Leadership

Last night, I made the assertion that the speech in Philadelphia today was at the very least an opportunity for Obama to move past the Wright fiasco, but if he was at his best, it was an opportunity to show true leadership and prove to the party and to the American people that he is the candidate that embodies the qualities of the next President of the United States of America.

I can now say without question that that leadership was on full display.

The politically expedient thing to do would be to denounce, apologize, and hope everything goes away.  Doing such wouldn’t necessarily denote a bad leader either, but it would also be an opportunity missed, and the difference between what Obama could have done and what he did do could be the difference between a good leader and a great leader.

What he did do was not simply through Wright under the bus.  What he did do was recognize that while Wright was out of line, his inappropriate comments were fueled by a racial tension from a different generation that still feels the wounds of segregation and oppression, wounds that have been passed down to future generations as a result of the fact that Americans continue to fail to deal with race relations in this country in an open and honest matter.

He also validated some white racial tension, and recognized the concerns of some whites who have long harbored anger at the illegal immigration problem and affirmative action.  Apprehensions that I’m not even willing to validate he validated, and here he speaks all of a sudden to all people and not just a select few.

He showed a willingness to address all grievances and not merely dismiss those of one group or another out of hand.  And with utter class, he in one fell swoop dismissed the idea that Geraldine Ferraro’s comments equated to Hillary Clinton playing the race card.

And he took all this discord and laid it out on the line; these are obstacles we need to overcome because they prevent us from addressing the real problems that affect all of us despite our skin color or religion.  He laid a very firm and substantive stake in asking America to no longer let racial tensions exist by refusing to talk about them; not so that we can all live in some idyllic harmony, but instead so we can start focusing on those challenges that such racial tensions detract from.

It was not a call to vote for him because he’s black.  It was not a call to forgive Wright for being black at a time when black people were discriminated against.  It was a call for all Americans to look inward at each other and a challenge to uphold that sacred principle of this country that in its founding documents declared that “All men were created equal” and would have been better expressed as “All men and women were created equal”.

It is difficult not to say this is the kind of leadership that America needs right now.

You can read the entire speech here.

6 Responses to “Leadership”

  1. Bostondreams says:

    Unfortunately, I was teaching, so I only just now read the speech. Wow. And interestingly, Marsh and I think other Clintonites are/have been grudgingly compliementary. I feel better.

  2. MARSH IS COMPLIMENTING HIM?!?!?!!?!!?

    Are you serious?!!?!!?

    wow

  3. DM Metzger says:

    Too bad I missed watching it. If even Marsh is complimenting it must be good.

  4. I only read it and I was affected. I didn’t know it was going to be on so early in the day. My stepdad texted me saying he was listening to it just as I finished reading it… doh!

  5. Bostondreams says:

    Well, she said he opened up, that he addressed some important issues, and that he was now a ‘reluctant’ civil rights symbol. That was about as far as she could go. Her commenters are still rabid and accusing him of being a liar and an anti American racist and sexist. Still.
    I have GOT to post again. Ugh. Some real beauts.

  6. terry says:

    I just finished watching it and all I can say is Bravo!

    I loved this part:
    We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

    We can do that.

    But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

    Excellent speech and yes, he has shown himself as a leader. 100%

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  1. bastard.logic - The Speech... by matttbastard Seems like everyone and their dog has something to say about The Speech, including nu-school academic racist…

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