Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech

I'm ready to say that this speech was better than any I can remember hearing from a mainstream politician in my lifetime, and contained a more nuanced, bold, accurate discussion of race than I ever expected to hear from a politician in my lifetime. One of the main criticisms I've heard voiced about it so far is that perhaps it's too nuanced, too brave for many voters to take, and too complicated to be digested in our crass, soundbite-and-spin oriented media-industrial complex. I don't want to believe that that's the case. I'd like to think that a politician this thoughtful, nuanced, and principled is exactly the sort of candidate who ought to do well in a country that is surely hungry for a change from the last eight terrible years. All I can say is: I supported Obama before today, but this was the moment when I started to truly believe that he had it in him to be a historically momentous president. And not because of the color of his skin, (and I can't really speak to the true content of his character) but because he's ready to talk about real, divisive, historic problems like race with a depth and seriousness that no other major politician seems to be able or willing to do. He's not pandering to anybody, and he's not ready to throw his longtime friend and pastor under the train for political expedience (the way I have to imagine the Clintons would do in a second), but instead tries to give us a real explanation of his relationship to his pastor, even if that explanation is possibly too complicated to play well on the 24-hour news stations.

If the Clintons somehow manage to wring the nomination out of the next few primaries, we'll be fools for electing them over this guy. If the Clintons manage to get the nomination through back-room shenanigans even after losing the popular vote, then the Democratic party is very possibly going to lose me forever, and it may indeed risk losing a whole generation of younger voters.


Eric said...

Whoa there turning this into a political blog! But those were my thoughts exactly. I supported Obama before this but I didn't buy into the cult-like will.i.am-video-type adoration. But I felt the exact same way about the speech-- best, most nuanced speech i've read by a politician in my lifetime and now i'm totally on board.

drischord said...

Pitchfork gave this speech a 4.8 and grouped it in a review with a Louis Farrakhan speech from 1995, which got a 9.6 and the new single from Young Jeezy, which got a 7.0. Apparently Pitchfork was pissed at Obama for referencing the journalist that said he was "not black enough," since that person was Ryan Dombal.

Via Chicago said...

Just watched it and yeah, it's something else. Really, really impressive. I too worry about the complexity of it though - I think the most telling sign is that the first applause doesn't come until 15 minutes (!) into the speech. In this day and age that is unheard of. I find most of GWB's speeches completely impossible to listen to simply because people cheer wildly every 20 seconds for the latest sound bite he has thrown out there. 15 minutes of silence is not a recipe for death by any means, but it is something rare to see these days.

All that said, I honestly in my heart of hearts don't think he's going to be our next president. I think Hilary will triumph somehow, and if she doesn't, McCain will. I so badly want to be proved wrong, but I'm scared that it won't be the case. But regardless of that - presidency or no presidency, I think Obama has it in him to be the most positive influence on this country since, well since MLK. I feel bad making that comparison as if I'm saying "He was important and black and this guy is black too so they must be the same!", but I think it's apt. Racism and bigotry is the #1 problem in this country and if it's only men like MLK and Obama who are willing to tackle that issue head on in a positive manner, then the comparison is fair. Win lose or draw he stands to be a person of historical import in a way that Hilary or McCain never will be.

Of course, it would be nice for him to actually succeed at helping make some of these changes too, and that would be a lot easier as president. Time will tell.

texplush said...

in a way, i'm glad the Rev. Wright controversy came while the primary was still up in the air (though as the Times says today, Hillary has become more of a longshot than the media wants to admit).
If Obama can weather this storm, then I believe he can win the general election. If even Bill O'Reily is broadcasting positive reaction to the speech then maybe there is a chance that this won't bring Obama down.
On the other hand, if the DNC reads the tea leaves in the weeks to come and even they can't help but push Hillary to the top, then Obama probably didn't have a chance anyway with moderate dems and independents in the general election.
If that happens, I will probably become an alcoholic. Then again, I might just do that anyway because this Florida/Michigan stuff is scaring the shit out of me....
At any rate, count me in the "best speech ever" group.

texplush said...

also, Drischord, you better watch out: Dombal totally has a Google Alert on his name.