Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Speech for the Ages

I watched Senator Barack Obama's speech on race, America, and the Rev. Wright today. I heard the whole thing--and I urge everyone reading this blog to spend the 30 minutes and listen. The transcript alone does not do it justice.

Ironically, what Obama said about his old friend Rev. Wright--the ostensible motivation for his landmark speech--seemed the least convincing and least memorable. His speech was strongest when he turned his attention to the larger issues: to the legacy of slavery; to welfare, affirmative action, and white anger; to barber shops, black anger, and raucous black sermons; to the European immigrant experience and the ethic personal responsibility; to YouTube clips and the OJ Simpson trial, etc. It was not so much what he said as how he said it. Obama spoke of these things bluntly, using these words.

Obama broke a silence that has reigned in mainstream politics since the 1980s: a silence once promoted by the left in hopes of healing divisions, now promoted by the right to pretend they no longer exist. If you watch television shows from the 1960s and 1970s, it helps bring home just how little we actually mention race and racial tension in any public way these days. Obama's speech was both a return to past openness and a bridge to the future. It was moving and impressive.

Whatever the outcome of this year's elections, I believe Obama's speech of March 18, 2008 will go down in the history books as the reason it became acceptable once again to speak honestly and openly about race in this country. It was a risky speech, I think. But it was also a gift to the American people which perhaps only Obama could have given.

Updated by Bell Curve Watch the whole speech here:

12 comments:

Raised By Republicans said...

I've only seen clips of it. Can you post a link to the full speech?

Dr. Strangelove said...

Thanks, Bell Curve!

The Law Talking Guy said...

It was also very clever in other ways. Ferraro et al. are essentially making an argument that Clinton's campaign is either harder or more historic than his. It is historic and all that, true. But it's not the same. Obama may say that he doesn't want a contest of who's had more victimization, but this speech is a serious blow to her. Of course she can't give the same sort of speech on gender that he did on race. It would be, as Seventh Sister said to me yesterday, a hundred years too late.

Indeed, in response to this speech, she can have nothing to say - indeed, would dare say nothing. Not a bad tactic either, considering the need to distract form Michigan and Florida right now.

Raised By Republicans said...

Today is the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Obama gave a speech on ending the war.

Hillary gave a speech about counting the delegates from Michigan and Florida.

Raised By Republicans said...

I like how Jon Stewart put it. "At 11am on a Tuesday, a politician talked to Americans about race like they were adults."

I see in this marvelous speech the promise of an Obama Presidency. This is a special man. He is a natural leader with a vision of unity for a divided country. He is capable of holding our attention long enough to communicate ideas that take more the usual 10 seconds. At the same time, he respects us enough to try to do just that.

USWest said...

It was a great speech! And he hit is on the head. Perfect.

However, there is no need to knock Hilliary Clinton in order to compliment Obama. That is what makes me less willing to support him fully. It isn't him, it's the attitude of his devoted followers.

Dr. Strangelove said...

USWest voices my concerns as well.

Bell Curve said...

However, there is no need to knock Hilliary Clinton in order to compliment Obama. That is what makes me less willing to support him fully. It isn't him, it's the attitude of his devoted followers.

I agree with the first sentence but not the second. Why should Obama be deprived of your support because some of his supporters are over the top? Not to mention that one could also point to Hillary supporters that are much the same way.

Raised By Republicans said...

On this speech, I don't see how it relates to Clinton at all.

I made a comment earlier about what Obama did on the anniversary of the war and what Clinton did because I think it speeks to the typical criticisms of both candidates (i.e. that Obama is lacking in substance and Clinton is more concerned about getting elected than any particular policy).

US West, if you want to figure out why Obama people are so over the top about him, this speech is one reason. We see in him an opportunity to chose a leader who can really take this country into the 21st century. If he does nothing at all but end the war and transform the national discussion about race, he will have been one of the most significant presidents of the last 60 years.

The reality is that he will likely do a good deal more than that.

Is it so baffling that we find that possibility inspiring? Especially given the rather conventional alternatives. Edwards was just LBJ's policies with a younger, slicker package and better hair. Clinton is one of the most conventional politicians I've seen in a long time. Granted a woman president would be a very intriguing possibility. But the only unconventional thing about Hillary Clinton is her gender. Her strategies and tactics for this campaign have been right out of Political Conventional Wisdom 101. I don't mean to denigrate Clinton with this. Conventional politicians can do a lot of good. But when faced with a choice between two Democrats with similar policy positions, I'll pick the one who seems to be bucking the CW.

Dr. Strangelove said...

When I wrote that USWest voiced my concerns as well, I was thinking mostly of the first sentence.

But her second/third sentences will become more relevant as time wears on. It surely will behoove whoever wins the Democratic nomination to take steps to heal the divisions within the party--and that reconciliation is a task not just for the two candidates but for their supporters as well. Among Democrats, I suspect magnanimity will succeed better than triumphalism and snarkiness will help no one in the end.

I will confess to a little disappointment at offering praise to Obama for an excellent speech, and being answered with sideswipes at Hillary. That is kind of a turn-off.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I don't think commenting that she is not in a position to give such a speech - and that this is to her political detriment right now - is a "sideswipe."

A lot of HRC supporters on TV dump indignation and condescension on Obama supporters. That's what Ferraro was really doing when she said "people are caught up in the concept." Or when the term "cult of personality" shows up. She's supposed to be experienced and substantive, the candidate of serious people, while he's just a fad. It's very irritating.
That, Dr.S., is exactly what you meant when you said that Obama could have a "Dean-Scream" moment. I chided you that Clinton could too, and you conceded it, but I doubt you really meant it. I think Clinton supporters consciously or subconsciously expect that Obama is so green he'll do a Dean-Scream, then she'll be able to get the nomination when all us young folk wise up.

Fortunately, I think that side of the party split is only skin-deep (no pun necessarily intended).

Dr. Strangelove said...

"That, Dr.S., is exactly what you meant when you said that Obama could have a "Dean-Scream" moment. I chided you that Clinton could too, and you conceded it, but I doubt you really meant it."

No, I truly meant what I said.