Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama's fiery former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is back in the public spotlight, just when the Illinois senator hoped he would fade away.

There is no question that Wright's hateful, racially charged, disturbingly conspiratorial rhetoric from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side of Chicago has hurt the Democratic front-runner. But whether the damage would derail Obama's historic bid for the presidency remains an open question.

Wright's reappearance at a time when Obama is creeping closer to the 2,025 delegates he needs to defeat Hillary Clinton for the nomination has less to do with his specious claim that his incendiary words were taken out of context and more to do with his bitterness and anger over Obama's rebuke and condemnation of his outrageous remarks.

He had laid low when his inflammatory sermons exploded into public view last month, creating a crisis for Obama's campaign which the senator dealt with in a carefully crafted address that distanced himself from the minister who preached "God damn America" and in effect blamed this great country for the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 people.

But now he has returned, unrepentant, to inflict further damage on the man who has been a member of his church for 20 years, whose political prominence and success is a testament to America's enduring promise as a land of everlasting opportunity. Why?

Wright claims that video clips of his sermons were taken out of context and were unfair, unjust and untrue. "I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I am un-American, that I am filled with hate speech" and that the sound bites were used to "paint me as some sort of fanatic," he said on "Bill Moyers Journal" over the weekend.

In fact, while the sound bites constantly shown on TV news programs often used snippets of his most outrageous remarks, his fuller statements were often broadcast as well, or were published in full in newspapers, periodicals and on numerous Web sites at the height of the controversy they sparked in March.

Obama called those statements "a profoundly distorted view of this country," saying that Wright's comments "were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity, racially charged at a time when we need to come together." Wright's statements reveal a terribly mixed-up mind harboring a hate-filled take on the fabric of America. Among his remarks:

-- "Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God," he said from the pulpit in 2006.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.