Dash of Pepper

The pyrotechnic pastor
The Gazette Staff
For many weeks, Senator Barack Obama, running for nomination as the Democrat presidential candidate, seemed to float above the fray. His relaxed, rather laid back style complimented his message - namely that he represented a break from the old-style politicking - that he would bring people together, discard political spin and convenient statements - that special interests and lobbyists would not play a part in his campaign.
His "bringing people together message" would ultimately not stand up in a general election campaign. He has the most liberal voting record in the senate and has not ever crossed the aisle on any matter of note. But his followers were floating in some airy place above reality and the factual record would not have much effect on them.
Why? Because the Senator was something like a Rorschach test - the ink blot exercise used by psychologists wherein a patient can read his or her own interpretation on the shape of the blot. His vague "change" statements allowed followers to project their own wishes and desires onto him. Forget about asking questions like "What kind of change and in what direction?"
Then the pastor disaster happened. The fireworks were set off across the country. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermons surfaced, and they were more than a sound bite. Many were appalled by the outpouring of what sounded like hate - although some of the statements about 9/11 and HIV aids were just plain wacky, although outrageous.
Obama's response was not quick and somewhat muted. In a speech on race in Philadelphia, he did not disown the man who had been his pastor for almost 20 years, although he distanced himself from the pastor's statements. However, things seemed to calm down somewhat and the campaign looked like it might get back on track.
Then the Reverend himself injected himself back into the spotlight with a speech at an NAACP weekend dinner in Detroit followed by an amazing appearance before the National Press Club in Washington the following Monday. The furor broke out all over again and this time Obama responded the next afternoon with a stronger statement, saying that his relationship with the Reverend had "changed." He also refuted some of the specific allegations against the U.S. government made once again by the pastor.
For his part, Rev. Wright hinted that he was angered at being uninvited to give the invocation last year when Sen. Obama announced his candidacy. Apparently, the campaign decided against a public appearance and the pastor did his invocation in the basement before the main event took place upstairs.
Whatever the reason, the pastor inflicted great damage and Obama has been struggling in the polls ever since.
Senator Clinton, with new found energy, realized she might have a chance with Reagan Democrats in Indiana and even in the south. She found her way onto major TV programs, even including the once disdained O'Reilly Factor. She held her own and is now portraying herself as the "tough" one.
By the time this column is printed, the results in Indiana and North Carolina will be known. I'm betting she will take Indiana, possibly by double digits. I think she has chance of coming close in North Carolina and even pulling out a win.
If she continues and takes more of the popular vote, it looks like the race may continue right to the August Democrat convention in Denver.
Can you say "super delegate?" I pity these folks. They will be damned no matter what direction they choose, and even more so if they choose to parachute a new name into the nomination. To add to the nastiness, some members of the unseated Florida delegation say they will raise cane big time. It's a bizarre situation. Potentially, after many months of endless campaigning, the millions of votes and many millions of dollars spent to get those votes could be overridden.
But as the man said, 24 hours in a political campaign is a lifetime. Who knows what lurks in the underbrush ready to spark yet another furor?
Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2009 14:46