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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

more perfect

I don't recall where it appears, but Ben Jonson said something that has always stayed with me: 'Language reveals the man. Speak that I may see thee.' With that in mind, I invite you to watch Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia yesterday in its thirty-nine-minute entirety.

Journalists and those who play them on TV may try to tell you that it is a speech about his former pastor. It is not. It is something else entirely: an honest speech about the contradictions of our Union. Fittingly, it is called 'A More Perfect Union'. The speech tells truths rarely heard in public discourse. And it tells us that Barack Obama is a man of uncommon intelligence and candor.


Blogger sw said...

In Of Spirit, Derrida quotes Heidegger saying, "Tell me what you think of translation and I will tell you who you are."

It doesn't matter how great Obama is, the veil has been lifted. He was a figure who allowed many to think themselves "colour-blind", and that is no longer the case - he has said that race is important, and so his numbers will drop. As long as he denied race, he allowed whites to do so as well; now that he is naming race, Clinton and McCain can breath a sigh of relief.

9:43 AM, March 20, 2008

Blogger Jeff Hussein Strabone said...

I don't agree with SW about the consequences of Obama's Philadelphia speech. His early approach worked with non-Southern white voters who don't identify with class-based racial animus. His Philadelphia speech spoke to a sizable group that had proved immune to his appeal: non-Southern white voters who connect their economic hardships to black and brown achievement and who resent what they see as government policies that favor opportunity for others over their own hard work, e.g. affirmative action and bussing. The speech acknowledged their feelings in a non-hostile way and expressed sincere understanding. He acknowledged those people's feelings with candor and sensitivity.

If, and it's a big if, those voters hear the speech in a form other than the snippets pertaining to Obama's former pastor, many of them will be won over. Why those voters favor the Clintons is an enduring mystery.

11:13 AM, March 20, 2008


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