Unlike most bloggers who have flexible schedules, I did not watch Barack Obama’s speech on race yesterday. I had too many little things to do and realized I could just read it online. I knew that if I watched it, I might lose sight of the words and become captivated by the man speaking them.
For there is something about Barry* that I, like so many others, find so compelling. He just comes across as a decent man. With his mellifluous voice and warming presence, he definitely charms his audience, even over the ether. Indeed, when I did see clips of the speech on FoxNews, I thought he acquitted himself quite well.
It’s only when I read parts of the speech online that I found his remarks frequently empty and often evasive. Just like Peggy Noonan observed. When you see him speak, you come away impressed, but when you read the words, you find there’s so much wanting.
Despite the evasiveness of Obama’s rhetoric, there’s something about him I like. He reminds me of those liberal activists I encountered in college, those who would come to hear visiting conservative speakers, ask questions in a civil tone and even amicably greet their Republican peers on campus. In classroom discussions (in which he would often participate) he would usually chime in with the standard liberal idea du jour.
He doesn’t attack Republicans with the same ferocity as does his Democratic opponent. He just thinks we’re decent people who have misguided notions about the world She thinks we’re narrow-minded people with bad ideas.
Despite the Senator’s decency, his response to the hateful rhetoric of his “spiritual advisor” shows him not to be the visionary leader all too many of his supporters claim him to be. If he were such a leader able to unite a divided country, he would have had the strength to stand up those hateful individuals who refuse to find common ground with others different from themselves, who speak out promoting the divisions in our society. For twenty years, he had the chance to stand up to such an individual and failed to do so.
A real uniter would have challenged the Reverend Wright on his hateful rhetoric. Barack Obama didn’t. He may be a charismatic guy with a powerful presence, but when he had the chance to use the presence to condemn bigotry. And failed to do so. (Only speaking out when it became a national issue threatening his bid for the White House.)
If, as a prominent member of his own congregation, he couldn’t condemn challenge the minister’s bias, I doubt that, as president, he could stand up to such divisive voices in our society like Louis Farrakhan, Michael Moore, Ann Coulter or James Dobson. Nor to the hateful enemies of freedom whose actions threaten our nation.
*Many of the Senator’s friends call him Barry.