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Wright meets the press

The reviews of Wright's appearance at the National Press Club yesterday were mostly unkind. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank: "Wright, explaining this morning why he had waited so long before breaking his silence about his incendiary sermons, offered a paraphrase from Proverbs: 'It is better to be quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.' Barack Obama's pastor would have been wise to continue to heed that wisdom. More: "Should it become necessary in the months from now to identify the moment that doomed Obama's presidential aspirations, attention is likely to focus on the hour between nine and ten this morning at the National Press Club. It was then that Wright, Obama's longtime pastor, reignited a controversy about race from which Obama had only recently recovered - and added lighter fuel."

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson: "I'm sorry, but I've had it with Wright. I would never try to diminish the service he performed as pastor of his Chicago megachurch, and it's obvious that he's a man of great charisma and faith. But this media tour he's conducting is doing a disservice that goes beyond any impact it might have on Obama's presidential campaign. The problem is that Wright insists on being seen as something he's not: an archetypal representative of the African American church. In fact, he represents one twig of one branch of a very large tree."

Adds Bob Herbert: "The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him. Smiling, cracking corny jokes, mugging it up for the big-time news media — this reverend is never going away. He's found himself a national platform, and he's loving it."

The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley: "Now it turns out that Mr. Wright doesn't hate America, he loves the sound of his own voice. He is not out of touch with the American culture, he is the avatar of the American celebrity principle: he grabbed his 30-second spots of infamy and turned them into 15 minutes of fame."

The Washington Post has this interesting nugget: "Obama aides said Wright had rebuffed their recent offers of public relations assistance. They stressed that they had no warning about a media blitz that included an appearance with Bill Moyers on PBS on Friday night, a nationally televised speech to the NAACP in Detroit on Sunday evening and yesterday's appearance at the National Press Club."

Obama was asked if he felt betrayed by Wright, who played a significant role in Obama's spiritual life for 20 years, performed his wedding and inspired the title of Obama's most recent book, 'The Audacity of Hope.' 'I just want to emphasize that this is my former pastor,' Obama said. 'Any of the statements that he's made both to trigger this controversy and that he's made over the last several days are not statements that I've heard him make previously. They don't represent my views. And they don't represent what this campaign's about.'"

"Obama did not mention Wright at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where he spoke and took questions for about 80 minutes. In response to a question about his faith Obama spoke at length, but did not use it as an opening to say yet more about Wright. No one in the enthusiastic 5,000-person crowd asked him about the controversy, nor did anyone tonight among 1,900 people packed into a high school gym in Wilson."

"Ron Walters, a University of Maryland political scientist and the former campaign manager for Jesse Jackson in 1988, said Wright is clearly attempting to address the 'gross unfairness' in the way his remarks have been characterized. While Wright is understandably defending himself, Walters said, 'it doesn't bode well for tamping down the story' that Obama probably wishes would disappear," the Boston Globe writes. "'This [controversy] is unlikely to go away any time soon,' he said. And it will make it more difficult for Obama to wrest away disaffected white working-class voters from Hillary Clinton, Obama's Democratic rival. Clinton carried that constituency by wide margins over Obama in winning primaries in Pennsylvania and Ohio -- wins that kept her candidacy alive and prevented Obama from wrapping up the nomination."

The New York Post blares "Pastor Disaster" on its cover over a photo of Wright at the National Press Club, his hands cupped outward. Wright had some words for Obama, saying if he's elected he'd be going after him.

And… Sharpton is blasting Obama. "Obama made a call for nonviolence in the aftermath of the Sean Bell verdict -- infuriating the Rev. Al Sharpton, who accused the presidential candidate of trying to 'grandstand in front of white people,' sources told The Post.