But the speech he just gave blew me away. He calmly, boldly, sincerely covered ground which most fear to tread. Regardless of the political fallout, I’m proud that we have such a person running for the highest office in the nation.
A few things in specific stood out to me.
In the wake of the comments by Wright, Obama was first criticized for not distancing himself enough from the pastor, and then later for “playing it safe” by throwing Wright under the bus, proving that he wasn’t really different from any other cynical politician.
This speech put to rest any notion that he was going to play it safe.
With a calm, measured, confident but humble tone, Obama discussed Wright’s comments and his condemnation of the comments while embracing Wright as a friend and a man, even saying that Wright was “like family” to him. He expressed an understanding of the roots of Wright’s bitterness, but stated that Wright’s “profound mistake” was the claim that racism is endemic and that all hope is lost – that the American racial divide cannot be bridged.
But Obama went further into the issue than simply discussing the Wright problem. He also acknowledged the racial bitterness of the American experience – both black and white. He acknowledged it, understood it, and expressed that America must move past the “racial stalemate” of the past decades, or else at the end of the election, “nothing will have changed”.
I thought that one of the best parts of the speech was at this point, when he urged Americans to take him at his word, to stop being distracted by these issues, and to address the things that affect all Americans: health care, education, the war, and the economy. If we don’t do it right now, at this moment, in this election, we run the risk of being ever focused on distractions rather than the real issues.
Obama’s speech brings to the national discussion topics that are often discussed, as he says, in the barber shop and around the dinner table, but not in public. While I acknowledge that he’s probably the only candidate who safely can bring up these things, I’m still pretty proud that he did.
Not sure what will happen next, but I’m very pleased with the way Obama handled himself today.