Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Right Speech, Right Time

I've been reading some of the responses to Obama's speech yesterday. I think it is important to note how many of the commentators have had to acknowledge that the speech was exceptional. It was time for this speech. While all of Obama's speeches are well delivered this one had the content and focus called for in the moment. From my perspective it was pretty exceptional.

Here is what some of the major papers had to say on their editorial pages...

New York Times editorial:

There are moments — increasingly rare in risk-abhorrent modern campaigns — when politicians are called upon to bare their fundamental beliefs. In the best of these moments, the speaker does not just salve the current political wound, but also illuminates larger, troubling issues that the nation is wrestling with.

Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion, with its enduring vision of the separation between church and state. Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better.

Washington Post editorial:

SEN. BARACK Obama's mission in Philadelphia yesterday was to put the controversy over inflammatory statements made by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his spiritual mentor and pastor for 20 years, behind him. But Mr. Obama (D-Ill.) went deeper than that. He used his address as a teachable moment, one in which he addressed the pain, anger and frustration of generations of blacks and whites head-on -- and offered a vision of how those experiences could be surmounted, if not forgotten. It was a compelling answer both to the challenge presented by his pastor's comments and to the growing role of race in the presidential campaign.

Boston Globe Editorial:

BARACK OBAMA could have made a much shorter speech. He could have protected his campaign yesterday by denouncing and rejecting his former pastor, Rev.Jeremiah Wright, as a crank. Then Obama could have rushed on, hoping that someone else's scandal would push his own out of the headlines.

Instead, Obama took the opportunity to engage the question of race in America, starting a bold, uncomfortably honest conversation. He asked Americans to talk openly about the deep wells of anger and resentment over racism, discrimination, and affirmative action. It's a call to break out of the country's racial stalemate and finally reach a new national understanding.

This is the vision and aggressiveness that are called for today. Not playing it safe and treading where others fear to go but grasping the issues that face this country head on and searching for ways to tackle them.

thanks to DKos for the links

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