Thursday, March 20, 2008

Barack's Speech

Normally, I can hardly stand to listen to politicians speak, even the ones I support. The pandering, posturing, insincerity, and superficiality that politics requires make me ill.

Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday had a genuniness and a thoughtfulness that it's hard to remember seeing in any politician's speech. It's certainly the best political speech I've heard in at least ten years.

Of course, the pundits, particularly the conservative ones, are sniping away at the speech on grounds ranging from utterly ridiculous ("he read it on the teleprompter") to merely catty (he didn't sufficiently distance himself from Reverend Wright and he wrongly equated Wright's comments with his white grandmother's fear of black men).

I suppose if you assume that the only purpose of the speech was to deal with the "Reverend Wright problem," then you might fail to appreciate its appeal. Maybe you need to understand that the topic of the speech was problems of race in America. When was the last time you heard a political candidate make an intelligent, thoughtful, honest appraisal of those problems?

Yes, Obama needed to address the issues raised by his pastor's unfortunate remarks. But someone also needs to address issues of race in America. I can't remember other politicians doing that in any useful way. It's a risky topic. Barack showed courage.

And he didn't equate any remark with any other remark. He put many different feelings that people have into a larger context that called attention to the urgent need for racial healing. It was a speech that needed to be made. Obama made it.

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