I’m an Obama supporter, so I’m already inclined to have a high opinion of his politics, speeches, etc. But I can also say that one of the few things I actually spent time studying in college was the history of Presidential rhetoric and the rhetoric of the civil rights movement in the U.S., and in that context Obama’s speech today was quite remarkable. Pretty much unprecedented, I would say.
I’m hesitating right now, trying to decide if the world really needs another blog post about Obama, or what was right or wrong with this particular speech. I guess I’ll make one point and let it stand at that, though I’m game to discuss this in the comments if anybody else is.
It’s important that Obama didn’t throw Jeremiah Wright, or Trinity United, his church for the last 20 years, under the bus. For better or worse, Obama is telling us this is who he is, this is what goes on in a black church sometimes, and people need to get over it. I don’t suppose he could have said anything else and remained true to what he is, but when faced with a choice of addressing the situation head-on or simply distancing himself from this, he chose to talk about it.
All I ask of each Pipeline Person who reads this is that they either go to the link and watch the speech or read the text. Don’t rely on the media spin for this, even your normal trusted media outlets. There’s too much focus on how this speech plays politically in the now, and by “now” I mean a week-long period. And sadly, that’s increasingly true even of outlets like TPM.
No, this was a speech about history, a discussion of two Americas that is long overdue, and will likely resonate for some time to come. Again, take it with a grain of salt, because I was an Obama fan going in.
But I didn’t just pull the dude’s name out of a hat. This is how I want my President to speak, think, act and respond.