"Did you read Obama's book? The first one?"
"Obama wrote about attending the sermon where Wright talks about the 'audacity of hope.' The reverend talked about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, cities America bombed to end World War II. My dad, a Marine, was stationed on the island of Guam when we assumed Japan would have to be invaded. Instead, we ended the war by dropping those bombs -- saving probably a million Japanese and American lives. Wright compared this to what happened in South Africa in 1960 in a place called Sharpeville. Do you know about Sharpeville?"
"Over 250 innocent black men, women and children were killed or wounded when the apartheid government opened fire on unarmed protestors -- a lot of them shot in the back. Now, Obama attended that sermon and had no problem with Wright comparing Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Sharpeville. Outrageous! And Obama used 'The Audacity of Hope' as the title of his second book and as a slogan when he ran for president. You want it both ways. Obama is so bright, but he was clueless about the stupid ideas of his pastor."
"Well, he isn't responsible for what his reverend says or believes."
"Never said he was. We're talking about whether Obama knew that Wright thought 9/11 was about the 'chickens coming home to roost' and that Wright implied that government was behind the drug epidemic by supplying the drugs."
"Suppose John McCain attended a church whose pastor -- a man he referred to as his spiritual adviser -- made racist comments about blacks and other people. The press would have been all over it, and McCain wouldn't have gotten his party's nomination. And if it came out too late for that, he would have been slaughtered in the election."
"You know," he conceded, "I guess when you like somebody, you tend to make excuses for them."
"That's what I'm saying. One more point. Nobody, by the way, stopped you, as a black man, from going to one of those tea parties. You didn't have to flash a secret sign. There was no registration fee. Nobody posted guards, stopping people at the gate. You try walking into a Klan meeting."
He laughed. As I got up to leave, we shook hands.
"One small step for man," I told him. "One giant leap for mankind."
"You take care," he said.