Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Obama Speech

There has been an almost euphoric aura around the campaign of Barack Obama. It continues albeit to a lesser degree after the controversy surrounding the statements of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor. Mr. Obama, being the excellent politician that he is, took immediate action and gave an excellent speech this past Tuesday inwhich he addressed the multi-faceted problem of race with an honest appraisal of the situation from both perspectives.

From the main stream press there has been almost universal encomia. Race, the most divisive issue in this country, an issue that has beeen responsible for much suffering on many levels has come into this presidential contest; you knew it would. While the speech was very good, it was not perfect and raised serious questions regarding his commitment to his principles and ability to lead.

He made a moral equivalence between his pastor whose comments negatively influenced literally thousands of people on a regular basis as the same as his white grandmother's racial comments that made him "cringe".

He made a second moral equivalence between Ms. Ferraro's comments about Mr. Obama's success being due to his being black and the implication by "some" of her "deep-seated racial bias" and Reverend Wright's incendiary remarks; to which she took significant umbrage. This exchange didn't do anything but accelerate the growing schism within the party.

But these were relatively minor errors.

In his speech Mr. Obama said, "I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren." Noble words.

Senator Obama needs to explain why he didn't engage his former pastor in a colloquy regarding his developing post-racial ideology and how it conflicts with liberation theology. Liberation theology, as espoused by Reverend Wright, runs counter to his above stated reason for running for president. So one cannot be blamed for having some doubt either about his committment to those noble words or his ability to effect change. If he can't or won't confront his own pastor and congregation and challenge them to move toward those noble words, how can we expect him to challenge and move a country?

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