March 19, 2008

The Wright Stuff

It aint easy being whiteIt aint easy being brownAll this pressure to be brightI got children all over town —Gob Bluth (w/Franklin)My initial reaction to Obama's speech yesterday was not to break down in tears like Todd Gitlin did at The New Republic, nor was it to take everything I heard as a personal insult, as just about everyone at The National Review did. No, the very first thought that popped into my mind was "wow, that was an awful lot like Gob's song on Arrested Development."In a sense, that's not entirely off-the-mark. Obama's speech stands out for its embrace of that great rarity in modern political discourse: nuance. His relationship with his pastor can't be summed up in a simple denunciation, and racial dynamics in the United States aren't as black-and-white as they seem; we can find our calling in our imperfections. As Gob and Franklin put it, "It's not easy."I'll have more to say about it later, but in the meantime, here are a few speech-related links worth checking out:

  • Jonathan Cohn has the best analysis over at The Plank, pretty much covering everything I was going to write. Key quote:
"No, this speech was something else entirely--long and winding and intellectually honest; imprudent and, in many ways, impolitic. It was far from flawless rhetorically. Parts of it might best be described as tortured, the work of somebody struggling to convey complicated and deeply held beliefs in a context famously hostile to both ambiguity and honesty."
  • Mike Huckabee reminded me why, so long as he has no shot at the White House, I really like him. While not defending Jeremiah Wright, he offers this:
"I’m just telling you, we’ve got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie you have to go in the backdoor when you go the restaurant. Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and have resentment, and you just have to say, I probably would too."
  • And FreeDarko weighs in, as FreeDarko is wont to do, with some non-linear images and broader application of Obama's words and ESPN message boards. Seriously.