Monday, March 24, 2008

A More Perfect Union

by Marcus Sakey

As I made clear here not long ago, I'm an Obama supporter.

There are a lot of reasons for that. I'm behind his policy, which is at once powered by hope and tempered by pragmatism. I'm floored by his lifelong dedication to making the world better. I'm delighted to have a politician inspire me, to bring some passion and energy to what has become an increasingly jaded field.

But I think the thing gets me most fired up is his ability to address complicated issues with intelligence and clarity, while refusing to oversimplify them. In a world of soundbites, Obama has managed to avoid six-word answers to serious issues--and yet he has dodged the trap many a Democrat has fallen into (John Kerry, for example), of getting so lost in his own rhetoric that he misplaces his message.

For my money, two of the president's most important duties are these: first, he or she needs to inspire, lead, and empower the thousands of very smart people who work for them. And second, he or she needs to be able to communicate effectively with the American public and the world at large.

Obama excels at both of these roles, and he does it in the face of challenging, multi-layered issues. A prime example was the speech he gave last week entitled "A More Perfect Union." The full text is available here; or you can click below to watch the video:




What a piece of rhetoric! Erudite, reasoned, impassioned, and unafraid. It blew my hair back. I loved his head-on acknowledgment that we have racial problems in this country. I loved that he acknowledged the validity of those concerns, the very real basis of them. And I loved that he did that without finger-pointing, but rather with a call to action. This speech reconfirmed my belief that for once we're looking at a politician whose primary goal is to make the country better. Period.

But that's just me. What did you think of the speech? Did it get you on your feet, or did it leave you cold? I'd really like to know.

25 comments:

guyot said...

I loved the speech, Marcus, and was disgusted that, instead of it possibly, POSSIBLY, starting any type of dialogue about race in this country, the media ONLY discussed whether the speech got him out of the hot water from Wright's remarks.

I, too, love what Obama talks about. What he is saying now, running for President. What is difficult for me - and hard for most everyone I would assume - is being able to put aside the rhetoric and hope-inspiring speeches and see if his record as a public servant backs up what he says.

So many politicians say the greatest things during election time, but it almost always seems to be a case of the frog and the scorpion.

I'm still having a real rough time getting beyond a couple of things in his Illinois voting record.

Dana King said...

I wrote in my blog the other day that this speech had bumped me up from Supporter to Believer. The rest of what I said is too long for a comment, but suffice to say here I agree wholly with your assessment, Marcus.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved the speech and I am completely frustrated that the media has found a way to spin it into something less than wonderful. Examine every word until you find one that you can use to tear him apart. Who could stand up to this scrutiny?

Shannon said...

I thought it was the most eloquent speech I've heard in my lifetime. He reminds me of Robert Kennedy, though I was born after he died.

Tony D'Amato said...

And not a cliche in it!

Maryann Mercer said...

I remain a skeptic at this point, Marcus. Wonderful rhetoric, the call for change, and bright promises all sound almost too good.I'm not convinced his record in the Illinois House or US Senate stands him in good stead. But then maybe I've seen too many campaigns and watched good candidates beaten by 'lovely words'. There are a lot of days left before the convention, the nomination and the election. Time enough to change my mind.
(I'm not totally in Hilary's camp either by the way. The only thing of which I am sure is that this country needs change, and I don't believe McCain is the one to do that)

Anonymous said...

Marcus, how much do you actually know about Obama's record in the senate?

It seems like most of the people who are backing him because of his wonderful speeches have no clue about his record.

Edward

Marcus Sakey said...

I'm not an expert on his every vote. But his general pattern--voting to increase education spending, to expand embryonic stem cell research, to repeal tax breaks for corporations that outsource overseas, to protect wildlife areas and reduce global emissions, to limit the Patriot Act, as well as to pass quite a few health care initiatives--is exactly the one I'm looking for. I know that many people are concerned about the occasions he voted "present" rather than weighing in on an issue, but my understanding is that those were large political strategies orchestrated within the DNC.

Maryann, Edward, what in particular is troubling you?

Maryann Mercer said...

Marcus, it's hard to explain a gut feeling, but I have one about Obama at this stage of his career. I had the same feeling about Carter(voted for him anyway), Reagan, and G.W. Bush. My gut proved to be right on the money. This is not to say that Sen. Obama won't make a fine President in a few years time, but his inexperience concerns me. His almost overnight appearance as our new best hope concerns me. These reasons may make sense only to me, but until I can convince myself of his ability to start the healing process this country must go through, I'm in the wait and see mode.

Rob said...

In the case of both Regan and GW Bush, I think there was a lot more there than a mere gut feeling as to how horrible they would be for our country. One merely had to look at their policy record, their rehtoric, and their previous performance. Both of them looked terrible on all counts, as far as I'm concerned. Obama, so far, looks good on those same issues. Lucky for me, my "gut" tells me he's good, too.

And Edward: You obviously don't know *most* people, so that's a rather ridiculous claim that most like Obama for his speeches not his record. And kind of insulting to his supporters. But I suppose that may have been your intent.

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