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O'REILLY: The president needs to vet his preachers

If anyone can explain to me President Barack Obama’s choice of preachers, please do so because I am very confused. You would think Obama would have learned his lesson after the Rev. Jeremiah Wright debacle, where his pastor of 20 years was exposed as an America-hating zealot. Then, after being outed, Wright turned on Obama.

But on Easter Sunday, the president and the first lady took their kids to Shiloh Baptist Church, where the Rev. Wallace Charles Smith holds court. The pastor is a race-activist who last year said this at a private Christian college: “Now Jim Crow wears blue pinstripes, goes to law school and carries fancy briefs and cases. ... He doesn’t have to wear white robes anymore because now he can wear the protective cover of talk radio, or a regular news program on Fox.”

I have worked at Fox News for nearly 15 years and don’t know any racists on or off the air. At the very least, Smith is irresponsible in making that statement. And the whole tone of that diatribe is unfair and undisciplined. No fair-minded person indicts lawyers as racists. Obama went to law school.

This whole deal is troubling. After the Wright fiasco, shouldn’t the president’s staff be more protective of their guy and not put him in front of another bomb-throwing preacher? Or did the president insist on going to that service? If so, why?

As the first family sat in their pew, Smith did not hold back during his sermon. He talked about his baby grandson who was trying, the pastor posited, to say his first words: ‘‘I am here. ... They tried to write me off as three-fifths of a person in the Constitution, but I am here right now. ... I am not going to let anybody stop me from being what God wants me to be.’’

The three-fifths reference is to the constitutional mandate of counting each slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of representation in the U.S. House. That, of course, was rendered obsolete with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, but apparently Smith holds a grudge.

And he is entitled to do so under the First Amendment.

But again, why does Obama want to hear the pastor’s bitter prattle from the pulpit? Obama, himself, is perhaps the finest example of a man being allowed to reach his full potential, is he not? In what other country could a mixed-race child from a broken home grow up to lead his nation? Does that not speak well of America?

I bear no ill will toward Pastor Smith or Rev. Wright. They are both products of their life experience, which was most likely very difficult. But President Obama has a deep responsibility to promote this country as a place of freedom and opportunity.

Do you think sitting before a guy like Wallace Charles Smith on Easter Sunday accomplished that?

I don’t.

Veteran TV news anchor Bill O’Reilly is host of the Fox News show ‘‘The O’Reilly Factor.’’ Visit his website at www.billoreilly.com.