March 19, 2008
This was a landmark, pivotal speech. Full transcript at the HuffPost. I strongly urge you to read and listen to the speech in its entirety; it's worth it.
I've always thought that the Reverend Wright controversy was a manufactured one. Many evangelical preachers who routinely use similar rhetoric not only escape widespread condemnation but actually gain access to the corridors of power including the White House. It was also tinged with racist overtones, because by association with Wright, Obama's critics were trying to portray him as the stereotypical angry black man that Obama simply isn't. By association with Wright, they were also questioning his patriotism, which is a lazy crazymaker's favorite way of manufacturing outrage.
These incendiary charges are difficult to counter, but Obama's masterful speech -- which he wrote himself -- was, as the New York Times said, "as powerful and frank as Mitt Romney's was weak and calculating".
He could've delivered a safe speech by condemning Reverend Wright's remarks and saying nothing else but he didn't. Instead, he tackled the volatile issues of racism, bigotry and inequality, and how acknowledging their existence and rising above them doesn't diminish us but only makes us better live up to our nation's ideals.
The Wright controversy was a challenge that Obama transcended with uncommon grace, honesty and courage. He in turn challenges us, to move beyond the ugly, cynical, insipid, manipulative politics of old, so we can move forward and rebuild this country into what it was meant to be.
It is a leap of faith on which Obama has staked his presidency. The question is, do we have the courage to rise up to the challenge? Glenn Greenwald and Michael Crowley are skeptical, but I hope the same desire for change that brought Obama this far would also give us the courage to choose that this time, things would be different.
More from Kevin Drum, Steve Benen, Kyle E. Moore, John Cole, Melissa McEwan, TPM, Open Left, Matthew Yglesias, Memeorandum
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