Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A More Perfect Union ~ The Full Speech

As important as Season 7 of American Idol is to the history of mankind, there was another notable performance yesterday, this one rather longer than one and a half minutes and by Barack Obama. There are two camps this primary season among Democrats: those who strongly prefer one candidate over the other and those who don't. I fall into the second category. I would be quite content to have either or both candidates in the White House. Given the alternative--another 4 years of Republican rule--I don't understand the Hillary-hating or the Obama-hating among people who don't support John McCain. Granted, neither Hillary nor Obama are perfect candidates, but who is, particularly in an era when the major sport is seeking out candidates' gaffes (and usually trivial ones) that will, supposedly, doom their campaigns. I listened to Obama's entire speech before I read any comments about it.

As a speech, I found it inspired and inspiring. Rather than shying away from the Pastor Wright controversy, he not only took it on but took it as an opportunity to discuss race in America, something that rarely happens, at least with any substance. It was a slick speech but also a meaningful one. He spoke about a complex issue with intelligence, subtlety, and grace. For those willing to listen with an open-mind for more than thirty seconds, it was important. Then I read some comments, and the two camps remain. Among zealous Obama supporters, the speech proved his worth. Among zealous Hillary supporters, the speech proved he's full of eloquent, empty words. The rest of us either gained or lost a little respect for the man, depending on one's response to what he said.

Politics aside (as if!), I was happy to hear a candidate talk for thirty-some minutes about something that matters and show that words, in fact, do matter. I'm sure it will be back to the horse-race mentality soon enough--if it isn't already--but it doesn't always have to be that way.

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