Tomorrow evening we will know the outcome of the Democratic primaries in two important states that could decide the political fates of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
In Indiana, a primarily white state, we will know whether white voters, who are close to 75 percent of the population of the U.S., accept Obama's explanation of why, after first stating, "I can no more disown him [Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother," he now rejects Wright after Wright's appearance before the NAACP and the National Press Club.
Obama went on to explain: "The person [Wright] I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.
"Now, I've already denounced the comments that had appeared in these previous sermons. As I said, I had not heard them before. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church.
“But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced. And that's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally here today."
He has not explained why he sat in the church’s pews for 20 years without complaint.
Do voters accept his explanation on Tim Russert's "Meet the Press" on May 4, when he said: "Well, you know, previously, there were a bunch of sermons that had been spliced from a collection of sermons for 30 years. And that's not who I thought he was. That's not what I thought defined him.
"He's somebody who's a Marine, he's somebody who has served on city colleges boards, somebody who was a respected pillar in the community. And so I thought it was important to — for him to explain or at least provide some context for some of the things that he had said previously. But when he came out at the press conference of the National Press Club, not only did he amplify some of those comments and defend them vigorously, but he added to it.
"He put gasoline on the fire. And what that told me was not only was he interested in using this platform to continue to make statements that I fundamentally disagree with and that offend me, but also that he didn't have much regard for the moment that we're in right now here in the United States where we can't be distracted or engaged in this divisive, hateful language?"
Or, do voters believe, as some do, including me, that Obama cut his ties with Wright because of Wright's attack on Obama in which he made clear that Obama, in his opinion, was like every other politician, a hypocrite who is willing to say whatever will get him elected?
Wright said at the National Press Club on April 28, "We both know that, if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected. Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever's doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they're pastors."
The interview with Tim Russert, regrettably, did not touch that area of their disagreement.
I believe that, if he is the Democratic candidate for president, Obama will lose in November. There are many people in the Democratic Party and its leadership who feel that way. They are told that, nevertheless, the party must accept Obama even if he arrives at the convention with fewer committed delegates than needed to win the nomination. They say that to deprive him of victory under all of these circumstances would so enrage his supporters that they would either stay home in November or cross party lines and vote for Sen. John McCain.
Many superdelegates who will be making the decision to nominate the Democratic candidate will be told that they will permanently damage the party by causing a defection of the black vote if they deprive Obama of victory. There is no doubt that were the superdelegates to do what they were appointed to do — provide to the best of their ability a candidate who is perceived to be best able to win in November against the Republican candidate — they will be vilified by many Democrats if they do not select Obama.
A lot is riding on tomorrow's vote. If Indiana goes for Obama, the ballgame is over and he will be the candidate under any and all circumstances. If North Carolina also goes for Obama, that will be the icing on the cake and we will still call his black support, even if it exceeds 92 percent, as it has in some other states, racial pride.
But politics is a complex business. If Clinton carries Indiana and then goes on to win Kentucky and West Virginia, her chances will greatly improve. Stay tuned. It ain't over till it's over.
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