Because we spent approx. 18 hours in airports and planes the past couple of days, we were unable to see the Obama race speech and all the accompanying commentary surrounding it which is a good thing because after watching it in its entirety on YouTube this evening, we did have a few unfiltered thoughts:
Overall, we thought it was good but it fell short of the mark and certainly did not have the broad sweeping impact that Romney’s religion in America speech did (but guess which one will always be referred to more often down the line?).
Why did it fall short of the mark? Well, for one thing it was too long. He starts off well keeping to the arching themes of race in this country’s history and giving what we felt was a very strong repudiation of Wright’s words and rhetoric. However, Obama starts drifting half-way through his speech, using his call for racial reconciliation as a jumping-off point for better healthcare, education, ending the war in Iraq, etc., etc.… campaign stumping that should have been placed on hold for this occasion.
He then goes on to rationalize the bigotry exhibited by some blacks on real injustices visited upon them in the past and at times, in the present. Fair enough (don’t necessarily agree but…O.K). But then, mystifyingly, he turns around and rationalizes white bigotry on affirmative action and welfare which, in his opinion, formed the foundation of the Reagan coalition. This is pure hooey, of course, and does not even dignify a response.
While listening to all this rationalization for plain old bad behavior without a straight-up unqualified condemnation of the same, a quote came to mind made by Rosalind Carter when speaking of (speaking of…) Reagan that we will apply to the subject at hand: “Obama make us comfortable with our prejudices”. He does. Because he didn’t just come out and say bigotry and racism was inexcusable, he made us feel a little more comfortable with some that we may harbor… its not really our fault, after all….just look at history.
We will commend him, though, for recognizing part of the greatness of this country is that it is not “static” with respect to progress whether its race, gender or religion. This is a theme pro-Western Civ types like us have been making for years especially with respect to Islam: “yeah, some of our history is not pretty… freely admitted… but we always reserve the right to be smarter and better than we used to be”.
We may have more later but that was what made the strongest initial impressions. Good but not great. Certainly, with all the hoopla surrounding this dust-up the opportunity for greatness was there so we’ll just call this a long single rather than a home-run.
P.S. The nagging suspicion remains…. He wants to use the "crazy uncle” argument but how can you break bread with that same crazy uncle for over 20 years without cracking him upside the skull? Obama says that we all have people in our lives that we love yet have disagreements with but, my g#d, those types of disagreements. And, worse, he never gives any evidence that he challenged Wright on any of his rhetoric over those 20 years. Nice speech but actions do speak louder than words so we don’t believe he is quite off the hook on this one.