Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Speech reactions

Here is a sampling of excerpts from reactions to yesterday's speech by Barack Obama on race, religion and the presidential race from other blogs I read frequently:

Unlike Kennedy, he was not born to great wealth, pedigree or expectations. What this speech, and his willingness to deliver it, his skill at doing so, the passion in it, represented is what I mentioned second, a quality of mind that is very, very high, certainly in the same league with Kennedy, perhaps surpassing him. I don't know if it will save Obama's candidacy; those who would find a reason not to vote for him now have one, if they didn't already, and as I saw tonight on the monitors at my gym, CNN is still flaying the Wright outtakes and pumping its pundits as if Obama had not said a word today - J's Theater

Having been in the civil rights movement for over forty years, I have heard numerous speeches dealing with race in America. In my mind, this speech occupies the same rank as Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech. Granted the rhetorical flourishes were missing but the substance, honesty and bravery of this speech was simply stunning. He did not duck the tough issues no matter what the political consequences. The Senator bared own personal journey and those that came before him to the entire nation - David Mixner

This searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian speech is the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime. It is a speech we have all been waiting for for a generation. Its ability to embrace both the legitimate fears and resentments of whites and the understandable anger and dashed hopes of many blacks was, in my view, unique in recent American history - Andrew Sullivan

I thought this was one of the best speeches of his career, and one of the most nuanced speeches on racism of any Presidential candidate with perhaps the exception of Shirley Chisolm. I think one people will be critiquing and debating for years to come - Kenyon Farrow

In Obama's speech I was reading the words of a man that gets it, regardless of the fact that he is a candidate for President of the United States of America that resonate with me on this issue. That he is this close to becoming president of this country -- and to risk it all by cracking open this door on a painful area of this country -- is something I thought I would never see. He is giving voice to a healthier view on race relations that needs to be embraced from a stage where it's hard to argue that it is not an issue worth tackling - Pam Spaulding

I am convinced now more than ever that Barack is the president that we need to move our country forward and to help us create a more perfect union - Bloggernista

He stepped up to the plate, and talked about race and what it has meant to this country. I have been killing the guy since day one to get just a little real, so when he does, I am going to give him credit - The Field Negro

The brilliance of the speech instead was evidenced by the way he leveraged the issue of Wright's comments to examine not only the reality of African-American life, particularly for those of the minister's generation, but also the fears, resentments, and anger that the issue of race has spawned within the nation's white majority. In doing so, Obama's words were significant not only in what was said, but as well in what was not said - Paul Schindler, Editor in Chief, Gay City News

In some ways the furor over the incendiary sermons by Rev. Jeremiah Wright played right to Obama's strengths -- a controversy he could address with a powerful speech, expertly delivered. Certainly anyone with an open mind who heard Obama speak so forcefully about his love for country and faith will accept that no part of Obama agrees with his pastor's outrageous statements... For the immediate future, however, Obama did not do all that he could have to relieve legitimate doubts raised by the controversy - Chris Crain

The question I have is, when will Hillary give her address on race issues? Why was it necessary for Obama to repudiate Rev. Wright when Hillary has so reluctantly distanced herself from racist statements coming from her camp? Why is it Black people always have to take on the responsibility of educating the rest of society on race? - Bejata

Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if Obama could stand up and say: "I agree with a lot of what that pastor says! We do act like terrorists sometimes. And whitey is a mean, oppressing motherfucker who's made life hell for us!"? And if Geraldine Ferraro could stand up and bray: "I have to admit, I was idiotic to suggest that being a black man would be someone's entrée into the White House! Perhaps the fact that not one black has ever been allowed to come close would have been a pretty good clue!"? - Michael Musto who blogs here.


Anonymous said...

How do you respond to Michael Meyers' reply in today's LA Times on Obama's speech? Because in my mind, now that all the hyped excitement has passed, I actually believe much more of what Meyers has said about the speech: that it missed a moment to further elucidate the brilliance of his 2004 speech themes, instead of entrenching us further in a quagmire of a racial divide in this country.

Andrés Duque said...

I usually do not allow anonymous posts on this blog but I thought your brief comentary was worthwhile and thought-provoking.

I read Michael Mayer's OpEd piece in the LA Times and and had a very different reaction than you did. I felt this time around Obama was responding to a very specific argument regarding the Rev. Wright raised by the extreme right in order to derail him as well as by Democrats who distrust Obama.

I am amazed that some - even on the Democratic side - are trying to punch holes into such an amazing speech. Mayer is right to commend Obama on his 2004 speech but I am surprised at his vehemence towards yesterday's speech, I personally believe that it also fits with the reality of race in America as the two speeches are not necessarily exclusive to each other.