Please note that we've moved to a new blog at www.LibraryGrape.com.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Obama Wins Most Texas Delegates

Hopefully this will help put to rest the misleading meme that Clinton somehow "won" Texas.

Sen. Barack Obama has won the overall delegate race in Texas thanks to a strong showing in Democratic county conventions this past weekend.

Obama picked up seven of nine outstanding delegates, giving him a total of 99 Texas delegates to the party's national convention this summer. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the other two, giving her a total of 94 Texas delegates, according to an analysis of returns by The Associated Press.

Read More: Obama Wins Most Texas Delegates

McCain Doesn't Know Condoms Block HIV

This article starts my file on McCain's gaffes, screw-ups, panders and other general idiocy coming from him and his camp.

McCain was asked a recent news conference:

Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?

His answer?
(Long pause) "You've stumped me."

Seriously? Seriously!? What solar system has this guy been living in?

It would be one thing if he said "Yes, but I believe abstinence is the better option [blah, blah, blah]. " But, he basically said he didn't know. Who the heck, especially among politicians, doesn't know this?

Is this the realm in which his age becomes a decisive negative for him? As in "Well, I don't really know about this new-fangled information that was discovered in the last 30 years?"


Superdelegates Flocking to Obama

According to the WSJ, eight superdelegates, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and all of North Carolina's seven Democratic House members, are planning to endorse Obama in the coming days.

The expected move by Minnesota's Sen. Klobuchar follows Friday's endorsement of Sen. Obama by Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, which holds its primary April 22.

Both senators had planned to remain neutral, according to party officials, but decided to weigh in as the Democrats' campaign became more negative and Sen. McCain was free to exploit the confusion looking to the November election.

Feminist Icon Alice Walker Endorses Obama

Check out Alice Walker's new essay endorsing Obama. Pretty powerful stuff. The tagline captures the essence: "we must build alliances not on ethnicity or gender, but on truth."

I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to start over, and to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him. Cannot see what he carries in his being. Cannot hear the fresh choices toward Movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans –black, white, yellow, red and brown - choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.

When I have supported white people, men and women, it was because I thought them the best possible people to do whatever the job required. Nothing else would have occurred to me. If Obama were in any sense mediocre, he would be forgotten by now. He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is. We look at him, as we looked at them, and are glad to be of our species. He is the change America has been trying desperately and for centuries to hide, ignore, kill. The change America must have if we are to convince the rest of the world that we care about people other than our (white) selves.

Read More: Lest We Forget: An open letter to my sisters who are brave.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

22,000 Show Up in PA for Obama

How can a rally like this -- like so many rallies all across our country -- with no campaign hijinks to "fill the stands" (e.g. Clinton rallies), NOT inspire you with the future that Obama represents in this election!?

Obama Widens Gallup Lead - 10 Points!

This is huge. This is the biggest lead for Obama this year in the national Gallup tracking poll. In the latest poll, Obama garnered 52% compared to Clinton's 42%:

Friday, March 28, 2008

USA Today Runs Stories on Clinton's False Memos

I just wanted to humbly note that USA Today's On Politics ran two stories today dealing with my coverage of the Clinton campaign's highly misleading memos.

I'm still trying to run generally incognito here so check out the two posts here:

Kudos to On Politics reader [Monitor], a New York lawyer and supporter of Sen. Barack Obama who blogs on his own time at Why We Need Obama...

He saw our post yesterday that noted the response from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign to the economic address that Obama delivered Thursday. In this memo, the Clinton team said that Obama "has taken more money from the top 10 subprime loans than BOTH Senator Clinton and Senator McCain." The memo cited CQ.com as its source.

[Monitor], though, sifted through public records and figured out that if you compare apples to apples -- particularly the money campaigns have gotten from employees of subprime mortgage companies, which is what the Obama numbers were largely based on -- it looks like Clinton has taken in $1.3 million to Obama's $1.2 million.

On Politics reader, Obama supporter and blogger [Monitor], who did some research on his own to point to the contributions Clinton has gotten from people who work in that wing of the mortgage industry, has blogged about the "false advertising" allegation as well.

Clinton Camp Issues Another Misleading Obama Donations Memo

Following up on my earlier article on the Clinton campaign's continuing efforts to mislead us about how much money certain companies and industries are giving to the Obama campaign, her campaign today released another highly misleading memo that tries to paint another insidious picture about Obama.

Here's the memo:

False Advertising: New Obama Ad Falsely Claims He Does Not Accept Money From Oil Companies

Phil Singer: "It's unfortunate that Senator Obama is using false advertising to explain why he can be trusted to do something about energy prices. Senator Obama says he doesn't take campaign contributions from oil companies but the reality is that Exxon, Shell, and others are among his donors. I wonder if they'll fix the ad."

A new ad by Sen. Obama running in Pennsylvania falsely claims that Sen. Obama does not accept money from the oil industry. In the ad, Sen. Obama says "I'm Barack Obama and I don't take money from oil companies or lobbyists and I won't let them block change anymore."

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. Obama has received over $160,000 from the oil and gas companies. Two major bundlers for his campaign -- George Kaiser and Robert Cavnar - are oil company CEOs. Sen. Obama has accepted money from Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron and just about every other major oil company. Just last month, Sen. Obama accepted another $8,400 from ExxonMobil, $12,370 from Chevron and $6,500 from British Petroleum.

In 2005, Sen. Obama voted for the Dick Cheney energy bill, which was written in secret with the oil industry. Hillary Clinton opposed Cheney's energy bill, has a plan to eliminate oil industry tax breaks, and would require oil companies to contribute to a $50 billion strategic energy fund to jumpstart research and investment in clean energy technologies.

[Disclaimer: Some of the following section tracks the analysis in my earlier post but it bears repeating.]

Claiming that a candidate has "taken... money from" a certain entity or industry is false and misleading.

The above Clinton campaign memo is trying to incorrectly imply that Obama is accepting money from oil and gas-funded PACs and/or lobbyists.

The problem with this is that when they make the claim that "Sen. Obama has received over $160,000 from the oil and gas companies", they are relying on reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission by their opponents, which contain a variety of details on each of their donors. Federal law requires that these donor reports contain the name of each donor's employer.

As a result, when a candidate makes a claim that their opponent "accept[s] money from" a certain company they are simply saying that certain employees of that company made a donation to their opponent. In other words, it could be a VP of that company, or a Secretary, or a Janitor.

With this laid out there, I'm sure you see where I am going with this.

When Hillary Clinton says that Obama "Sen. Obama has received over $160,000 from the oil and gas companies", they are purposefully using this statement to implant an insidious implication in the listener that somehow the company or industry in question is somehow undertaking a company-wide effort to bankroll Obama.

However, if you stop and think about it, this is ludicrous. Especially when you consider that corporations are prohibited by federal law from making donations to a presidential candidate!

As a thought exercise to flesh this out in your mind, go to a site like Open Secrets that lets you search the donor records for the presidential candidates. Then go ahead and search for donations by your employer or a well-known employer like Wal-Mart. If you do a Wal-Mart search, you'll see that a variety of people have donated to presidential campaigns, including a Dock Worker, a Buyer and a Computer Consultant.

Addressing the Clinton campaign's specific allegation about receiving donations from "oil and gas companies", you'll note from an Open Secrets search on Exxon that a variety of different types of individuals have donated to the Obama campaign, including a Physician, an Engineer, a Rackman, and a Global Training Advisor.

Wrapping up this point, my ultimate complaint is that when Hillary Clinton says that Obama "Sen. Obama has received over $160,000 from the oil and gas companies", she is basically laboring under the assumption that we are either idiots or ignorant of what she's really talking about.

She is intentionally trying to plant a false and misleading insinuation that somehow the oil and gas industry is in the tank for Obama and is making nefarious plans to get him elected. This is categorically untrue.

Please digg this story if you like it.

Condi Rice Hails Obama Speech on Race

The support for Obama's speech on race last week, which the latest Gallup and Rasmussen numbers show was a rousing success, is getting broader and broader.

Today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed Obama's speech:

She declined to comment directly on the presidential campaign in the Times interview, saying only that it was "important" that Obama "gave it for a whole host of reasons", but strongly defended the patriotism of African Americans.

"Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together - Europeans by choice and Africans in chains. That's not a very pretty reality of our founding."

"What I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn't love and have faith in them - and that's our legacy

Read More: Rice calls Obama's landmark speech on race in America 'important'

Pa. Sen. Bob Casey Endorses Obama

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey today endorsed Barack Obama. This could help Obama make some serious inroads in Pennsylvania's working class sector.

Appearing on stage beside the Illinois senator, Casey told a boisterous rally, "I believe in my heart that there is one person who's uniquely qualified to lead us in that new direction and that is Barack Obama...

I really believe that in a time of danger around the world and in division here at home, Barack Obama can lead us, he can heal us, he can help rebuild America.

Read More: Pa. Sen. Bob Casey Endorses Obama

Gallup: Obama Opens Up 8-point Lead

Talk about weathering a storm effectively. The new Gallup tracking poll has Obama at 50%, compared to only 42% for Clinton -- an 8-point lead, his biggest in weeks.

Update: Rasmussen has Obama up by 2% over Clinton, a 4% net gain for Obama from yesterday. In the same poll, it shows Obama beating McCain in Oregon by 6%, with Clinton losing by 6%. Meanwhile, yesterday Gallup showed Obama up by 4%.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Clinton Campaign Lies About Obama Donations

I'm pretty sure I'm breaking a story here.

In response to Senator Obama's excellent speech today on the economy and the need for a new framework for governmental regulation of the financial markets, the Clinton campaign has issued a statement from its policy director, Neera Tanden. She says, in part, that:

Senator Obama announced a series of broad, vague principles, while offering no new concrete solutions to provide Americans with greater confidence in the market or keep them in their homes. The contrast could not be clearer -- on Monday, Senator Clinton announced a detailed, specific plan to address the housing and credit crisis. On Tuesday, Senator McCain announced that he had no plan. And today, Senator Obama offered just words.

In addition, the Clinton team circulated a list of what they claim are the donations Obama has received from "the top 10 issuers of subprime loans."

According to the document, they claim "Obama has taken more money from the top 10 issuers of subprime loans than BOTH Senator Clinton and Senator McCain."

To this claim, I have two points, the first is stylistic and the second is substantive (and where her big lie comes in).

1. Claiming that a candidate has "taken... money from" a certain entity is false and misleading.

Several times during this campaign, you have heard certain candidates claiming that another candidate takes in certain donations from a particularly disliked industry (e.g. John Edwards claimed that Clinton and Obama "accept[ed] money from drug companies").

The problem with this is that when a candidate makes this claim, they are relying on reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission by their opponents, which contain a variety of details on each of their donors. Federal law requires that these donor reports contain the name of each donor's employer.

As a result, when a candidate makes a claim that their opponent "accept[s] money from" a certain company they are simply saying that certain employees of that company made a donation to their opponent. In other words, it could be a VP of that company, or a Secretary, or a Janitor.

With this laid out there, I'm sure you see where I am going with this.

When John Edwards says that Obama has "accept[ed] money from drug companies" or Hillary Clinton says that Obama "has taken more money from the top 10 issuers of subprime loans", they are purposefully using this statement to implant an insidious implication in the listener that somehow the company or industry in question is somehow undertaking a company-wide effort to bankroll Obama.

However, if you stop and think about it, this is ludicrous. Especially when you consider that corporations are prohibited by federal law from making donations to a presidential candidate!

As a thought exercise to flesh this out in your mind, go to a site like Open Secrets that lets you search the donor records for the presidential candidates. Then go ahead and search for donations by your employer or a well-known employer like Wal-Mart. If you do a Wal-Mart search, you'll see that a variety of people have donated to presidential campaigns, including a Dock Worker, a Buyer and a Computer Consultant.

Wrapping up this point, my ultimate complaint is that when Hillary Clinton says that Obama "has taken more money from the top 10 issuers of subprime loans", she is basically laboring under the assumption that we are either idiots or ignorant of what she's really talking about. She is intentionally trying to plant a false and misleading insinuation that somehow the subprime lenders are in the tank for Obama and making nefarious plans to get him elected. This is categorically untrue.

2. The Clinton campaign is lying about how much money she and Barack Obama have received from the so-called "top 10 issuers of subprime loans".

I have put together a spreadsheet that sets out the money that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have received from what she describes as "the top 10 issuers of subprime loans". The Clinton campaign cites as its source for its numbers the site CQ.com, to which I don't have access. As a result, I compiled my donation numbers using Open Secrets, the site I mentioned above that provides access to the donation numbers from the FEC reports (you can also go to any other site, including the FEC, that hosts FEC donor records). In fairness to the potential disparity, I included two columns in my spreadsheet -- one with the total donations for Barack Obama from Open Secrets and one with the numbers that the Clinton memo claims.

As my spreadsheet shows, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has received a variety of donations from the companies her campaign identified.

However, according to the Open Secrets data (which is current up to March 20, 2008), Hillary Clinton received $1,332,720 from employees of these companies whereas Barack Obama received only $1,174,212 -- which means that Clinton received $158,508 more than Obama! Not only that, if we were to use the numbers that the Clinton memo claims, she received even more: $199,716.

Although not surprising, this is truly astounding. The Clinton campaign is basically using the same tactics and assumptions we have grown so disgusted with over the last 8 years with George W. Bush:

(1) Saying something makes it true.
(2) Americans are idiots and will lap up whatever B.S. is fed to them.

Please, don't let Clinton get away with it!

I cannot stand to find myself again in an America where lying, obfuscation, misdirection, and mendacity are the key traits we find in our President.

Please forward this on to everyone you know!

Please digg this story if you like it.

Obama's Major Address Today on the Economy

Here is video of Obama's major address today on the economy and the need for modernizing the regulation of our financial markets. You can find the transcript here.

A fact sheet detailing his proposals, can be found HERE.

Why Did Hillary Clinton Choose Tuesday?

I have wondered aloud for the past couple of days the following questions:

1. Why did Hillary Clinton wait in conspicuous silence for so long and suddenly decide to speak out on the Wright issue when asked a question about it by a rightwing paper that once repeatedly ran story after story accusing her of killing Vince Foster?

She said this in the interview:

You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend.

As noted on CNN:

Clinton's comments on Wright came almost a week after Obama delivered a speech on race and politics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Some Hillary Clinton supporters on various blogs have repeated her statement that the reason she addressed the issue is:

I was asked what I would do, and I answered the question.

This leads me to my next point/question:

2. If she was simply "answer[ing] the question" posed to her, (a) why did she explicitly and purposefully deflect a nearly identical question from a mainstream Pennsylvania newspaper the day before, and (b) why did she hold a press conference right after the interview to explicitly and purposefully expand on the Wright comments she made in the previous interview?

Here is the question-and-answer from her interview with the Philadelphia Daily News editorial board:

Question: "In your opinion, should Rev. Wright's controversial remarks and Sen. Obama's relationship with him, are those relevant to his fitness to serve as President?"

Clinton's Answer: "I think that's up to voters to decide. I mean voters have to draw their own conclusions about that like we do about everything we do."

Question: "What do you think?"

Clinton's Answer: "I'm going to leave that up to voters."

Here are her statements during the press conference that she held in Greensburg, Pennsylvania later on Tuesday:

I think given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor.

This leads me the final, ultimate question:

3. Given that Hillary Clinton waited an entire week to comment on the Wright controversy and deflected a variety of questions on the topic in the meanwhile, did the Clinton campaign purposefully intend to revive the Wright controversy by answering a question on the topic posed to her by a rightwing newspaper that previously accused her of killing Vince Foster?

What do you think?

Open Petition to Nancy Pelosi

I don't know if you saw this, but 20 big Clinton donors tried to bully Nancy Pelosi for saying that superdelegates should let the voters decide who becomes the Democratic nominee. This is the worst kind of insider politics, and it has to stop.

You and I and everyone who has ever given money or time to a progressive candidate make up the backbone of this party.

We need to send a strong signal that we, the small donors, will back Democratic leaders with the courage to stand up for Democracy in the Democratic party. Please join me and sign this statement today.


Hello, Internet. We are Clin-ton. We have been watching you.

Holy cow, I really can't help myself from posting this video. A friend sent it to me and I just embarrassed myself by laughing out loud for minutes at work.

The video is of a futuristic Clinton campaign computerized viral video analyzer. "We are Clin-ton."

It is very funny but also disturbing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Dinner With Barack

The Obama campaign is having another Dinner with Barack (I think this is the third one). Donate any amount to the campaign before midnight on March 31st and you could be chosen.


Obama Stronger in California Against McCain

Stories like this are only going to mount up. The lunacy of the Clinton campaign's assertion that she's the only one that can win the "big", "important" states is mind boggling:

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s argument for the Democratic presidential nomination includes a pitch that she can win the big states that Democrats need in November to amass at least 270 Electoral votes.

Yet a new poll in the biggest of all states – California – shows Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois stronger than Clinton among likely voters there – with Obama favored by 9 percentage points over Republican Sen. John McCain.

If the election were held today, California's likely voters would favor Obama over McCain by 49 to 40 percent, according to the survey. A Clinton-McCain match-up is a virtual tie: 46 percent Clinton, 43 percent McCain.

Read More: Obama stronger than Clinton in California, top-prize

Phenomenal Article Making the Case for Obama

I just read a phenomenal article in The Nation by Tom Hayden, Danny Glover, Bill Fletcher Jr. and Barbara Ehrenreich that makes a strong case why Obama -- not Hillary -- is the best choice for progressives in this election.

Here are some great excerpts:

During past progressive peaks in our political history--the late thirties, the early sixties--social movements have provided the relentless pressure and innovative ideas that allowed centrist leaders to embrace visionary solutions. We find ourselves in just such a situation today...

Obama's March 18 speech on racism was as great a speech as ever given by a presidential candidate, revealing a philosophical depth, personal authenticity, and political intelligence that should convince any but the hardest of ideologues that he carries unmatched leadership potentials for overcoming the divide-and-conquer tactics that have sundered Americans since the first slaves arrived here in chains...

[I]t will be the Obama movement that will make it necessary and possible to end the war in Iraq, renew our economy with a populist emphasis, and confront the challenge of global warming. We should not only keep the pressure on but also connect the issues that Barack Obama has made central to his campaign into an overarching progressive vision.

•  The Iraq War must end as rapidly as possible, not in five years.

All our troops must be withdrawn. Diplomacy and trade must replace further military occupation or military escalation into Iran and Pakistan. We should not stop urging Barack Obama to avoid leaving American advisers behind in Iraq in a counterinsurgency quagmire like Afghanistan today or Central America in the 1970s and 1980s. Nor should he simply transfer American combat troops from the quagmire in Iraq to the quagmire in Afghanistan.

•  Iraq cannot be separated from our economic crisis.

Iraq is costing trillions of dollars that should be invested in jobs, universal healthcare, education, housing and public works here at home. Our own Gulf Coast requires the attention and funds now spent on Gulf oil.

•  Iraq cannot be separated from our energy crisis.

We are spending an unheard-of $100/barrel for oil. We are officially committed to wars over oil supplies far into the future. We instead need a war against global warming and for energy independence from Middle Eastern police states and multinational corporations.

Read More: Progressives for Obama

Go to the Progressives for Obama Blog

Obama's Open Letter to LGBT America

This is really amazing. To think that in my lifetime a Presidential candidate would so openly and honestly address LGBT issues like this.

Here is Obama's Open Letter to LGBT America in its entirety:

I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all – a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It’s wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans.

Equality is a moral imperative. That’s why throughout my career, I have fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans. In Illinois, I co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that prohibited discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extending protection to the workplace, housing, and places of public accommodation. In the U.S. Senate, I have co-sponsored bills that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage. Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.

The next president must also address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When it comes to prevention, we do not have to choose between values and science. While abstinence education should be part of any strategy, we also need to use common sense. We should have age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception. We should pass the JUSTICE Act to combat infection within our prison population. And we should lift the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. In addition, local governments can protect public health by distributing contraceptives.

We also need a president who’s willing to confront the stigma – too often tied to homophobia – that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. I confronted this stigma directly in a speech to evangelicals at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and will continue to speak out as president.

That is where I stand on the major issues of the day. But having the right positions on the issues is only half the battle. The other half is to win broad support for those positions. And winning broad support will require stepping outside our comfort zone. If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones – and that’s what I’ve done throughout my career. I brought this message of inclusiveness to all of America in my keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. I talked about the need to fight homophobia when I announced my candidacy for President, and I have been talking about LGBT equality to a number of groups during this campaign – from local LGBT activists to rural farmers to parishioners at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin Luther King once preached.

Just as important, I have been listening to what all Americans have to say. I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. But neither will I close my ears to the voices of those who still need to be convinced. That is the work we must do to move forward together. It is difficult. It is challenging. And it is necessary.

Americans are yearning for leadership that can empower us to reach for what we know is possible. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Editor of New Republic Defends Obama

This is absolutely huge and one of the most honest and forthright articles I've read in a long time. The Editor in Chief of the conservative New Republic just penned the following article, which I copied in full below. Truly amazing.

Standing By His Man by
Post Date Thursday, March 26, 2008

The power of the preacher is an unmeasured force in American life. Of course, now that it has become an issue in a political campaign, we are focusing on the one minister and the one candidate whose lives at church have been intertwined both in fact and in the public eye. The two men are each charismatic in their own ways, different ways, as anyone who has seen them speak (if even just on television or on syncopated and, thus, distorted YouTube clips) can attest.

Barack Obama speaks in a professorial manner in which the logic of his argument, calmly laid out, is the drama of the oration. I have my own analogy. Of course, I never heard Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. speak. But I read into his addresses and opinions the moral and legal ganglion of more than seven decades of our national history, from the Civil War to the Great Depression. And I hear in Obama's cadence not only what makes him attractive to audiences but also something very much like Holmes's disciplined thinking, and it is this that makes this presidential aspirant truly eloquent. In only a decade in public life, he has become the (oh yes, gangling) ganglion of our hopes for a post-racial country. It is ironic--isn't it?--that we should have come so quickly to the dawn of post-racialism while still lumbering clumsily through the miasma of a misnamed multi-culturalism.

We are all linked to the places from which we came, though some of us have moved very far from them. My relationship to the different rabbis whose sermons I have not just heard, but heard intently over more than 50 years, would make a very difficult narrative--not quite as difficult as a narrative about my father and me, but up there. I now attend a synagogue in New York with my children and my grandson. I love the synagogue; I do not love the rabbis for I do not really know them personally. More to the point, I do not love their sermons. Two years ago, Yom Kippur, the rabbi parsed a banal speech by Bella Abzug, the old and (if truth be told) faithful red mama, as if it were a sacred text. Feh. One of this congregation's ingenuous innovations to the routine confessional of sins ("We lie. We cheat ...") in the prayer book is the following: "We rush towards war and crawl to peace." This is a lie! Why do I still pray with this assembly? Because, aside from the offending "hip" politics of the rabbis, there is an all-embracing warmth that suffuses the fold. There is beautiful music. The service is almost all in Hebrew. Still, my then-not-quite-four year-old grandson said to me on the way out, "I have never felt closer to God." Dayenu, as we say on Passover: "It is sufficient." Or, as one of the songs of the tradition known to almost every Jew puts it, Hinay ma tov ... : "How good it is for brothers to sit together ...".

OK, Barack Obama's predicament is more complicated than mine. Remember he titled one of his books Dreams From My Father. I suspect that most of Obama's operative dreams came from his mother. After all, his father deserted him, the common nightmare of African American youth. (Increasingly also white youth.) That is a thread that connects Obama to his own generation of African Americans and to the next. His father did not inspire him to work hard at school or to become the editor of the Harvard Law Review. The supportive and yearning parent was his mother and, by extension, his maternal grandparents. They are his dreams, and his father is the absent yearning.

Obama's life was at once over-determined and under-determined. There are so many boxes he could have checked, and it is not altogether unsurprising that the one he checked most firmly was his father's box. I more than suspect that Pastor Jeremiah Wright is, in Obama's life, also his father's vagrant presence. No one should arrogate to himself counseling anybody to sever ties, even fragile ones, perhaps fragile ones especially, to one's father. Of course, it makes a difference that Obama's father was not an American but a Kenyan, not of a Christian background but a Muslim one. But the psychology of connection and separation is not an easy puzzle, and it does not fit a predictable pattern. Nonetheless, suffice it to say that it exists.

The fact is that many of us were astonished by the rhythm of the English language as it is practiced in Wright's church. Forget for the moment the content. Take a look at a service in what is now Otis Moss's church. This is a Christianity that seems to outsiders to have as much to do with break dancing as it does with the New Testament, and the culture of this one church is very much like the culture of thousands all over America. You may puzzle as to how Barack Obama, of the quiet demeanor and the Holmesian logic, can relate to this pattern of religiosity. But, if I may jog your oversensitized memory, there was more of Chicago's Trinity United Church in Martin Luther King's perorations than there was Reinhold Niebuhr. The typical black church service is not a Unitarian prayer meeting or Catholic devotions. It is something "other" that many of us have not experienced and do not know. It is not ours but theirs. And what's wrong with that?

You object: You were not caught out by Wright's rhythm or his vestments, by the congregation's hallelujahs or its songs of praise and prayer. What bothered you was his, their words. Mostly his, that is, Pastor Wright's words. You were concerned by the content. And so, at least in part, was I. Wright's content is not intellectually nuanced, and his words are in large measure crude. His content is often foul.

Of course, while one can assume that there is something in the style of Trinity's Christianity that attracts Obama, no one has even suggested that Obama agrees with any of Wright's controversial words. In fact, one knows from the senator's own words past and present that his love of country is unsurpassed--and unsurpassed in a way that will attract younger people who had lapsed into an unthinking and unrealistic internationalism.

Leaving a church is never a simple transaction. Episcopalians in America (and Anglicans elsewhere) have had all kinds of provocations. A gay bishop in New Hampshire has virtually split the communion. Some are secessionists because of Gene Robinson's elevation. Some want to stay and fight it. Others want to put the oppositionists to the fire. Some on the outs want to put themselves under the discipline of a religiously conservative African diocese. Mostly, they stay and grumble, one way or another. A similar process is underway in England, where suddenly the archbishop of Canterbury wants British Muslims to be permitted to live under Sharia law and forgo the liberties of British law. A church with leaders like that is bound to have troubles. But the church, big and small, national and local, will remain.

While pondering Obama's tribulations about his pastor, I also reflected about the far more laden crisis for Roman Catholic politicians who are for a woman's legal right to an abortion. Every so often, church authorities threaten to excommunicate them--a drastic act by a bishop or archbishop in his diocese. But it goes higher than that. On his trip to Latin America last year, for example, Pope Benedict approved a statement pronouncing that "legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist," and politicians who vote that way should "exclude themselves from communion." In 2004, Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said pro-choice politicians like John Kerry "shouldn't dare come to Communion." In any case, the position of the church is that such politicians have already excommunicated themselves. This is a far more urgent situation than the one in which Obama finds himself.

Frankly, I am relieved that the Wright convulsion has not focused on Israel and the Jews. This is not, then, what some non-Jews might think of as a "narrow" matter. But the truth is that Obama has a much clearer grasp of what the Jewish state faces than the common-place statements of support from other "pro-Israel" politicians, an erroneous view that almost ineluctably, in Obama's words, "sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam." I trust Obama on this. I already know what strategic concessions Hillary's husband was ready to coerce Israel into giving to Yasir Arafat, who was dumb enough not to take them.

But there is a new game in town, and it is finding men and women for Obama to repudiate. I know about political campaigns and how they attract both fossils and novices. A new candidate lures more of both than a veteran. Indeed, if you look at Mrs. Clinton's campaign, you'll find that there are almost no fresh faces--and, thus, no fresh minds--in the coterie; and it is a coterie. It is a closed and nasty circle which learned its bad habits from Bill. That's why they are making one mistake after another. The rule is: Never be gracious if you have the chance to be vicious. The non plus ultra of this style was the still greedy ex-president suggesting that, while his wife loved her country, Obama didn't love his.

The other malignant chores can be safely left by the Clintons for the journalistic right to perform. Both The Weekly Standard and Commentary will readily comply. Of course, the fantasy that Zbigniew Brzezinski would return to power or even influence is just that, a fantasy. Zbig is too nostalgic for the old Cold War with Russia for any president to allow him to come close to big power diplomacy. He once confided to me that Saddam Hussein would be to him "what Sadat was to Henry." Oh my. Obama might have thought him smart on Iraq (I do not) and brought him along to a speech on the subject in Iowa. But, frankly, Zbig disqualified himself from influence on the Middle East with all but poor Jimmy Carter, whom he persuaded that the Ayatollah Khomeini was a useful tool against the Soviets.

And on Monday, there emerged in The American Spectator the silly sayings of the hardly satanic figure of General Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak who has said (a) that Israel wants peace (something he's not sure about the Palestinians) and (b) that voters in Miami and New York determine American policy in the Arab world. With the latter statement, McPeak goes beyond even Walt and Mearshimer. It is odious. And I fervently hope that his advice is limited to matters of defense, if that. But if conservatives believe that the candidates are vulnerable to the invidious influence of their supporters on Israel policy, let them ponder the sway of James Baker over John McCain, the candidate whom the "fuck the Jews" secretary of state endorsed.

My point is not to impugn McCain. I trust him on Israel, admire him hugely and could even envision casting a vote for him. But every candidate has noxious supporters­ and it is simply illogical and unfair to impute the views of these supporters to their favored candidate, especially when the candidate clearly disagrees.

Another Superdelegate for Obama

From Ben Smith:

Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski, who represents Chicago's whitest and most conservative Democratic district, announces his support. Rahm Emanuel, who is uncommitted, is the only remaining member of the Illinois congressional delegation not backing Obama.

The Tide is Turning - Inspirational Obama Video by Bob Ceska

This video brought a bit of a tear to my eye. Bob Ceska sets up a mashup of Obama's Philadelphia speech on race juxtaposed with the horror of the last 7 years under George Bush and set to the tune of "The Tide is Turning" by Roger Waters, a song that was performed live in Berlin in 1989 to commemorate the end of the cold war. Really powerful stuff.

Humor: New Video Shows Clinton Under Fire in Bosnia

So sue me, but I just couldn't resist posting this YouTube video. I laughed out loud, especially at the shot of her shooting a terrorist. This is truly hilarious.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mom and Sister at Obama Rally in Eugene, OR

I am sooo jealous of my darling mom and sister for being able to not only go to a huge Obama rally in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon, but also for being in the front row and shaking Obama's hand! I hope I'll get a similar opportunity someday!

Here's a photo -- my mom is in the dashing hat to Obama's right, my stepdad is directly behind her, and my sister is the one Senator Obama is reaching out to shake hands with:

Clinton Blames Sleep Deprivation for Her Bosnia Lie

So, I agree that now that the day is winding down, this meme could be getting a bit played out. I wasn't going to post on this until I found Hillary Clinton stepping in it in a worse way, in my opinion, than the original lie.

Here is this gem from Hillary Clinton's interview today with a Pennsylvania newspaper that offers up an even bigger, steamier lie:

On saying last week that she landed under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996, when she was first lady: "I was sleep-deprived, and I misspoke."

This might be a good explanation if it weren't a cold, calculating, obvious lie on top of a lie.

After all, her comments about her harrowing entrée into Bosnia were in the printed text of her speech.

Not to mention the fact that she repeated exactly the same story on multiple occasions (see here for an example).

Remember, politicians all-too-often get caught up more in the misstatements about the original event than the event itself.

FACT: She said she was sleep deprived and therefore "misspoke".

FACT: Her comments prepared in advance of the event (and repeated at 3 other events) were written exactly as she said them.

As a result, she LIED.

We deserve more from our elected leaders after the last 8 years of nothing but lies.

Obama Ahead by 21% in North Carolina

From TPM:

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey of North Carolina shows that Barack Obama has jumped into an enormous lead over Hillary Clinton, after having been in a dead heat during the worst of the Jeremiah Wright controversy.

Here are the numbers, compared to their previous poll from just last week:

Obama 55% (+11)
Clinton 34% (-9)

From the internals: Obama leads 80%-14% among black voters, while Hillary has a narrow 47%-40% lead among whites.

With Hillary Clinton facing a big gap in pledged delegates, she now needs to win practically all the remaining contests in order to damage Obama's public standing and justify a super-delegate win — and this poll isn't good news for her. For Obama's part, a huge net delegate win here could potentially make up for just about all the expected Hillary gains from Pennsylvania.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Obama Website Helps You Write Op-Eds

Here is a handy tool that I just discovered. If you are interested in writing a letter to the editor to your local newspapers about the campaign, you can go to the Obama website at http://my.barackobama.com/page/speakout/dailies - there is a tool there that allows you to find your local papers, compose your letter and automatically send your letter to each of the papers you select.

In Remembrance: 4,000 Heroes Dead in Iraq

In remembrance of the 4,000 brave men and women who sacrificed everything for us -- and the two men who would continue this great tragedy, despite the cost to our soldiers, our military, and our nation. Below is a mosaic of these brave souls that died for McCain's, Clinton's and Bush's folly.


From the Huffington Post

Conservative Legal Scholar Kmiec Endorses Obama

This is a must read endorsement -- just another example of Obama's cross-party appeal. Conservative lawyer and legal scholar Douglas Kmiec endorsed Barack Obama yesterday.

According to his bio, Mr. Kmiec served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel (U.S. Assistant Attorney General) for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, a position previously held by U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia in the Nixon and Ford administrations. He was also Co-Chair of the Romney Campaign Committee for the Courts and the Constitution.

Today I endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States. I believe him to be a person of integrity, intelligence and genuine good will. I take him at his word that he wants to move the nation beyond its religious and racial divides and to return United States to that company of nations committed to human rights...

No doubt some of my friends will see this as a matter of party or intellectual treachery. I regret that and I respect their disagreement. But they will readily agree that as Republicans, we are first Americans. As Americans, we must voice our concerns for the well-being of our nation without partisanship when decisions that have been made endanger the body politic. Our president has involved our nation in a military engagement without sufficient justification or clear objective. In so doing, he has incurred both tragic loss of life and extraordinary debt jeopardizing the economy and the well-being of the average American citizen. In pursuit of these fatally flawed purposes, the office of the presidency, which it was once my privilege to defend in public office formally, has been distorted beyond its constitutional assignment. Today, I do no more than raise the defense of that important office anew, but as private citizen.

Read More: Convictions: Endorsing Obama (hat tip Andrew Sullivan)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

1 Million Donors to Obama in MARCH

Just a month ago, the Obama campaign was seeking to reach the million-donor-mark. It did so handily.

Now, nearing the end of March, the Obama campaign has achieved 1 million donors in March alone for a grand total of nearly 2 million!

This really is remarkable! 2 million is nearly 0.01% of the entire US population!

Friday, March 21, 2008

NRO's Murray Defends Obama

There has been such an amazing variety of responses to Obama's speech earlier this week. Here is an enlightening missive out of the lion's den over at the conservative National Review Online:

I understand how naïve it is to read a presidential candidate’s speech as if it were anything except political positioning, but that leads me to my final point: It’s about time that people who disagree with Obama’s politics recognize that he is genuinely different. When he talks, he sounds like a real human being, not a politician. I’m not referring to the speechifying, but to the way he comes across all the time. We’ve had lots of charming politicians. I cannot think of another politician in my lifetime who conveys so much sense of talking to individuals, and talking to them in ways that he sees as one side of a dialogue. Conservatives who insist that he’s nothing but an even slicker Bill Clinton are missing a reality about him, and at their peril.

Read More:
My Last Word on Obama, I Promise.

Bill Richardson Endorses Obama!

Superdelegate and Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson today endorsed Barack Obama for President at a rally in my home state of Oregon. What's more, he is appearing with Obama at a series of rallies in Oregon today, which may include one in Eugene where my mom, stepdad and sisters will be! If so, I'll have tons of photos to post later today or tomorrow.

Here's the video:


From a WaPo commentary, here are five ways the Richardson endorsement helps Obama:

The first is timing. Richardson has ridden to Obama's rescue during what has been the roughest stretch of his candidacy. It comes after the uproar over Obama's spiritual mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, which has knocked Obama off stride. It comes after losses in Ohio and Texas, which cost Obama the opportunity to force Clinton out of the race.

Second, Richardson sends a signal to superdelegates that they too should back Obama. This may be the most significant aspect of his decision to back Obama. Superdelegates will decide the nomination. There is no way either Clinton or Obama can get to the 2,024 votes necessary to win the nomination without the superdelegates.

Third, Richardson is close to both Clintons. He served as United Nations ambassador and later as Energy secretary in Bill Clinton's administration... Though there were reports that his conversations with the Clintons about an endorsement immediately after he left the presidential race did not go terribly well, symbolically his connections with the Clintons will raise questions as to why he decided to turn his back on the New York senator, rather than remaining neutral in the nomination battle.

Fourth, Richardson implicitly helps Obama answer questions about his readiness to be commander in chief. More than any other candidate in the Democratic race, Richardson based his campaign on his foreign policy resume. Along with Joe Biden, he has more experience in that area than any of their rivals.

Fifth, Richardson's support could help Obama improve his standing with Hispanic voters. Clearly an endorsement would have been more valuable before the Texas primary, where Clinton beat Obama by 2-1 among Hispanics. But better late than never.

Here's a great excerpt from coverage of the Richardson announcement:
A clearly emotional Mr Richardson, standing next to Mr Obama at a huge rally in Oregon, said: "Your candidacy is a one-in-a lifetime opportunity for our nation and you are a once-in-a-lifetime leader."

He praised the Clintons, but declared: 'It is time for the Democrats to stop fighting among ourselves and prepare for the tough fight against John McCain."

He also referred to Mr Obama's speech this week on race, in which he tried to defuse the controversy over the inflammatory comments of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, as the words of a "courageous, thoughtful and inspiring leader".

Read More: Obama secures backing of key superdelegate Bill Richardson

Here's video of Obama accepting Richardson's endorsement:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Photos from Obama Students in Texas

I just got access to a set of pictures from one of the students I sponsored to go down and campaign for Obama in Texas: Wendi from California. I am so jealous -- I wish I could have been there.

Check them out:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Nation: Obama is the New Politics

From the Obama blog:

A must-read in The Nation...

If you understand the risks Obama undertook, you can see the beauty and pain in what he did. He could not back away from the risks without betraying himself and all those people who are part of him. On the other hand, he was putting at risk his own great promise as a politician. In psychological terms, what's extraordinary is his refusal to split off himself and his own experience from those others. So he embraced them, knowing the risks. Then he tells us--audaciously--that we are capable of doing the same. Yet most of us do the opposite in everyday life, defining ourselves in contrast to the others we are not, idealizing our own selves by demonizing the others. Obama knows all this. He still insists we can do it. He has seen it happen in life...

...If people have the opportunity to hear him in full and think about it, they will recognize the strength it took for him to open his arms this way, casting aside all defenses and evasions. With the hope and everything else he stands for, this guy is one very strong character.

Obama is the new politics, I believe, whatever happens this year. His way of talking and thinking will shape the future because I think he has got it right about the country.

Share the speech that everyone is talking about with your friends and family.

Everyday Southern Folks React to Obama Speech

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan and the DailyKos for this gem of an anecdote:

I've watched the speech again since this morning, and it didn't disappoint, but just at that moment I stopped watching it ... and started watching the people around me. The young black man. The elderly white couple. The two white women, one college-aged, one in her late-20s. One middle-aged white woman. Two white men, one college-aged, one in his late-30s. One Asian couple. All of them were watching the speech. Rapt. Nodding.

Gradually, the twentysomething white woman went back to her laptop, but kept smiling when Obama would say something important. The elderly white couple whispered in their Southern accented way: "He's really good... He's saying good things... He's a good young man..." The young black man chuckled when Obama said that Sunday morning was the most segregated hour in America, but was otherwise simply watching. And at one point, the middle-aged white woman asked one of the dealership folks, in another thick, thick Southern accent if she wouldn't mind turning up the volume, because she really wanted to hear this speech.

She, this white Southern woman from the suburbs, wanted to hear this speech, delivered by a Black man with a funny name running for President. And she was nodding.

But she wasn't the only one.

Huckabee Defends Obama, Wright

This is really amazing. On Morning Joe this morning, Mike Huckabee discussed the Rev. Wright flap that Obama addressed in his speech yesterday. Huckabee was thoughtful, rational and forthright. I can understand why a lot of people gravitated to him in the campaign. I don't agree with most of his views but he always came across as a generally honest, affable guy.

Here's the video, his comments at around 3:25 (transcript below):

Transcript (hat tip DailyKos):

HUCKABEE: [Obama] made the point, and I think it's a valid one, that you can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do. You just can't. Whether it's me, whether it's Obama...anybody else. But he did distance himself from the very vitriolic statements.

Now, the second story. It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what Louis Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Reverend Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say "Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that."

JOE SCARBOROUGH: But, but, you never came close to saying five days after September 11th, that America deserved what it got. Or that the American government invented AIDS...

HUCKABEE: Not defending his statements.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Oh, I know you're not. I know you're not. I'm just wondering though, for a lot of people...Would you not guess that there are a lot of Independent voters in Arkansas that vote for Democrats sometimes, and vote for Republicans sometimes, that are sitting here wondering how Barack Obama's spiritual mentor would call the United States the USKKK?

HUCKABEE: I mean, those were outrageous statements, and nobody can defend the content of them.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: But what's the impact on voters in Arkansas? Swing voters.

HUCKABEE: I don't think we know. If this were October, I think it would have a dramatic impact. But it's not October. It's March. And I don't believe that by the time we get to October, this is gonna be the defining issue of the campaign, and the reason that people vote.

And one other thing I think we've gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say "That's a terrible statement!"...I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack -- and I'm gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you -- we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told "you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus..." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

MIKA: I agree with that. I really do.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: It's the Atticus Finch line about walking a mile in somebody else's shoes. I remember when Ronald Reagan got shot in 1981. There were some black students in my school that started applauding and said they hoped that he died. And you just sat there and of course you were angry at first, and then you walked out and started scratching your head going "boy, there is some deep resentment there."

Newspapers React to Obama's Speech

Here are a few quotes posted at the DailyKos that sums up a wide swathe of favorable newspaper reaction today to Obama's profoundly courageous speech yesterday:

New York Times editorial:

There are moments — increasingly rare in risk-abhorrent modern campaigns — when politicians are called upon to bare their fundamental beliefs. In the best of these moments, the speaker does not just salve the current political wound, but also illuminates larger, troubling issues that the nation is wrestling with.

Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion, with its enduring vision of the separation between church and state. Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better.

Washington Post editorial:

SEN. BARACK Obama's mission in Philadelphia yesterday was to put the controversy over inflammatory statements made by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his spiritual mentor and pastor for 20 years, behind him. But Mr. Obama (D-Ill.) went deeper than that. He used his address as a teachable moment, one in which he addressed the pain, anger and frustration of generations of blacks and whites head-on -- and offered a vision of how those experiences could be surmounted, if not forgotten. It was a compelling answer both to the challenge presented by his pastor's comments and to the growing role of race in the presidential campaign.

Boston Globe Editorial:

BARACK OBAMA could have made a much shorter speech. He could have protected his campaign yesterday by denouncing and rejecting his former pastor, Rev.Jeremiah Wright, as a crank. Then Obama could have rushed on, hoping that someone else's scandal would push his own out of the headlines.

Instead, Obama took the opportunity to engage the question of race in America, starting a bold, uncomfortably honest conversation. He asked Americans to talk openly about the deep wells of anger and resentment over racism, discrimination, and affirmative action. It's a call to break out of the country's racial stalemate and finally reach a new national understanding.

Obama's Speech - Profoundly Not Status Quo

This piece from The Huffington Post pretty much sums up many of my reactions to Obama's speech yesterday:

Obama Cracks My TV in Half by Adam McKay

It didn't make sense. A politician responding to a TV news scandal during an election and he's not on the attack or the defensive. Instead he's asking us to look at the forces that shape our feelings on race and understand them. My first reaction was to call DirecTV. Clearly my antenna was out of alignment and picking up old broadcasts of the Outer Limits or Playhouse 90 that are bouncing back to earth from Jupiter. Or maybe that California roll I ate was a week old and I'm unconscious on my living room floor and chemicals in my brain are sloshing towards the wish fulfillment part of my frontal lobe.

But it happened. Barack Obama spoke like an enlightened leader from 2008 instead of like the fake cowboy from 1885 that most politicians evoke or like a pharmaceutical salesman talking about change, but "not that much change" at a team building exercise in Tahoe. In other words, he didn't pass the buck to save his own ass. It was a monumental moment in modern American politics. He didn't distract, deflect, or attempt to frighten. He didn't accuse, declare war, or get angry. He didn't game play, scape goat, or blame. Can you imagine? We need to engrave this shit onto a commemorative coin fast.

Corporate tabloid news coverage, the influence of lobbyists and opinion polls have turned our politicians into the biggest group of hacks since the writing staff for Real People disbanded in the eighties. It's been all button pushing and gamesmanship for our representatives over the past twenty years. Anyone who stepped out of line (Howard Dean, Jimmy Carter, Paul Wellstone) was either written off as boring, naive or nuts. All real issues faded to the background and instead "gay marriage" and "tax breaks" and "military photo ops" became the go to bag of hack political tricks. And our newspapers and TV news shows loved it because it took the discussion away from anything constructive and instead veered it towards juicy programming (Governor is Gay! Congressman involved in Three way! Do Gay Flag Burners Want to Pick Up Your Kids on the Internet?! etc.) and the corporate agenda.

But today's speech was different. It felt like a noise I had never heard but someone once tried to describe to me. It was somewhere between a good episode of The Wire and a John Dos Passos novel. It had perspective. Barack Obama was talking about the future of man and whether or not we will continue to fight each other because of random colors (flags, skin, etc) or whether we will solve big problems together like we have done before (medicine, space travel, democracy). Will we evolve or will we skirmish...? Tilt your head the right way when you listen to the speech. I'm pretty sure it's there.

And then as Obama finished I had to laugh. "Man this must have fucked Wolf Blitzer's shit up" I thought. He spends all of his time trying to avoid constructive discourse and discrediting those who do... This must have made him feel like he was on the tilt awhirl with a belly full of funnel cake and Stroh's. I haven't see his response but I'm sure he turned to the speech into a tactical move on Obama's part. If he didn't and was actually thoughtful about it then Hallelujah.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Speech Reviews: A More Perfect Union

I just re-watched the Obama speech from earlier today. It was truly transformational. You know why people are knowing Hope again? Because a man of this level of intelligence, charisma, discernment, wisdom and poise may become our President.

Here is a round-up of the reactions to his speech, circulated earlier by the Obama campaign. Amazing.

Atlantic (Andrew Sullivan): Alas, I cannot give a more considered response right now as I have to get on the road. But I do want to say that this searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian speech is the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime. It is a speech we have all been waiting for for a generation. Its ability to embrace both the legitimate fears and resentments of whites and the understandable anger and dashed hopes of many blacks was, in my view, unique in recent American history.…I have never felt more convinced that this man's candidacy - not this man, his candidacy - and what he can bring us to achieve - is an historic opportunity. This was a testing; and he did not merely pass it by uttering safe bromides. He addressed the intimate, painful love he has for an imperfect and sometimes embittered man. And how that love enables him to see that man's faults and pain as well as his promise. This is what my faith is about. It is what the Gospels are about. This is a candidate who does not merely speak as a Christian. He acts like a Christian. … I love this country. I don't remember loving it or hoping more from it than today.

Fox News (Major Garrett): I think the two things that struck me most about this speech, Jane, is I’ve watched a lot of speeches in my political career, and I know from politicians who work on the national stage, they ask themselves two questions when they see someone else deliver a major speech. The first question is, “Would I have liked to deliver that speech myself?” And two, “Could I have delivered it myself?” I think the answer to the first question for this speech today would have been almost a universal “Yes.” The answer to the second question for most politicians probably would have been “No.”

Political Wire (Taegan Goddard): Sen. Barack Obama's speech on race this morning showed off exactly why he's become the Democratic front runner for the presidential nomination. He's absolutely willing to challenge the conventional way of how politicians approach controversy. In my opinion, it was the best speech so far in this campaign.

MSNBC (Joe Scarborough): Illinois senator Barack Obama delivering a speech that, in many ways, was sweeping, some would suggest stunning. Anybody that expected Obama to play it safely today was wrong.

Atlantic (James Fallow): … People thought that Mitt Romney's speech would be the counterpart to John Kennedy's famous speech about his faith to the Houston ministers in 1960. No. This was.

The Nation (John Nichols): Barack Obama could have responded to the controversy that has been ginned up with regard to comments made by his former pastor will a safe and predictable speech. The "smart" strategy -- which was counseled by some Obama allies -- would have been to have the Democratic presidential contender focus in on concerns about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr.'s comments on foreign policy and then distance himself from the offending sentiments. But Obama did not do the politically "smart" thing. He did the right thing. And that is why his campaign will weather this storm.

MSNBC (Joe Watkins): I thought it was an excellent speech. I mean, if anybody can deliver a speech, it's Barack Obama. He has a mastery of words. And what he said, really, I think, was excellent. It brought people together. He was able to distance himself from the terrible remarks that his minister made without completely dissing his minister or his relationship with this minister, this man who has been like a father figure to him over the years. I thought it was very, very well done, very delicately done, done with great passion, great feeling, and that it called America to its better angels.

Atlantic (Marc Ambinder): I do think that Obama's speech was a marvel of contemporary political rhetoric. Politically, analytically and emotively, it hit many high notes. His acknowledgment of white working class resentments (busing) and about the perception that there's been no racial progress, his willingness to stick by his friends, his grasp of history, his sense that our views of race are cramped and caricatured... all of that is something that even those who disagree with the substance of his speech, can, I think, appreciate.

Wall Street Journal (Christopher Cooper): From a political perspective, Sen. Barack Obama’s speech on race in America this morning in Philadelphia was extraordinary.

The New Republic (Michael Crowley): Brilliant, beautiful, inspiring--but perhaps not what crass electoral politics demanded of him.

MSNBC (Ron Allen): I can say that I was just amazed at the candor and the directness, and I hope that this does, in fact, and I would think this is going to lead the country to ask itself a lot of questions about the issues that he raised, whether you're black, white, Latino, whatever, Asian, American. It seems that he hit on just about every aspect of the American dilemma as it's been called that we've been struggling with as a nation for many of the last many, many, many decades.

New York Times (Katharine Seelye): Mr. Obama is delivering a sweeping discourse on race in America. He is getting a very warm and positive response from the audience, with murmurs of agreement at each new passage and an increase in applause as he builds toward the end. Audience members are nodding their heads at each other.

MSNBC: (Washington Post’s Sally Quinn): Well, this may be hyperbole but I think this is probably the most important speech on race since Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech because it opened up this conversation to our country in a way that has never been opened before. I can imagine -- the exciting thing about it is, imagine what is going to happen in schools and offices and dinner tables all over this country today and from now on where people are actually going to be having a conversation about things that they were never -- felt that they were allowed to talk about.

MSNBC: Joe Scarborough: Nancy Giles, let me ask you to follow up on Sally's comments. Was this one of the most important speeches on race, in your opinion in the past 45 years since Martin Luther king's "I had a dream" speech? Nancy Giles: Yes. Simply, yes.

Talking Points Memo (Greg Sargent): In the speech Obama goes big big big, quite consciously presenting his personal story -- and candidacy -- as both symbol and realization of American history.

Politico (Ben Smith): It's quite a speech: autobiographical, embracing complexity, and answering questions about Wright…Throughout, he insists on things that you don't get much of in politics: context and nuance.

Atlantic (Matthew Yglesias): I think Obama's speech was pretty brilliant.

MSNBC (Pat Buchanan): Well, you know, I thought it was it an excellent speech. He’s an extraordinarily good speaker, and it was extremely well delivered. And so I think – and it's going to appeal to an awful lot of folks.

CNN (Roland Martin): … No, what I think what he did in this was speak to the good of Trinity, the bad of Trinity, the good of America, the bad of America and say, we all, White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, Christian, non-Christian, should be focused on a more perfect union for the United States of America.

First Read (Aswini Anburajan): His tone throughout was quiet and thoughtful. The same speech could have been delivered in a fiery tone. But Obama chose one that was quiet and thoughtful. It did little to lessen the impact and may have added to the weight of his words.

Earlier: Video of Obama's Speech on Race and Politics