Sen. Barack Obama's response to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's incendiary appearance on Monday at the National Press Club is not just a day late and a dollar short: It's a month and a half late and a few million dollars short.
Wright's self-promoting and racially divisive remarks have set back a half-century of progress on race relations in the United States. Obama's long-delayed denunciation of his former minister seems to have come too late to save the senator's political self-immolation.
Obama's first self-destructive act was his secretly recorded remarks before wealthy San Francisco donors describing working-class white voters as "bitter" and "clinging" to guns and religion. That remark cost him dearly in the Pennsylvania primary among Roman Catholics and working-class whites.
Obama's second act of self-immolation was his delay in denouncing a man who blames whites for creating the AIDS virus to wipe out people of color and calls America a terrorist nation. Obama's denunciation of Wright yesterday and the time it took him to sever ties to Wright may well end up costing Obama large portions of the rest of the white voting demographic.
We may soon start to see the defection from his campaign of superdelegate support. The New York Times reports, "Eileen Macoll, a Democratic county chairman from Washington State who has not chosen a candidate, said she was stunned at the extent of national attention the episode [Wright's remarks] has drawn, and she said she believed it would give superdelegates pause. 'I'm a little surprised at how much traction it is getting, and I do believe it is beginning to reflect negatively on Senator Obama's campaign,' Ms. Macoll said. 'I think he's handling it very well, but I think it's almost impossible to make people feel comfortable about this.' "
HuffingtonPost.com quotes a SurveyUSA North Carolina poll showing Sen. Hillary Clinton closing in fast on Obama there. This poll was released the same day that North Carolina's governor, a superdelegate, endorsed Clinton and the same day that Obama finally denounced Wright. In other words, the full impact of both these events was not yet felt when this poll was taken:
April 29: A SurveyUSA North Carolina poll shows a considerably closer race than the other polling firms. SurveyUSA also gave a smaller initial lead that anyone else in the race, but the tightening is now showing across the board:
Barack Obama: 49%
Hillary Clinton: 44%"
As soon as polls start to show the extent of alienation Obama has produced among white Democratic voters, superdelegates won't be far behind. If Obama does not carry North Carolina next week by double digits, he will be in serious trouble. Look for calls by party leaders for him to drop out if his victory in North Carolina is not convincing.
In case you needed one, here from washingtonpost.com is a refresher on what Wright said on Monday:
From the moment he entered the room, Wright seemed to be looking to stir controversy; he was escorted by Jamil Muhammad, a leader of the Nation of Islam, which contributed to the minister's prominent security detail. Speaking before an audience that included Marion Barry, Cornel West, the New Black Panther Party's Malik Zulu Shabazz and Nation of Islam protocol director Claudette Muhammad, Wright praised Louis Farrakhan, defended the view that Zionism is racism, accused the United States of terrorism, repeated his belief that the government created AIDS to extinguish racial minorities, and stood by his suggestion that "God damn America."
And remember what Obama said about this man six weeks ago:
"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community."