Richard Cohen Trys to Keep The Racial Flames Burning

At a moment when it looks like the Clinton and Obama camps are agreeing to pull back from the increasingly racialized fight between the two candidates, Richard Cohen at the Washington Post decides to dump a big gallon of gasoline on the fading fire.

Barack Obama is a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ. Its minister, and Obama's spiritual adviser, is the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. In 1982, the church launched Trumpet Newsmagazine; Wright's daughters serve as publisher and executive editor. Every year, the magazine makes awards in various categories. Last year, it gave the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to a man it said "truly epitomized greatness." That man is Louis Farrakhan.

Uh-oh. Being this is Cohen's lede, one would think he is acccusing Obama of being big Farrakhan supporter too, right?

It's important to state right off that nothing in Obama's record suggests he harbors anti-Semitic views or agrees with Wright when it comes to Farrakhan. Instead, as Obama's top campaign aide, David Axelrod, points out, Obama often has said that he and his minister sometimes disagree. Farrakhan, Axelrod told me, is one of those instances.

So what have we learned? Obama goes to a church whose minister said some nice things about Farrakhan in his newsletter. Obama says he disagrees. But then..

 Fine. But where I differ with Axelrod and, I assume, Obama is that praise for an anti-Semitic demagogue is not a minor difference or an intrachurch issue. The Obama camp takes the view that its candidate, now that he has been told about the award, is under no obligation to speak out on the Farrakhan matter. It was not Obama's church that made the award but a magazine

I guess having your spokesperson tell the media he disagrees with his minister's statements counts to some folks as "speaking out" but not to Cohen.

But then he really cuts to the chase by the end:

I don't for a moment think that Obama shares Wright's views on Farrakhan.

Not that it stopped him from spilling over a 1,000 words linking the two in a major paper.

Tags: 2008, election., obama, Richard Cohen (all tags)



Cohen is scum

Cohen is no friend to any Democrat, he is just scum.

by souvarine 2008-01-15 07:58AM | 0 recs
Legitimate questions

Wait, are we now saying that asking Obama questions about his ties to Rev. Wright and Louis Farakhan are off limits? Why? Because Obama is black? Or because he's a saint?

Rev. Wright is Obama's spiritual advisor. Rev. Wright has honored Farakhan. Rev. Wright has travelled with Farakahn to meet with Kadafi. (Ring any bells? Ahmadinejhad? Castro? Chavez?). These are legitimate questions about a candidate about whom we know virtually NOTHING beyond what is written in his sometimes fictional accounts in his two autobiographies.

Did Obama help organize Farakhan's Million Man March?

by hwc 2008-01-15 08:07AM | 0 recs
Gene Robinson did exactly same in WAPO today

Robinson has destroyed himself with me. Talk about blatant race baiting. But then the WAPO's preferences like those of Matthews are blatantly obvious.  

by ottovbvs 2008-01-15 08:34AM | 0 recs
Gene Robinson did exactly same in WAPO today

Robinson was the first to get Obama's e-mail talking points and blame the New Hampshire loss on racism. Robinson floated the "Bradley effect" within a half hour of MSNBC calling the New Hampshire primary for Clinton.

by hwc 2008-01-15 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Richard Cohen Trys to Keep The Racial Flames B

an article in the NY Times on the topic

by MollieBradford 2008-01-15 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Richard Cohen Trys to Keep The Racial Flames B

M.J. Rosenberg has a devastating rejoinder to Cohen's column:

On Friday, when I wrote about the Jewish community being inundated with anti-Obama fear-mongering, some people at TPM expressed doubt. I was even excused of making it up.

Five days later, few Jews active in the community have not received calls or e-mails telling them that Obama is a threat to the Jews....

No one knows if any campaign is behind these charges. According to the informative analysis and poll by Shmuel Rosner in Ha'aretz, the right-wing of the Jewish community does not like Obama and strongly favors Giuliani and Clinton because of their hardline stances on Israel.

But I don't think any campaign is behind this round of swiftboating because it bears all the markings of the Jewish far right, the camp that cheered Rabin's assassination. Nevertheless, the smears will have an effect, regardless of its origins. It will be felt on Super Tuesday when hundreds of thousands of Jews vote in New York, California, and elsewhere.

It's pretty ugly and today columnist Richard Cohen is taking it mainstream. Check out his column in the Washington Post. He shares the story of Obama's Farrakhan-admiring minister and sounds the alarms to Jews everywhere. He demands Obama repudiate the pastor. What idiocy!

I'd recommend reading the whole thing.

As a Jew myself, I denounce this whole load of crap out of hand.  More importantly, it's important to remember that the Democratic Party gets nowhere without the unified support of the black community and the Jewish community as well.  Allowing anyone to drive a wedge between these two groups is nothing more than a recipe for more Republican rule.

by Steve M 2008-01-15 09:12AM | 0 recs
Holocaust Deniers

In addition to his church honoring holocaust denier Louis Farrakhan, Obama also has offered to have an immediate Presidential summit with holocaust-denier Ahmahdinejhad.

I think the Jewish community has legitimate questions to ask of Senator Obama -- questions that, to date, have not been forthcoming during the media vetting process, presumably because saints don't get vetting.

by hwc 2008-01-15 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Holocaust Deniers

This is another example of the sort of demagoguery I flat-out reject.  For you to even imply that Obama has some sort of sympathy for Holocaust deniers is despicable.

by Steve M 2008-01-15 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Holocaust Deniers

I'm not implying that Obama supports Holocaust deniers. I'm implying that he may be politically tone-deaf in his failure to think through things like his commitment to hold a Presidential Summit with holcaust-deniers. Just like he was tone-deaf when he sponsored a seris of gay-bashing campaign events. I don't think Obama is a gay-basher himself.

BTW, Obama is not completely tone-deaf regarding his church's radical politics. He "disinvited" his spiritual advisor from delivering the invocation at his campaign announcment because he realized the potential political problems. Obama doesn't want his past to interfere with his carefully-crafted moderate persona.

by hwc 2008-01-15 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Holocaust Deniers

You most certainly are implying that.  You're the one spreading the meme here, don't act like you're merely commenting on it.  No one brought up Ahmadinejad before you did.

by Steve M 2008-01-15 10:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Richard Cohen Trys to Keep The Racial Flames B


I would point out that running as a "blank slate" for people to project their own images is a two-edged sword for a candidate such as Obama. If he had a public record or if he chose to define his views in concrete terms, his detractors would no longer have a blank screen for their projection. But, neither would his doe-eyed supporters.

Obama held a conference call yesterday to explain why he refused to support pro-choice legislation for what he described as political expediency. He could hold a press conference laying out his relationship with Louis Farrakhan and what specific Farrakhan views he supports and rejects.

by hwc 2008-01-15 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Richard Cohen Trys to Keep The Racial Flames B

What "relationship"?  The fact that Farrakhan was given an award by a magazine published by the daughters of the minister of Obama's church?  That's the "relationship" between Obama and Farrakhan, that now requires Obama to lay out precisely what he thinks of every statement Farrakhan has ever made?

For some reason I'm reminded of the time Tim Russert asked Obama what he thought about something Harry Belafonte had said.  Not sure why.

by Steve M 2008-01-15 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Richard Cohen Trys to Keep The Racial Flames B

I don't think you should stereotype Jewish media figures as not liking Obama because he hasn't been hawkish enough on middle east issues.  Paul Krugman can't stand Obama, but many prominent Jewish figures likes David Geffen and Frank Rich love Obama.  Jewish individuals are as diverse in opinion as any other ethnic group.

by greenboy 2008-01-15 11:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Richard Cohen Trys to Keep The Racial Flames B

Where the hell did you even get that from in my comment?  Please point me to where I "stereotyped Jewish media figures."

by Steve M 2008-01-15 11:56AM | 0 recs


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