Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Speech for the Books

March 18, 2008

I waited with anticipation to hear Barack Obama's address to the nation about race, brought about by the unsettling clips and sound bytes of Jeremiah Wright, said to be Obama's spiritual advisor. The fact is, this is the speech Obama had to make; it is the reason for his being in the position he is in. It is the first real test of his ability to articulate the issues that continue to divide the country and to bridge that chasm with wisdom and calm.

I said to myself, "If he can't do this, he doesn't belong where he is." In fact, I've heard the man enough times that I knew in my heart that he could. I couldn't wait to hear what he would say.

He was able to remind us of the beauty of our Constitution and to explain our own flaws in its interpretation without sounding pedantic or preachy. His speech was historic in its elegance and its insistence on the perfectibility of our nation's goals. He was at his best, and his best is as good as we've seen in many generations.

The speech will be jawboned to death by the talking heads who are called upon to interpret all the political minutia of this extraordinary campaign. It's not for me to add more to that pile of -- shall I say minutia again? -- so I'll refrain. I for one am grateful that we have such a man to address this and other issues that divide this country in the kind of way to make those issues comprehensible. It is not an easy task in this day of obfuscation, prevarication and outright mendacity. It may not meet with universal approval, and it may not effect any particular change. This speech was a a beautiful first step in his long road to imbuing the electorate itself with the courage to change.

When all is said and done, it was just a speech. But it was a speech given by the only one on earth entitled and equipped to make it. I wish him many such platforms in the future, to make other such speeches, to articulate his unique and inspirational vision. I actually hope he'll get the bulliest pulpit of all -- but if not, this one time at bat has proved him worthy of an important position in the country and the world.

And on another subject, let me say this: I am so grateful that the politicians this year have universally put aside the ending that has been used for that last few political campaigns to end every single speech: "God Bless America!" I'm glad I haven't heard that one lately, and I hope I don't hear it any time in the near future.

But just between us, I often find myself saying "God bless you," when I hear Barack Obama speak.


Elmer Gantry said...

I’m not sure if there’s any truth to this, but I understand Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land is your Land” because he had become sick of hearing Kate Smith belting out “God Bless America” ad nauseum.

sinjap said...

the speech was ok...usual political pandering that everyone does when they goofed up somehow...but i specifically didn't like the way he threw his grandmother under the bus...he was talking as if the reverend wright is part of his family and his views were to be tolerated just like his, the two are not the same...i've got a couple of racists in my family too...i ignore their views and know that in no way do they reflect on me...but if i went over to their houses nearly every sunday for the last 20 years, i think that would be hard to say

Night Stranger said...

sinjap, i've just got to say that you have an unusual take on this matter. To each his own -- you saw it as "the usual political pandering" when almost everybody was moved to say it was a speech that will go down in history. There was so much more to it than "throwing his grandmother under the bus."

However, you're entitled to your opinion and I'm sure nothing I could say would make you see this a little differently. I'd just like to see you give this guy a little break until election time comes around. I still think the Democrats will probably end up nominating Hillary Clinton anyway and the election will go to John McCain.

Elmer Gantry said...

My thoughts are that the Democratic nomination will go to Obama and that the general election will go to McCain, absent any unexpected revelations or blunders which may call age into issue.

ML, enjoy your spring break. I'll soon be posting comments from Fairhope.

sinjap said...

i was re-reading my remarks and you're right, i've become too cynical for my own good...think i need to take a spring break from being a news junkie...happy easter!

Anonymous said...

And, I find myself saying, "God Bless Mary Lois" when I read your essays. Thank you, ML. You are a gift.