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Obama’s Home of the Brave

John on March 24, 2008 at 1:33 pm

The NY Times led the way with its editorial titled “Mr. Obama’s Profile in Courage.” The speech was called “eloquent” and “powerful” and compared to Lincoln’s inaugural address. The Times concluded he had “raised the discussion to a higher plane.”

Other outlets chimed in with similar choruses of unbridled adulation:

The Baltimore Sun said this:

He showed courage. He seized the teachable moment. Then he taught that moment, not in the stark and simplistic black and white terms so often preferred by blacks and whites, but rather with a sophisticated grasp of the thorny nuances of race and a compassion vast enough to comprehend not only the anger and frustration of blacks but also that of whites – and to recognize the righteousness in both.

Andrew Sullivan, writing for the London Times, gushed:

It was a shockingly brave speech – the first real test of what this man does under pressure and under fire.

The Hartford Courant concluded:

our hat is off to Mr. Obama for an uncommon speech that was pertinent, timely, eloquent, substantial and brave.

Over at Huffington Post, one blogger wrote of the speech:

To stand up for the truth, the truth of his experience, before those bright white lights, in front of those flags, and to do so at a time when all the levers of federal power are within his grasp, to not choke, to be strong, to be a unafraid: this is a profile in courage.

Of course all of this enthusiasm glosses over the reasons for Mr. Obama’s speech. He had been called to account for his 20 year association with a pastor who had stated publicly (among other things) that AIDS was a plague created by America to wipe out people of color.

The association had begun to take a toll on Obama’s likability polling and, presumably, on his fundraising as well. After more than a week of hemming and hawing he finally decided to give his “brave” speech about race.

I’m willing to give Obama some credit for speaking more honestly than many other politicians have been willing to do in the past. It’s the same kind of credit I give President Bush for his discussion of social security insolvency (aka the “third rail” of politics). But in Obama’s case, let’s not pretend he came to it willingly. He and his advisors saw the brass ring slipping away. Sure, they had something to lose by frank talk about race, but they had as much or more to lose by staying quiet.

Risking the support of black Americans — some 50% of whom agree that AIDS is a man made plague — by confronting such noxious notions head on, now that would be brave. Calling your aged grandmother a racist, not so much.

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Category: Politics |

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