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The Obama-Wright divorce

The New York Times' lead: "Obama broke forcefully on Tuesday with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., in an effort to curtail a drama of race, values, patriotism and betrayal that has enveloped his presidential candidacy at a critical juncture." More: "At a minimum, the spectacle of Mr. Wright's multiday media tour and Mr. Obama's rolling response grabbed the attention of the most important constituency in politics now: the uncommitted superdelegates - party officials and elected Democrats - who hold the balance of power in the nominating battle."

VIDEO: NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports on Sen. Barack Obama calling remarks by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, "destructive".

"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 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.'" 

The Los Angeles Times writes, "Some black leaders said Tuesday that they were frustrated at Wright for undertaking a publicity tour in recent days that may have harmed the chance to elect the first black president. And a number of African American church leaders expressed alarm that Wright, whose views on social issues are far to the left of most black clergy, claimed on Monday to speak for all black churches. 'I wish that Jeremiah, my friend, had kept his eye on the prize,' said the Rev. Frank Madison Reid III, pastor of a large African Methodist Episcopal congregation in Baltimore who studied with Wright and has invited him regularly to preach at his church. 'And the prize here for America, for all Americans, is that we can elect the first black man for the presidency.'"

The Washington Post: "At a meeting of black religious leaders at the Howard University School of Divinity on Tuesday, Wright declined to address the firestorm that his remarks had ignited. 'You heard what I said [Monday] morning,' he told a reporter. 'I just wish that the media would focus on more of what they are saying in there, because they are trying to make this about me and Barack.'"

The New York Post: "After 20 years of loving Barack like he was a member of his own family, for Jeremiah to see Barack saying over and over that he didn't know about Jeremiah's views during those years, that he wasn't familiar with what Jeremiah had said, that he may have missed church on this day or that and didn't hear what Jeremiah said, this is seen by Jeremiah as nonsense and betrayal," said the source, who has deep roots in Wright's Chicago community and is familiar with his thinking on the matter. 'Jeremiah is trying to defend his congregation and the work of his ministry by saying what he is saying now," the source added. "Jeremiah doesn't care if he derails Obama's candidacy or not . . . He knows what he's doing. Obviously, he's not a dumb man. He knows he's not helping.'"

The Boston Globe: "The condemnation was a dramatic shift for Obama, who had tried to navigate a personal and political minefield: maintaining a relationship with the minister who brought him to Christianity, performed his wedding, and baptized his two daughters, while distancing himself from Wright's most incendiary sermons and trying to quell a controversy that threatened to undermine Obama's campaign's focus on racial unity."

The Washington Post's editorial page mostly praises Obama denouncing Wright yesterday. "Did Mr. Obama climb out of that hole yesterday? It seems to us that the whole sorry episode raises legitimate questions about his judgment… But Mr. Obama is right when he says that his entire career is antithetical to the divisiveness of the Rev. Wright's comments. We've found things to cheer and things to criticize about Mr. Obama during this long campaign, but we don't see how anyone could question his commitment to transcending old racial battles and finding common ground. The Rev. Wright doesn't speak for the candidate, and we hope the pastor doesn't become a continuing excuse for political ads built on racial fears."

The New York Times' editorial page: "It took more time than it should have, but on Tuesday Barack Obama firmly rejected the racism and paranoia of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., and he made it clear that the preacher does not represent him, his politics or his campaign." 

Maureen Dowd: "The Illinois senator doesn't pay attention to the mythic nature of campaigns, but if he did, he would recognize the narrative of the classic hero myth: The young hero ventures out on an adventure to seek a golden fleece or an Oval Office; he has to kill monsters and face hurdles before he returns home, knocks off his father and assumes the throne. Tuesday was more than a Sister Souljah moment; it was a painful form of political patricide. 'I did not vet my pastor before I decided to run for the presidency,' Obama said. In a campaign that's all about who's vetted, maybe he should have."

The Globe's Canellos writes that "voters and other political observers will inevitably wonder what took so long -- and how Obama could have misjudged someone to whom he was very close." 
 
But the Globe's Lehigh writes, "So as we begin yet another round of discussion about the radical reverend, let me offer a radical proposition. What's really relevant here is not what Jeremiah Wright says but what Barack Obama believes." More: "With the wrathful reverend now delightedly reinjecting himself into the headlines, that's precisely what Obama needed to do. ... And yet, no matter what conspiracy theories the reverend subscribes to and no matter what moral equivalencies he draws, it's Obama, not Wright, who is the presidential candidate.

Some editorials hit Wright harder than anyone else, like this one in the Cleveland Plain Dealer…  

… and this one from the San Antonio Express-News

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune believes Obama will face more Wright tests. After watching Wright on Monday, the paper doesn't seem to believe Wright will simply fade away.