Obama's Speech on Race

Senator Barack Obama gave a speech last week that I thought was one of the finest political speeches I've ever heard. George W. Bush is a horrible speaker. Bill Clinton was better, but not great. Most of the candidates for President since I started voting have been poor to middling. I admire good speakers. I admire them more if I wind up agreeing with them, but I appreciate skill regardless of message.

A couple of people I know and otherwise respect have said to me that they weren't going to bother listening to the speech because politicians never say anything new or groundbreaking, and anyway can't be trusted.

Okay, here's where I go out on a limb. I trust Obama. At the very least, I trust him to think before acting, and not just pick the politically expedient action. One of the reasons for this trust is last week's speech.

The speech was on the topic of race, but it indicates a thought process that can be applied to all polical topics. Senator Obama explains that while he may disagree with the opinions and statements of crazy people around him, he can't throw them from the tent for two reasons. One is that if you start throwing crazy people out of the tent, you really can't stop because everybody is crazy and that's part of the problem. The other is that there quite simply is no tent.

You can't sweep these opinions under the rug because there is no rug. Firing people doesn't make their opinions go away. Condemn a statement and the situation that gave rise to it does not disappear. The issue is still there whether you allow people to mention it or not. If we want to *attempt* to resolve these issues, we are going to have to talk about them even if the words that come out of our mouths sound hateful and inflammatory.

His point: He'd rather (at least) try to resolve the problems than deny they exist. These problems are not with individuals, but with our American society. You can't reject individuals and expect that to fix society. It's time to talk about fixing our society.

It's a thinking person's political position. Wow. It's different from the way politicians tend to speak and act these days. If he approaches everything with the commitment to reason he demonstrates here, then he's the person I want as the next President.

2008.03.25 at 12:00am EDT