The speech did not get off to a good start. In the first paragraph were two glaring errors. You can pooh pooh the errors as trivial if you like, but keep in mind that isn't some middle school history class; this guy is running for President of the United States! All emphasis is mine:
“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
Sorry Candidate Obama, the group of men who drafted the Constitution were not creating a democracy. A democracy is the last thing they wanted. If you read the Constitution, you will not find the word democracy or democratic located anywhere in that document. What you will find is this passage from Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution:
This country is (supposed to be) a Republic, not a Democracy. In a Republic, we elect representatives who pass laws that are in accordance with our unalienable, God-given rights. In a Democracy, our rights are whatever the majority of voters deems them to be. In a Republic, your rights cannot be voted away, no matter how popular the urge might be. in a Democracy, your rights can be voted away according to the whim of the majority.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government....
Next, the Philadelphia convention didn't last, "through the spring of 1787." The convention started in the Spring of 1787. It lasted through the summer, and concluded in late September of that same year. A small detail I know, but when you are giving a speech as a candidate for President of the United States - a job that requires you to swear an oath to defend the Constitution - you may want to show that you know when the document was written.
That was just the first paragraph.
Later, Obama got to the gist of his speech:
Sorry Candidate Obama, you can condemn, you can castigate, you can denounce, you can criticize Wright's rants all you like. I will always answer this with one phrase: Twenty years. For twenty years, you sat in the pews of Trinity United Church of Christ listening to Wright's crap, tithing thousands of dollars to this church, having the revagogue Wright himself marry you to your wife Michelle, having the revagogue Wright himself baptize your children. Sorry Obama, but you entered into a voluntary relationship with this creep and you never repudiated anything he said until it became politically necessary. And you never did leave the church.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
This next quote is where Obama really lost me:
I can no more disown [Reverend Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
Wow! Way to throw your grandmother to the wolves in an effort to save your political career. There is one problem with this analogy. You can't choose your relatives. Your grandmother is your grandmother, and there is nothing you can do to change that. Your pastor however is entirely your choice. Yes, you can disown him. Barack Obama should have done so 19 or 20 years ago.
One of my fellow social studies teachers (a total leftist who grew up in Berkeley) saw me in my car in the parking lot as I was reacting to what I was hearing Obama say during the speech. When I got out of the car he asked me if I was listening some funny statement by one my "right wing talk hosts." I said, "No, I'm listening to Obama make a pathetic attempt to distance himself from his pastor." My co-worker knew about this controversey but tried to minimize it. As we arrived at the doors of our respective classrooms, my co-worker told me, "I wouldn't make too big a deal out of this", to which I replied, "If Obama is elected president, you bet I will!"
Good Day to You, Sir