It's Obama for me

Les AuCoin

Les_speaking_for_kerry_wisconsin_4 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."

Just so.

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.

Comments

  • watcher (unverified)
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    Glad you were impressed with LBJ's honesty. Evidently you didn't serve in Vietnam.

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    I wrote not of LBJ's "honesty," but his historically documented devotion to civil rights. For you to twist this is disingenuous, at best. I find people tiring who cannot accept human paradox. LBJ's worst, prevaricating nature was revealed by Vietnam and his best and noblest, by his civil rights record--the greatest in the modern presidency.

  • Randle McMurphy (unverified)
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    Don't mess with Les, who writes the best posts on Blue Oregon.

  • genop (unverified)
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    Couldn't agree more on the Obama speech. Any thoughts on whether Greg Walden is vulnerable in his district?

  • Viki (unverified)
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    I think you missed important moment: Obama gave his “presidential” “honorable” speech after being accused in lying (remember until his speech he was denying hearing any racial comments from his pastor). I don’t see anything honorable in taking 45 minutes to explain why it is ok to person who want to be president for American people to be silent about racial comments. Obama keep brings his daughter to this church. Do you really think that to move forward and past racial divide (one of Obama’s talking points) you need your kids to hear such harsh words towards white people? Obama didn’t address in his speech any concerns that were raised: why he didn’t leave church? How is he going to address this issue is he is president.
    Obama is a good speaker, salesman. It was only good speech. Nothing more.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Genop -

    Is Greg Walden vulnerable in his district?

    Yes, but we'd have to spend $500,000, do you have it? I don't.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Now, on topic -

    The contrast between our two Democratic Party candidates for President becomes stronger and stronger. On the one hand, one candidate is throwing the kitchen sink at the other. On the other hand, the candidate stands and takes all the garbage you can throw at him, and then turns around and makes you proud to be an American.

    While we have a choice in fact, do we really have a choice if we are patriotic Americans? When one candidate is a rise above it all Diplomat, and the other a play in the mud politician?

    It's time for Obama.

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    viki's gone off the rails. Obama nver admitted hearing any racial comments. Further, Wright is not the pastor at Obama's church.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Couldn't agree more on the Obama speech. Any thoughts on whether Greg Walden is vulnerable in his district?

    As I've said before, Greg Walden will only be vulnerable if he proves to be gay or a child molester. Most people in recent history in Walden's district have voted for the Republican candidate. A Democrat has filed in the last few days, but it will most likely prove to be too little too late; although, he looks like he would be a credit to the district. Unfortunately, the DPO seems to have written off the 2nd CD. If they were serious about taking it back they would build up a candidate at least a year before the election instead of ignoring anyone who does run. Fortunately, Walden's district is showing an increase in registered Democrats so the situation could change in the future.

    Back to Obama. It is typical of Hillary that she has the gall to accuse Obama of anything un-American. It seems to me that any politician who reneges on his or her oath to defend the Constitution by transferring authority to go to war from the Congress to the president is not in any position to accuse someone else of being un-American.

  • Viki (unverified)
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    torridjoe, yes Wright is not pastor any more, but his new pastor is on the same track. He was on CNN with the same agenda.

  • Lani (unverified)
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    I didn't get that at all from the new minister on that interview. What "agenda" are you talking about?

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    Viki,

    Excuse me, but your myopia is showing. As the Dallas Morning News, "One For The History Books", demonstrates (to cite one major major daily newspapers), you've missed the whole sweep of not just Obama's speech but this thought.

    In assessing presidential timber, you seem to prefer to play in sawdust (did BO hear his ex-minister say something incendiary, did he approve of it?) while I, the Morning News and others, when confronted with a sequoia, acknowledge the sequoia.

  • Reverend Wright (unverified)
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    I agree with ya Le$$ - OBAMA 4 ME!

    and GOD DAMN AMERIKKKA

    and GOD DAMN WHITETY

    TAX WHITETY

    WHEN IS WHITETY GOING TO PAY FOR SLAVERY??!

  • Allyn Stone (unverified)
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    This comment thread is turning to garbage. Blue Oregon, why don't you require users to give their full names? That usually improves the level of discourse.

  • Mac McFadden (unverified)
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    (I always post, here and elsewhere, under my own name) I was trying to explain to someone that Reverend Wright was not railing against "white America" in his sermon. He was railing against "white racist America". They are not one and the same, at least not to me. Then I realized that to those who inhabit the latter, they ARE the same.

    Unlike today's New York Times editorial "Obama's Profile in Courage", they just don't 'get it'. And probably never will.

  • Muslims Against Sharia (unverified)
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    Muslims Against Sharia call on Senators McCain and Obama to cut all ties with their racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic supporters.

    McCain: http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/03/mccains-spiritual-guide-destroy-islam.html Obama: http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/03/racist-congregation-cheering-racist.html

  • Arlen Gregorio (unverified)
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    Another superb analysis from Les. "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." My first reaction upon hearing the speech was to think of Lincoln. I believe that even decades from now this speech will be seen as a threshold event-- a defining moment-- in U.S. racial relations. We now have a new, much clearer lens through which to look at ourselves. Things will never be the same again. No matter what happens to his campaign from now on, Obama's courage and wisdom have presented us with a great gift.

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    Blue Oregon, why don't you require users to give their full names?

    We're working on that. Note that simply requiring people to provide a first name and a last name via a form won't work. We'd just have lots of Mickey Mouses and OJ Simpsons.

    But in a short while, we're going to attempt to move blogging technology (and cultural norms) forward in dramatic fashion. We'll see if it works.

    Meanwhile, until this primary is over, you can expect to see lots of new names around here on every presidential campaign post. Viki, for example, is new here.

    Some of those new folks will be legit contributors to our community. Others are just doing the drive-by trolling thing based on Google searches.

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    to get back to Les's post....

    "presidential" was exactly the word that struck me. no president will ever have the entire country hehind him or her, but the best ones will, at times of crisis, have the good will of most Americans -- and the rest of the world. i can well imagine Obama in this same mode, addressing the difficulties our country faces and explaining, from his heart and with his mind, the course we must take. the challenges we face don't require policy fixes (on which Obama and Clinton are fairly close) but leadership — on which they are not even close. it's not so much that she hasn't got what it takes to be presidential; she does. it's just that Obama has so much more of it.

  • Allyn Stone (unverified)
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    Thanks, Kari, for the informative response. I look forward to your experiment...

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Relevance? Isn't Les AuCoin the dude who lost to a weakened Bob Packwood like 150 years ago? Why do we care who he endorses in his otherwise substance-less all-too-typical rah-rah post?

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Yep, AuCoin was the dude who lost to Packwood in 1992 despite, if I remember correctly, Packwood saying he had a problem with alcohol before the general election. And then not too far along after, the whole harrassment deal. And yet AuCoin still lost.

    And now he endorses Obama. And he notes "Barack Obama's willingness to lose if necessary in the service of a principled campaign".

    Yeah, dude, we know all about THAT.

    YOU and people like you have been showing us that for years now. We need blood-and-guts Democrats, not people like Obama and Les AuCoin.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    viki's gone off the rails. Obama nver admitted hearing any racial comments. Further, Wright is not the pastor at Obama's church.

    Standard fare from Obama supporters... yeah, TECHNICALLY, Wright isn't the Pastor right NOW... he retired in January. But, uh, he was the Pastor for 20 years while Obama attended.

    The Wright fiasco is a huge problem for Obama. A huge problem. Obama already can't win white votes (apart from a few slices). Or Latino votes. In a general election, he's a goner.

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    '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."'

    Thanks, Les, for your affirmation of this astounding man. He is all you say.

    I first read his speech in a transcript on Daily Kos and knew it was a blockbuster. Later, I saw it on You Tube and was surprised at the quiet calmness in which he delivered it. In my minds eye I had imagined him delivering it large as he has other speeches before.

    I was moved by it at once because he spoke the obvious truth with clarity and charity. He complimented us, his audience, by leaving in the complexities that reveal real people when he spoke of his minister and his grandmother and made it clear he loved them both in spite of their faults.

    In any given difficult situation we have at least two choices in how we experience the people in them. One is to see things simply, cartoonishly, as stereotypes without the complexity that every living thing really has. This way leads, too often, to fear, and hatred and the paralysis of thinking that results in deadly errors.

    A second way to experience people in difficult situations is to see them in their complexity and with empathy and understanding. This way leaves open the possibility of good judgment, leadership, and sometimes even love.

    People tend to accept and take on the way their political leaders describe the world and adapt their own experiences to the explanations those political leaders give.

    Barack Obama, in this speech, makes it easier for those with ears to hear to acknowledge real conditions and complexities of real people closer to the way they really are with empathy and hope.

    It has been said before, but I cannot resist: After many years of the fomenting of fear and hatred, of lies and greed, Americans, including me, are hungry for the awareness of our strength and power not in fear of a fearful world but in calm awareness of our capacity for making a better future out of a mixed past.

    Hope and Change are not just campaign gimmicks. Obama proves that by describing our past through the metaphor of the lives of two old people, one white and one black. He describes them and analyzes their limits so well and with so much love that he carries us along with his vision of a stronger, healthier, and more just America.

    He also told us about himself. He showed us the clarity with which he thinks, the care with which he parses words, deeds, and people, separating the person from his fears and limitations. Anyone who would attempt to remove our paralysis over race, take on our economic and ecological problems, and restore our standing in the world as a moral nation must have those qualities. Obama calls them “judgment.” He has demonstrated “judgment” (as well as guts) and we should all be glad.

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    Peter Bray... I suggest you do a little more research before you go around slamming a guy who was a Congressman from Oregon for 18 years.

    Yeah, he lost to Bob Packwood - in a very close election, when the Oregonian knew, but did not report, Packwood's troubles. (And, btw, it wasn't just harassment. There was substantial sexual assault there, and at least one arguable attempted rape. But the Oregonian didn't report any of it.)

    I suggest starting with reading Congressman AuCoin's posts here at BlueOregon (especially this one) and then check his regular blog (especially this one and definitely this one.)

    Sure, I've had my disagreements with Les, in public and in private, but I've always found him to be a stout-hearted defender of progressive values. And he was that way in Congress too.

    In the end, you may end up deciding that AuCoin is the jerk you think he is now. But he's earned the right to a little research before you run at the mouth.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    It is now obvious that selected sound bites from Reverend Wright's sermons are going to be used by the Clintons to attack Obama in their campaign for the Democratic nomination and the Republican Party and their cohorts in their campaign for the presidency. McCain himself may not join in because he has some pastors in his closet that would force him to be more hypocritical than he might want to be.

    A favorite clip of the Wright attackers has him saying, "God damn America." "God damn ..." is a statement that people commonly use when anger gets the better of them, including when that anger is directed at loved ones. So why should Wright be angry with America? Go back to a period shortly after 9/11 when many Americans were asking, "Why do they hate us?" and some took it upon themselves to answer that question. A former columnist for the Oregonian wrote a column listing several reasons, as did other columnists in other papers. Gore Vidal wrote a book along the same lines, "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hated." "Blowback" by Chalmers Johnson and "Imperial Hubris" by Anonymous (Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst in the Osama bin Laden office) also make similar arguments. Do an Internet search for "Why do they hate us?" and you'll get plenty of answers.

    People with an above average knowledge of history and the ability to be honest and fair will not need examples of why others are hostile to us while citing examples will make no difference to the My-country-right-or-wrong brigade.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    Hey Kari, The link for Les' blog just links to another of his BO contributions. Can you correct that? Thanks!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    It is now obvious that selected sound bites from Reverend Wright's sermons are going to be used by the Clintons to attack Obama in their campaign for the Democratic nomination...

    Given this article by Barbara Ehrenreich Clinton attacks will most likely come from surrogates.

  • joeldanwalls (unverified)
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    Bray sez:The Wright fiasco is a huge problem for Obama. A huge problem. Obama already can't win white votes (apart from a few slices). Or Latino votes. In a general election, he's a goner.

    As in, for example, Wisconsin (90% white per US census data). Damn, if I had not read Bray's comment, I would never had drawn the obvious conclusion: a majority of the white population in Wisconsin consists of tattooed U. Wisconsin students and their Volvo-driving, latte-sipping enablers. Hey, thanks, Peter.

  • Respect? (unverified)
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    Peter - When did you turn into an a$$hole? Your posts used to be thoughtful and intelligent. Now you're a short-sighted arrogant pr*ck.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    In response to the Clinton trolls. The strategy of demonizing Wright and guilt by association will backfire in the Dem. party.

    Secondly, the speech by Obama and his demeanor and intelligence in responding are having an effect, even in a poll done by the number one Clinton surrogate in this, Fox News.

    <hr/>

    From TPM: Poll: Majority Doesn't Believe Obama Shares Wright's Views By Eric Kleefeld - March 20, 2008, 5:57PM

    A new poll from Fox News, the first major poll taken since Barack Obama's big speech on race relations, shows that the effect of the Jeremiah Wright flap might not be so bad after all.

    By a 57%-24% margin, registered votes do not believe that Obama shares Wright's controversial views. The internals show only 17% of Democrats saying Obama shares Wright's ideas, along with 20% of independents and 36% of Republicans.

    Fox also asked respondents whether they had doubts about Obama because of his association with Wright. The results: 35% Yes, 54% No, with the numbers standing at 26%-66% for Democrats, 27%-61% among independents, and 56%-33% with Republicans."

  • Jim Lausier (unverified)
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    Hope you Oregonians don't mind an Illinois Democrat peeking his nose in the door here, but the conversation was irresistible.

    I don't see how anyone who saw Senator Obama's entire 37 minute speech could disagree with Les AuCoin. Senator Obama (my Senator I'm proud to point out) adheres to a number of important principles here that are worth pointing out.

    First: Everything must be viewed within the context of everything else. Reverend Wright's incendiary words were condemned - but not Wright himself. Obama put those words into the entire context of who Wright is and the generation he belongs to. This is something that any future President MUST do - view things in their entire context. Trade, Immigration, Economy, Foreign Policy - each affects the others, and in complicated ways. Obama has the intelligence to understand these complexities.

    Second: Senator Obama believes his audience is intelligent enough to understand complexity as well. He didn't boil this down into sound bytes or slogans for us. He approached the country with a speech unlike any other campaign speech I've ever seen. The speech took on the nature of a Presidential address. I suppose that was the intent. In any case, he didn't take the easy way out by simply kicking his friend to the curb. This is completely consistent with his promise of raising the level of discourse in this country.

    Third: The far right Evangelical fringe has tried to create a monopoly on Christianity for quite a while now. In this speech, Obama clearly lays out principles of the political left that are completely compatible with the principles of Christianity. The idea that one can either be a good christian or a good Democrat - but not both - has been a problem for us, and I'm glad Senator Obama has shown the ability to erase this idea once and for all.

  • Alan (unverified)
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    If Obama was so great he would not have got himself into this mess. He is weak when he does not have a canned speech to recite or a teleprompt to read off of. When he is head to head to Hillary he has lost the debate every time. She knows the facts & when he has them forced down his throat he stammers. He stinks in foreign affairs & look at who he associates with... a slumlord under investigation and a preacher who is a racist. Even with that he cannot seperate himself from them for the benefit of the country. But at least his wife has finally found SOMETHING Good about the USA. Are you kidding me if it were not for youthful idealists he would not have many votes. Get your Obama heads out of the sand and realize another mistake like the last 8 years will ruin this country. Hillary for 8 & then Obama might be ready & also correct the mistakes of who he picks for friends. If Obama is the Democratic nominee the Republicans will eat him for lunch & then we will be stuck with another Republican jerk keeping the war going for ever & ever & ever. VOTE FOR HILLARY & SAVE OUR ECONOMY & OUR KIDS & OUR HEALTH CARE.

  • Marc (unverified)
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    Alan said: "If Obama was so great he would not have got himself into this mess."???

    Hmmm.... What about Whitewater, Lewinski, Jennifer Flowers, Peter Paul, Marc Rich, Norman Hsu, pushed NAFTA publicly "but was really against it", opened borders in Macedonia, Rupert Murdock's funraiser, voted for war but now against it, just to name a few?

    All politicians make mistakes. Some are just blown out of proportion by (How did Hillary put?) the "great right-wing conspiracy". What Obama has not done is try to take credit for things he had little or nothing to do with.

    The Clintons seem to be driving the racial politics this time. The wild thing is it is Clinton supporters pushing the dead story of Wright, Bill Clinton questioning Obama's pratiotism in carefully chosen words and Mark Penn comments that "the time that [Richardson] could have been effective has long since passed. I don't think it is a significant endorsement in this environment".

    Does Mark Penn really mean that the only value Bill Richardson has is to draw Hispanic voters? Someone's value is predicated on the color of the voters they bring to your camp? Hmmm.... Psst, Mark, your sheet is showing.

  • Rob E (unverified)
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    Obama is a fraud. He is a candidate created by Emil Jones and David Axelrod. Do your homework. Look at his career. Community organizer who did not support his community when it wasn't politically safe. State senator who accomplished nothing for the first 6 years. Jones put his name on 26 bills in year 7 to "make a US Senator".
    Judgement?? Had 20 year relationship with Rev. Wright wants people to believe he never heard or read any anti-american, anti- israel, anti-white statements. Endorsed corrupt chicago alderman Dorothy Tillman. Has appeared with anti- american Billy Ayres and Bernadine Dorhn. Accepted, and lied about amount, $250,000 from Tony Rezko. Not good judgement from someone who wanted to be president. Obama = McCain President

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