Don't be in denial. The following is true: Obama May Not Have Fully Contained Damage From Ex-Pastor
Patriotism is, sadly, a crucial challenge for Obama now. His aides believe that the Wright controversy was more about anti-Americanism than it was about race. Michelle Obama's unfortunate comment that the success of the campaign had made her proud of America "for the first time" in her adult life and the Senator's own decision to stow his American-flag lapel pin — plus his Islamic-sounding name — have fed a scurrilous undercurrent of doubt about whether he is "American" enough.
Indeed patriotism is a challenge for Obama, and it would not hurt him to end a few more speeches with "God Bless America." For despite many in our party being in denial, Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech has not contained the damage from a name I wish I had never heard, Jeremiah Wright.
Today The Wall Street Journal reports:
Sen. Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech on race relations last month seemed to put the controversial remarks of his former pastor behind him. But three weeks later, there is evidence of lingering damage.
"It has not been defused," says David Parker, a North Carolina Democratic Party official and unpledged superdelegate. He says his worries about Republicans questioning Sen. Obama's patriotism prompted him to raise the issue of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.'s remarks in conversations with both the Obama and Clinton campaigns.
"I'm concerned about seeing Willie Horton ads during the general election," Mr. Parker says, referring to campaign ads that Republicans widely credited for helping defeat Michael Dukakis in 1988. Mr. Parker said the Wright controversy didn't hurt his opinion of Mr. Obama.
No Democrat has won the presidency with a majority of white voters since 1964, and no president from either party has been elected without winning two of the three swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida since 1960. In those three states, some 23% of white Democrats would defect to Sen. McCain in a matchup with Sen. Obama, compared with 11% who would abandon Sen. Clinton, according to the Quinnipiac polls.
"It's a reasonable assumption that ... part of that drop-off among white voters would result from his pastor's notoriety," says Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown.
While Republicans initially believed that Sen. Clinton would be an easier opponent, strategists say they worry less about facing Sen. Obama now.
Among older, white voters, with whom Sen. Obama has struggled, the Wright controversy could make his climb steeper.