Witnessing history being made.

Today I watched as a man who happens to be black, make history. It’s not the black part that makes it so impressive – in fact, that’s just a really nice cherry on top of today’s events. No – what made history today was the candor, vision and eloquence of a speech made by Barack Obama as he addressed concerns related to his former pastor.

It is an unfortunate reality, that during a campaign of any magnitude, opposition forces will find every scrap of text, print, video etc that makes you look bad and exploit it. In these days of YouTube, Google, 24 news channels, instant e-blast news alerts and so on and so forth, it is hard not to have a hundred different opinions shoved at you the moment something goes either right or wrong during the campaign season.

So it has been with a somewhat jaundiced eye that I have watched the counter-Obama forces whip the words spoken by his former pastor into a “defining moment” for Barack’s campaign. Fair enough to say that everyone has relatives and friends that have spoken things we are neither proud of or condone, but in this case the good Pastor was a bit zealous in his divisive, controversial and inflammatory oration. And since Barack has made a rather definite point about being a non-divisive candidate this was a troublesome development. The press, his constituents, supporters and opponents demanded that he address the issue. And today he did.

Before I comment on the young people crying as they called in to the local talk radio shows, or the barely-concealed impression he made on Candy Crowley and Wolf Blitzer for CNN or the soulless and silly non-comment made by the Fox network, let me say this: It is easy to be a man of honor, likeable and a good looking candidate when everything is going right. Today, he needed to address something that was potentially very wrong with his campaign and it is arguable that his very political future, much less the presidency of the United States, rode on his words. Suffice to say that you know more of a man’s character with how he handles duress, than with success.

And today we witnessed his character.

Unwilling to concede that his relationship to the pastor was in some way wrong, he stood tall and proud. He embraced the challenges of his campaign – nigh, even that of America itself –boldly and square on. He movingly ran the gamut from his personal heritage, to the root causes of racism in America today to the audacity of hope – and in the process, may well have both clinched the presidency and his place in history. Even my wife, a Hillary supporter, was moved and taken back by his strength, character and clarity of vision. “This did it for him.” Was her initial and most important comment.

Watching CNN now and listening to the commentators, every so many of them comment from a position of why he is wrong – “he didn’t talk enough about health care for the Hispanic community.” “He can’t really make a difference unless he completely disowns the pastor.” “Hillary has a better solution for the health care problem.” “He has no right to tell ME what is racist.” “He’s only preaching to his own choir.” “He didn’t do enough to let people who were offended by the Reverend’s comments that he repudiates them.” Personally I find these commentators and even the press itself repugnant. They take the words of arguably the most genuine candidate we’ve seen in a great long time and twist it into rubble. In my opinion we have a man who genuinely wants to make a difference and I believe he can.

For what it’s worth, I believe I saw history in the making today. I believe I saw a different kind of politician utter a different kinds of words – words that need to be said today, said eloquently, candidly and from the soul of a man who can lead this nation somewhere better than where we are today. I hope that I am right on this one.

And yes, I heard people crying on the radio having been so moved by the speech. I heard Wolf Blitzer say essentially that Obama made a speech and it was important. Fox issued a news release that was simply, “Obama repudiates speech made by pastor by defends relationship.” We’re an interesting country – one that has given up on hope and likes instead to imagine our political landscape to look more like The Octagon or Full Contact Bloodsport. We are so lost in our own agony that at the moment, the only solace seems to be witnessing and joining in on the tearing down of others.

Obama hit the right note. People should listen, rather than simply wait for him to finish speaking so that they can refute what they did not hear.


  1. Dink says:

    This post should be required reading in media circles.

    Well done Perk.

  2. perkiset says:

    Most kind Dink. Now watching the “fallout” that is occurring and all the people that say he went too far… or he didn’t go far enough blah blah blah FFS… the truth is that the right wants SO BADLY to run against Hillary that they can no longer see what is best for the country – only for themselves.

  3. vsloathe says:

    Eloquent and passionate. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a guy who gives that type of speech to be our leader.

    I don’t like absolutes, I don’t like generalizations, but I’m going to say it anyway: If you can find something to criticize about his speech, nay even about the man himself, you really ought to take a good hard look in the mirror. No one’s perfect, but he is unquestionably best. Put aside your cold, stolid pragmatism and have a glimmer of hope for your country!

  4. perkiset says:

    I agree wholeheartedly VS – unfortunately, as we see from the polls, people in the US don’t like that kind of honesty.

    Hillary now commands a 49% to 42% lead over Obama in the popular polls, and McCain has moved into a dead heat.

    We are a country are just a mess.