WaPo Praises Obama Gospel Gimmick, Skips McClurkin Spat
A major presidential candidate is straddling the fence between two key constituencies: gay voters and black churchgoers who tend to frown on homosexuality. Yet when profiling Barack Obama's gospel concert campaign swing through South Carolina, Washington Post staffer Sridhar Pappu all but left that verse out of his October 29 hymn of praise, "In S.C., Obama Seeks a Spiritual Reawakening."
Gay activists have slammed Obama for inviting ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to perform/campaign for the Illinois Democrat. Obama has repudiated McClurkin's personal views on homosexuality and in response to criticism from gay activists invited an openly gay preacher, Andy Sidden, to appear at the same campaign event as McClurkin. Obama stopped short of asking McClurkin to withdraw from his scheduled performance.
Yet nowhere in Pappu's article did Sidden's name surface, and the only mention of consternation within the ranks of liberal interest groups over Obama's affiliation with McClurkin was relegated to an oblique parenthetical reference:
(The gospel series also draws attention because of the inclusion of the Grammy-winning gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, who has publicly said he overcame his homosexual thoughts and desires through prayer.)
Pappu's treatment of the campaign gimmick of marrying Gospel music with an Obama campaign pitch was nowhere near the critical treatment conservative evangelicals get from liberal journalists for ventures such as "Justice Sunday" (emphases mine):
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- As a man not only of God but of politics, the Rev. Joe Darby is an outspoken observer of the campaign scene. Reclining in his cluttered office at Morris Brown AME Church here, he witnesses the union between the pulpit and the polls.
"Politics does come down to some degree of emotion . . . ," says Darby, one of this state's most prominent African American preachers, whose church is a magnet for Democratic presidential hopefuls. "The Democratic Party is just catching up to that. It's been nauseatingly safe in recent years."
As if from Darby's mouth to Sen. Barack Obama's ears, the Democratic presidential candidate from Illinois -- hoping his campaign can recapture some of that old-time religious fervor -- launched a three-city gospel concert series over the weekend across the state, in North Charleston, Greenwood and Columbia. Although Obama did not attend the "Embrace the Change" series in person (instead campaigning in Iowa), he was here in spirit, appearing by video screen and sending out his surrogates, such as pastor Hezekiah Walker and singer Beverly Crawford.
Obama's campaign could certainly use reenergizing. Since he announced his intention to run for the presidency, Obama -- and the powerful ebb that surrounded him wherever he woke, spoke, ate and sat -- seems to have withered beneath the supernova that is the Clinton campaign. Today, the senator from New York carries with her a fortified sense of inevitability, laughing off controversies while appearing on Sunday morning shows, showing no wounds from questions about fundraising, absorbing Obama's criticism over the weekend regarding Social Security. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Clinton leading Obama by more than 20 percent, with a lead of 13 percent among African American voters.
Each concert stirs some of the fervor that typified the Obama campaign in its early days. As the gospel acts perform, people rise to their feet, mothers hug daughters, old friends reach out to one another and then embrace strangers. Couples hold each other tight. Some close their eyes and sway in their seats. In Greenwood, most of the room is drawn to the stage, leaping up and down as if it were a mosh pit. The concerts' playbook was open to innovation. In North Charleston, the sister combo of Mary Mary recalled Beverly Crawford to the stage after her set, asking her to sing a few lines of her song "Praise Jehovah." The following night, with the show running long, Byron Cage did an impromptu set with a group of young liturgical dancers before he jumped from the stage to jam with the believers who had surrounded the stage.
"We've got the faith," Obama senior adviser Rick Wade tells those assembled on the first evening. "But now it's time to go to work."
Update (15:38): Kevin McCullough at Townhall has more on the Columbia, S.C., concert where McClurkin appeared:
There is still plenty of curiousity as to why McClurkin would even work the Obama event from the beginning - knowing Obama's radical support for Born Alive abortions, Partial Birth abortions, the continued growth of the radical gay-rights lobby, and his massive funding from the openly hostile gay activists groups.
It is also interesting that Senator Obama did not appear and the applause to his video-taped presentation was dwarfed by the live appearance by the far more conservative Donnie McClurkin.