I haven’t heard the Obama speech on race today, but from the online reactions it sounds like he totally killed. I really didn’t expect less of him on this topic.
My guess is he knew he’d be giving some variant of this speech during the campaign. Maybe it was going to come in a concession to the nominee, maybe during a victory speech when accepting the nomination, or maybe — as is turned to be — his race speech pulled double duty both explaining his spiritual life and controversial spiritual adviser and acknowledging the role race is playing in this campaign.
He couldn’t give a victory speech just yet, but he did need to set the tone for the general election to counter Team Clinton’s death throes and its ridiculous kitchen sink/toilet bowl strategy.
This speech has most likely been part of his plan from the point he decided to run for president. It’s a tricky subject and it was going to be very important to make the speech, not only at the right time, but to make sure it was successful. I think he accomplished both goals.
From the NYT:
Senator Barack Obama renewed his objection to the controversial statements delivered by the longtime pastor of his Chicago church, but declared in a speech here Tuesday that it was time for America to “move beyond some of our old racial wounds.”
“It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years,” Mr. Obama said. “Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy — particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.”
In an address at the National Constitution Center, a building steeped in the nation’s historic symbolism, Mr. Obama delivered a sweeping assessment of race in America. It was the most extensive speech of his presidential campaign devoted to race and unity, a moment his advisers conceded presented one of the biggest tests of his candidacy.
Here’s Andrew Sullivan’s take over at the Daily Dish. He’s become a very vocal supporter of Obama’s over the last few months:
Alas, I cannot give a more considered response right now as I have to get on the road. But I do want to say that 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.
And it was a reflection of faith – deep, hopeful, transcending faith in the promises of the Gospels. And it was about America – its unique promise, its historic purpose, and our duty to take up the burden to perfect this union – today, in our time, in our way.
I have never felt more convinced that this man’s candidacy – not this man, his candidacy – and what he can bring us to achieve – is an historic opportunity. This was a testing; and he did not merely pass it by uttering safe bromides. He addressed the intimate, painful love he has for an imperfect and sometimes embittered man. And how that love enables him to see that man’s faults and pain as well as his promise. This is what my faith is about. It is what the Gospels are about. This is a candidate who does not merely speak as a Christian. He acts like a Christian.
Bill Clinton once said that everything bad in America can be rectified by what is good in America. He was right – and Obama takes that to a new level. And does it with the deepest darkest wound in this country’s history.
I love this country. I don’t remember loving it or hoping more from it than today.
Head here for more reactions from the blogosphere and my part three take here.