This speech is a superb response to the challenges the Obama campaign has faced this past weekend.
Obama acknowledges the recurrent tendency of Americans to be polarized into racial camps. And he returns to the one of the core messages of his candidacy, which is to repudiate that sort of racial polarization — with reference to the example of his personal, biracial history.
As somebody who was born into a diverse family — as somebody who has little pieces of America all in me [applause] — I will not allow us to lose this moment.
To use a homely illustration, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has handed Obama a lemon, and he’s making lemonade of it. I think this weekend may be a turning point in Obama’s march to the presidency.
Obama doesn’t resort to soaring rhetoric in this address. He speaks from the heart in unadorned, at times disjointed, phrases. But the message resonates nonetheless, and people are lifted out of their seats; or they respond, as to a sermon, “That’s right!” (Though Obama is not speaking in sermon-like cadences.)
Jack — with respect — you’re wrong. Obama has been tested in the past few weeks, and he has shown his mettle.
Obama doesn’t yield to discouragement when times get tough. He doesn’t give way to anger and start lashing out at his critics. He doesn’t sink into self-pity. He retains his emotional equilibrium; he responds thoughtfully and intelligently; he keeps coming back to first principles.
Obama doesn’t appeal to fear, blood-lust, or the politics of division. Nor does he engage in political triangulation, the way a Clinton would. Instead, he invites Americans to hope, to pursue unity and justice — the road less taken. He keeps appealing to the best, noblest aspects of human nature.
Obama is manifestly unflappable. That’s why, when that 3:00 a.m. phone call inevitably comes, I want him to be the person answering it. Obama is not going to panic, not going to overreact, not going to view the crisis through a political lens. He’s going to reflect on the issue, examine it from all sides, consider what’s best for the country, and arrive at a principled, non-partisan decision. And then he’ll implement that decision, following through on it consistently but not blindly.
That approach will go a long way toward keeping America out of the kind of trouble it has stirred up for itself during the Bush years. That’s why Obama is ready to be President — whatever the naysayers may suppose.