Gingrich, Hume criticize Obama for invoking his grandmother in the context of Wright

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Responding to Barack Obama's noting, in addressing controversial statements made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, that his white grandmother had "uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes," Newt Gingrich said on Fox News: To reduce a 20-year relationship with a public figure to his grandmother is just wrong. It's emotionally powerful, but it's just wrong." Separately, Fox News' Brit Hume said of Obama's statement: "[S]ome may find it deceptive, but ... it was pretty clever."

Appearing on the March 18 edition of Fox News' Your World, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) blasted Sen. Barack Obama's March 18 speech on race and politics as "intellectually, fundamentally dishonest," and specifically objected to Obama's statement: "I can no more disown [former Trinity United Church of Christ pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright] than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe." According to Gingrich: "To reduce a 20-year relationship with a public figure to his grandmother is just wrong. It's emotionally powerful, but it's just wrong." Gingrich did not explain how Obama's invocation of his grandmother "reduce[d]" his relationship with Wright, or why doing so was "just wrong."

Earlier, on the March 18 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, Fox News Washington bureau managing editor Brit Hume claimed that "some may find" that same portion of Obama's speech "deceptive." After co-host Jane Skinner called the statement "pretty clever," Hume asserted: "It is one thing, it seems to me, however, for his own grandmother, a white woman of an earlier generation, to speak of her trepidation at a black man on the street and to occasionally utter a racially tinged comment, than for Reverend Wright, in this day and age, from the pulpit of a Christian church, to be uttering the kind of things that he was uttering. But Obama did his best to connect them, and to find some strength for his argument in that way. It was -- some may find it deceptive, but, as you suggest, it was pretty clever."

From the March 18 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Did Obama succeed today? With us now, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of the best seller Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works. What do you think, Newt?

GINGRICH: Look, I think it was a great speech, and I think he is a great speech maker. And I also think it was intellectually, fundamentally dishonest. To reduce a 20-year relationship with a public figure to his grandmother is just wrong. It's emotionally powerful, but it's just wrong.

The core question that Senator Obama has to answer is very simple. For 20 years he was a member of a church where he now says his pastor -- a public figure -- was saying things -- forget that they were hateful; forget that they were divisive -- they were wrong. They were fundamentally, factually wrong. And yet Senator Obama, this figure of change, never once had the courage, never once thought it was his job to sit down with this person who is so close to him he can't repudiate him, and say to him, "You know, Reverend, you know I respect you, but you're just wrong about these things. They're not true."

From the March 18 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

SKINNER: Yeah, let's talk about some of the words that he used. He did repudiate the statements that Reverend Wright made. He said, "As Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong, but were divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity." He didn't break with him, though. He said, "He has been like family to me," and I thought this paragraph was pretty clever: "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother." He goes on to say how much she loves him, but that she had "confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe." Your thoughts?

HUME: That's pretty good stuff, isn't it? I mean, he manages at once to connect himself to Reverend Wright, Reverend Wright to the black community, and then himself to the world of white people through references to his own grandmother. It is one thing, it seems to me, however, for his own grandmother, a white woman of an earlier generation, to speak of her trepidation at a black man on the street and to occasionally utter a racially tinged comment, than for Reverend Wright, in this day and age, from the pulpit of a Christian church, to be uttering the kind of things that he was uttering. But Obama did his best to connect them, and to find some strength for his argument in that way. It was -- some may find it deceptive, but, as you suggest, it was pretty clever.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Newt Gingrich, Brit Hume
Show/Publication
Happening Now
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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