Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Race for the Prize

So, I guess I need to talk about the speech, as it's pretty much all anyone's talking about today. (Well, that and the fact that a hooker was once on a "Girls Gone Wild" video, surely the most shocking revelation imaginable.) Here it is in case you missed it:



It's pretty amazing stuff, and I'm a jaded guy. For obvious reasons, it's unlike any major political speech I've heard in my lifetime. But I think that might be understating the bravery of Barry going on television and basically calling out Americans of all races for seeing him only through the lens of skin color.

What the guy can do so well, what's so impressive about him that makes him such an effective communicator, is his utter and complete lack of defensiveness. Some politicians, after an entire week of media scrutiny on the potentially offensive statements of someone close to them, would be tempted to make excuses or even apologize. Obama doesn't condemn the nation for being angry with Wright, but he does imply that it's the incorrect reaction to the man. He doesn't defend himself at all; he defends his mentor. Which is brilliant. Because it subtly communicates that he doesn't need to defend himself, because he didn't do anything wrong.

He says his church represents the black community in its entirety. Obama can no more disown Wright than he can disown his own blackness. Think about that...if you condemn their church, you're condemning the black community itself. But he doesn't express this in harsh terms, calling the audience racist. He uses warm language about Wright and his church - "he has been like family to me," he treats everyone "with courtesy and respect." "These people are part of me." He invites you to get past the angry rhetoric, which is something almost every American who's not a Republican sociopath wants to do.

Then he fucking defends Geraldine Ferraro, the lady who said that he's only winning the Democratic nomination because he's a black man. Then he quotes Faulkner. While confronting the notion of racial anger in an honest and straight-forward manner, he quite legitimately depicts modern life in America as "a zero-sum game" in which citizens are made to feel directly competitive with one another. I mean, a black presidential candidate noting that black anger towards whites "is real...and it is powerful"? Holy shit...That's amazing.

Fantastic candidate though she may be in many ways, and I do think she's a pretty terrific politician, Hillary Clinton seems fundamentally incapable of displaying this level of class and panache.

And that's just the first half of the wide-ranging address. I'm not sure an American President in my lifetime has publicly discussed the nation's history with this level of passion, clarity and accuracy. Seriously, people, if we don't elect this guy in November, after having twice sent George Dubya to the White House, future generations are going to really wonder about our collective sanity. Perhaps their air pollution prevented their brains from getting enough oxygen, they'll wonder? Or LSD leaked into the water supply at a constant rate for 8 years, causing a kind of mass delusion?

      3 comments:

      Sharkbait said...

      Insightful breakdown. Glad you shared.

      GimmeDaWatch said...

      This guy is good, ladies and gentlemen. Fox News says he "was smoked out" (I mostly watch Fox b/c I like my shit fair and balanced tyvm), but he didn't have to utterly come with the balls. My side is chosen, so I don't how all the "centrists" are going to view this (which is all that matters in the end anyhow), but it probably takes a situation like this for his rhetoric to really shine. Seems like everyone was waiting with bated breath for him to puss out and stop keeping it real. Sar bruhs, guess that's not going to happen. I look forward to a dismantling of McCain in the debates.

      drummer510 said...

      Seriously, dis some heavy shit. He seems be constantly taking the higher ground. It's about time politicians started attacking corporations.