US Politics

Obama’s race speech

I haven’t read through all the commentary on Obama’s race speech yet, but I did watch it, and believe that above all else, the style he exhibited goes to the core of his candidacy. He speaks about issues, controversial issues, with a political voice that hasn’t been heard before. He transcends old ideological, ethnic, religious and historical divides. This voice is not just new to the US, but internationally. This is why so many people in Canada and Europe, for example, are watching him in a way they don’t even look at their own leaders. I can’t express the number of times I have been asked in Canada who will be “our Obama”. Same in the UK.

It is also worth mentioning that the voice evident in the speech clearly shows the unique positionally that he is able to hold. Ferraro was right – Obama could not have given this speech if he were white. Nor could he if he were a boomer – white or black, or female. Neither of the Clinton’s could have given this speech. This, however, does not in any way diminish the force of him giving it. As Andrew has said, it simply adds context to the historical moment/opportunity that surrounds his candidacy.

In any case, despite his religious exuberance and US patriotism, I basically agree with Andrew’s post on the speech, some of which is below:

I do want to say that this searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian speech is the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime. It is a speech we have all been waiting for for a generation. Its ability to embrace both the legitimate fears and resentments of whites and the understandable anger and dashed hopes of many blacks was, in my view, unique in recent American history…

I have never felt more convinced that this man’s candidacy – not this man, his candidacy – and what he can bring us to achieve – is an historic opportunity. This was a testing; and he did not merely pass it by uttering safe bromides. He addressed the intimate, painful love he has for an imperfect and sometimes embittered man. And how that love enables him to see that man’s faults and pain as well as his promise…

Bill Clinton once said that everything bad in America can be rectified by what is good in America. He was right – and Obama takes that to a new level. And does it with the deepest darkest wound in this country’s history.

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