For Obama, is the Wright issue over or just beginning?

Barack Obama and friends would like to believe that a little steam is beginning to come out of the furor surrounding the explosive views of the candidate's onetime pastor and spiritual advisor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show Thursday, Obama defended his handling of the controversy over Wright -- who had suggested the U.S. government could have brought on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and planted the AIDS virus among African Americans. His wife, Michelle Obama, urged: "We've got to move forward."

A supporter on the liberal Daily Kos website proclaimed that had already happened. "The entire Wright storm cloud has been seeded, drained and dispersed," said the pro-Obama poster.

Not so fast, conservative writers and radio commentators demanded.

On Fox television's "Hannity & Colmes," co-host Sean Hannity said Obama's relationship with Wright exposed the candidate as "hiding who he really is, and I think that's what's damaging here."

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt blogged that Obama's past associations with Wright and others were increasingly making him look "unelectable." Hewitt added, "The Dems look more and more like Thelma and Louise headed for the cliff."

Republican uber-operative Karl Rove, now a Fox television commentator, said Obama should admit a mistake in associating with Wright. And Rove hardly appeared crestfallen when he predicted that the controversy would "continue on for months."


More on Wright: The controversy continues to bite back at Wright. Spike Lee, director of such racially themed films as "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X," was quoted in London's Guardian newspaper Thursday saying that the pastor "needs to be quiet." Northwestern University, meanwhile, withdrew its offer of an honorary degree for the minister, fearing his presence might make it difficult to ensure the "celebratory character" of the school's June commencement ceremonies.

-- James Rainey

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