, added entirely by the listener with no input whatsoever from the speaker. If that's all it takes to make a statement racist, then you could just as easily say I'm being "unintentionally racist" when I state, "What a nice day outside," and you conclude, for no apparent reason, that what I must mean is that it's a nice day to discriminate against black people.

I'm sorry but this whole thing is just absolutely God damn ridiculous.

I agree that the most plausible explanation is that the "fairy tale" refers to Obama's Iraq narrative. But the Bill Clinton statement is ambiguous. That's just a property of the words he uses. You have to make an inference in addition to his words. So, I don't think your interpretation is entirely obvious. It's the better inference no doubt, but it's not "obvious." Clinton says "“This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen." Does the "this whole thing" refer to Obama's position on Iraq? Probably. Could the "this whole thing" refer to Obama's candidacy? Possibly. Indexicals like "this" have no fixed reference. They're inherently ambiguous.

Here's the quote:
“Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, numerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, ‘Well, how could you say, that when you said in 2004 you didn’t know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you’re now running on off your website in 2004 and there’s no difference in your voting record and Hillary’s ever since?’ Give me a break. “This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen…So you can talk about Mark Penn all you want.

It seems to me that the fact that there was a break for applause and the post-context are both important:

[applause]

This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen. So you can talk about Mark Penn all you want. What did you think about the Obama thing, calling Hillary the "Senator from Punjab?" Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook, scouring me, scathing criticism over my financial reports.

OBAMA: CLINTON MLK COMMENTS 'LUDICROUS'

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/01/13/574170.aspx

As Obama Rises, Old Guard Civil Rights Leaders Scowl

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/11/AR2008011102000_pf.html


Hillary's chief strategist has done work for Blackwater (where's the integrity..?)....

A look at the chief strategists behind Clinton and Obama...

http://www.newsweek.com/id/91666

I agree that Clinton's use of "fairy tale" in the context he used it is clearly, unambiguously not a racist use. In fact, I can't imagine any context in which "fairy tale" would be racist.

Actually, all the Dems' positions on the war have been fairy tales, but that's another post, I guess.

All that being said, you can bet your bottom dollar that both Clintons would certainly play the race card somehow if they thought it would help.

It's also fair, and factual, to point out Burt Prelutsky's piece at Pajamasmedia, "Obama's Creepy, Race-Obesessd Church," Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

I have no idea how a member [Obama] of a black church that apparently feels it owes greater allegiance to Africa than to America and that pays homage to a bigot like Farrakhan, has the gall to present himself as the one candidate who can bring us all together.
Well, good question.

"Fairy tale" in itself isn't racist. I think the idea (which I don't agree with) is that the sentence in which it's used is racist. So, Clinton says "“This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen." If "this whole thing" doesn't refer to Obama's position on Iraq, but rather to Obama's candidacy, then the reading is that the idea that a young black senator (which is what Obama is) can become the president is a fairy tale.

I Love the 90s: Gender, Race and the Clintons

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-jenkins/i-love-the-90s-gender-r_b_81259.html

I think Mr. Loy's position is patently absurd.

Even if you grant that there was nothing wrong with what Hillary said (and that, of course, is just Mr. Loy's opinion, not some objective truth - other may legitimatly feel differently), since when is it Mr. Obama's moral responsibility to explain Ms. Clinton's words for her?

Could anyone imagine, just for one second, that if Obama said something that some people, mistakenly, misinterpreted and took offense at, that Hillary would jump in and assure everyone that he meant something different? The notion is absolutely laughable.

Somehow I suspect that Mr. Loy has written this piece for no reason other than fulfilling a desire to put the words "Obama" and "race-baiting" in the same title. I.e. a noxious slime job.

If the charges of racism against the Clintons are true, I hope they get off scot-free, and if the charges are false I hope they are ruined.

Hey, Clinton supporters: False charges of racism? Don't taste so good, do they?

Joe Citizen, GIVE ME A BREAK!

Obama has marketed himself as a "uniter," who, if elected, would raise the political discourse above the rampant partisanship that has plagued our political atmosphere.

Nothing is more poisonous in political discourse than race-baiting. But, unfortunately, race-baiting is a fantastic way to mobilize the black voting bloc in South Carolina--a voting bloc that has not been unified in its support for Obama, but which is essential for a South Carolina victory.

Now you have Obama supporters--members of his campaign--suggesting that Bill and Hillary are racially insensitive. The basis of these claims is absurd in the extreme. No reasonable person can plausibly point to anything insensitive in Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" comment.

So, what we have, is the Obama campaign using the very tactics it supposedly finds distasteful--rank inter-partisan race baiting. The very lowest form of discourse.

Considering Obama's claims to be different and his pledge to bring "change" to politics, he absolutely has a duty to distance himself from such tactics, or else find himself in the position of a hypocrite.

Remember when Joe Biden said this:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

And Obama came forward and defended him with this:

"I have absolutely no doubt about what is in his heart and the commitment he's made to racial equality in this country."

Obama apologists can say he has no responsibility to 'take the Clintons off the hook'. However, it is on his say-so that they are on any hook at all since the hook is fabricated. Additionally, whatever else you think... the above proves that his not defending them is political and political only since he was more than willing to defend Biden after what was clearly a racially charged remark.

And by the way, I'd like to take a position that Bill Clinton is not willing to take.

Obama is a fairytale. I'm not talking about his historical position on Iraq, I'm referring to his entire campaign.

He's an empty vessel selling cotton-candy promises. Nothing in his political background suggests that he is different at all. He was NOT a uniter in the Illinois legislature and he ran largely unopposed in his campaign for the US Senate, which is why he enjoyed overwhelming success in the polls there. What's more, nothing in his record as Illinois' junior senator suggests that he's a "uniter."

In other words, there is no indicator in Obama's record that he is what he claims to be. He is simply a charismatic orator who makes people FEEL like he's different. He says he's different, and people take his word for it.

But this entire episode shows that, indeed, he is not different. He will use the same, time-honored tactics of attack and race-baiting to win an election that many other politcians have used in the past.

In short, what he's selling is a fairy tale.

Now, I suspect that some will suggest that I'm racially insensitive to have called Obama's campaign a fairy tale. But how is that so?!? All I have written is about Obama's RECORD--or lack thereof.

Does the color of Obama's skin somehow make attacking his campaign off limits? Are we to self-censor our political opinions of Obama for fear that our ideas will be attacked as racially insensitive, even if we don't make the slightest reference to race?

Is that the political discourse that Obama wants in Washington? One in which the opposition feels frightened to express itself for fear of absurd allegations that the speaker is racially insensitive? Isn't that somewhat analagous to the problem the dems have often cited in the past, in which dissenters feel the need to self-censor their opinions, for fear of absurd allegations of a lack of patriotism?

I think it is, which is why I think Obama is a fairy tale. He's not what he markets himself as--he's nothing new.

Bill Clinton's comments about a "Fairy Tale" are not racist. However, comments attributed to the Clinton campaign about MLK, Jr. may not be racist, but they are incredibly stupid.

I don't think Obama has any obligation to jump to the Clinton's defense. There's the old political adage about not interfering with your opponent when they are busy destroying themselves. I'm not sure Hillary is destroying her candidacy and I do think the media and the likes of Al Sharpton are skewing these remarks to sound racist when they weren't. However, why is it Obama's job to explain what the Clintons did or didn't say/mean?

Because, Max, it's self-evident that the Clintons didn't mean what Obama's supporters and surrogates are cynically pretending they meant. This is a fake controversy of Obama's supporters' own creation, and if he really means what he says about promoting a more unifying and hopeful politics, the onus is absolutely on him to put an end to it. It's not about "jumping to Clinton's defense"; he can still attack her on the merits of what she said. It's about not using the very race-baiting tactics that he claims to abhor. It's about not being a hypocrite.

Which Obama surrogates are you talking about? Al Sharpton? Is he working for Obama now?

Here is what Hillary said...

“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Clinton told FOX News last week in remarks that sparked the current conflict. “It took a president to get it done.”

..Obama has said is was an "ill-advised" remark. He didn't say that is was incorrect or that it was racist. Hillary voluntarily put this out there. I think it is an answer to a question no one was asking. Damn straight Hillary should figure her way out of this.

I thought the 'fairy tale' business referred not to Obama's campaign or his Iraq positions, but rather to how the press has covered both. The stuff about "Senator from Punjab" and anonymous press releases was not about Iraq. Clinton was complaining that the press is using a double standard in the coverage of the two campaigns.

The arguably racist subtext is about why the press was applying a harsher standard to HRC (whether that is actually true is an interesting separate question). - was Bill saying that the press was going easy on Obama because he's black? Even when rambling and ranting, Bill is too smart to come out and say that in so many words. But to Obama's supporters I suspect this sounds a lot like "coded" conservative critiques of affirmative action. Clinton's past and present policy positions are irrelevant to this. The argument would be that Bill and Hil are happy to eschew racism until it cuts too close to home. Moreover, their triangulating, phrase-parsing, win at all costs reputation gives the charge credibility. Note also that Bill's outburst came right after there were speculations from the right about Obama getting race-based press protection if he became the nominee.

That said, I think it would be smart for Obama to follow Brendon's advice, even if he thinks privately that the Clintons are showing racist true colors when stressed. The new politics persona he's trying to sell calls for being slow to see racists everywhere... at least in public, he should be giving the Clintons the benefit of the doubt.

As an aside, remember that Obama forgave Biden for an insult that didn't apply to Obama - it applied to Sharpton, Jackson, Shirley Chisolm and even Alan Keyes. I may have forgotten others. Dick Gregory?

John Kerry Boosts Obama Campaign and Helps Debunk Clinton Attacks

http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/14224.html

Brendan,

I didn't really care about this, but it seemed like a big deal to you, so I clicked through the links and tried to follow the argument. It's hard because most of the links only provide half the conversation - Obama or his spokesperson's statements, but not the questions they were asked. By themselves, none of the statements (as far as I can tell) specifically accuse Clinton of racism. What we really need is to see a question like, "Some people are calling Clinton's comments racist, or indicative of a pattern of racism. Do you agree?" And then to hear the response.

Can you point me to a link which demonstrates that such a question has been asked?

Brenden

the easiest way to NOT be accused of racism is not to say things that can be miscronstrued as racially insensitive. And why is it Obama's RESPONSIBILITY to bail Bill and Hillary out of this quagmire that they put themselves in all by themselves.

putting LBJ on equal footing with Dr King when it comes to civil rights was down right dumb. and for it to come from a person as smart as Hillary it was quite astounding to hear and read those remarks about how it took a president to get it done. for Bill's part if you listen to what he is saying it is easy to see where someone might take what he is saying as meant about Obama's candidacy and not his voting record and as a lawyer I would think you would know that better than I would. especially when dealing with a man who needed to know the definition of 'is' to answer a question during a deposition.

then you have one of her biggest supporters, a black man by the way, make comments about Obama's past in relation to what the Clintons were doing for black people and the her camp comes out and says he was referring to his life as a congressman. get real dude. if you were talking about that you would have said that instead he used lawyer talk which everyone saw right thru.

if Hillary wants to run a fair campaign then stop pulling those fake tears out to engender sympathy from woman voters. I would think that a person with 35 YEARS experience would not have to stoop so low to get votes.

I'm not sure the above was as clear as I'd like. When I wrote By themselves, none of the statements (as far as I can tell) specifically accuse Clinton of racism I should have added - "or fail to disavow a charge of racism." The point is, are any of the statements by Obama or his spokespeople demonstrably on the subject of Clinton's racism or lack thereof? Or could they be referring to Clinton's honesty or lack thereof? Accuracy or lack thereof?

For what it's worth (maybe nothing) - of the blogs I visit on a regular basis (including the non-liberal ones) yours is the only one which has even mentioned this story.

I'm with Aaron on this, I don't get Brendan's outrage. I think Obama is pretty much the same thing as Hillary, but it would be nice to have a president not named Bush or Clinton next year, so that's why I'm voting Obama. I haven't seen Obama call the Clinton's racist, and I haven't heard the Clinton's being accused of racism by any legitimate source, nor do I find any of their comments racist or bigotted. I do however believe Hillary is more electable in the fact that when you get a black guy with virtually no experience, who's admitted to smoking crack, up against the lilly white Republican candidate, I don't see a good outcome for the democrats, because America is still too racist to elect a minority and Barack has enough baggage to get buried by it.

When the history of the race (buh-dum-bum) for the Democratic Party's nominee for the President of the United States is written, Hillary Clinton's loss will be fully explained by two words, and two words only: "Fairy Tale." Watch the Youtube clip of former President Bill Clinton using those two words to describe Barak Obama. The venom he is spewing at the thought of being denied re-entry to the White House is palpable, and that venom, as much as the words themselves, will finally and officially make Hillary Clinton our nation's one and only political Norma Desmond.

Just for the record --

"The venom he is spewing at the thought of being denied re-entry to the White House is palpable, and that venom, as much as the words themselves, will finally and officially make Hillary Clinton our nation's one and only political Norma Desmond."

See, Barack and surrogates for same? That's how you attack the "fairy tale" line without undermining your own message by engaging in pathetic race-baiting.

BLL: sorry you are Saddened. / But it's true [Sadly] that, as WFB Jr wrote longlong ago, "...the smiles tend to freeze, as the sadness rolls in."

I suspect that, domestic-&-foreign-policy-Philosophically if not altogether Ethically & Experientially & Temperamentally, your Least-worst remaining feasible Choice basically boils down to: Rudy Giuliani.

[who is Not, btw, Out of the running. Watch out for him on Duper Whooper Tuesday. :]

"This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." - Bill Clinton, former president of the United States.

He ain't talkin' about Cinderella here. And, I, in my previous post, was simply making a sociological observation.

I think it is very interesting to see the Clintons' politically injured by the very device they intended to use to injure Senator Obama. And, further, it's not so much the "letter" but the "spirit" here that will be the downfall of the Clintons. It was the former president's vitriol when making the "fairy tale" statement, that has drawn as much attention to it, as the words themselves. That's the point I'm attempting to make. When the Clintons' have their sense of power threatened, it is almost as though their very identity is at stake, and especially so with the former president. In that same "fairy tale" diatribe against Senator Obama, he seems to forget that it his wife, and not he, who is the candidate for the presidency, as he speaks mostly of presumed attacks on himself, and even goes so far as to invoke Ken Starr.

Senator Obama, on the other hand, consistently stays above the fray, and does so with a lack of the trademark abrasiveness of both the former president and his wife, Senator Clinton.


“This is fascinating to me. I mean, I think what we saw this morning is why the American people are tired of Washington politicians and the games they play. But Senator Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill-advised remark, about King and Lyndon Johnson. I didn’t make the statement. I haven’t remarked on it and she, I think, offended some folks who felt that somehow diminished King’s role in bringing about the Civil Rights Act. She is free to explain that, but the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous. I have to point out that instead of telling the American people about her positive vision for America, Senator Clinton spent an hour talking about me and my record in a way that was flat out wrong.” - Senator Barak Obama

I believe, it is the relentless abrasiveness of the former president, as much as any words he uses, that will doom (or have already doomed) his wife's chances to win the Democratic nomination for his former office.

Though, obviously, others will disagree.


texasyank at 3:13:45 - your use of "I hope they get off scot-free" is racist and I take exception to it ...

Oh, all right, even *I* couldn't keep my face straight while typing that ! (grin)

It is paradoxically racist that some folk in this fine land can complain about the lack of black 'characters' in fairy tales, when fairy tales are populated by the predominant folk in a culture ... in Nigerian fairy tales, not unsurprisingly, most of the 'characters' are black ... fancy that !

If the complainers were less racially bigoted themselves, they would realise that fairy tales go with the local dominant culture/ehnicity of the teller of and litening audience for the tales ...

In response To JLT:
I agree with almost everything you've said about Obama being empty vessel, etc, except for one thing. I don't see him to be
"a charismatic orator who makes people FEEL like he's different..." To me, and I made an effort to listen to him carefully, he is a
mediocre speaker, who uses populist, empty
promises to appeal to the crowds. Like former
(or current) communsit prominents, Brezniev,
now Putin, former KGB agent. He pretends to be uniter, but I'm afraid, all he cares is his political ego and scoring points! At least he does it so far. Example, his 20 minutes speech that can still be downloaded, just the day after Virginia High Tech masacre. All his speech was rambling to score political points, using
tragedy which was so fresh! That showed me the real man, no more words are needed!

I think Obama's embrace of Al Sharpton shows just how inclusive he is.

There is a really nice picture here of The Uniters together yucking it up.

Obama is not about race at all. He is about empowerment. I can think of no politician who needs empowering more than the Rev. Al.

Brendan, I thought that your letter and updates were excellent. I agree with you that Senator Obama does have an obligation to end the race baiting before it takes off across the entire nation.

I am Jewish, and when I find other Jews trying to make things, people, or groups make statements into something Anti-Semitic, I take a stand and put a stop to it. I have not and never will hold public office. As a human being that simply believes in this Country's ability to transcend the commonplace, I do believe it is my responsibility to encourage others not to perpetuate the prejudices that divide us as a nation. We all have a responsibility to do this, especially if we are running for public office on that very platform.

As a side note, I have not decided for whom to vote yet.

Spoken just like what would expect a white Irish Trojan from TN to act like...

Seems to me that the Democrats have always been about divisiveness throwing around accusations at the drop of a hat. Consider Bill Clinton's use of "Fairy tale". How can we take that in a hypersensitive way. Obviously this was a homophobic comment. Bill Clinton was implying Obama is gay. LOL

Let's give Bill, Hillary, Ron Paul, and Obama the benefit of the doubt on the racism issue. In Obama's case just because you belong to a racist church and are openly supported by racists like Louis Farrakhan does mean you are necessarily a racist. You might have some explaining to do but it's not proof positive.

Sure racism is a problem when it actually occurs but when you see a racist around every tree it makes it kind of hard to be inclusive. If you hate the Clintons because they are racists how can you find in in your heart to like any white person. In fact you might just be a racist yourself. Especially if you believe in whiteness studies which shows that all white people are inherently morally inferior.

sorry for the typo. My comment should have read: "spoken just like what one would expect from an Irish Trojan in Tennessee."

40 comments in and people still dont seem to grasp the distinction between calling clinton racist and suggesting that the clinton campaign might be politicizing race in order to win the nomination.

Sorry Brendan, I totally disagree with you here. Obama is running against Hillary and it is her campaign that needs to clear this matter up. You don't help out your opponent when you are running neck and neck with her.

Obama's unity shtick is obviously crap, but f*ck the Clintons -- if they can read ambiguities into the word "is", then their opponents can certainly do the same here with "fairy tale". Cry me a river, Billary . . .

yea,

I think it pretty clear that in this discussion, and the issue being discussed, charges of "racism" or "racial insensitivity" are just shorthand for "politicizing race in order to win the nomination." That is to say, I don't think anyone -- not Obama's people nor Brendan nor Obama himself nor anyone else -- actually thinks or is saying it that the Clintons are racist. But Obama's people *are* saying that with these comments, the Clintons are "politicizing race in order to win the nomination," when it is facially absurd to make such a claim. Thus it is not the Clintons, but Obama's people, who are "politicizing race in order to win the nomination."

And, Chris, that is why Obama has a responsibility to say something -- not to "help out [his] opponent," but to slam the door on his own people twisting her and her husband's words into "politicizing race to win the nomination," when no sensible construction of their words supports that claim.

This is the type of politics he claims to be above.

Now let him prove it.

Sorry -- I compressed this sentence too much:

"That is to say, I don't think anyone -- not Obama's people nor Brendan nor Obama himself nor anyone else -- actually thinks or is saying it that the Clintons are racist. "

The fuller version:

"That is to say, I don't think anyone -- not Obama's people nor Brendan nor Obama himself nor anyone else -- actually thinks or is saying it that the Clintons are racist, nor is anyone saying that Obama's people are calling the Clintons "racists." "

The Dems have created and used this beast and now they can't control it. It is actually rather humorous to watch the Clintons squirm.

The Dems have created and used this beast and now they can't control it.

Are you missing the point willfully, or do you honestly not understand it?

This is ridiculous - all Barack has to do it admit that he KNOWS THE CLINTONS DO NOT HAVE A RACIST BONE IN THEIR BODIES! He does this and this racist thing goes away. Unfair to the Clintons and unfair to Barack. This is a manufactured controversy by the media.

A couple of remarks:

I am concerned that if Obama is elected President that no matter what criticism he receives it will be twisted around by others as being a racist remark against Obama.

----------
Could it be that people are interested in Obama not because they like him it´s just that he is the best of the worst the Democrats could offer? Surely there are better Democratic candidates out there than Clinton, Obama or Edwards.
Could not Al Gore rise like a Phoenix at the Democratic convention to become the nominee?

Oh. So now we're supposed to deny Lyndon Johnson credit for the '64 Civil Rights Act? No doubt MLK was a motivating force for the movement, but was he in a position to drive legislation through a white, all-powerful Congress? I believe that was LBJ's doing...

Martin Luther King put a face to the Civil Rights movement that made change a reality. If it hadn't been for King, I don't think change would have occurred when it did. If it hadn't been for LBJ - and the death of Kennedy which put the country in a more sympathetic mode - I don't think the change would have occurred.

That said, Hillary shouldn't use the stump or sound bites to try and deliver a nuanced argument about race and the role of the Presidency. I believe the media is making more of this remark than it deserves, but we are talking about an election campaign here. The Clintons, more than anyone else, should realize how the media blows things out of proportion. Like the old saying, Keep It Simple Stupid.

Hillary shouldn't use the stump or sound bites to try and deliver a nuanced argument about race and the role of the Presidency.

She didn't.

She was simply saying that lofty rhetoric and a great speaking style are no substitute for experience at getting things done.

Race, again, had nothing to do with it.

On the subject of race, let's not forget 2004 when Howard Dean said he wanted to get people with Confederate flags in the back windows of their pick-up trucks to vote for him. Al Sharpton and the media went nuts over that one as well.

Sorry, Brian, but bringing up the Civil Rights Act turned it into a discussion of race. Hillary could have used a variety of other laws to discuss, but she picked that one.

Here's a question that I haven't seen anyone address.

What the hell would the Clintons' motivation be to "deliver a nuanced argument about race and the role of the Presidency" -- an argument that, according to their critics, subtly demeans blacks -- right before the South Carolina primary, in which 50% or more of the Democratic electorate is expected to be black??

If they were going to play the "subtle racism" game, wouldn't it have made more sense to do it before lily-white Iowa and New Hampshire, or if not then, perhaps right before the February 5 "national primary"? Of all the possible times to play the race card, right now would be the WORST POSSIBLE time. (Conversely, of course, this is the best possible time for Obama's camp to subtly accuse the Clintons of racism, which is precisely why they're doing it.)

Clinton's MLK remark was incredibly dumb for that very reason -- she should have known the media and her political opponents would pretend it was about race, even though it obviously wasn't, and this was absolutely the WRONG time to be quoted out of context about Dr. King.

The "fairy tale" remark, on the other hand, is so vastly and completely unrelated to race that I don't see how Bill could possibly have seen this ridiculous controversy coming.

But in either case, the argument that they were deliberately playing racial games with their rhetoric just makes absolutely no logical sense, not only because the content of the rhetoric doesn't support that conclusion, but because such a tactic at this particular moment in time would be monumentally and obviously retarded. Say what you will about the Clintons and their recent missteps, but their political acumen is better than that.

Sorry, Brian, but bringing up the Civil Rights Act turned it into a discussion of race. Hillary could have used a variety of other laws to discuss, but she picked that one.

Really, A&A? Was there some other law that Dr. King spoke out eloquently in favor of, but President Johnson was the one who actually pushed through Congress?

The *only* reason she used the Civil Rights Act is because that was the law that resulted from MLK's rhetorical leadership and LBJ's political leadership.

Obama has been compared to MLK as a similarly captivating and inspiring speaker, and has himself encouraged the comparison. Thus, she pointed out that while MLK did a lot of (helpful and necessary) talking, it was LBJ that got the job done. The fact that "the job" was the Civil Rights Act is immaterial to her point.

To suggest that she could have made her point with "a variety of other laws" is to completely miss the point -- which is just as MLK only provided one piece of what was necessary to bring about change, so too does Obama only provide one piece; and the piece that is most effective in the White House is political experience, not great speaking ability.

So what you're really saying is that merely by having the Civil Rights Act as the underlying substance of her meta-point about experience v. rhetoric, she is to be faulted for "making it about race." That's the sort of nonsense thinking that leads directly to the position that any criticism of Obama is "making it about race" because, after all, let's admit it, he's black.

If we can't intelligently discuss the relative contributions of two great leaders to the passage of a law that happens to be about race, without that discussion becoming subsumed by race, than how can we intelligently discuss the relative merits of two political candidates, one of whom is black, without that discussion becoming subsumed by that fact?

I therefore reject the premise. And I shall do all that I can (alas, bound as I currently am by the code of conduct for judicial employees, I can't do too much) to prevent such a premise from ever being accepted.

Uh -- that was me (not that I needed to tell anyone, I'm sure)

It is time for Obama to have a Sistah Soljah moment.

Let him denounce the race hustlers like Al Sharpton that he embraced (not just metaphorically but actually). Let him say that Louis Farrakan - who his church honored - does not represent his views. That such views - that whites are not human - are not his.

Let him denounce all racism - black or white. Let him speak out loud about the Jew hatred that infects the black community.

If we are going to banish race as an issue - we have to speak honestly. The truth. That white racism does not excuse black racism.

It is past time he had his MLK moment. It is time to acknowledge that Jews were the core supporters of blacks before it became the general view that Jim Crow was wrong.

That the Battle Hymn of the Republic was a "white" song. Written by a white woman. Ju­lia W. Howe. That the abolitionists were mainly white men.

Here is a version (wait for it) by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Brian-

I'm not saying it is right or wrong. But anytime you bring up MLK there is going to be a discussion about race. It's like bringing up Jefferson Davis and not expecting a discussion about the Civil War or Robert Oppenheimer and not expecting a discussion about the A-Bomb. Race is what MLK is known for.

Hillary was simply dumb to bring this up at this time given the current media circus surrounding this election. Whatever point she was trying to make has obviously been overshadowed by blow-back (deserved or undeserved) by her remarks which, frankly from a political pro's standpoint, she should have avoided making.

Okay, A&A, now I'm confused.

First you said "bringing up the Civil Rights Act turned it into a discussion of race." Now you're saying "anytime you bring up MLK there is going to be a discussion about race."

Which is it? Or is it both?

Either way, I continue to reject the premise. Neither MLK nor the Civil Rights Act is so radioactively racial that it is impossible to invoke either one to make a point unrelated to race without race nonetheless overshadowing the intended point.

Or, if they are, then that proves more than any political debate ever could that MLK's lofty rhetoric was just that, and nothing more, for he spoke and fought for precisely the opposite reality. Here we are, torpedoing an attempt at an intelligent discussion of the content of Hillary's and Obama's and LBJ's and MLK's character, because we are getting so hung up on the color of Obama's and MLK's skin.

It's sad.

To be clear, A&A, I take and accept your statement that you're not saying it's right or wrong, but rather are simply pointing out the perception-is-reality of what's going on here. I appreciate that, and I don't claim that you yourself are advancing or contributing to this nonsense. And I also agree that it was not smart of Hillary to try and float this particular comparison, for precisely this reason.

But she made it nonetheless, and I don't think the mere fact that she would have been wiser not to make it is sufficient reason to turn a blind eye to those who are shamelessly twisting it into a politicization of race. Just because it's an obvious response to her "ill-advised" comments doesn't make it any less wrong.

And again, it comes back to Obama's claim of bringing about a new style of politics -- even if it was inevitable that "most" politicians would seize this opportunity and maximize it for their own gain, Obama has promised us otherwise. It therefore remains incumbent on him to denounce it, or else he is not just an empty vessel -- he is a fraud.

Anybody who's lived in Chicago would understand that no one graduates from that political machine without having a hard edge.

Obama is a graduate of the Chicago machine. He's not a "nice" virginal politician, he's not corruption-free. He's just a better-packaged guy, but I guarantee you he's just as tough and cynical as the next politician, perhaps moreso given that environment.

A "new kind of politics"; I am not really sure what Obama means with that line anymore. He is taking advantage of comments that were made and meant absolutely nothing to the effect that he is making them to be. It is upsetting and disappointing to see the guy who supposedly will run a different campaign, is actually in the process of defaming his opponents by trying to use comments and making them sound racist to his own advantage.

David,

I am quite sure that everything in your comment of 12:49:23 is 100% valid and correct, but it does not neutralize the fact that Obama (or, if you prefer, his "packaging") has promised not to run that kind of campaign, indeed has claimed that he is a New Breed and that he has left that style of campaigning behind.

So it doesn't matter where he came from or what he learned. What matters is that he disavowed it and claimed to be above it, and made that distinction the centerpiece of his campaign. If it turns out not to be true, there's nothing left of his argument for why he should be President.


M Simon - you might find things a little more clear here when you realise that, in all the discussions in this post and its comments, the Civil Rights Act happened bacause of MLK and LBJ ... no mention, until yours, of anyone else ...

It is understandable, since most of the D-list want to forget that the Civil Rights Act passed in spite of the Democratic politicians at the time and because of the Republican politicians of that time - LBJ himself was a notable exception, in that, even though he was a Democrat, he was fighting *for* the Civil Rights Act to pass ...

Clearly, to remain "race neutral", Obama has to walk a fine line. Its hard to predict how people will react to any statement Obama makes about race. He, wisely in my view, is refraining from saying anything in the hope that it will go away.

I am not sure that he is correct but I do not doubt his sincerity. The man wants to be a President who happens to be black and not a Black President.

Race is an issue in elections when no black people are running. How can it not be when a black guy is up there?

Some notable instances...

1. Howard Dean's Confederate flag remarks (2004)

2. Clinton's Sister Souljah (1992)

3. Bush Sr.'s "My little brown ones" (Talking about his grandkids who are Hispanic). 1992

4. Willie Horton (1988)

5. Ronald Reagan's Welfare Queen (1980).

Oh, and I almost forgot my favorite. Karl Rove's despicable "John McCain fathered a black child" phone push polls in South Carolina during the 2000 Republican Primaries. (McCain adopted a child from India or Bangladesh who happens to be dark skinned).

Alasdair,

Thanks for that. I think I should give a little history of myself to illustrate how this Republican (I came to it late in life) has always thought.

I lived in the South when I was 5. One day I saw a "Coloreds Only" sign on a water fountain and thought that was wrong. I went to the fountain and got a drink of water. My mom let me drink for a moment then pulled me away. However, I could tell she was proud of me. I have never had a racist bone in my body and resent to the MAX the idea that "white men" are inherently racist.

Which is why Obama's affinity for people with such views torques me off.

It is a steaming pile and I will not stand for it any more than I would stand for "Coloreds Only" water fountains.

Max,

No one is saying (and in particular, I am not saying) that race cannot be or ought not be an issue. I am saying that race ought not subsume every issue, including all those issues that otherwise have nothing to do with race, simply because "a black guy is up there." I don't think that's too much to ask.

Especially in the context, once again, of Obama's haughty claim that he embodies a new politics, having left behind the politics of division and cynicism and personal destruction. Such claims don't mean much when you lose one primary and immediately send your surrogates out to race-bait.

A couple of thoughts if I might...

It's starting to get hinted at, but the context of all of this has to be that one of the candidates running IS a black man. Any comments that in a white on white race would go unnoticed MIGHT be construed by some as racially tinged.

Another context that's been touched on is the whole body of questionable comments coming from the Clintons or their surrogates/high profile supporters. These remarks go all the way back to Andrew Young's infamous comments about Bill probably having more black women in his life than Obama...that was a long while ago. That was followed by the drug kerfuffle followed by the hip black friend followed by the shuck and jive followed by MLK followed by the fairy tale followed by the Bob Johnson mess and on and on.

Taken individually, these things are all fairly innocuous but string them together isn't it possible that some would take exception to the pattern?

I also think a closer look needs to be taken at what Obama and his campaign/high profile supporters have ACTUALLY said...to my knowledge Jesse Jackson Jr is the most direct in any sort of accusation of racial changes and wasn't that in response to his father's comments just prior? To say that Obama took exception to HRC's original MLK statement is politics. It would be highly instructive for doubters that the whole MLK thing came up when HRC changed her campaign focus to deflating the Obama rhetoric with her false hopes comment. Obama of course followed up with MLK aroused a nation with his rhetoric and away we went down the back and forth road.

I don't think the Clintons are racist. I do think they are two of the smartest folks on the earth as well as two of the best wordsmiths. In light of that, I find it highly unlikely they would say anything that wouldn't benefit them politically in this highly contested race.

To blame this on Obama is ignorant of the entire context. This is a political race for the most powerful position on earth and hoping that his campaign would ignore all the above swipes is nonsense.

This has been developing for a couple of months and to think that a race between a black man and a white woman would not have to at some time argue/discuss race and gender is foolish. I do think the Bob Johnson mess went to far this weekend forcing the statement from HRC on truce.


As an aside...Obama HAS promised a different kind of politics but he HAS NOT said he would not campaign. If you take the time to actually read his words, listen to his speeches, his message of different is to empower us, the people, to get back to our own governance...very similar to MLK's message of power in numbers. He is NOT kumbaya...he has never said he won't fight, both to win and then in governing.

Listen to him, read him. It's a good message.

"Now, I realize these sorts of accusations are always rooted in emotion, not logic. But usually, when people cry "racism," racism is at least one of three or four potentially plausible explanations for whatever the underlying offense is (and the main issue is that they're jumping to that one conclusion instead of considering the other, more innocent possibilities)."

That is a ridiculous statement. How about in 2000 when Bill Clinton accused Dick Cheney of being a racist when he brought up Cheney's vote against formal recognition of the African National Congress in the 1980's when he was in the house of representatives? There is no evidence that Cheney is a bigot and it wasn't "reasonably plausible" to conclude that he was. Yet, Clinton said something to the effect of "it takes your breath away" when he referenced the decades old vote at a NAACP event during that year's presidential election. Cheney explained his decades old vote by pointing out that it occurred during the cold war and the ANC was a Soviet client (which was true). The ANC wasn't even controlled by Mandela at that time because he was in prison.

Democrats have long played the race card against Republicans even in instances where there isn't even a remotely plausible claim and the Clintons have never hesitated to use it when it suited them. However, Clinton allowed Ricky Ray Rector (who was black) to be executed in order to show that he was "tough against crime" and the incarceration rate of black males skyrocketed during his two terms as president (a significant percentage of which were jailed for non-violent drug offenses).

Using black people by stoking their fears with baseless claims of racism while at the same time allowing blacks to bear the brunt of questionable policies like the failed war on drugs and capital punishment seems like exploitation to me. What is the difference between using black people for your own gain and bigotry? The Clintons have used black people for decades and it is very plausible that they are racists.

The Clintons have a long history of ruining anyone who gets in between them and their ambition and Democrats never had a problem with it when it was Paula Jones etc. Nonetheless, just because the Clintons do it to everyone doesn't mean they won't tailor their attacks against Obama to take advantage of racial stereotypes. They've already floated the drug rumors (e.g. Mr. Shaheen) and they tell us he is a lightweight. As unfair as they may be, those attacks are tailor made for a black man .


M Simon - it tends to be instructive to realise that, most of the time, when someone cries "Racism!", they are projecting, not observing ... they describe their own thought processes in such a situation, rather than observing the actions of the other person ...

Hi!

If anyone has doubts about Mr. Obama moral, qualifications as to become our president, I think the following will clarify the issue: The fact, what is the Obama
church to which he proudly admits to belong to, for the
very long time, in fact over 20 years now.
The manifesto of the church is clearly racial:
-We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address
the Black Community.-
Anyone can find it at the church website:
www.tucc.org/about.htm
So, either Mr. Obama is lying to us, that he
would pledge alegiance to this country before anything else, (as a president of this country
he has obligation to do it. Or, does he?),
or he is dishonest to his church to which he proudly belongs. or perhaps both? In any case,
his truthfullnes and honesty is hearby clearly proven at the very least questionable,
and I would not vote for the candidate, who is
already cought redhanded. Thank you!
I don't have a favorite candidate for the president as of yet, though....

Hillary Clinton race baits him, and you blame the victim. What a sick piece of work.

Tears, Race Baiting, Verbal Jabs, and Proxies: The Clinton Strategy: http://www.blackperspective.net/index.php/tears-race-baiting-verbal-jabs-and-proxies-the-clinton-strategy/

Yobach!

If you responded to my comment, then I dare to say, you missed my point entirely.
Which is fine. May be I didn't express myself clearly enough...
So, let me try to clarify it one more time!
I don't condone or approve of nasty bait from both of their sides. (Yes,
he is not a victim, he started the whole thing to begin with, if you asked me, now they both got nastier and nastier with each other).
Both of them are not angels, both are trying dirty
tricks...and they are both a bit cynical with each other!
Don't play this victimhood card, it want help here anybody.
More over, Mr. Obama is in no way a victim of racial tensions, he in fact originated them! If one is smart enough we would hardly notice their race/gender if at all, it should not be an issue.
But, with Mr. Obama, he does, and he does it on
purpose! If he
thinks it will help him...The same thing is with his reference to Muslim faith.
Yes, I carefuly listened what he says about his
attitiude towards Islam, and other faiths,...
I only look and refer to his official statements, I am not interested in any unproven gossips about him. To be clear on it!
I listen to him, and my judgement I base upn the facts: his voting record, his official church party, denomination, his public statements, e.t.c.
Nothing else...matters to me!
And, here I see the man, who conveniently tries to use racial card if he thinks it will help him to
win election, and, silence even distance himself form anything racial, whenever he knows, they are not going to be helpful to him...
If this isn't hypocryticism on his part
than how would you call it?
Fact, that someone belongs voluntarily for 20+
years to the church that is clearly racial and separatist in its nature, disqalifies him in my eyes to be elected into any public office, not just presidential. Even though, Mr. Obama claims, that he doesn't approve of all the statements that pastor of his church makes,
he proudly announces that he belongs to this church, and for very long time, for over 20 years!
What does that mean?
Formally, it means, to me, that he in fact approves of all the statements, that his pastor makes on behalf of the church he represents.
Pastor can hold his racial convictions privately,
and that would be fine. But, if these statements are made as official manisfesto of the church,
posted on official church web site, this
is official church standing that bounds all its members: racial and separatist.
And this is the message, his parishioners including Mr. Obama and media, at least
are probably getting, or don't they?
And, for Mr. Obama, saying in a pep talk, that some statements that pastor of his church makes he does approve of, some other he does not approve, is not enough! The question arises, though: What would be enough?
And I have my thoughts as to what the answer should be! I leave it, though, here, as an open question.
Just one more comment. Let's assume for the moment he is not a member of this church.
He can still attennd
masses and other religious and cultural events at a church, though?
But, then, he would distance himself from the
separatist, racist manifesto of the church and
its pastor!
This suppose to be Christian Church, Right?
And in Christian Church, there are already 10
commandments, which define christian values which should suffice. Or, should they? The church should not be black, white, or
whatewver racial flavor. It should be color blind, in fact!
Of course, it may host of many cultural and racial groups and events, nothing wrong in it!
I can't see how Mr. Obama can be a trusted person
as somene who will unite all of us, as he always claims, while at the same time he is with such a bent towards black, separatist, racially oriented
church? He says one thing, but the facts suggest the other. Shouldn't the candidate be accounted for his/her acts?
Yes, he is mostly unknown to us, to most of us,
he is tabula rasa. And yes, he may turn wonderful, unifying all Americans, president. But the stakes are great. How can we know, if he is the right candidate?
I am asking myslef who is the best candidate,
for the office, of the president of US? I don't
really care what gender/race/party orientation
is the candidate.
I may still make wrong choice, but in my heart
of hearts, I will vote for person, who, I will believe, is best suited for the office. I hope,
most americans will do the same?
But, we need to make our judgement based on
candidate current record of not only what he promises us, with his/her words but his actions as well.
If we don't hold candidate accountable for his words,
we are drawing lottery tickets...and we may just as well vote for the randomly picked person from the street! May be this woman/man randomly picked from the steet, will turn out to be a wonderful next president of United States?
May be...Thank You!

I would like everyone to visit this churchs website and look under what they teach and believe on the right hand side at www.tucc.org/pastor.htm and tell me how anyone that goes to a church for 20 years, has been taught by this so called spirtual leader, believes in what this church stands for can offer this country a better way of life? A Church of GOD allows everyone, there is no difference. This seems more like a Cult to me.

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