Jewish Journal

Obama sure knows how to pick ‘em

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 30, 2008 | 11:11 am

Father Michael Pfleger steps onto the stage about 00:35 in this undated video, offering what looks like more of the same from Barack Obama’s home church. This diss of Hillary Clinton is what’s gotten Pfleger into trouble and again turned national attention Obama’s pastor problems:

“She just always thought that, ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white.’ ... And then, out of nowhere, came ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.” And she said, ‘Oh damn, where did you come from? I’m white. I’m entitled. There’s a black man stealing my show,’” Pfleger said at Trinity United Church of Christ.

He then went on to parody Clinton, sobbing and wiping his face with a handkerchief.

“She wasn’t the only one crying,” he said. “There was a whole lot of white people crying.”

Rev. Jeremiah Wright, it’s like you never left.

“I knew American politics was all about ego. But silly me thought it was about the candidates’ pride, not their clergy’s,” Manya Brachear wrote at The Seeker. “Is this an inevitable consequence of bringing religion into a presidential campaign?”

This and so much more—try $100,000 more for Pfleger.

Who is Michael Pfleger? As we noted last month, he is a strong supporter of Louis Farrakhan and has been described as a “spiritual adviser” to Obama. He also publicly threatened the life of a Chicago businessman and, according to one report, “is known for climbing ladders to deface liquor billboards.”

In his Trinity United oration, Pfleger asserted that white people have a moral obligation to surrender their assets, which, he suggested, properly belong to blacks (the video clip begins in midsentence):

  —honest enough to address the one who says, “Well, don’t hold me responsible [gesticulating] for what my ancestors did.” But you have enjoyed the benefits of what your ancestors did and unless you are ready to give up the benefits [voice rising], throw away your 401 fund, throw away your trust fund, throw away all the money you put into the company you walked into because yo’ daddy and yo’ granddaddy and yo’ greatgranddaddy—[screaming at the top of his lungs]—unless you’re willing to give up the benefits, then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation ‘cuz you are the beneficiary of this insurance policy!

Pfleger is white. Many Illinois taxpayers are black. The New York Times reported earlier this month that the latter have been forced to subsidize the former, through the good offices of one state Sen. Barack Obama:

  Mr. Obama more eagerly met the demands for spending earmarks for churches and community groups in his district, said State Senator Donne E. Trotter, then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I know this firsthand, because the community groups in his district stopped coming to me,” Mr. Trotter said.

  Typical of Mr. Obama’s earmarks was a $100,000 grant for a youth center at a Catholic church run by the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a controversial priest who was one of the few South Side clergymen to back Mr. Obama against [Rep. Bobby] Rush.

Obama has (expectantly) condemned the comments and seems to be distancing himself. We’ve seen this dance before.

It’s ridiculous the amount of blog fodder being provided by this one priest’s life. But the only issue I really want to address, because the rest speaks so loudly for itself, is just how irrelevant Pfleger’s comments were to his pastoral role. His trashing of Clinton specifically and white Americans in general should have no place at the pulpit, just as politicians’ religious calculations should be left off the campaign trail. Pfleger’s ranting sounds to me not like those of a minister of God but of a demagogue.

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