Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Extremely impressive speech by President Obama

leave a comment »

Here’s the text of the speech. James Fallows has a good post that includes a video of the speech:

I’ve been in transit or offline all of today and didn’t see President Obama’s Selma speech in real time. I’m catching up with it now, very late at night, and had a reaction different from the good job/bad job assessment I can’t help giving (as a one-time speechwriter) to most political discourse.

I thought this was a very good job, in written presentation and in delivery, as far as I can judge via YouTube. But for me that takes second place to my overwhelming reaction of gratitude: for once, a public figure expressing exactly how I feel.

I think this speech (official text here) will move to the front of the public statements by which Obama hopes to be remembered in the long run. Of course I’m biased because I agree with him, but the case would be this:

Obama’s career-making speech at the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston, which I happened to be in the hall to witness, was unforgettable political theater, the obvious arrival of a star, but its text is not, in fact, that impressive on re-reading. It assured Americans that they could easily move past Red/Blue tribal divisions. Isn’t it pretty to think so.

Obama’s speech on race relations in America, in Philadelphia seven years ago, saved his campaign and thus was again a history-changing performance. Before that speech, it seemed possible that he would be forced from the race by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright “God damn America!” furore. But I don’t think its actual discussion of race relations will be studied for enlightenment in years to come.

Obama’s speech today, again declaring my bias in agreeing with him, differs from those of most other national figures, most of the time, in stating with concise complexity what is indeed exceptional about this American experiment.

I first lived outside my native country at age 21, when I went to graduate school in the superficially similar setting of England. Those next few years began for me the process that has continued ever since, when living in the U.S. or abroad: that of recognizing how exceptional the American ambition is, and how much my own tribal identities start with being American.

These are the parts of Obama’s speech that rang truest to me, after spending much of my life thinking about the country from afar, with emphasis added: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 March 2015 at 2:27 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.