Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama on America

I listened to parts of the speech in "real time" on NPR (more on that later), then I read the speech later in the day, and then I saw some clips of the speech on MSNBC later still.

I have read some of the comments of Reverend Wright (sic) but I have not seen any of the clips on YouTube or anywhere else.


It is inconceivable to me, more so after today than ever before, that this country is ready to elect a black President.


At about the same time Obama was speaking, John McCain was in Iraq, addressing his one and only area of expertise.

He said that Iran, which is a Shiite nation, was busy training Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni terrorist group, to go into the neighboring Shiite country of Iraq in order to establish a strong base.

That is sort of like saying that whites used to be slaves in the United States until the Cherokees set them free.

As something designed to scare American voters, McCain's statement is flawless. Which is why we've been hearing it over and over for the past several weeks.

The only problem was that Joseph Lieberman, who was accompanying McCain on his trip, corrected John in front of a world-wide television audience.

Good. Let Lieberman fuck up some Republican's campaign for a change.

A well-run campaign wouldn't let Joe anywhere near McCain for a while. Except that they need old Joe to parade in front of all the old Jews in Florida.

All respect for the enormous chunk of time that Senator McCain spent defending my freedom. However, that set of events, most of which are now over 35 years old, does not, in and of itself, justify his claim to be President.

It is astounding that this old fraud is the best that the Republican Party could do.


Barack Obama went to Columbia University, was a community organizer, entered Harvard Law School in 1988, was the first black President of the Harvard Law Review (1990), turned down a 100% opportunity to clerk for the Supremee Court to be a community organizer some more, worked for a well-connected public interest law firm, was a State legislator, and is now a United States Senator.

If Obama wasn't running for President from the time he was in kindergarten, as my candidate likes to say (in one of her few recent lucid moments), he has certainly been running for President from at least the time he was elected President of the Law Review, and went straight back to Chicago to build up his street cred. Which meant that this half-white child of privilege needed to be where his constituents were. Which was at the Reverend What's His Name's Church.


I mention all that because no one with the sort of resume and ambition that Obama has is paying even the slightest attention to anything some minister is saying about politics in front of the congregation on Sunday morning. Any more than Mickey Mantle would ask his minister for help with his swing.

I would hate to be accountable for the crap I hear Rabbis say during those sermons I manage to stay awake for.


One implication of Obama's speech that wasn't explored anywhere is that due to the level of anger in the black community --- just the day to day walking around anger that those who haven't made it carry, and the day to day "survivor's guilt" and head scratching that those who have made it may carry --- maybe the Reverend Wright's sermons were not so radical in the scheme of things.

That maybe they are not nearly as radical as some of the book excerpts I read from Uncle Clarence Thomas's book last year (That maybe Clarence is the most radical "Kill Whitey" guy in America? That maybe his agenda is that since America is a right-wing nation, it is simply easier to pull the table down by tugging the tablecloth from the right?)

That maybe if Barack had gone to the church done the road, as the Foxies want him to do, things would not have been much different.

Incidentally, not to blame Rush and his friends for everything. I listened to some of the open phone line comments on NPR after the speech. A lot of old hippies grumbling about lack of gratitude. Thank you, o Great White Father.


Obama's was obviously the best speech any Democratic politician has made in my lifetime. Reagan made some excellent speeches for those who subscribe to his point of view.

The similarity between the two men's best speeches is that neither of them pandered to their audience. Both of them trusted that their audiences would understand the truth when they heard it. Reagan liberally quoted Jefferson and the other politicians he admired. Obama quoted Faulkner. Faulkner.

I'm sorry, but you know that if the current President or his father quoted anyone, it was someone that the speechwriter told them about earlier that day.


Race is this country's original sin, and its present glory. Given its bloody racial history, it is astounding that every year, millions of people of color are literally dying to get here. Like Barack Obama's father. And that so many of those millions suceed in getting their share of the American Dream.

However, if you want to come be part of the American family, then you have to pick up your share of the tab for America's family history. Which is slavery and the legacy of slavery.

You do not get to say that your family was still sitting in Europe in 1865.

You come here, and you are required to puzzle over how the United States could have been, for so long, both the most free and the least free nation in the history of the world.

Most free obviously because of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, fortuitous timing, the nature of its people and the expanse of the continent.

Least free because no nation went into something as dark and sinful as slavery and genocide with its eyes more open than we did.

It is sufficient, even in 2008, for someone to run for President of the United States based on the fact that he can articulate a vision for the United States that tries to move us past the racial tragedies of the past 400 years.

Whether Barack Obama is the person who gets to perfect the Union, as he kept saying, remains to be seen. However, the hope is that someone soon will try the blueprint that Obama proposed today.

I don't know where Obama would lead us, I don't think we'll get the chance to find out. What we are learning, at breakneck speed, is that the only place that McCain and Clinton know to take this once great country is down a dark hole.