Any reasonable doubt that Barack Obama possesses presidential fiber, idealism, daring and guts in epic proportions was shattered in 35 amazing minutes Tuesday in Philadelphia in a speech he entitled "A
More Perfect Union."
Not since JFK and LBJ has a presidential figure talked to us in such honest, edifying and ultimately uplifting words about race, America's most open sore. And, since Lincoln, nobody has done it better.
There were no soaring rhetorical flourishes here, no focus-grouped talking points, no succumbing to the pinched vision of the pygmy class of political handlers. Instead we were given the ultimate gift a candidate can grant us--an intelligent, highly nuanced address on an issue lesser leaders avoid except, all too often, to exploit them for narrow, manipulative ends. And Obama offered it with the faith that we are adult enough to handle it.
In doing so, he seized a "teachable moment" and set the diversionary controversy over his former pastor in the broader context of what blacks, whites, and people of all hues and ethnic and religious backgrounds must do to redeem the stake we have in each other's success and thus help the nation we love become a more perfect union. (Contrast this, please, with John McCain's tolerance of televangelist Rod Parsley--his "spiritual adviser"--a man who believes Islam must be destroyed by Christian warriors and called Catholicism a "great whore" and "false cult system.")
Lest anyone think it is reflexive for me to eschew the Clinton campaign, Bill Clinton generously returned to Oregon in 1992, long after he had sewed up the state's electoral votes, expressly to help me in my Senate race against Bob Packwood. I've always remembered his generosity with gratitude. Although I have never met Hillary, I've been loyal to her as Hillary haters tried to destroy her.
But compared to the Barack Obama's willingness to lose if necessary in the service of a principled campaign, the Clintons' "rule or ruin" approach to the nomination pales in significance.
So I am with Obama. One hundred percent.
Over on the Huffington Post, Jon Robin Baitz was spot on about the Obama speech and what it revealed. "This, then," he wrote, "is what it means to be presidential. To be moral. To have a real center. To speak honestly, from the heart, for the benefit of all. If there was any doubt about what we have missed in the anti-intellectual, ruthlessly incurious Bush years, and even the slippery Clinton ones (the years of "what is is"), those doubts were laid to rest by [Obama's] magisterial speech--a speech in which he distanced himself from a flawed father figure, Reverend Wright, and did so with almost Shakespearian dignity and honor."
I intend to do everything I can to reclaim the White House for this candidate, a man whom I truly believe, has rendezvous with destiny--and who will make us part of it.