Obama’s Race Speech: Score from 1 to 10?

Answer: 7

I thought as a specimen of rhetoric it was masterful. But I can’t go higher than 7 because of his unwillingness to throw his pastor under the bus. I appreciate that he was trying to thread the needle and make us all understand that people are not all good or all bad, and we have to try to bring people along to the extent that they fall down. But at some point, lines are crossed, and while we might not completely cut a person off — if they’re our grandmother, for example — we certainly can — and must — throw them under the bus. “I appreciate that Hitler is flawed, and that whole nastiness in Dachau…see…that was just extreme. But I can no more disown my leader than I can disown my own grandmother who used to talk about how Jews are good with money because they have a 207th bone — the money bone.” Ummm….you can, actually.

Not that I’m going to vote for McCain or anything. I haven’t *completely* lost my mind.

UPDATE (March 21, 2008):  We all make mistakes.  After pondering Obama’s words over the past couple of days, and watching the speech again, I have to conclude that my initial reaction was incorrect.  Obama made no missteps and I can find no fault whatsoever in his speech on race.  It was the type of political speech the likes of which we have not heard since perhaps Truman:  candid, honest, nuanced.  As Gov. Richardson noted in his endorsement speech today, he spoke to us like we were *adults*.  Politicians don’t do much of that in general, and certainly not with respect to issues of race, when happy horse shit platitudes are always the order of the day.  (Why risk being called a racist?  Witness the lambasting that Ferraro has taken for a comment that was moronic and wrong, but surely not racist.)  Yes, his pastor engaged in the most extreme flavors of hyperbole.  Is it excusable?  No.  But when a country as great as ours simply refuses to engage in an honest dialogue about race for decade upon decade, perhaps extreme rhetoric is required to wake people up and at least get some sort of reaction out of them.  Yes, I wish all of our leaders could be MLKs.  But sometimes it requires a Malcolm X to wake people out of their slumber.

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