Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech: Reactions:

Neo neo con:

And along the way he managed to make what I felt was one of the single most revoltingly self-serving statements I’ve ever heard in a speech. I reproduce it here in bold:

I can no more disown [pastor Wright] than I can my white grandmother—a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Talk about equivalences! Somehow his elderly grandmother’s privately uttered statements of mild racial stereotyping have become a counterbalance to the invective Wright spouted from the pulpit as a spiritual leader.

Roger L. Simon:

Barack, your speech was bullshit.
Barack, this isn’t about generations.
Barack, this isn’t about the black church.
Barack, this is about a pathological minister whose uncontrolled anger wounds his own people and keeps them down.
Barack, this is about a man who ignored that rage for his own political gain and even now won’t admit a huge mistake and looks for nuance and excuses.
Barack, this about a woman who went on scholarship to Princeton and Harvard and still hates America.
Barack, you say you want Black-Jewish reconciliation but you hung with an anti-Semite.

Rick Moran

Overall, where Obama succeeded was in his interesting and incisive look at the state of race relations today. He said what needed to be said to both races in a way that didn’t come off as preaching, which it very well could have. Where he failed was in his prescriptions to solve the problem, which are nothing less than old fashioned liberal panaceas to be applied by government to cure society’s ills.

Obama began the speech with a reference to the Founding Fathers who wanted to form a more perfect union in creating the Constitution. He built upon this theme in a way that would have the Founders turning over in their graves; that the way to that “more perfect union” was through massive government intervention in the daily lives of American citizens.

Michael J. Totten :

Barack Obama gave a good speech, and I think he means well, but he should have chosen a pastor in the mold of Martin Luther King, Jr. It's real simple, and nothing he can say will ever change that.

Grand Rapids resident Bill Baldridge, a lifelong Democrat

had lingering questions about Obama's political future after watching his speech.

"It was a very well-delivered speech. But I am afraid this is not going to bode well. He may win the nomination but lose the election.

"The whole Reverand Wright issue is one of judgment. No matter how much he would like all of this to go away, there are groups that will take advantage of it.

"When you say words matter, I don't know how you get past this moment."

Joanne Jacobs:

Anatole Broyard climbed out of the box that society wanted to stick him in and his daughter tries for 500-plus pages to stuff him back in. Americans are supposed to be able to escape the past and create themselves. Blacks deserve that right too.

Abandoned by his father as a toddler, Obama was raised by a white mother and Asian stepfather and then by white grandparents in multiracial Hawaii. But there was no future in Chicago for a biracial, transcultural Hawaiian. He had to be black — especially if he wanted to build a political career. His mother’s atheism wasn’t viable either. He had to join a black church that would connect him with black culture. He found a black leader who became “like family.” Wright was a “crazy uncle.” Or a father. “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community,” Obama said.

Eventually, on our march to a “more perfect union,” Americans will get beyond our divisive, destructive obsession with race. But maybe not in 2008.

The two statements I highlighted in red contradict each other's moral purposes. According to the story Jacobs tells, Anatole did not "climb out of the box imposed upon him by society”. He managed to shift unobtrusively from one box into another, that is all. He exchanged the box of blackness for the box of whiteness. And he did it because he could, due to the fluke of having white enough skin to "pass".

His daughter knows that this is no real human progress, but a defeat by succumbing to the racial paradigm that underlies this "divisive, destructive obsession with race."

Obama in no way fits into these narratives that Jacobs tells us about. He is a man pretty comfortable in his own skin. He is authentic in his outsiderness, differentness. It is when he tries to "belong" that trouble starts for him...

It is possible that unwittingly, and by maybe going along with his wife's wishes, he painted himself into a corner staying with that church and that pastor. Sometimes when you stand too close, you can't quite see clearly. And Obama missed the irony of the contrast between what he clearly saw wrong in Imus *("He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America.") and what he failed to see as clearly in Wright.

From a simple human relations point of view, he owes Wright some loyalty, even now, when he sees him clearly now, that he spends less time in that church. It would go against his basic sense of decency to completely shun a person who had been a friend to him. There is something to be said about loyalty to friends. Up to a point.

What emerges from this kerfuffle is simple: Obama is still a man in search of his own identity, his politics, his worldview. These have yet to form and be displayed in a way that is fully coherent so that Americans can make an informed decision about whether they want him for a president or not.


* Obama on Imus:

"He didn't just cross the line," Obama said. "He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America. The notions that as young African-American women -- who I hope will be athletes -- that that somehow makes them less beautiful or less important. It was a degrading comment. It's one that I'm not interested in supporting."


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