Barack Obama Venerates, Separates Self From Reverend Jeremiah Wright

Barack Obama Repudiates Rev. Jeremiah Wright

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

At times, what is true for us, is not valid for those we cherish.  The individuals we love most, who may have guided us through our life travel, do not experience the world as we do.  People, even Pastors, are not always [W]right; nor are they necessarily wrong.  People have perspectives, perceptions, and pain.  Sadly, we humans, breakable beings that we are, are easily hurt.  We rant and rage as we fight to survive.  Souls are fragile.  No one can save us, not G-d, or self.  The enemy is within.  The Almighty may give us tools. However, he cannot lead us from the temptation to defend ourselves when we believe we are wounded.  Nor can the Lord help us to understand how, when we harm one, we injure many.  Barack Obama understands this to his core.  The hopeful Presidential aspirant addressed this truth.

When a person, such as Doctor Pastor Reverend Wright is lambasted, he can and will either lay down and die or he will attack those who he believes attempted to mortally mutilate him.  Few will simply remain silent when they feel as though they have been repeatedly stabbed.  As serene as a man of the church may think himself to be, he too is human.  Jeremiah Wright, in recent days, has offended many.  He  damaged the reputation of friend and foe.  The learned scholar, wise as he may be, is as flawed as we all are.

It is difficult to watch a man fall from grace and perchance it is more of a challenge to criticize one intent on self-preservation.  This has been the dynamic for Presidential hopeful Barack Obama.  How do we denounce the words of a man we have long respected without demeaning the character of a tragic hero.  Today, the potential Commander-In-Chief did so in a speech.

I invite your review, reflection, and responses.  If we as a nation are ever to heal all that divides us, we must speak of what our shared concerns.  Barack Obama has done this.

The full transcript is offered.  Please peruse the speech.

Obama’s Remarks on Wright

The following is a transcript of a press conference held by Senator Barack Obama in response to recent statements by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., as provided by Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign.

Senator Barack Obama: Before I start taking questions I want to open it up with a couple of comments about what we saw and heard yesterday. I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That’s in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That’s who I am. That’s what I believe. That’s what this campaign has been about.

Yesterday we saw a very different vision of America. I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday. You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either.

Now, I’ve already denounced the comments that had appeared in these previous sermons. As I said, I had not heard them before. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church, he’s built a wonderful congregation, the people of Trinity are wonderful people, and what attracted me has always been their ministry’s reach beyond the church walls. But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the United States’ wartime efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me, they rightly offend all Americans, and they should be denounced. And that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.

Let me just close by saying this, I — we started this campaign with the idea that the problems that we face as a country are too great to continue to be divided; that, in fact, all across America people are hungry to get out of the old, divisive politics of the past. I have spoken and written about the need for us to all recognize each other as Americans, regardless of race or religion or region of the country; that the only way we can deal with critical issues like energy and health care and education and the war on terrorism is if we are joined together. And the reason our campaign has been so successful is because we had moved beyond these old arguments. What we saw yesterday out of Reverend Wright was a resurfacing and, I believe, an exploitation of those old divisions.

Whatever his intentions, that was the result. It is antithetical to our campaign, it is antithetical to what I am about, it is not what I think America stands for, and I want to be very clear that moving forward Reverend Wright does not speak for me, he does not speak for our campaign. I cannot prevent him from continuing to make these outrageous remarks, but what I do want him to be very clear about, as well as all of you and the American people, is that when I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. It contradicts everything that I’m about and who I am. And anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who has read my books, who has seen what this campaign’s about, I think will understand that it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country.

Last point, I’m particularly distressed that this has caused such a distraction from what this campaign should be about, which is the American people. Their situation is getting worse. And this campaign has never been about me. It’s never been about Senator Clinton or John McCain. It’s not about Reverend Wright. People want some help in stabilizing their lives and securing a better future for themselves and their children, and that’s what we should be talking about. And the fact that Reverend Wright would think that somehow it was appropriate to command the stage for three or four consecutive days in the midst of this major debate is something that not only makes me angry, but also saddens me.

May we each hold those who we most revere in our hearts and remember, it is hard to be human.  While we may be made in G-d’s image, we are certainly not as close to perfection as we envision the Lord to be, no matter our calling.

Barack Obama, Reverend Wright, and References . . .

Fear Factor; The Telephone Rings in the White House?

US Democrats – Walter Mondale 1984 Video 10

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

A telephone fills the screen.  The deep blood red hue warns us war is eminent.  Little light shines on the barely visible instrument.  The tone is ominous and foretells the future.  The audience is aware there is trouble in the world.  Slowly, the table turns.  A yellow bulb in the center of this contrivance communicates doom. It  glows and pulsates.  We concentrate on the orb shaped object squarely in the center.  The dominance of this display is foreboding.  Our future is in the hands of the person who picks up the receiver.  The question reverberates through our mind.  Who will we place in this most powerful position?

Americans are familiar with the symbol and the stories attached to this crimson contraption.  With a word, the leader of the world’s superpower can commit this country to war.  Perchance, the voice on the other end of the line will inform the President of the United States, we have been attacked.  No matter what is said or done, citizens in this country recognize the dire circumstances.

In cinematography circles, the term is mis-en-scene.  An auteur creates the scene, sets the stage, and decides what is essential to communicate. A desired message is maximized.  The method and manner in which a communiqué is delivered can manipulate a made-up mind.  The choice of lighting is critical.  Textures and colors are telling.  Space can be used to intensify the sensations a spectator will experience.  

If characters are in view, the make-up they wear must be impeccable, believable, and impressive. Costumes must speak with a voice so subtle as to be unnoticeable.  Prominent persons in the cast must dress in a manner that draws attention to them.  Interiors convey a meaning.  The medium is the message.

Advertisers understand this and take advantage of the props.  If the product to be sold is luscious to look at, then a director will focus on the appearance.  If the façade is less appetizing, alterations are possible.  When the exterior is less expressive, the experience can be enhanced.  Sex sells.  Food is fine.  Meals fill our minds.  Snacks satiate our stomachs.  Sustenance stuffs the pocketbooks of industrialists who manufacture the provisions.  Profits are plenty with thanks to the primary ingredient, promotional advertisements.

Product placement, a more discreet statement, can be far more powerful than a blatant cry for attention.  Consider the items purchased by patrons as they wait at a counter or in line.  A magazine title titillates.  A shopper will stop to scan the articles.  Sunglasses positioned at the front of an aisle remind a buyer it is bright outside.  If the weather looks as though it may take a turn for the worse, and umbrellas are near when a patron enters the store, the collapsible canopies will leap into human  hands.  Storeowners understand, it is location, location, location.  Humans hope to be comfortable and comforted.

Political consultants comprehend the dynamic is true  for the candidate.  Name recognition is the first priority.  Once a person’s identity is established, a professional public relations representative will work to solidify a respectable reputation.  Slogans echo throughout the airwaves.  Experience, judgment, the record, and a personal biography that captures the character and imagination are publicized.  

A Presidential aspirant, desirous of greater exposure, and an opportunity to appear average Joe or Jane, will perform on a popular television program.  Light hearted comedies and self-deprecating humor certainly will sell a figure considered too formal or firm.  A so called “candid” communication will garner more votes, just as a can of Pepsi in the hands of an athlete will stimulate more sales.  

Public relations persons, campaign coordinators, and advertising consultants such as Roy Spence, creator of the 1984 Red Phone commercial and the 2008, 3 AM advertisement, know what the public wants.  Mister Spence is familiar with what the electorate will buy.  This specialist selects the stage, and sets the scene.  He has a flare for the dramatic.  Just as a knowledgeable film director can gently induce an audience to suspend disbelief, a fine marketeer can persuade the constituency to cast a ballot for the candidate of his or her choice.

In 1984, Mister Spence convinced Democrats that then Democratic Presidential hopeful Walter Mondale was  preferable.  Mondale would protect them from an unknown enemy.  Democratic Presidential challenger Gary Hart was doing well in the polls.  It seemed the good-looking well-spoken rival had a chance.  Hart might have won the nomination.  However, political commercials warned the public Gary Hart might not experienced enough to hold the office or the red telephone receiver.

Human as he is, a public performance brought Hart’s judgment into question.  His own folly hurt him.  However, even without such a slip, history tells us an advertisement can change the public’s perception.  From television sets nationwide a narrative evolved.

The most awesome, powerful responsibility in the world lies in the hand that picks up this phone.  The idea of an unsure, unsteady, untested hand is something to really think about.  This is the issue of our times.  On March 20, vote as if the future of the world is at stake.  Mondale.  This president will know what he’s doing, and that’s the difference between Gary Hart and Walter Mondale.

Voters were intentionally filled with fear.  Might a Senator be less senior and not as prepared as a former Vice President was?  Could it be that time in the White House better qualifies a person to be President of the United States?  Americans cannot be certain of what might have been.  We only comprehend what we believe.  Whether the world was, or is, in fact dangerous, it matters not.  Humans feel great trepidation for the unknown.  An imminent threat daunts and taunts us.  The unfamiliar is perhaps more ghastly than any reality might be.

When it comes to ruling the brain, fear often is king, scientists say.

“Fear is the most powerful emotion,” said University of California Los Angeles psychology professor Michael Fanselow.

People recognize fear in other humans faster than other emotions, according to a new study being published next month.  Research appearing in the journal Emotion involved volunteers who were bombarded with pictures of faces showing fear, happiness, and no expression.  They quickly recognized and reacted to the faces of fear — even when it was turned upside down.

“We think we have some built-in shortcuts of the brain that serve the role that helps us detect anything that could be threatening,” said study author Vanderbilt University psychology professor David Zald.

Other studies have shown that just by being very afraid, other bodily functions change.  One study found that very frightened people can withstand more pain than those not experiencing fear.  Another found that experiencing fear or merely perceiving it in others improved people’s attention and brain skills.

When people are panicked, they react and remember.  Any good  advocate [advertiser] understands if the message is to be effective, it must be unforgettable.  Public relations is the power of storytelling. Anyone can create a market for merchandise if they recognize they have three to four seconds to grab the attention of an audience.  An promoter has moments more to tell a story.  If an impression is to made, and the message is to influence, the information and delivery must be memorable.

In recent days, the public has been flooded with extraordinary expositions.  The narrator warns in a portentous voice “It’s 3 am and your children are safe and asleep.  But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing.  Something’s happening in the world.  the question is asked of voters, ‘Would you want Hillary Clinton to answer the call or Barack Obama?’  Will experience settle your mind or will judgment quell your angst?

New York University researcher LeDoux says, “We’ve gone from ‘vote for me or you’ll end up poor’ to ‘vote for me or you’ll end up dead.'”  . . . .

Why do these ads “work?”

“Elementary, my dear Watson”: the amygdala. The amygdala overrides the work of the more thoughtful cortex of our brains. It is a vestigial organ that testifies to the superior nature of the brain’s fear circuitry. Neurons only carry traffic one way from the cortex to the amygdala, which allows it to override the more logical and thoughtful cortex; it doesn’t work the other way around.  You might be able to “think” yourself out of an unreasonable or irrational fear, but, usually, the amygdala hobbles logic and reasoning, making fear “far, far more powerful than reason,” according to neurobiologist Michael Fanselow of the University of California at Los Angeles, whom Ms. Begley quoted in her article this way, “It (the amygdala) evolved as a mechanism to protect us from life-threatening situations, and, from an evolutionary standpoint, there’s nothing more important than that.”

Some say talk is cheap.  Speeches are not solutions.  However, in reality resolve is an afterthought actually well-founded in fear.  Try as humans might to silent the beast within, hysteria burgeons.   Frenzy follows. Men, women, and children act on fervent beliefs.  The telephone will ring in the dark of the night, and an experienced person must be in the Oval Office to answer it.  People prefer to place their hope in reason, regardless of the fact that fear, our emotions are not really rational.

By the time the telephone rings in the White House Military officials have already acted.  Professionals in the Pentagon are the first to respond and react.

Contrary to popular myth, and Hollywood portrayal, the hot line has never been a pair of red telephones, one in a drawer in the Oval Office, the other in the Kremlin. At first, it was a set of teletypes with messages punched in at a rate of about one page every three minutes. That system was replaced in the late 1970s with two satellite systems, as well as an undersea cable link.

The American end of the hot line is located not in the White House but across the Potomac in the Pentagon — at the National Military Command Center.

Without knowledge, people presume.  Humans fill in the facts.  Citizens rely on sources, even if these references appeal only to our innate fears.  Indeed, if a informant can touch a nerve, they can cause abundant concern.  Consternation is often the catalyst for great change.  We see this in political polls and through our purchases.  Currently, post September 11, 2001, Americans have bought the idea, we are in a necessary battle.

Even as far back as the 18th century the theorist Edmund Burke said, “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” It’s no wonder, then, that the electorate since 9/11 has been constantly manipulated with “orange” and “red” alerts and color-coded systems of assessing the threat of terrorist attack.  (Duct tape, anyone?) After 9/11, few of us doubt that there are terrorists who threaten our country, but constantly invoking that threat for political purposes has become Plan “A” for this Republican administration.  And it seems to be getting a great deal of play on the caucus stump, as well, especially from Republican hopefuls.

Here is one interesting example of fear trumping reason. Flight insurance was offered that would cover “death by any cause” or “death by terrorism.”  The specificity of the word “terrorism,” combined with the responses that it triggered, caused more people to spend money on “terrorism” insurance than they spent for “death by any cause” insurance, even though “terrorism” insurance is merely a small part of the “death by any cause.”

Harvard University psychology researcher Daniel Gilbert is quoted in the article: “Negative emotions such as fear, hatred and disgust tend to provoke behavior more than positive emotions, such as hope and happiness do.”

Hence, we may speak of peace and prosperity; nonetheless, Americans, as humans throughout the planet act on antipathy.  Our aversions drive us further and more frequently than affirmations do.  Politics, with all the claims that it is practical is in essence personal.  Affairs of State are also psychological.  More than a century ago, advertisers realized that the best tool they had was human emotions.  Brain researchers may not have plotted the patterns at work within the gray matter, until recently; nevertheless, Applied Psychologist, Walter Dill Scott explains, entrepreneurs knew how to move the masses.  Marketeers, then and now, acknowledged art alone, presented on a page or on a silver screen, does not have the appeal that an inferred message might.  Science, if applied subliminally, sells as well as sex does.

In an address before the Agate Club of Chicago the speaker said: “As advertisers, all your efforts have been to produce certain effects on the minds of possible customers. Psychology is, broadly speaking, the science of the mind. Art is the doing and science is the understanding how to do, or the explanation of what has been done. If we are able to find and to express the psychological laws upon which the art of advertising is based, we shall have made a distinct advance, for we shall have added the science to the art of advertising.”

In a recent address before the Atlas Club of Chicago the speaker said: “In passing to the psychological aspect of our subject, advertising might properly be defined as the art of determining the will of possible customers…. Our acts are the resultants of our motives, and it is your function in commercial life to create the motives that will effect the sale of the producer’s wares.”

Perhaps that is why politicians invest as they do.  The expected expense for influence in the 2008 Presidential election could exceed three [3] billion dollars, according to TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, Cable News Network’s consultant on political television advertising. Professionals in the public eye have learned from profiteers.  ‘You must spend money if you hope to “change” public opinion or odious perceptions.  We all are familiar with the notion politicians are crooks.  Image is everything if you wish to be elected or selected as the best software system, or the most sumptuous soda. Search engines also understand the importance of image and advertising.  Coffeehouses are not exempt.  As much as customers crave caffeine, without a bit of gentle coercion even the most loyal consumer might consider the cost of the Jamaican bean unnecessary.

  • Microsoft – more than 20 percent of their annual revenue or $11.5 billion
  • Coca-Cola – more than $2.5 billion
  • Yahoo – more than 20 percent of their annual revenue or $1.3 billion
  • eBay – 14 percent to 15 percent of its revenue – which was $871 million, much of that to advertise on Google
  • Google – In the millions rather than billions of dollars – with $188 million
  • Starbucks – $95 million

Fear can convince a constituent to vote as they will.  When a presentation is deftly designed, people forget the influence of media.  Persuasion is palpable.  Human hearts are touched by tone, tint, and tenor.  After, the emotional sentinel, the amygdala internalizes information, then people intellectualize.  Men, women, and children ponder, and ultimately affirm that they are right to think as they do.  The fives senses may not be directly involved in decisions made; still, information [or intuition] is studied through the filter of fear.

Americans think they analyze, what will occur if the red phone rings.  Then, just as advertisers hope, they act emotionally.  As citizens of the United States listen to the campaign commercials, watch the stump speeches, and seek solutions, we must accept that our choice will not be logical, for we are not reasonable.  The two-legged animal called man is but a blip in the natural cycle of neurological events.  The difference is, we have the capacity to build, and create machines that kill.  Humankind acts more aggressively on apprehensions than other animals are able to do.  We, the people are perhaps more vulnerable to descriptions, metaphors, and similes.  The psyche is profound as is psychology.  So, this election season remember.

This illustration of the way in which one chapter of psychology (Mental Imagery) can be applied to advertising is but one of a score of illustrations which could be given. Psychology has come to be one of the most fascinating of all the sciences, and bids fair to become of as great practical benefit as physics and chemistry. As these latter form the theoretical basis for all forms of industry which have to do with matter, so psychology must form the theoretical basis for all forms of endeavor which deal with mind.

The householder in glancing through his morning paper has his attention caught by the more attractive advertisements. The mechanic in going to and from his place of employment whiles away his time in looking at the display cards in the trolley or the elevated cars. The business man can scarcely pass a day without being forced to look at the advertisements which stare at him from the bill boards. The members of the family turn over the advertising pages in their favorite magazine, not because they are forced to, but because they find the advertisements so interesting and instructive.

These persons are oblivious to the enormous expense which the merchant has incurred in securing these results. They are unconscious of the fact that the results secured are the ones sought for, and that in planning the advertising campaign the merchant has made a study of the minds of these same householders, mechanics, business men, and members of the family. Advertising is an essential factor in modern business methods, and to advertise wisely the business man must understand the workings of the minds of his customers, and must know how to influence them effectively, — he must know how to apply psychology to advertising.

Roy Spence certainly knows his stuff.  The Texas advertising consultant for Senator and Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton, creator of the first 3 Ante Meridian commercial and the Red Phone infomercial has captured our attention.  Mister Spence is truly a master.  He is an artiste and a scientist.  This amazing man has moved the media and the masses.  He has advanced a implication, increased the audience, and altered the focus.  Roy Spence, on more than one occasion, has triumphed.  He successfully worked to make the most of the fear factor in a manner few can match.  Perchance, when the telephone rings in the White House or at the Pentagon, we may want our man Roy to answer the call.  Mister Spence grasps what alludes most malleable minds.

Congratulations Roy Spence.  You are a marvel.  You apply psychology and artistic principles.  Mister Spence, you have proven yourself to be the genuine candidate of change.  At a crucial moment in your candidate’s campaign, you alter reality.

Situations, Sources, Slogans, Speeches, Solutions . . .

Obama Came to Town Today

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

Barack Obama stopped for a campaign appearance in downtown Wilmington, DE, earlier today.  My wife and I were privileged to be among the several thousands (estimated at 20,000 on local radio) in attendance.  We live just north of the city and were worried about parking and access and all the matters that go with large crowds.  We were very surprised and pleased at what we found and heard at Rodney Square today.

The day was bright and clear if a bit cool.

We arrived to find blocks of people lined up to get through security to enter the Square proper.

The entrance line stretched several blocks with winding around in one block and around other blocks.  With a bit of looking around, we found the streets beyond the barriers and outside the Square to be open and empty as we arrived.  We soon found ourselves a spot from which we had a blocked view, but a very good sound.

We stayed in place for the duration.

The crowd was very diverse with all ages and ethnicities well represented.

We shared our small piece of real estate with people of our generation down from Pennsylvania as well as some much younger people from Delaware.  The talk was all about politics and about the excitement of anticipation that hung in the air.

The media presence was palpable.  Large vehicles with antennae sprouting.

Cameras everywhere.  With luck the coverage will be good.  We shall see.

The police presence was widespread and prominent.  There were officers at ever turn and on the tops of local building.

Even a very few protesters warmed the cockles of our hearts.

The speaking began with opening remarks from two Delaware gubernatorial candidates, Jack Markell and John Carney.  When Obama arrived on the scene the mood changed as the crowd went entirely wild for a few minutes.

Obama began by saying he was

not owed.  It was not his turn.  Rather he was feeling the fierce urgency of time…and that we stand at a profound moment in history.

He went on to mention the economy, healthcare, and education saying

We cannot afford to wait.

He said

Change happens from the bottom up, not from the top down.

He said we should

challenge ourselves to be better for the American people.

The crowd really roared when he said

Whatever else happens the name of George W. Bush will not be on the ballot.

Obama went on to speak of

health care for every American

and used the phrase

health care, not disease care.

If you work you should not be poor.

We need somebody who will tell you what you need to hear

. . . the truth.

Obama promised to bring the troops  home from Iraq in 2009 and stated no permanent bases would be left behind.  He portrayed himself as a man who

taught the Constitution, believes in the Constitution, and will obey the Constitution.

We don’t need the same old folks doing the same things over and over again.

Obama gave a new definition of hope saying

imaging and fighting for what did not seem possible before.

We imagine the world as it might be.

We will change this country and transform the world.

If or not any or all of those hopes and dreams will come true is yet to be seen.  At least the speech today gave many of us in attendance real hope for the first time in a long time.  There were parts that were less agreeable, but no one should expect to love everything a politician has to say.

Among the crowd were many children.  Some were carrying homemade signs.

In addition there were commercial signs of the usual sorts.

Everyone we saw or talked to along the way was excited and happy about the speech and the man.

Will wonders never cease?

All in all the day was a success for the wife and me.  We had a wonderful time and made the trek home without event.