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Is this what patriotism feels like? [Mar. 19th, 2008|12:27 am]
There's a lot of linkage today to Barack Obama's speech about race in the U.S. I don't usually talk about politics much, but I have to say that I think this is really something quite extraordinary.

Normally I try to stay as far away from political speechifying as I can, because it makes my brain itch and fills me with annoyance. This is something different. I read it -- I haven't listened to it, just read it -- and it's like, oh my god, he's actually saying something. Something other than "vote for me", which yes, was in there, but alongside some very interesting statements about how American society works or doesn't, and ways to think about a set of problems, and observations about people, and...

It's like he's saying "Okay, fine. You want to talk about race? Let's talk about race." And then he pulls out the race card and tears it into tiny pieces and throws it on the floor because people need to stop freaking out about it and focus, people, focus on all this other big important stuff because then we could actually accomplish something, and I don't think I've quite processed it all yet.

Somebody who can say things like this is actually running for president? As in, might actually be elected? Not just in theory, but, like, actually elected in reality? That... doesn't really fit into my worldview at the moment.

To be honest, I'm kind of afraid to let that idea in, because if I do and he doesn't get elected, I'll be heartbroken, and if he does, I might have to, y'know, abandon my hip and jaded Gen-X cynicism about American politics and actually care about stuff, and I'm really not sure what to do about that.

Even now I'm distancing myself from it with humor and irony because I think that speech may have actually moved me, and I just... don't know how to react to that.

[User Picture]From: nematsakis
2008-03-20 04:37 am (UTC)

One of the things about Obama is that I can't imagine McCain or Clinton giving a speech that is nearly as ... heartfelt. I'd heard he wrote this (and a number of his other speeches) single-handedly, and whether it's true or not, that's certainly what it feels like.

Obama definitely writes a lot of his speeches, but he also has a speechwriting team. I read an interesting profile of his chief speechwriter a while back (the key quote: "If there were 48 hours in a day, we wouldn't need a speechwriter").

As for his authenticity, everything I've seen from the man puts him miles ahead of everyone else in national politics. Sure, you can look at his campaign and see typical political maneuvers and language especially during debates and stump speeches. However, when I've seen his one-on-one interviews, I feel like I'm watching a real human being, rather than a political machine.

This speech too, shows this authenticity. It seems like political commentators are virtually unanimous in their praise for this speech, but it's not clear how it will play with voters. Some of the negative comments I've seen are really frustrating and most completely miss the point. I hope this doesn't hurt his chances at the presidency.
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[User Picture]From: nematsakis
2008-03-20 05:16 am (UTC)
Along these lines, some interesting analysis here. When you step back, it's crazy to think that we expect our politicians to promise us things but are dazed when they ask something of us. It is against the norm of every other authority relationship.
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