Barak Obama gave a speech today on race relations in America. The transcript is here, or there's embedded video if you'd prefer to hear him deliver the speech. A few things strike me about this speech. First, without discounting the existence of racism in present-day America, he's more concerned with how far we've come and where he firmly believes we're headed. He acknowledges white middle-class resentment to affirmative action at the same time he acknowledges blacks and brown people and Asians who still have reason to feel marginalized.
Second, while he condemns many of the statements of his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, he refuses to "disown" him. In doing so, he reminds us all that there is much that we don't say in "polite company", but if whites thinks blacks aren't speaking bluntly when they don't think whites are in the room, we're nuts. I find this refreshingly candid and honorable in a way I almost never see in a politician.
Lastly, the Clinton campaign regularly says "speech isn't action" and other things meant to tell us that being inspirational isn't the same thing as being effective. Well, you know what? As far as I'm concerned, the last President who was truly inspirational was assassinated when I was three years old. I'd like to have an inspirational President. I think there's real value to having a President who can inspire and speak in language worth quoting.
I decided a few weeks ago that Obama was my preference, but honestly, I wasn't a very ardent supporter. As of today, I'm firmly in Obama's camp. I want him for my next President. He makes me see possibilities.