With tapes of his Jeremiah Wright being played ad-nauseum on every news channel, Barack Obama received his campaign’s first 3 AM call. He responded by giving "the speech": a genuine, brilliant, and anything-but-conventional political call for Americans to honestly address the subject of race.  CNN pundit Jim Wallis probably summed it up when he stated:  "…before Barack Obama’s speech this was a test of HIM. After the speech it has now become a test of US.".  Unfortunately, our mainstream media has already failed that test.  Sure, the media rightfully heaped generous praise on the historic speech with their words, but failed to honor those words with their actions. They agreed with Obama’s goal of elevating our national dialogue on race — right before they reduced that very discussion to where it was before Obama took the podium. Instead of delving into complex racial matters like our country’s segregated schools or our criminal justice system, we were treated to: 1) endless questions like "did Obama distance himself enough from Wright?"; 2) monumental out-of-context distortion about Obama’s subsequent "typical white person" remark[1] and 3) more questions like: "yeah, the speech was great, but did Obama sway ‘white working-class voters’ or ‘white blue-collar voters’ or ‘white fill-in-the-blank-with-any-euphemism-besides-bigoted’ voter[2]… And the "racial stalemate" continues… So if that is the case, then the least we could do is have that lowbrow discussion in an even-handed manner…

Like Malcom X did famously before him, Pastor Wright got himself in just a tiny bit of trouble by characterizing Al Qaeda’s 9-11 attacks on America as "chickens coming home to roost". Now it seems that the next chicken home-coming has now been brought back into John McCain’s own… front… yard. The weeklong verbal guilt-by-association attacks on Obama’s Pastor have changed the rules on how we monitor, assess, and judge our candidates. Preacher’s words were largely irrelevant last week – just not this week. Like the selective steroid attacks once did on Barry Bonds, Obama-attackers have now ruined it for everybody. And now it is John McCain’s turn to deal with such nonsense. Lets highlight alternet’s recent article on "The White Preacher Double Standard: How Hagee, Parsley, and The Rest Get Away With Everything" (and a big hat tip to frequent commenter Steady):

– Reverend John Hagee has called the Catholic Church the "Great Whore." He has said that the Anti-Christ will rise out of the European Union (of course, the Anti-Christ will also be Jewish). He has said all Muslims are trained to kill and will be part of the devil’s army when Armageddon comes (which he hopes is soon). John McCain continues to say he is proud of Reverend Hagee’s endorsement.

– Reverend Rod Parsley believes America was founded to destroy Islam. Since this is such an outlandish claim, I have to add for the record, that he is not kidding. Reverend Parsley says Islam is an "anti-Christ religion" brought down from a "demon spirit." Of course, we are in a war against all Muslims, including presumably Muslim-Americans. Buts since Parsley believes this is a Christian nation and that it should be run as a theocracy, he is not very concerned what Muslim-Americans think. John McCain says Reverend Rod Parsley is his "spiritual guide." 

– Jerry Falwell said America had 9/11 coming because we tolerated gays, feminists and liberals. It was our fault. Our chickens had come home to roost, if you will. John McCain proudly received his support and even spoke at his university’s commencement.

And it’s not just John McCain, in the article Rudy Guliani and Mitt Romney don’t exactly come up smelling like roses either. So now that the genie has been let out of the bottle, will the media hold John McCain and others to task? Will we get round-the-clock coverage of their fiery sermons? And finally, will John McCain be catapulted into a great leadership moment by giving an honest, nuanced and gap-bridging speech on the hot-button topics of say, "homosexuality" or "Islam in America"? …We are waiting with bated breath…

[1] This included CNN headlining with "Obama’s New Race Problem" and a Fox News broadcast that had host Chris Wallace railing against his own network’s "Obama-bashing";
[2] This is not to suggest that all "working-class" voters are bigots, but only that it would be so refreshing to hear at least one commentator state: "how will Obama’s speech play with white voters who may hold deep seated racial bias within them".


UPDATE: Related to Jeremiah Wright’s "9-11" Speech… as it turns out it went unreported that the famous passage with "the chickens coming home to roost" was actually A QUOTE from another man. And that other man is not named Malcom X. The long quote was actually of  Edward Peck. You might be surprised at Peck’s background. He is white, he is the former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, and former deputy director of President Reagan’s terrorism task force. How this information was not sought out or explained by any journalist until now constitutes an inexcusable oversight or monumental laziness,  if not an intentional omission  Lots of credit to CNN’s Roland Martin for doing the leg work to provide the larger context. Here is the full story. How much this changes one’s opinion of Rev. Wright is not the main issue here. It is our mainstream media’s job to provide information and seeking truth in its proper context, and they should be held accountable.