Talking Points Memo and many liberal blogs have correctly noted with outrage Tim Russert’s challenge to Barack Obama which seemed to imply that the latter shares every political view espoused by his pastor, who is controversial in some right-wing circles. Here’s the transcript:
RUSSERT: The title of one of your books, “Audacity of Hope,” you acknowledge you got from a sermon from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the head of the Trinity United Church. He said that Louis Farrakhan “epitomizes greatness.”
…What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it’s Farrakhan’s support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?
Badgering the witness, Tim. Obama renounced any support from Farrakhan. So he doesn’t have to do anything further to assure Jews on that score. As for any concern that Obama shares Wright’s views of Farrakhan, why would anyone in their right mind assume that Obama believes that Farrakhan “epitomizes greatness?” In fact, one might rather “uncharitably” suggest (as TPM does) that Russert raises the question not because it requires any answer (because it doesn’t) but because he wishes to plant a seed of doubt and mistrust within Americans listening to the debate. Does Russert truly believe that Obama parrots every view and idea of his pastor merely because the former happens attends his church and lifted the line “Audacity of Hope” from him? Surely Tim can do better than this if he wishes to plant doubts in peoples’ minds.
Bill Pearlman says
Why is this an out of bounds line of questioning. While not orthodox I attend and orthodox synagogue that has sermons that I agree with on politics and the middle east. I’m sure that you do also. Obama’s minister is a Farrakhan fan and traveled with him to Libya. Has a Jew I think that this is at least a point of interest.
Richard Silverstein says
Obama has already denounced Farrakhan. He doesn’t have to do it again just because Russert or Foxman or anyone else holds up a hoop and barks at him to jump through it.
You, Foxman & Russert are entitled to believe Obama is a fan of Farrakhan. It wouldn’t be true. But you’re entitled to be wrong if you insist upon it.