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Default Obama's Philadelphia Speech

March 18th, 2008, 22:50
I just finished watching and reading this speech from US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, made in part in response to the latest media circus about his former pastor's inflammatory sermons, but perhaps destined to emerge as one of the historic speeches of our time, and certainly as the first serious example in this squabbling and embarrassing Democratic primary contest of a candidate deliberately broaching and discussing a real issue: racism in America.

I'd be interested in hearing others responses to this speech. If you haven't had the opportunity to hear it, the MSNBC link gives both a complete written transcript and a video of the full address.


Obama's Speech


It's long. I was going to quote parts of it, but really it would be a shame to take them out of context, and I'm sure most will hear them on the news tonight anyway.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 18th, 2008, 23:17
Not since Martin Luther King Jr. has anyone articulated racism in America with such eloquence and authenticity.

It was startling to hear such controversial subjects discussed so directly and openly. After hearing it, I feel as if I have a measure of insight into his life and the experience of many other black Americans.

As to the real purpose of the speech, to counter the potentially crippling effects of his close relationship with his minister, I have to say his explanation didn't quite add up for me. How could anyone who rejects racism and anti-Americanism attend church services where it was being preached?

He was too close to it and for too long. How easy to simply claim you were inspired the whole time by what was good while rejecting what wasn't. That position just seems a little too convenient for someone who's running for national office.

Personal responsibility — the kind Barak Obama talked about — begins with taking personal responsibility. He didn't, and that's what was missing from his speech.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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March 18th, 2008, 23:21
I only wish it would be true that we could only focus on these real issues and get rid of the crap.

He is really trying, but it is hard to be honorable when you have the 'kill your own mama to win' Clinton machine at work against you and a media and public that lives for sound bytes and controversy.

As for the speech itself, I agree with squeek - everybody involved has ownership of the issues and needs to take ownership of the solutions.

— Mike
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March 18th, 2008, 23:28
This isn't taking personal responsibility?

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother
I thought he made it plain he accepted the good with the bad in his minister, and recognized his anger—and the reasons underlying his anger— without participating in it.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 19th, 2008, 00:07
I'm not a big fan of his politics, but I'll admit that I wish the Republicans had a speaker with that much charisma.

I was hoping for another paragraph after the 25:00 mark where he told the white community what they need to change. After such a balanced and reasoned presentation, it would have made sense to tell the black community what they need to change as well. He might have been worried about backlash ala Bill Cosby. It will be interesting to see what the black community has to say about the speech. He said a lot of things I've been wishing to hear out of the black community for a long time, and he seemed to have a remarkable understanding of the feelings of your average white guy. Quite a bit of stuff that, as he said, doesn't get discussed in polite conversation.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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March 19th, 2008, 00:23
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
This isn't taking personal responsibility?
Actually what I was saying was that I applauded Obama for calling out white & black (and all others as well) for pointing fingers and blaming others. He did a great job of explaining things in a way that makes you appreciate the gray area we all really live in.

— Mike
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March 19th, 2008, 00:34
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
This isn't taking personal responsibility?
Maybe and maybe not, depending on what happens to be the whole truth (and you can't know that any more than I can). If we were to assume he's a saint, then definitely, because that's how a saint would take responsibility in this situation.

Barak Obama may or may not be the kind of person who could be associated with that kind of ugliness without being tainted by it. I really don't know. What I do know is he's running for President, and I understand the position he's taken.

There's a premise in Buddhism that things tend to be found in their proper place in this world. You'll find things in an outhouse that you won't find in a jewelry store, and vice-versa.

Barak Obama could be found attending services in that church for over twenty years. Now when he's running for President he denies being receptive to any of what was preached there that might interfere with his campaign. Call me a cynic, but that makes me suspicious.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
Last edited by Squeek; March 19th, 2008 at 00:41.
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March 19th, 2008, 01:26
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
Actually what I was saying was that I applauded Obama for calling out white & black (and all others as well) for pointing fingers and blaming others. He did a great job of explaining things in a way that makes you appreciate the gray area we all really live in.
Sorry, Mike. I was responding to Squeek. I agree about the ownership idea, but not with the 'tarred with the same brush' argument.

Again responding to Squeek:
Obviously, first and foremost, the guy is a politician, so we know up front he's not a saint.

I don't understand any of this 'tainted' concept though. First, Obama's actions and writings through his career are all about building coalitions and bridges, not dividing and conquering. Second, if you take the emotion out of the Rev. Wright's speech, what has he said that's an actual lie? America IS run by rich white men AFAIK. Our actions abroad *have* been a major factor in what happened on 9-11. Hillary *is* as much of a child of privilege as anyone could be, and being called the b word *is* a lot different than being called the n word.

So if these words were said in a calm tone in a blog somewhere written by a white person, I don't think they'd be getting the same emotional overload among the white mostly right establishment. Deplored, yes, perhaps; but to me it's still a toss-up how this has become such a litmus test for Obama.

Anyway, I accept your take, Squeek, and I like your outhouse analogy, (but I think probably church on Sunday is only one of many places where you could find Obama over the years; i.e. this really also is another mudslinging non-issue.)

People are so cranked about this incident, on both sides—and most of the stuff to come out of it all is just more journalist fodder. Some of it is entertaining though—
I kind of like this blog post at the leftie Huffington Post myself:

Obama's Minister Committed "Treason" But When My Father Said the Same Thing He Was a Republican Hero
When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father — Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer — denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr.

Every Sunday thousands of right wing white preachers (following in my father's footsteps) rail against America's sins from tens of thousands of pulpits. They tell us that America is complicit in the "murder of the unborn," has become "Sodom" by coddling gays, and that our public schools are sinful places full of evolutionists and sex educators hell-bent on corrupting children. They say, as my dad often did, that we are, "under the judgment of God." They call America evil and warn of imminent destruction. By comparison Obama's minister's shouted "controversial" comments were mild. All he said was that God should damn America for our racism and violence and that no one had ever used the N-word about Hillary Clinton…

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 19th, 2008, 01:34
Hallelujah brother!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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March 19th, 2008, 02:01
Quite a speech.
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March 19th, 2008, 19:47
I wrote this on another message board concerning the speech:

Obama was most likely aware of these specific tirades, even if he wasn't there. He also likely at least heard summations of them and had ample opportunity to ask his trusted adviser about them. Additionally, while a few of these have made it to YouTube, it's highly likely that many more did not.

So Obama did what a good politician does, he claimed that he had not been present or heard the specific sermons in question. When that didn't calm the storm, he then came out, didn't admit to anything that would contradict his earlier statement, but then admitted to something similar and rejected the message to placicate the masses.

—-

That being said, the text (I didn't hear it since I was at work) was impressive. If there are truth in his words, then he could be the best President in a long time, but the question of what he truly believes is still a legitimate one.

I also wrote this before hand:

But since it took him until yesterday (a few days ago now) to finally say something against the 9/11 comments, and until today (now yesterday) to disavow indirectly any of the other racist rhetoric, there is a right to be concerned. Especially given the attitude of his wife.

I simply do not see how any sane man could attend a church for 20 years that spews hate and misinformation, marry a woman that obviously believes it, make a commitment of faith to said church, bring their CHILDREN to said church and NOT believe it.



So that is what I wrote. I'll say, I'm glad he came out with that speech and it has a lot of historical potential. He's a little too left in general for my taste, based on his senate record, but so far his record does not show representation of Wrights racist rhetoric.

Of course, that leaves the question of is he a Manchurian candidate? That scares me some, but I'm still staying open enough to see what the end message is.

Regardless, even with that speech, this will continue to be an issue, and you know the Republicans will roast him with the issue in the fall.

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March 20th, 2008, 09:41
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I wrote this on another message board concerning the speech:

Obama was most likely aware of these specific tirades, even if he wasn't there. He also likely at least heard summations of them and had ample opportunity to ask his trusted adviser about them. Additionally, while a few of these have made it to YouTube, it's highly likely that many more did not.
.
.
.

But since it took him until yesterday (a few days ago now) to finally say something against the 9/11 comments, and until today (now yesterday) to disavow indirectly any of the other racist rhetoric, there is a right to be concerned. Especially given the attitude of his wife.

I simply do not see how any sane man could attend a church for 20 years that spews hate and misinformation, marry a woman that obviously believes it, make a commitment of faith to said church, bring their CHILDREN to said church and NOT believe it.

Obama said straight up that he rejected his Pastor's more controversial statements. Overall, however, he respected the man for his deeds and his commitment to faith and works. So if you can't take him [Obama] at his word, then you never would have voted for him in the first place.
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March 20th, 2008, 12:20
Originally Posted by elkston View Post
Obama said straight up that he rejected his Pastor's more controversial statements. Overall, however, he respected the man for his deeds and his commitment to faith and works. So if you can't take him [Obama] at his word, then you never would have voted for him in the first place.
I think that the damage of this incident isn't to Obama's core base, but to the undecided middle class voters that he was doing well with before this fiasco.

Frankly, I agree that if something a politician's aide, relative, barber or minister says is what makes up your mind to withhold your support, you probably weren't committed in any way to begin with, and in this case, I think it also serves as an ironclad excuse for those who may have other, less noble reasons to not support Obama. (Not directed at anyone in this thread, speaking generally.)

I've been trolling around the net reading, not the journalistic pieces on this so much as the reader comments, and everyone seems to be echoing Pat Buchanan et al with this sort of thing: "What does this say about Obama? What kind of person listens to this for twenty years?" and so forth.

I just don't see it as anything that simple, or that defining. I think it's possible that Obama's presence in that church reflects the efforts of a man of mixed blood who is perceived by whites as black but who was raised primarily in a white family and a white suburban environment, to understand and experience that part of himself which doesn't reside in suburbia. Perhaps that white background forces him to overcompensate by picking a more politically radical minister. Or maybe there's more to Rev Wright than hate and You Tube. I'm not a psychologist and I'm not religious, but it makes sense to me. What better place is there to see what it means to be black in America?

I may be totally wrong, but I can understand how Obama might have been drawn to the anger, the feelings negative and positive, and the community of that church.

From looking at the man's life and career though, I think it would be simplistic to say that that experience is his limit, or that it hides a racist agenda. And I really can't imagine what devastating effect it's supposed to have on what kind of president he'd make.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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March 20th, 2008, 15:34
I thought it was an absolutely superb speech, even reading the text I got little shivers.

And total credit for him for sticking to his guns and sticking to his loyalties. He could easily have acted shocked and disowned the minister but he hasn't, he's set out an overwhelmingly reasonable and balanced discussion of what he feels and why and I admire him for that. It might not have been the most politically expedient thing he could have done, and clinton & mccain will use it to try and damage his chances, but he's stuck to what he believes in and tackled the issue head on and that's a rare trait these days.

Or failing that he doesn't believe in it but has a vision of what a president should be that resonates more strongly with me than I can remember a politician resonating, and seems to be doing a pretty good job of pretending to be it, which is a lot better than the alternatives.

I'd be utterly gutted if he didn't become president, his promise to get rid of lobbyists alone could be the most powerful change in politics for years.
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March 20th, 2008, 16:04
Originally Posted by elkston View Post
Obama said straight up that he rejected his Pastor's more controversial statements. Overall, however, he respected the man for his deeds and his commitment to faith and works. So if you can't take him [Obama] at his word, then you never would have voted for him in the first place.
If he had said this when the preacher initially made the remarks, or when the controversy came out, I would have had an easier time believing him. As for whether or not I would have voted for him, I worked on a campaign to get Republican and Independent voters in Texas to vote in the Democratic primary for him.

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March 20th, 2008, 16:06
Originally Posted by Benedict View Post
I'd be utterly gutted if he didn't become president, his promise to get rid of lobbyists alone could be the most powerful change in politics for years.
I'd love to see that, but doesn't he have some history himself with lobbyists? Edwards roasted all the other candidates about that, and I thought he included Obama.

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March 20th, 2008, 16:06
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
…everyone seems to be echoing Pat Buchanan et al with this sort of thing: "What does this say about Obama?
Isn't that the discussion Obama encouraged? Didn't he invite everyone to go ahead and take a close look? And isn't lumping everyone who's asking it together with Pat Buchanan exactly the kind of thinking Obama discouraged?

What I admired about Obama's speech were all the shades of grey.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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March 20th, 2008, 16:08
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
I just don't see it as anything that simple, or that defining. I think it's possible that Obama's presence in that church reflects the efforts of a man of mixed blood who is perceived by whites as black but who was raised primarily in a white family and a white suburban environment, to understand and experience that part of himself which doesn't reside in suburbia. Perhaps that white background forces him to overcompensate by picking a more politically radical minister. Or maybe there's more to Rev Wright than hate and You Tube. I'm not a psychologist and I'm not religious, but it makes sense to me. What better place is there to see what it means to be black in America?
I agree it's not the simple. Personally, I'm leaning to him attending that church for the main purpose of getting 'street cred' within the black community. To his credit, his politics so far have not reflected the attitudes of that congregation.

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March 20th, 2008, 16:21
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
I'd love to see that, but doesn't he have some history himself with lobbyists? Edwards roasted all the other candidates about that, and I thought he included Obama.
No idea, personally I don't care if he's a steaming hypocrite in terms of past actions so long as he goes through with his promised future actions.
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March 20th, 2008, 16:45
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
If he had said this when the preacher initially made the remarks, or when the controversy came out, I would have had an easier time believing him.
I'm not into politics at all and didn't follow the controversy, but I did watch the entire speech. To me it felt like he had no choice but to carefully think through what to say because it was a controversy, one that needed to be fully understood by everyone, as otherwise they'd be talking to, but not with each other. Like those stereotypical man/woman conversations that turn into endless arguing because nobody listens or tries to understand what the other is saying:
Woman: What would you do if I died? Would you get married again?
Man: Definitely not!
Woman: Why not-don’t you like being married?
Man: Of course I do.
Woman: Then why wouldn’t you remarry?
Man: Okay, I’d get married again.
Woman: You would? (with a hurtful look on her face)
. . .
Obama sounded to me like he was trying to make everyone understand and explained it to them in a full speech rather than giving in to endless, pointless debates about semantics, or trying to convince everyone that they were wrong. And it's not easy to explain something to someone who has a prejudiced attitude or is tenacious in their opinions about certain things.


As for the controversy.. Imagine you had a brother whom you dearly loved like, well, a brother. Now he did something bad. Would or should you stop loving him for that?

"Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where." ~ Cortez, from The Longest Journey
Last edited by Arhu; March 20th, 2008 at 17:03.
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