I have to tell you… I found the speech very engaging and well crafted. We dismiss it blithely at our peril.
Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty for conservatives to object to… but the argument which Obama framed up created a compelling narrative (especially during the first half of the speech). Obama’s strong condemnation of Rev. Wright coupled with his refusal to cut off his pastor cold turkey cuts a very natural path between the black community looking for vindication and conservative critics looking to catch him in hypocrisy.
If I had to regurgitate it, this is what I heard: “This is the reality of what many blacks believe in America, I don’t believe it, but you can’t reach out to this group by ignoring them or lambasting them outright. Likewise, my fellow blacks need to condemn the ugly vitriol against whites and fess up the to their own messes. America is full of these contradictions. It makes us stronger when we deal with it.”
“Contradictions” is a term that many people can relate to.
As others have noted, the last part of the speech was a liberal boilerplate of good intentions. No surprise there. But the overall tenor of the venue was positive in nature and disarming in effect.
I mean, ask yourself. What was his main goal going in? Dissolve the Wright issue and move it into the win column. Did he accomplish that? I think he did.
I find it interesting that Barack Obama’s continuing difficulties because of Jeremiah Wright are being framed in the context of two things it is definitely not about: race and religion.
This controversy is not about race. If anyone made the claim, and I have yet to hear it, that Obama is being criticized because of his race they are wrong. It is not the color of Obama’s or Wright’s skin that is the subject of controversy. No rational person would equate Wright’s anti-Americanism with the color of his skin, unless we are to believe that skin color determines nationalistic attitudes (which is patently absurd). It is Wright’s inflamatory statements themselves that have engendered controversy and not his skin color. Perhaps Wright would say the two are inseperable, but, again, skin color does not determine the content of character. Thus, those who frame the controversy in the context of race are not navigating the facts, but are pushing a headline that is detached from the story.
Likewise, the controversy is not about religion. Wright’s comments are not theological, but are political. It is not the tenets of Obama’s faith that are in question. No one is asking about his belief in God or his belief in the divinity of Christ or any other doctrinal question. No one has suggested that Obama should be disqualified because of his beliefs in spiritual matters. This is distinct from Mitt Romney’s experience where it was doctrinal differences over such things as the nature of God or post-mortal life that were the subject of controversy. Wright’s statements cannot be resolved by resort to religious sources. The slight convergence with religion that this controversy has is because of Wright’s title and the location of the remarks. Wright is a pastor and the remarks were given in a Church. Those facts alone do not make the controversy about religion. The controversy is about religion only insomuch as Obama proclaims religious belief in the statements that Wright made, something that Obama seems unlikely to do.
At a high school this week in Manchester, NH , Barack Obama once again confessed his sins but this time to a group of students. He had previous written about his drug use in his 1995 book, “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance“. Let’s just assume that these students have not read his book. This strange confession came when an adult asked him about his time as a student. There was nothing in the question about past drug use, so why bring it up? It looked like he was waiting for an excuse to mention it. But why? What was the point of him bringing this up at this point in his campaign? He has recently been surging in the polls, gaining on Hillary. My best guess is that it has something to do with the “dirt” Hillary’s campaign denies that they have.
All conspiracy theories aside, Obama at least seems to be preparing everyone for the fact that he is imperfect for some reason. If he is not trying to pre-emptively negate any attack, then perhaps he is just sending the message that he wasted a lot of time being wasted. “Do as I say, not as I do” does not work on anyone under the age of 30. Teenagers instead hear, “You can use drugs and turn out ok. Look at me, I’m running for President. As long as you stop eventually, you’ll be just fine. Experimentation is a part of growing up. I’m sure you’ll grow out of it, everyone does it.” Yesterday, someone told my four year old daughter not to shake a can of soda, so of course the next thing she did was shake the can. This behavior continues in most people well past their teenage years as any parent can attest.
Mitt Romney calls this discussion with students a mistake. Giuliani admires his honesty. This is no surprise. Giuliani certainly has a few skeletons in his own closet and would prefer that people overlook his character flaws. Some people are more imperfect than others. I would like my President to be as close to perfect as possible and set a good example for the youth of our country. Leaders should be held to a higher standard than the people that vote for them.