Best Sermon I’ve Heard in Years

I just spent a half hour feeling the spine tingles and intermittently moist eyes I associate with the presence of God. I do not mean for a moment to deify a politician, no matter how eloquent. I do not intend to urge any particular voting patterns and am sympathetic to those who support all three current contenders for the American presidency. I do not intend to imply that God has provided his seal of approval for any particular political campaign. I do not mean that our own church leaders do not write and deliver magnificent sermons. I do not mean by this post to attack the Romney campaign, the conservative movement, or the Republican Party. I am also self-conscious about the complaints about the sentimentalization of the youthful senator from Illinois or the crowds of fawning liberal groupies wandering after the self-proclaimed agent of change. Even so, I felt to confess that the first thirty minutes of Obama’s speech today stirred my soul. Whatever happens in the US election, I thank God for this moment of moral and spiritual clarity.

Comments

  1. I agree that this speech was one of the most eloquent and insightful and moving political speeches I have ever heard.

  2. Bill Anderson says:

    I feel the same way every time I hear this song.

  3. Eric Russell says:

    All hail Mr. Cloudo, President of Heaven

  4. Thanks, Sam MB. I felt the same way. It wasn’t flamboyant, just direct and eloquent and so full of truth. I am always so inspired by the faith Obama has in humanity — I can’t help but feel uplifted, and more charitable toward my fellow beings, after I listen to him.

  5. Wow, Bill Anderson, I don’t know you at all so I have no idea where you’re coming from, but I think it’s safe to say Obama’s speech was pretty much the exact opposite of “you’ll get a boot up your *ahem* if you disagree with me.” (Yikes, I’m feeling foolish now for getting all mushy in a public forum!)

  6. #2 reminds me of this song and its complex reception history.

  7. I wish we can get more politicians who can express themselves in this manner.

  8. Steve Evans says:

    SMB, it was an immense speech, no doubt about it. Even if you’re not an Obama fan, there’s much to admire in that address.

  9. hawkgrrrl says:

    He’s kind of the anti-Romney, in a good way. He embraces his minister while allowing for the conflict people feel. No squirming or vagueness or backpedaling.

    Imagine, a president who is articulate and can unite factions from both ends of the spectrum whose rhetoric is inflammatory without distancing himself from that rhetoric–someone who holds everyone 100% accountable and gives them credit where it is due.

    Wow!

  10. Amen.

  11. I watched the entire thing live on television today. The only profound impression I had watching the entire thing was, “Will this guy ever shut up?”

    Seriously, my wife started watching it with me, then she left the room to blow dry her hair. When she was done, turning off the blow dryer allowed her to hear the TV. She yelled from the bathroom in disbelief, “Is he still talking?”

    His talk was the most insipid, platitudinous garbage I’ve ever heard uttered by a national political candidate.

    This black preacher spewed hate-laced vitriol for hours in front of his congregation, sold it on DVDs, and somehow this compares to a racial stereotype by a grandmother who’s out of her element?

    A white Republican can give a speech at Bob Jones, and he’s called a white bigot, but this black candidate attends an anti-white church, and he can get off the hook for doing something short of totally disowning the black preacher?

    If there’s any anti-American sentiment that I harbor, it’s that tendency to tolerance and excuse racial hatred among blacks makes this country suck.

  12. Actually, DKL, it’s insensitive racists like you that make this country suck

  13. Let’s avoid making this a DKL hate-fest. I think his comment is sufficiently extreme to not require much by way of response.

  14. Frankly, the part about not disowning someone with whom you disagree (and acknowledging that we aren’t 100% good or 100% bad) was one of the more profound parts of the speech. I’m fairly certain I have read that basic sentiment somewhere in the Bible.

    I would be interested in what you thought of Romney’s “Faith in America” speech, DKL – just to see if you are consistent in your analysis. However, I really don’t want to detract from the spirit of the original post, so please don’t answer that.

    To reiterate, how he addressed the cries to disown his former pastor was one of the highlights for me.

  15. Sorry, Sam, I was typing as you were posting that. Feel free to edit out my middle paragraph.

  16. Why is DKL racist? I hope you are accusing him of racism b/c of a past post or experience. Is there something he said on this thread that would justify you calling him racist?

  17. I’m far from on the Obama wagon, but it was a very memorable speech. He set a racial precedent, not for his run as precedent, but for all non-white ethnicities, and he even mentioned disadvantaged white people. I’m far from the glossy-eyed praise of the man Hawkgrrrl presents, but I respect his action today a lot. The greatest thing to me was that the speech was 95% politics-free.

    DKL- bad form, friend.

  18. Steve Evans says:

    I will admit that I thought it was pretty long, too. But I still liked it.

  19. He’s a masterful orator and this is an incredible speech on so many levels. A great example of how inspiring he is and why so many people back him. His goals and his desires are noble. His assessment of these problems is spot on and I’ve never seen them expressed better.

    I like Obama a lot, but he won’t get my vote for president. I thought Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter had noble ambitions, too. Their solutions created a lot of unintended consequences, however, and I see plenty in Obama’s platforms and voting record that appears to be variations on the same themes.

    Here’s hoping Obama has a long Senate career in the mold of Patrick Moynihan. And here’s hoping someone comes up with effective solutions to many of the problems he’s correctly identified!

  20. Bill Anderson says:

    The greatest thing to me was that the speech was 95% politics-free.

    Er, for one with a postmodern-ironist mindset perhaps. Soaring rhetoric, compelling words, but fundamentally political it was.

  21. DKL #11, showed bad form all right. He acted like this was a forum for discussion, when really this is a chance for everybody to slap each other on the back and give each other high fives.

    I did not hear the speech but would be mighty interested in quotes that you think exemplify the “most eloquent and insightful and moving” aspects of this talk.

    And DKL’s post didn’t sound extreme to me, although he offered no more content to evaluate his post than the rest of you did. I would be interested to see quotes that illustrated the “insipid, platitudinous garbage” that he referred to.

    And Patrick’s (#12), comment is just out of line.

  22. I agree that one of the most venerable things about this speech is that Obama doesn’t disown the pastor. He doesn’t backpedal and somehow try to distance himself from this man or from history. He allows for both sides. He doesn’t condone, but he does call for understanding from and by both sides. It seems like the most politically safe thing to do right now would be to move away from racial issues as quickly as possible, but he doesn’t. He addresses the elephant in the room. To me it is evidence of nothing to hide. It was a beautiful, forthright, and moving speech.

    And it was quite long.

  23. I am afraid that the charges of racism against DKL are just a foreshadowing of what is to come in the election. I do not want the election to be about race but it is rushing headlong in that direction. I am afraid that those who criticize him will be accused of racism, i.e. Geraldine Ferraro. We all need to pull back a little and try to make this about policies only–not about race or effective speech-making. I did not see “moral or spiritual clarity” in his speech. But then again my perception may be a little clouded by his proposed policies–which truly frighten me. The fact that he is an effective orator with the ability to affect great numbers with a perception of “moral and spiritual clarity” frightens me even more.

  24. DKL- More insipid and platitudinous than Romney’s Faith in America speech? That was a bunch of bland make-you-feel-good crap that didn’t say anything new or insightful.

  25. It seems to me, one of the good things he’s got going for him is that he refused to back down. He refused to backpedal, stammer and apologize. Americans like a maverick. Americans like forthrightness and a straight look in the eye- and this speech gave us that.

    My respect for him would have faltered if he had gone all squishy and bowed to pc pressure.

  26. Obama’s Speech

    Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

    I think this is one of the parts of the speech I can relate to as a Mormon (minus the clapping, dancing, screaming and shouting). Couldn’t the same be said of every church?

  27. Bill is right, the speech was strongly political, which is why I noted in the original post that I didn’t want to make it into Republican-bashing. As a Progressive, I love his politics, but my point was that his speech was also something more than politics.

    The “moral and spiritual clarity” I derived from the speech is a) we cannot understand and move beyond racism until we strive to understand the other, and b) we have room to make common cause as Americans beyond the question of race. I felt inspired after his speech to be more sympathetic to people I previously would have dismissed as petty-minded bigots. I felt called to try to hear the emotion and meaning in anti-Progressive outbursts that sound racist, to love even those who say things I find absurd and hateful. In my reading of Obama’s speech, #12 has missed the point, just as much as the harsh invective of #11 distracts from a larger and more important project. My reason to suggest that #11 should be largely ignored is not that I don’t think we should consider Obama’s speech carefully from multiple sides but that extreme and insulting language does little to illuminate the discussion.

    I would have preferred that he deliver a speech like this outside politics, in part to help us move beyond the anxious response to Progressivism seen in #11, #20, #23, but I’m not sure how else he could have had the platform to say it.

    #21, I was impressed that he resisted the temptation to treat a radical friend and mentor as a mere instrument in his quest for political power. I was impressed that in one speech he managed in an open and conciliatory way to recognize the valid concerns of all involved in the current angry racism that mars portions of both the right and the left.

  28. Bill Anderson says:

    #22. Of course Obama doesn’t disown his pastor. In Obama’s mindset that would be a fundamental betrayal of his worldview. Obama said so himself, “I can no more disown [Wright] than I can disown the black community.”

    Obama reveals a lot about himself and his philosophy in that sentence and the preceding paragraph. He explains that, although he personally rejects them, Wright’s words have a different meaning within the ‘African-American community’ and are justified by the collective history of the community. That truth is relative. That’s why for ‘white outsiders’ those words may be “jarring to the untrained ear.”

    Obama espouses liberal collectivism coupled to postmodernism and is having unparalled success selling it to the masses. He’s so good that many of you don’t even recognize it as a political philosophy!

  29. #28, he’s just reframing, to borrow a phrase from cognitive science (via Lakoff). A lot of us Progressives have long been eager to find someone who can articulate the commitment to union, community, and human dignity in opposition to other frames that have been used, including your description of “liberal collectivism coupled to postmodernism,” which could fairly easily be used to frame early Mormonism.

  30. DKL, what part of the speech did you find “most insipid, platitudinous garbage I’ve ever heard?”

    Was it this excerpt?

    …we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

    Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

    Legalized discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

    A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

    Or this one?

    …Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

    Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

    Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

    This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

  31. Fwiw, there is a distinct difference between acknowledging a great speech and agreeing with everything the speaker advocates outside the speech. Obama’s politics are too extreme for me to feel comfortable, but I thought the speech was a masterpiece – both politically and philosophically. That was an astoundingly difficult speech to write and present, and the man pulled it off incredibly well, imo.

  32. Bill Anderson says:

    #29. Exactly. I’d be curious to know if Obama has read Moral Politics. As for early Mormonism, that’s a debate for another day!

  33. Bill Anderson says:

    #30. Obama is a master at stringing together phrases of trite into a coherent political message.* It’s obvious that you enjoyed the speech– don’t take it so personally that others did not.

    * “Yes we can” and “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” do not count. Those are stupid. Sorry.

  34. I thought it was a beautiful speech, probably the best American political speech since “I Have a Dream.” It was truthful, nuanced, conciliatory, and unifying. Maybe that means it won’t have any effect — maybe we Americans are incapable of listening to a politician for more than 30 seconds — but it was beautiful.

    And DKL’s comments, BTW, remind me an awful lot of the scene in Life of Brian where the people in the back of the crowd at the Sermon on the Mount can’t quite make out what Jesus is saying and don’t much care. I’m not saying that the speeches or the speech makers are remotely comparable (obviously they aren’t), but the reactions, the complete unawareness that Something Important is going on, are identical.

  35. Thanks #30 for those excerpts. I hope patrick (#12) read this part:

    “And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.”

    I have always paid attention to Jesse Jackson and I like to read what he has to say. Once he gave a talk and he related that he had been walking the night before, late at night, back to his hotel. He heard footsteps behind him and he was frightened. He stated that after awhile he looked behind him and was relieved when he saw that it wasn’t a black man behind him. He then went on to talk about the high rate at which young black men commit robberies, etc, and that part of solving their problems included committing less crime, and hence spending less time behind bars.

    I admired that he was able to say this. Such truthful approaches, including the rhetoric quoted above from Obama will ultimately provide the common ground necessary to overcome racism.

    But it will be a long time coming. In my office we have one employee who is supporting Obama. We have Hilary supporters, some that refuse to vote, given the choices, etc. A real spectrum of political points of view. But you guessed it, the one and only Obama supporter is the one and only black employee. Coincidence? Oprah endorses her first presidential candidate. And he is black. Coincidence?

    So it will be a long time coming, and yet the humility expressed by this statement gives me hope that we will make progress:

    “Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own”.

  36. #28, Obama said that Wright’s words “rightly offend,” that they “express a profoundly distorted view,” that “they are not only wrong but divisive,” and that they “simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.” He said that he “condemns” them “in unequivocal terms” and “strongly disagrees with” them. I’m having a little trouble seeing how one gets from there to claiming that Obama is justifying Wright’s words and saying that truth is relative.

  37. For those that haven’t yet heard this memorable speech, here’s the platitude, anecdote, allegory, and euphemism, free translation:

    “If you’re not with me, you’re against me, and most likely a racist.”

    In all seriousness, it was a well written talk. Also, I was surprised (pleasently so) that he actually tried to mitigate Wright’s influence by explaining the black experience. I was totally expecting something more… political, and easier to manage than the truth.

  38. Just to clarify my point here, I’m not sure who I’m voting for yet. I don’t even know if there is a choice I can live with. So far, Obama is the one I want to back the most because of his poise and intelligence. But, as a nearly-dual citizen in heart, if not in actuality, there is a thought that draws me back from endorsing Obama.

    Obama is a carefully charismatic man. He is highly intelligent and politically wise. He intelligently phrases ideas in a way that draws people together as Americans in a time when being an American is an unsure thing. He speaks with power and inspires the people. That is exactly what I want in a president. There is, however, a subtle message in most of his speeches which I’ve heard that indicates he may have a particular agenda in mind which is not blatantly explained. Because he is intelligent, that frightens me a little.

    There is a historical precedent for intelligent and charismatic men with agendas coming into power. Their agendas generally begin very small, coated in thick layers of sugar. Gradually, the agenda increases, using the sugar to help it go down more easily. Eventually, the bulk of the country buys into the agenda and that is when atrocities can occur with the sanction of the general populace.

    I’ve lived several years in a country which has committed that sort of crime. It taught me to look at charismatic political leaders very carefully. I don’t know how to determine between a man like this who can help his country and one who will hurt it. I don’t know for certain which camp Obama falls into. But I will say that it is as terrifying as it is inspiring that he has the ability to unite so many diverse people, and that he says exactly what the bulk of voters truly wants to hear. I am going to examine Obama’s speeches more carefully than I have ever listened to a political campaign before. Obama has equal potential to do great good and great harm.

  39. My father would not have been impressed with Obama’s speech. He (my father) grew up in a time where great speeches and great speakers turned the world up side down and missions died, millions suffered as a result. My father might have been a little frightened at a political speaker who could cause “spine tingles and intermitantly moist eyes.” He would not have been impressed by all the swooning and fainting when Obama walks into the room. Churchill could do that, but so could Stalin. FDR could do that, but so could David Koresh. I am not making an explicit comparison between Obama and these other great orators. We simply do not know enough about him. Coming from a Prophet I can expect spine tingling and moist eyes. Coming from a leader whose supporter hung a Chi flag in a local Obama headquarters without consequence, I am a little nervous.

  40. They turned the world upside down and millionsdied. Arrgh. Although a few missions were ended as well.

  41. Peter LLC says:

    I am not making an explicit comparison between Obama and these other great orators. We simply do not know enough about him.

    What more do we need to know about Obama (besides the location of the crystal ball revealing what he did as president) before we are able to distinguish him from “great orators” of the last century?

    Are we really so simple minded as to think “Gosh, it sure sounds good, but Stalin reeaalllly sounded good too, even when extolling the virtues of, say, the Soviet criminal rehabilitiation system, which in hindsight turned out to be a pretty raw deal, so I’ll just have to withhold judgment on this smooth-talking Obama guy (just in case).”

  42. Thanks for this post smb — it was a great speech.

    I had a few of thoughts after reading it:

    (1) I thought Obama did an excellent job of addressing the objectionable portions of Wright’s sermons. What he said left no doubt that he was not in favor of the racist and anti-American things that Wright had preached. But he was able to discuss the issue while helping us understand Wright and his motivations a little better. I know that I certainly feel more informed and more sympathetic to Wright and the struggles he was trying to address after reading Obama’s speech.

    (2) As we all know, the “facts” that make up any given historical record are open for inference and interpretation in using them to create a narrative of what history is and means. A history of World War II written by historians in Russia differs substantially from a history written in England or America. Both might make use of the same facts, both certainly stress some facts more than others, and both certainly overlook or ignore certain facts altogether that don’t support or fit into the narrative. (I am not talking about a historian in Stalin’s Russia here as compared to a historian in 1950s America — rather, I am presuming competence and good faith in both the Russian and Western historian.) The overwhelming impression I got reading the first half of the speech was that I liked the historical narrative that Obama was able to synthesize from mountains of material in the “historical record”. Others can and certainly have constructed entirely different narratives based on the same segments of U.S. history covered in Obama’s speech, for example Wright. I favor Obama’s narrative over Wright’s; that is, I feel that Obama is telling the story more accurately and agree with his inferences and interpretations as expressed in this speech. Regardless of politics, I think there is a lot of value in hearing such a competent distillation of broad periods and events of U.S. history into a meaningful narrative.

    (3) I thought Obama’s speech was very fair-minded — I appreciated that he gave equal air time to the plight of both African Americans and middle-class white people, and that he reminded us that children are not responsible for where or to whom they are born and that we can and should have the well being of all of America’s children in mind as we function as a society.

  43. I must say, though, that I thought it was lame that the media was billing this as Obama’s “Mormon Speech” or that it was comparing Obama’s need to make this speech or the situation surrounding this speech to Romney’s need to give a speech to Evangelical creedalists about the proper role of religion — and what kind of religion — in American political life. I don’t really see the comparison between the two, not least of which because Obama is in the lead politically and belongs to a perfectly acceptable Trinitarian denomination — even if one of the pastors of that denomination said inflammatory things, the doctrine is still Trinitarian and that’s all that matters in a political candidate in the United States of America, right?

  44. If Obama really believes what he said, then I think that he is the politician with the most potential for healing divisions within American society that has come along in a long time. The problem is that I just don’t know if he was spouting politico-speak or his true and sincere feelings. Its sad that politics make us so cynical. I hope he means what he said because it was truly beautiful and powerful. He sounds like he is truly willing to address some of the fundamental problems with American society. He also is willing to acknowledge these problems without concluding that these problems represent a fundamental flaw in the American system. Obama is not a radical. He says he is willing to solve problems within the American system. I sure hope this speech represents what he truly believes because it is what I truly believe as well.

  45. Patrick (#12),
    Wow! That was a quick leap to make. There was absolutely nothing in DKL’s response that could be judged racist by the “reasonable man” standard. Calm down.

    Bill Anderson (#2),
    Why exactly does that song move you? Also, why is it bad that this speech is political (assuming that is your point)?

    DKL (#11),
    I agree that there is a double standard here. White folk are held to a higher standard of racial speech than black folk are. It ain’t fair, but it is what it is.

  46. By the way, I understand that the snippets of Wright’s sermons that were featured on YouTube and TV were pointedly political but I must say that when I first saw his “God damn America” sermon I actually, honestly, thought about Isaiah and Jeremiah and not Al Qaeda or Iran. In other words, although the rhetoric was extreme, I took it to be religious rhetoric due to its context of being in a church sermon. Being a Mormon kind of has that effect on you, I suppose.

    I hope that we as Latter-day Saints aren’t reading 2 Nephi chapters 12 through 24 — the Book of Mormon Isaiah chapters — in our reading of the Book of Mormon this for the curriculum this year without an awareness that what we see there that can be applied to the latter days is also troubling. (Yes, I know that Bored in Vernal is no particular fan of reading the words of Isaiah as applying to events relating specifically to the Mormon Church in the latter days — but we as Mormons have a special relationship to Isaiah, I like to think, and we certainly should based the way that Nephi incorporates the Isaiah material into his narrative and also given Christ’s words in the Book of Mormon to study the words of Isaiah, and this includes, to my mind, a particularly Mormon understanding of what those Isaiah passages that are included in the Book of Mormon are supposed to mean, which perhaps might even be the correct interpretation of those passages.)

    Yes, we as Mormons believe that a land can be damned by failing to keep the commandments (see, for example the thesis statement of the Book of Mormon) and thereby invoking a collective punishment that, frankly, doesn’t seem all that fair to the righteous, in temporal matters. If we learn anything from the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi, I would hope that it would be that grinding upon the face of the poor (2 Nephi 13:15) invokes damnation and destruction (2 Nephi 23:15-20) upon a society.

  47. (That is not to imply that I am comparing Wright with Isaiah and Jeremiah or other prophets but rather to say that incendiary rhetoric makes up part of the scriptural canon and therefore really doesn’t seem all that unique in a religious setting.)

  48. If DKL’s comment here by itself wasn’t enough to discredit objectivity, here’s his analysis of Romney’s speech and comparison of it to Kennedy’s:

    Kennedy’s speech was awful. It was dominated by responses to specific accusations against him by virtue of his Catholicism, and it was well outside the tradition of great American political rhetoric. Kennedy’s speech is spoken of in hallowed tones — in spite of its mediocrity — for two reasons: First, because some questionable results in Illinois handed him a tight, if not unearned, victory. Second, because Lee Harvey Oswald secured Kennedy’s place in history, in spite of the fact that he was a second-tier president at best. The speech does not stand on its own; if Kennedy had lost the election, or if he had survived to face reëlection, then nobody would talk about it. If Romney wins the election, history will view Romney’s speech as the speech that Kennedy should have made, even if Romney doesn’t get assassinated.

    Romney’s speech, by comparison, was a brilliant expression of the American politico-religious tradition. Sure, it exclude atheists, but until atheism as a movement produces anything akin to the enlightenment or free-market capitalism, individual atheists who want to do anything really important will have continue to participate mostly the movements or institutions created by religionists, just as David Hume and Bertrand Russell did (I say this as a former atheist and recovering non-believer).

    Sometimes (as DKL would obviously agree, given his analysis of Mr. Obama’s speech) the most damning thing you can do for a person is just let him speak for himself.

  49. To this Republican, Obama’s speech was refreshing and inspiring in its language and its personal narrative, but disappointing in its political prescriptions. It is unfortunate that a man who can bridge racial divides cannot see outside of liberal orthodoxy in his platform, with its inherent economic and social divides. Cue the word “culprits” in his speech to see old biases that he supposedly transcends. His plan for government is your grandfather’s Oldsmobile. Even Hillary would govern better.

  50. I find Obama to be a hypocrite.

    He gives an interview where he says Dom Imus should be fired for using racial language and then he goes to a church and has close intimate relationship with an open race baiter? This is the change we have been waiting for? It seems like more of the same.

  51. I should add that my father (who has never voted democrat in his entire life, and who with some regularity forwards me insipid emails comparing Obama and other liberals with treasonists and terrorists) asked my mother to make a contribution to the Obama campaign after hearing the speech. Not sure yet how he’ll actually vote, however…

  52. Brad (#48) Exactly. I knew DKL was a big Romney fan and huge Republican. You have to take his opinion with a grain of salt. The man is completely biased.

    I thought the speech was much better than Romney’s speech. Romney side stepped the whole Mormon issue in his speech. Obama at least attempted to take on the race issue and not sidestep the comments made by his pastor

    That’s the point I tried to make in #25.

    While DKL may not be a racial bigot, he’s definitely a political one. I bet him and Rush Limbaugh would make great friends. Maybe Glenn Beck, too.

  53. Those of you who call Obama a hypocrite for only denouncing (quite forcefully, I might add) the indefensible remarks of his pastor while not severing all ties with him and (gasp!) simultaneously still being opposed to racism had, better start calling for Romney to forcefully denounce all the racist preaching and rhetoric of LDS leaders prior to 1978 (and some subsequent to it) and give a damned good explanation of why he didn’t sever all ties with the Church long before 1978.

  54. re # 53, to be honest, I think that is actually a very good comparison, unfortunately.

    I don’t fault Romney for continuing as a member of this Church despite unfortunately racist comments by Church leaders before 1978 and it would therefore be hypocritical of me to fault Obama for not disassociating himself with his church despite the racist comments of pastor Wright.

  55. Last night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Stewart did his typical mock news story on Barack’s speech. But he ended on an abruptly serious note, saying “At 11 am on Tuesday, Obama spoke to Americans about race . . . as if they were adults.”

    I too was inspired by Obama’s speech. He recognized that people’s anger and resentment about race were understandable and maybe even justifiable. But if we address poverty, health care, and education as racial issues, it will only breed anger and resentment. So why not move past race and address the real issues head on?

    Very nice.

  56. Right, John.
    I doubt I would have had the courage even to denounce the racist statements (of course it’s easy for me to do so now with the benefit of historical distance); I’m certain that I would not have left the Church over it.

  57. Amen Brad (#53).

  58. Guys,

    I do not feel that way. I was born in 1974 and have no memory of the churchs unfortunate racial past.

    The comparison falls flat because Obama remains a member of what I consider a “Hate” church. There has been no change of course with Wright and Obama until they were caught

  59. bbell,
    Romney remained a member of what, by your standards, was a Hate church while a fully fledged, intelligent, politically active adult. I did not say anything about you denouncing anything or leaving any church — just that you should, according to the logic by which you condemn Obama as a hypocrite, hold brother Romney accountable for his hypocrisy.

  60. Even George Romney, who had the courage to disregard counsel from racist Church leaders that he disavow civil rights, never had the guts when running for president to publicly express personal support for the likes of Mark E. Petersen and others while unapologetically and unequivocally denouncing their racist ideas and provocations.

  61. bbell,

    You’re letting yourself off too easily. If you apply your standard fairly, you need to denounce Thomas S. Monson. He spent the majority of his adult life supporting a church which practiced racial policies and supported segregation of the races. Motes and beams, brother.

  62. The thing I like about what I’ve heard of Obama’s speech is that he seems to have a good understanding of the complexities of the race problem in America. But understanding the problem doesn’t solve it. What I didn’t hear is concrete solutions. He seems to think that electing him is part of the solution, but he doesn’t say why. He doesn’t say what he’s going to do to make it better. So I’m left to guess that he thinks that affirmative action, socialism, and anti-corporatism is going to fix things. If that’s the case, I think he’s mistaken. Until he proposes concrete solutions I won’t know if voting for him is going to do us any good.

  63. #53- Exactly. When my neighbor asked me a few days ago how I felt about supporting a man who belonged to “that” kind of church I replied that to me it was no different than belonging to a church where a high councilman got up recently and said all women should still wear dresses and men’s morality problems were to be blamed on women (in so many words). That is my church. I don’t believe those things, but I still attend. That is my neighbor’s church too. My church doesn’t support those ideas, yet this man is still in good standing and still preaching from the pulpit. How is this so different? Don’t we overlook or metabolize the closed-mindedness and erroneous thinking of those around us because we see the truth for ourselves and also know that we are each working out our own salvation at our own pace?

  64. Motes and beams indeed, Mark. There’s a good standard English word for people who are more scandalized by Black Power preachers than by White Supremacist theology. I can’t think of the word right now (one of those tip-of-my-tongue moments, sigh) but I’m pretty sure it’s been used on this thread somewhere…

  65. Deux es Machina says:

    Uh, Racist?

  66. That’s the one, DeM!

  67. You guys can bash Romney all you want. I was not going to vote for him anyway in the primary.

    I disagree with the level of racism in the pre-1978 LDS Church and Obama’s current church. I find the rhetoric to be very different and the types of speeches given by Wright were simply not there.

    The comparison falls flat for me. Esp when you figure in that the church was actively doing missionary work in non white areas from the very beginning. AKA Japan, American Indians, South America Etc.

  68. Right, bbell. The Church was definitely more anti-black than pro-white per se. That changes everything. The comparison totally falls flat. I can’t even believe I thought to make it in the first place.

    I’m not bashing Romney, btw. You’ll note in my previous comment my admission that I would not have behaved differently. I’m using the logic that appears to underpin your scandalization at Obama’s connection to Wright and unwillingness to sever any and all ties with him to bash Romney.

  69. “Yes we can” a “stupid” slogan? I think it’s a very good one. Every word in it is affirmative. Sometimes the simplest slogans are best. (“Do it” is another good example.)

  70. Tom, 62,

    I think your concerns about proposed solutions are legitimate, but I will respectfully suggest that there is value in Obama’s candidacy and possible presidency, regardless of his policy positions.

    It is my opinion that the language we use to address our politics has become so degraded as to be meaningless. We won’t make progress on the problems in front of us until we can learn once again to respect those who differ. Obama is leading by example, and offers us a way out. Notice, in the speech he gave yesterday, he granted Reagan Democrats legitimacy, something no Democratic politician has ever done. He acknowledged that the welfare state has damaged the black family structure. And he managed to disagree with Rev. Wright in the strongest of terms without denouncing him as a person. I believe that sort of respect for others is a prerequisite to any other action. He is the first candidate in a generation to show it.

  71. #46–Slander! I LOVE “reading the words of Isaiah as applying to events relating specifically to the Mormon Church in the latter days !” You misread me, JohnF!

    #58–BBell: “Obama remains a member of what I consider a “Hate” church.” What???

  72. re # 71, hehehe. Not slander, just dry humor.

  73. Blah

  74. Justin (#73), don’t slander the good name of the Real Justin with your meaningless one-word reply, lest the Real Justin descend upon this thread and destroy you utterly.

    Deus ex Machina! I love it.

  75. bbell,

    Last month, the high council speaker in our sacrament meeting spoke about chastity. He made a joke, saying that if God doesn’t do something quickly about San Francisco, he owes Sodom and Gommorah an apology. The members of my ward, whom I love, laughed at his joke.

    By your standards, you and I belong to a hate church.

  76. Thomas Parkin says:

    I really liked Ross Perot.

    What Obama needs is some pie charts. I have a hard time understanding his abstractions without something more visual. Like a powerpoint presentation. Just about any public presentation is augmented by use of Msoft PowerPoint.

    Thomas “El Hombre Blanco Grande!” Parkin

    ~

  77. Mark IV (#70),
    I do have to give Sen. Obama credit for speaking constructively about race, which is rare among politicians on either side. And I think you’re right that there is value in that alone. It may be a first step towards concrete solutions. But it’s just a first step. I wish I had confidence that the measures he wants to take won’t represent steps backward.

    I guess a related potential positive for an Obama presidency is the symbolic gesture of America, with its complex and sometimes ugly history, electing a multiracial president. That may be helpful for our collective psyche. But I also worry that it may turn out to be an empty gesture—something we do that makes us feel good about ourselves but doesn’t solve any real problems of real people.

  78. RE: Tom #62

    …that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

    …And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

    I’m not sure where from the speech you are getting the idea that Obama pushed for affirmative action or socialism. Anti-corporatism maybe, because he has decried deregulation and overseas outsourcing.

    If anything he spoke of personal responsibility, not affirmative action. And if increased investment in health and education of children is socialist, than call me Karl Marx.

    Your comments seem to be the typical knee-jerk response to democrat platform. Throw in the word “socialism” and give a red scare like McCarthy. Or “affirmative action” to scare white persons.

    Your brief analysis of Obama’s speech distorts his actual words.

  79. bbell,
    You are missing the point of the speech. We ALL have a racial/racist past. No American raised in the latter-half of the 20th century escapes that. We have been living our entire lives in a racially-charged atmosphere.

    Therefore, we have a couple of options:

    1. We can embrace all the bad racial rhetoric and join the Black Panthers or the KKK.
    2. We can honestly acknowledge the racial rhetoric and its effects/implications, accept that it continues to affect us, but choose to moved beyond it anyway.

    Barack grouped Wright with his Gramma because they both suffer from the distorted racial politics that they were raised in. He grouped himself with both because both have had a significant positive moral influence on his life and to deny that would be a sin. Coming to terms with racism means, in part, treating racists as whole beings. This isn’t to justify their (or our) racism, but to understand that they can still be good people. If we all were able to acknowledge that we are all racist (to some degree) and that we are all trying to overcome it, we would have a better basis of mutual understanding.

  80. But John, these aren’t just any racists; they’re liberal ones!

  81. That’s it! I’ve had it. I demand that Obama immediately renounce his Grandmother in order to show that he isn’t embracing racism!

  82. I actually was very surprised that Grandma got thrown under the bus like that. What is she 85 or something?

    To be honest I now see Barack as being on the same spectrum as Jesse Jackson or Rev Al.

    This is big political trouble for him.

  83. dagobert (#78),
    How do those quotes represent concrete solutions? Every politician wants to invest in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children and everybody thinks that will help all of America prosper. The question is how. We are already investing in the health, welfare, and education of all children. What will he do differently? If he wants more dollars invested how will he pay for it?

    The quote about personal responsibility is good. But again, I don’t see what he’s proposing to do. He’s saying what WE should be doing to be better. But I don’t know what HE wants to do as president besides admonish us. There’s value in inspiring admonition, but I need more than that from a president.

    I’m not sure where from the speech you are getting the idea that Obama pushed for affirmative action or socialism.

    It’s not in the speech. But neither is anything else. My point is that without concrete proposals I’m left to guess. When we’re talking about a liberal Democrat, it’s usually safe to guess that they favor affirmative action and more government regulation and wealth redistribution. I’m not using those terms in a negative sense. They are what they are. There are smart people who believe in them.

    There may actually be a reference to affirmative action in the speech, but I can’t tell. He talks about “ladders of opportunity” or some such thing, but that can mean anything from race-based affirmative action to economics-based affirmative action to job training to lots of things.

  84. bbell, your current assessment of Barack, while an opinion to which you are absolutely and inviolably entitled, is no more informed than Lawrence ODonnel’s opinion of Romney’s racism. I don’t mind that someone is disturbed when people play the race card in politics (which Obama obviously and egregiously did in this abomination of a speech). I mind when it appears that said someone is selectively playing the racist card to demonize someone whose politics they don’t like.

  85. Steve Evans says:

    “To be honest I now see Barack as being on the same spectrum as Jesse Jackson or Rev Al. This is big political trouble for him.”

    bbell, I doubt that you were really his target demographic. But the fact that you see him in the same spectrum as those other two tells me that you are probably uninformed as to each of those three. As for “big political trouble,” I couldn’t disagree more. He’ll surge from this and clinch the nomination. Then he’ll defeat McCain. Then you’ll eat crow! (I’ll be happy to do likewise should my predictions prove untrue)

  86. Tom–I don’t think the purpose of this speech was to outline policy. He’s done some of that, particularly during the debates, and his policies aren’t substantially different from Hillary’s, from what I understand. As I see it, we’ve got a choice between two very similar Democrats, one of whom might have the ability to start healing the racial divide, the other who will do little more than re-ignite the mommy wars. I hope we get Obama at least as the nominee.

  87. Just last week in RS I had a woman comment to me that interracial relationships are not endorsed by God (I am married to a man of another race).
    A few months back, a person over the pulpit mentioned that “certain candidates running obviously do not have the ways of God at heart” and continued to expound to a point that I knew they meant the candidate I had voted for.
    In a RS lesson the teacher mentioned how many if not most working mothers are selfish, as several of us working mothers sat uncomfortably in the room.
    My point is, people in our church make horrible remarks all the time, even after 1978, but I still go to church. I have received my witness, which keeps me going. I will not renounce it, although I very much disagree with many of the things I hear at church each and every week.
    We are no different than Obama. His speech was wonderful.

  88. Bill Anderson says:

    John C. (#45). My point was that the speech is political, as in it expressed a political opinion. Nothing wrong with that, except that the preceding comments were treating Obama’s words as truth incarnate. Just trying to pull some heads out of the clouds.

    As for the song, I guess I just made the ol’ charismatic error of mistaking emotion for the Spirit. I’m sure no one else here has made that same mistake with Obama’s speech…

  89. I laugh at the hypocrisy from both sides here: when Romney was being grilled for his religion, those who were stumping for him said that his religion should be off-limits as several on the left (and right) took every chance they could to discuss his kooky religion and how it should affect their vote. Now, those same on the right are saying that we should look at someone’s attendance in religon, how much money they pay to that religion, etc… while the left cries that it is off-limits, requires nuance and context. HAH!

    What is more interesting to me is that Barack admittedly joined the largest black church in his voting district to get some street cred as he ran for state office. Now, as he is running for a NATIONAL office, he has to distance himself from the same spring board that helped him on his way. Sooo, what do I take from this? He is a pandering politician, no different from the lot of them.

  90. Peter LLC says:

    we’ve got a choice between two very similar Democrats, one of whom might have the ability to start healing the racial divide, the other who will do little more than re-ignite the mommy wars.

    So Clinton will divide while Obama heals? I can tell whose campaign has worked for you.

    Actually, I think there are some real differences between the two on actual policies. Take, for example, health care. If achieving universal health care is your goal, a plan like Clinton’s, which, inter alia, includes mandates while Obama’s does not, is more likely to achieve it.

  91. But John, these aren’t just any racists; they’re liberal ones!

    I thought that was an impossibility. Only conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck can be racist. That’s what I’ve always heard, anyway.

  92. Steve Evans says:

    Peter, you don’t think Hillary is by her nature a divisive figure? It’s rare for people to have the same visceral reaction to Obama as many do for her, especially on the right. I don’t think Obama’s a messiah or anything — and I share some of your reservations on policies — but the gut reactions against Hillary can be fairly pronounced.

  93. Hayes’ rather cynical analysis of racial street cred reminded me of something much more amusing.

  94. bbell,

    I don’t think you’re alone in seeing Obama as similar to Jackson and Sharpton, and you may be correct in thinking it’s “big political trouble” for him.

    Because his speech challenges white people to do something we don’t generally like to do: to think about race and racism. We like to think race doesn’t exist, or at least that it doesn’t matter, and that racism is a fringe ideology embraced only by evil weirdos. But Obama told us unequivocally that race does exist and it does matter — though it’s far from the most important thing in the world — and that good people can have racist ideas. He told us that both black people and white people have legitimate racial grievances — though we shouldn’t let them distract us from solving other problems.

    And that’s not something we’re used to hearing. We’re used to ignoring race, to talking around it, or to demagoguing it on the fringes (both black and white, both right and left) of our national discourse. We’re not used to talking about it calmly, openly, and honestly. That’s not something America is comfortable with.

    So maybe the speech will destroy his political viability. I hope not. But whether it does or not, I hope it will open a new era of honest racial discussion. Because that’s something this country has needed for a long, long time.

  95. Bill Anderson says:

    Trying to justify Obama/Wright with Romney/Mormonism is a syllogistic fallacy. Nice try.

  96. Not sure where your straw man’s coming from, Darrell. The entire conversation here has taken the racism of Obama’s preacher as axiomatic. The ax you’re trying to grind is with fake liberals who populate a different virtual space than BCC.

  97. Right, Bill — syllogistic fallacy. Gosh, if only someone had pointed that out sooner, it seems so self-evident now. Indeed, self-evident enough that it doesn’t even require substantive defending. Just say it, and the case makes itself. Brilliant.

    Boy do I feel sheepish…

  98. Those engaged in the culte d’Obama seem deeply interested in some one who can ‘heal america.’ Not only do I have grave concerns about this idea in principle–why should we want a politician to heal us?–but I think it’s implausible in practice. What politician has ever healed a country, except by cauterization? (Here I think of de Gaulle amputating with great force the OAS and then searing the sore.) Although the mythology says Lincoln healed his country, it’s not at all clear that this is true–his successor was impeached, after all, for blocking (because he was a Dem; does anyone seriously think of Andrew Johnson as the man who healed america, or particuarly tried to? not to my knowledge) the more punitive program of the radical republicans in congress, the KKK arose on the ground in the south, and federal occupation was pulled in exchange for the presidency a decade after the war ended. Where was there healing? Oh, sure, decades after the war old soldiers could embrace each other, but this embrace was facilitated by one half allowing the other to forget Lincoln’s cause on the ground.

    Indeed, the myth of ‘healing america’ seems to be one that is perpetuated more by the failures and false starts (RFK, JFK, MLK) of people who did not actualy do so than it is by the successes of people who did.

    When he acknowledges the greivances of whites, he’s doing no more than that. And while progressives the world over seem to particularly value the idea of ‘giving voice’, neither acknowledgement nor giving voice mean anything in practical politics. Does the fact that he acknowledges that some whites have reasonable greivances mean that he will be any less supportive of affirmative action or busing? Almost certainly not. Giving voice and acknowledgement are at best platitudes–they make one feel pleasant, perhaps–but they do nothing, and just as saying that ‘I know this will hurt you, it will hurt me too’ just before you punch someone doesn’t make it hurt any less.

  99. Kristine N (#86),
    The thought occurred to me as I was just out walking that maybe I’m asking more of Obama’s speech than I should. Mostly he was trying to tell us why we (especially the press) shouldn’t hold Wright’s invective against Obama. On that front I think he did a good job. I think the press will probably back off on him (527’s on the other hand…). But he was also trying to make us believe that voting for him is part of the solution to the racial problems he outlined. On that front, he didn’t make any kind of argument as to why that would be the case. As far as I can tell he wants us to believe that he may help solve our race problems just by virtue of being who he is, not by doing any specific thing as president.

  100. 85: Steve, if you think this will cause Obama to surge in the place where it matters most–PA–you have very little understanding of Pennsylvania politics. I’d be surprised if it moves many, if any, in Western PA or Central or Northern PA, which will be enough to give Hillary the win. Remember, PA is the state where the democratic senator is pro-life and the republican senator is pro-choice…

    And according to the Pennsylvania Poll released yesterday, Clinton’s lead in PA is growing, rather than shrinking.

  101. TMD,
    Your comment is premised on the idea that practical political solutions to the problems of race are limited to ending affirmative action and busing, and that any discussion that does not embrace those policies is “at best platitudes.”

    Your historical analysis of the failures of the Reconstruction revolution are well put; but your last paragraph feels like conservative policy preferences masquerading as an idealistic criticism of Obama’s approach to the race problem in America.

  102. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 58

    Anybody who knows the United Church of Christ knows that to call it a “hate church” is absurd and slanderous. I would expect better from you, bbell. That’s probably the most off-base comment I’ve ever seen you make in the Bloggernacle.

    The UCC is the quintessential liberal Protestant denomination. You can disagree with their politics all you want, but to label them a hate organization is deeply offensive.

    It’s particularly ironic when a Latter-day Saint throws that stone.

    Here’s a UCC TV ad.

    When will we see something like this coming out of Salt Lake?

  103. TMD, did you just call Martin Luther King, Jr. a “failure”? And that any effort by a politician to heal racial divides in America is worthless?

    For those who seem sure than losing PA will be the end of Obama’s campaign, it’s important to remember that the same things were said about Ohio and Texas, yet he came out just fine after losing both of those contests.

  104. Steve Evans says:

    TMD (#100) — it’s March Madness! Anything can happen!

  105. Bill,
    You haven’t answered my question. How did the song make you feel? Also, I still don’t see how pointing out that the speech was political adds clarity to the message. Could you explain that contention?

    Brad/Bill,
    Discussing the debate tactics of your opponents is often a sure sign that the debate isn’t going anywhere.

  106. MikeInWeHo says:

    Actually, here’s my favorite one from Obama’s denomination. Stop the hate!

  107. I am looking forward to Spitzer’s “Prostitutes in America” speech.

  108. MikeInWeHo says:

    Oops, here it is, sorry.

  109. #82 bbell,

    I actually was very surprised that Grandma got thrown under the bus like that. What is she 85 or something?

    Pick up Obama’s Dreams of My Father. He discusses his grandmother’s racial fears and prejudices long before he had a bus to throw her under.

  110. Brad,

    I certainly have relatively conservative policy preferences. But that doesn’t change the fact that voice and acknowledgement of other points of view do absolutely nothing for policy and policy preferences. Doesn’t matter who is doing the acknowledgement or whose voice is ‘being heard.’ They’re still just words.

    CHristopher,

    I sad that MLK failed to ‘heal america.’ He was a quite successful civil rights leader. He brought together constituencies that had been generally supportive of the idea but either timid, silent, or disparate in approach. But did he really heal anyone? Did he really change the minds or preferences of people who disagreed with him? I think that’s much harder to say. Certainly his last campaigns suggest he did less that that (Chicago, Memphis). Also, notably, he wasn’t a politician–he never ran for office.

    I didn’t say it would end his campaign, but it would be hard to argue that such a development would be part of a surge of support.

  111. I am a conservative and somebody who would vote for just about any prominent Republican, Libertarian or Democratic politician for president before voting for Obama, but I will admit that his speech was excellent. Well-written, addressed all of the issues, moving, inspiring. Most of all, it helped us have empathy for Rev. Wright, which helps us develop charity and is always a good thing.

  112. hawkgrrrl says:

    Maren #87: “Just last week in RS I had a woman comment to me that interracial relationships are not endorsed by God (I am married to a man of another race).
    A few months back, a person over the pulpit mentioned that “certain candidates running obviously do not have the ways of God at heart” and continued to expound to a point that I knew they meant the candidate I had voted for.
    In a RS lesson the teacher mentioned how many if not most working mothers are selfish, as several of us working mothers sat uncomfortably in the room.”

    People are idiots. I would move.

  113. I don’t think Obama is naive enough to think he will heal a nation, or that it will be done in one term. Oh wait, he doesn’t think so either…


    I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

    What you would call failures and false starts others would call victories and foundations. No work that is to be accomplished among humankind will ever be finished. The groundwork has been laid. Many in this country strongly believe in building on that foundation as much as we can in our generation. Because the work isn’t finished means we should quit and be pessimistic? That doesn’t make sense to me. Should we call Joseph Smith a failure because he didn’t get the saints to Zion? Should the pioneers have given up hope? Some did. Others took it upon themselves to carry the plan forward. Social issues are much the same. Good foundations have been laid, but the work is not accomplished. Should we give up and complain, or move forward with hope?

  114. Peter–I like Clinton’s plan better, actually; I just don’t think she could ever be elected because too many people hate her. She made some statements during her husband’s presidency that really didn’t sit well with A LOT of women (the baking cookies quip coming readily to mind). She’s got an image, deserved or not, of being the kind of feminist that gives feminists a bad name.

    Tom, I kind of agree with you, but I still got chills reading the speech. It’s not a speech that said anything about what he would do, or even suggests what should be done, and yes, since he’s running for president it’s implied he’s the guy to do something about the stuff he brings up. This was still an important speech for what it said, but more than that it starts a conversation we as a nation need to have. I hope this is a speech that starts a real discussion about *how* to fix race and class relations in this country.

  115. Bill Anderson says:

    #85. Pointing out that the speech is political/ideological makes the ideas in the speech debatable.

    I actually don’t care for that song much or country music in general. But I don’t see why that should matter. Why, do you have strong feelings about it?

  116. Mike,

    I did not call the UCC a “hate” church. I called Trinity in Chicago a “hate” church. Have you seen the video clips of Wright,the website etc?

    You know I am pretty well versed in American Protestantism so I am aware of the national UCC stands.

  117. bbell,
    And you’re calling it a hate church based on a couple sermons on YouTube? Because frankly, if all LDS members (or, presumably, members of any religion or any group) always carried around and used and posted video, I’m sure you could create context-free videos that would cause any group to look like a hate group.

    Or maybe you have more than a YouTube passing acquaintance with Trinity?

  118. What an interesting thread! Mostly because we’ve been exposed to the reality that LDS liberals/progressives are at least as disdainful of their conservative brethren as are their non-LDS counterparts in the “blue” strongholds of America.

    I have learned that “progressives” consider themselves thoughtful and informed while simultaneously regarding “conservatives” as being easily duped by propaganda and catch phrases.

    I believe the power of the executive branch of the U.S. government is much less than is commonly believed — especially during presidential election years. And I have lived long enough to know that, whoever is elected our next president, things will change very little. In the immortal words of Pete Townsend:

    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss

    I will issue the following prediction: Barack Obama will not be the next president of the United States. Although he has apparently enraptured democrats enough to win the nomination of his party, I do not believe he can win the general election.

  119. Call me naive, but I’ve seen the Wright speeches and I didn’t feel the hate.

    … Maybe I’m just a hateful person myself.

  120. I’m sure bbell’s too busy publicly decrying the bigoted statements of the Reverend Rod Parsley, Senator McCain’s new spiritual adviser, who recently declared that America was “founded…with the intention of seeing this false religion [Islam] destroyed.”

    So much bigotry, so few black liberals to blame it all on.

  121. Bill Anderson says:

    Brad-
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I see your argument as:
    – No one should be held accountable because everyone’s church has been racist at one time or another.
    – Obama attended a racist church.
    – Therefore, Obama should not be held accountable.

    You start off with a vacuous truth. The rest is an excercise in semantics punctuated with an argumentum ad hominem on myself (#97). Awesome.

  122. This is the speech that he should have given.

  123. LDS liberals/progressives are at least as disdainful of their conservative brethren as are their non-LDS counterparts in the “blue” strongholds of America.

    “progressives” consider themselves thoughtful and informed while simultaneously regarding “conservatives” as being easily duped by propaganda and catch phrases.

    Will — care to back up these brash, sweeping allegations with, uh, I dunno, evidence?

  124. Bill, I made no such argument. My argument was that people who want to hold Obama’s feet to the fire for unambiguously denouncing the racist ideas of his preacher but not the man himself should be just as hand-wringingly uncompromising in their insistence that brother Romney denounce the racist teachings and policies of the church (the pre-1978 LDS Church) to which he belonged as a sentient, politically involved, fully grown adult.

    Here, I’ll put it in simpler terms.
    –If it’s wrong for Obama to denounce the racism of his preacher and church but not the preacher or the church per se, then
    –by that same logic, it is/was wrong that Mitt Romney was the member of a Church which, during the period of his adult membership in said church, preached racist doctrines and enacted manifestly racist policies.
    –Indeed, Romney is more wrong since he never even denounced the racism of the doctrines and rhetoric, let alone disavowing his entire relationship with the Church and its leaders.

    If you took the time to read my comments here, you’d see that I did not call Romney wrong (in fact, I said more than once that Romney likely acted as I would have). Neither did I call Obama wrong. I argued that by the logic by which bbell and others condemn the racism of Obama Romney is subject to even deeper condemnation.

  125. Bill,
    You said that the song meant something to you. I was curious as to what it was. That’s all.

    Are there arguments in this thread that indicate we should not discuss the politics of Obama’s statements? Who are you arguing against?

  126. Oops. The above was me.

  127. the narrator’s link is sobering indeed. The hypocrisy of conservatives calling for Wright’s head on a charger but turning a blind eye to the historic and current dependence of successful Republican politicians on the bigoted, anti-american vitriol of evangelical preachers is beyond staggering.

  128. This is where I see it differently, Brad. The reason Wright was a problem for Obama wasn’t because he was a pastor. It was because he is/was a close personal friend and campaign advisor.

    Crazy people get invited into all kinds of political alliances. That is nothing new. But when a candidate is a close personal friend of a loose cannon and dedicates his book to a person who goes around saying “God damn America” into a microphone, that is a political problem and needs to be addressed. I’m happy that the candidate addressed it, and I think he did it masterfully.

    I would also point out that people on the Left went ballistic when Robertson and Falwell said that Katrina was God’s punishment for America’s sins. It is easy to say that the hypocrisy among Liberals is staggering, since they now want to turn a blind eye to Wright, but that kind of discourse isn’t productive, and is the sort of thing I think we need to put behind us.

  129. Bill Anderson says:

    John C. – I was just having some fun when I mentioned that song, that’s all. I know a lot of people find it controversial.

    My point in identifying the political elements of Obama’s speech was that sometimes, and this occurs most often with Obama and McCain I’ve noticed, their words are taken as beyond reproach and misrepresented as undeniable truths. When Obama’s words are elevated beyond the realm of political discussion, by saying things like “direct, and eloquent, and so full of truth,” and the “speech is 95% politics free,” it makes it impossible to debate any of the ideas Obama presents. I was attempting to put a political label on the philosophy that Obama was sharing in his speech. By recognizing it for what it is I think an honest discussion can be had. We can debate our ‘feelings’ about it but that bores me since it’s a meaningless and subjective discussion.

    I think we both agree that the speech was political and that it was a beautiful example of the power of oration. But beyond that, what does it mean? What philosophical ideas are driving Obama to say those things and take the positions he does? What exactly gave you the “tingles?”

  130. Thomas Parkin says:

    I wonder if Enoch had an equivalent of the progressive / conservative political divide that we’ve got. If he did, no wonder it took 300 years to build Zion.

    La la la de da de da.

    ~

  131. Mark,
    I was certainly bothered by what Falwell, et al, said in the wake of national calamity. But I would have been incredibly impressed had Bush vigorously denounced their statements and rhetoric while still embracing them as friends and fellow human beings. I’m not saying that Wright’s sermons are unproblematic. I’m agreeing with you that Obama handled the situation masterfully and that the idealistic moral outrage of right wing handringers at the Wright/Obama connection is more than just a bit disingenuous.

  132. that should read “I’m agreeing with you that…and arguing that…”

  133. Late to the discussion, but I’ll just add this. Yesterday, I heard the soundbites on the news. Today, I read the transcript, and found a much different speech. As Jon Stewart said, he spoke to us like adults. Not all of us have responded that way.

    I had a much different response to the speech than the soundbites, just as I am sure that the complete text of Rev. Wright’s sermons convey way more than the Youtube excerpts.

    I have concerns about Obama’s candidacy and policies, but I have graver concerns over the alternatives. Is he my dream Democratic candidate? Not really, but from where I’m at, he’s the best choice left. I think I gave Romney’s speech a B-, but this one is at least an A-.

    No doubt we could all agree that seeing some of the things we hear at church over the pulpit played on Youtube, we’d all have heartburn. Now I understand the policy on not recording our sacrament meetings and banning cameras.

    This speech was not the perfect answer, but the best step forward by any candidate in this election cycle, in my opinion.

  134. Bill Anderson says:

    Brad (#125). I still see you basically echoing the outline I sketched earlier. You’re just arguing the natural extensions of the false premise you started with (that some people are hypocrites because there’s a double standard with regards to politicians and their accountability to their religion).

    The question that was never answered was: Should politicians be held accountable to their religious faiths and organizations? And to what extent and under what circumstances? You proceed as if the answer is unambiguously no to the former and the latter is irrelevent.

  135. Brad, IRT to #93, call it cynical if you must. But, Obama admits as much in his own book.

  136. Will — care to back up these brash, sweeping allegations with, uh, I dunno, evidence?

    So much bigotry, so few black liberals to blame it all on.

    Right, Bill — syllogistic fallacy. Gosh, if only someone had pointed that out sooner, it seems so self-evident now. Indeed, self-evident enough that it doesn’t even require substantive defending. Just say it, and the case makes itself. Brilliant.

    But John, these aren’t just any racists; they’re liberal ones!

    Right, bbell. The Church was definitely more anti-black than pro-white per se. That changes everything. The comparison totally falls flat. I can’t even believe I thought to make it in the first place.

    Do they have a Niblet for most angry sarcasm by one poster in a single thread?

  137. Should politicians be held accountable to their religious faiths and organizations? And to what extent and under what circumstances? You proceed as if the answer is unambiguously no to the former and the latter is irrelevent.

    I made no argument one way or another. I only argued that the logic for condemning Obama based on his connection to Wright is even more damning for Romney. And I also acknowledged that I do not personal condemn Romney for his chosen path vis a vis his Church and race.

  138. “Do they have a Niblet for most angry sarcasm by one poster in a single thread?”

    Man, they should!!

  139. I am audaciously hoping that I get the angry commenter award.

  140. Mark IV, there’s a long line ahead of you: John C., Brad, ME, Adam, Frank (!), Cobabe… man, good times.

  141. Bill, # 135, your comment reminds me of Richard Bushmans’s comment at Weber State University a couple of weeks ago, referring to the attacks on Romney:

    one of the editors saying he could not trust anyone to be President of the United States who believed in gold plates and an angel. If you analyze it, it really was a piece of religious bigotry because what he’s saying is that this one belief infected the person’s whole mind and character. And on those terms, even though it could be a surgeon, he wouldn’t trust a surgeon who believed in gold plates, or a University professor, or a quarterback for the San Francisco team

    Couldn’t the same thing be said about rejecting Obama due to the swiftboating of some inappropriate remarks by his pastor?

    Just making sure we have a level playing field here.

  142. John C., Brad, ME, Adam, Frank (!), Cobabe… man, good times.

    Careful, Evans. Lump yourself in with the likes of me and my angry sarcastic rhetoric, and in this day and age of technology, youtube, google-caching, you’ll never be able to run for office without vigorously denouncing me and all things BCC.

  143. Bill,
    I suppose it may be that I think racism is a bigger issue than you do and Obama approaching it realistically in a speech is important to me for that. And he is well-spoken.

    That said, why are you dismissive of it? You have elsewhere described a preference for policy wonkage. Would the introduction of some policy make our racial issues more understandable or more manageable?

  144. Also, Bill, to what degree should Obama be held more accountable than Mitt for the stated beliefs of the leaders of the religious movement he belonged to?

  145. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 116

    Fair enough, but I’m utterly unconvinced that Trinity UCC in Chicago is a “hate church” despite one pastor’s fiery rhetoric on YouTube. I did check out the congregations web site as well. That’s a very serious charge you’re making, bbell.

    Imagine if people could film sacrament meeting talks, sunday school lessons, etc, and put them up on YouTube edited with a biased agenda. Gosh, I wonder how that might make the Church look?

    re: 128 – 129
    Being somewhat familiar with both sides, I would like humbly to suggest that both liberals and conservatives are equally hypocritical. My own liberal hypocrisy runs very deep indeed.

  146. *ponders possible sarcastic, cynical responses to John C.’s query…*

  147. Bill Anderson says:

    Brad- What logic makes Romney more accountable then Wright? That’s where I’m confused with your argument. How about the argument that Obama invited Wright into him home, whereas Romney was born into that identity– shouldn’t we be “understanding” Romney? Isn’t Obama under more condemnation because he was more proactive in seeking out his controversial religion as opposed to being born into the community? Why did it take Obama 20 years to reject those disagreeable views from Wright? How is Obama’s relationship with his contemporary church the same as Romney’s relationship with his historical church? Plus there’s the question of whether or not anyone should be held accountable for their faith or if they can pick and choose tenets as they wish.

    I see a lot of assumptions being made here that assume the situations are identical and comparable and I think that has by no means been proven.

  148. Bill Anderson says:

    #142.

    Couldn’t the same thing be said about rejecting Obama due to the swiftboating of some inappropriate remarks by his pastor?

    Absolutely, yes IMO.

  149. Bill Anderson says:

    John C. (#145).

    Also, Bill, to what degree should Obama be held more accountable than Mitt for the stated beliefs of the leaders of the religious movement he belonged to?

    Up to seventy times seven.

  150. Bill,
    So, because Mitt was raised a Mormon, he is incapable of seeing the wrongs of Mormon racism? Or, at least, he should be given a pass?

    Do we really want to argue that children and adults in the LDS faith do not choose to affiliate with it? That they are forced into an association that is not of their own will?

    Also, how do you know that it took Obama twenty years to reject Wright’s views? Does one have to publicly reject one’s pastors views to disagree? Doesn’t this go back to Romney’s thoughts on Mormon racism?

    Finally, your argument is that Obama sinned against you and Romney didn’t?

  151. The situations need not be identical to be comparable. You ask some fair questions that point up the distinctions between the situations (although arguing that Romney’s being born into the faith seems a bit disingenuous considering the emphasis on personal conversion for all members and full adult accountability for the responsibilities of Church membership). The differences to matter and do limit the viability of the comparison, but no difference is more glaring than the mastery with which Obama ultimately handled the problems posed by the strange, radical, unpopular beliefs held by his pastor. And it’s not technically just Romney’s relationship to his historical church. It’s A) his past relationship to what was then his contemporary Church and B) the fact that Church leaders today, including ones with more formal and cultural authority than Wright, say things that can be cherry picked and youtubed and would make Mormonism look at least as bad as Wright looked in his video.

    Are you really suggesting that Obama’s handling of this situation is less exemplary than Romney’s refusal to ever disavow the racial teachings of Church leaders who were his contemporaries or Church policies that were contemporary with his adult membership, let alone his continued affiliation with a Church that has never publicly apologized for said teachings/policies?

    I’m not arguing that Romney’s wrong. I’m still arguing that it’s difficult to pin down a general principle by which Obama deserves condemnation for his ties with Wright that doesn’t also make Mitt look very, very bad.

  152. Gang, Bill Anderson is, in my estimable opinion, a fictitious personage who pops up to denounce Obama whenever he’s discussed. Stop feeding him and he’ll go away. Or there are… other alternatives (cracks fingers in creepy Admin overtones).

  153. Steve, he’s only here because you banned DKL.

  154. Bill Anderson says:

    So, because Mitt was raised a Mormon, he is incapable of seeing the wrongs of Mormon racism? Or, at least, he should be given a pass?

    Well, isn’t that what Obama taught us yesterday? You see, Romney “contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.” In fact, “I can no more disown [Romney] than I can disown the mormon community.”

  155. Thank you for so eloquently supporting my argument Mr. Anderson. The logic that absolves Obama also absolves Romney. The logic that condemns one condemns both.

  156. Bill Anderson says:

    #153. Yes and yes. Although if I had something to add to discussions on mormon history or theology I would. I just don’t know much about those subjects, therefore I read and don’t comment.

    But I do enjoy discussing politics and since most of the political discussions here since I’ve shown up seem to revolve around Obama I’m inevitably discussing him. Want to see some real vitriol then throw up a Huckabee post :)

  157. “throw up” is the appropriate term for a Huckabee post.

  158. Bill Anderson says:

    Brad- That’s ultimately the way I feel too in a general sense. I just hate to see the two cases held up like they’re identical because I don’t think they are. I’ll share the biggest difference between the two as I see it if you like, although I think I’m approaching ‘troll’ status and I’ll probably just leave this all as is– that way I can come back for that future Huck post!

  159. Bill Anderson says:

    #158. LOL!

  160. Bill,
    I can guarantee you that the only chance of there being a future Huckabee post is if McCain decides to just give up and selects Huck as a running mate.

    There have been Huck posts in the past, however, feel free to troll the archives for some late invective. By feel free, Steve probably hopes I meant “don’t”

  161. Antonio Parr says:

    Not sure yet where I come out on Obama or his admittedly eloquent/often profound comments of yesterday. But here is an editorial worthy of careful consideration before forming a conclusive opinion on either matter:

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/03/19/its_still_a_question_of_wright_and_wrong/?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed2

  162. Ta Da,

    As requested a Huck post (Huckabee’s remarks about Obama’s speech):

    “[Y]ou can’t hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do. It’s interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what … Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable, years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Rev. Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you’d say ‘Well, I didn’t mean to say it quite like that…

    As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say ‘That’s a terrible statement!’ … I grew up in a very segregated South. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m gonna be probably the only conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this, but I’m just tellin’ you — we’ve gotta 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 to the back door to go into the restaurant; you can’t sit out there with everyone else, there’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office; here’s where you sit on the bus .. . And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder, and resentment, and you have to just say, “I probably would, too. I probably would, too. And in fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.”

  163. Comment #154 stated that Steve banned DKL. Is that true?

  164. pla (#163) —

    Do you have a link or a source for Huckabee’s comments? I like the excerpt you posted.

  165. While Obama eloquently and importantly raises the level of honest communication about race, for which I applaud him, he lowers the level of honest discussion about solving our problems. Yes, as Obama beautifully argues, we must be more nuanced and honest in our discussions of race and gender. But we must be equally nuanced and honest about the resulting and unrelated issues of our time.

    No, Mr. Obama, the real problem in providing health care to all is not the “special interests” in Washington. There are many problems, including campaign financing and the so-called special interests. Consider cost, for instance. Massachusetts isn’t even carrying everyone and is $400m in the hole after 1 year. Add the pickle we got ourselves into with the WWII wage freeze and the resulting boom in employer-based health care to get around the freeze (as well as numerous other issues) and we have a real mess. Note I am not saying we cannot find a way to effect coverage at least for many medical services, but I am saying demonization is as counterproductive in addressing other problems as in those of race and gender.

    Another example from Obama’s speech: “the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.” No doubt that is sometimes true. But it is not the “real problem.” It is also true that our ever more competitive global economy forces some businesses to ship some jobs overseas both to preserve and create jobs here. Obama’s stated desire to punish any corporation that ships a job overseas may win votes, but it is likely to cost more jobs than it saves, especially when the dollar recovers. And lay out the case for raising taxes, but be sure to include the historical evidence that job creation will slow.

    I’m looking for the candidate who can treat us like intelligent fellow citizens capable of understanding a difficult world and supporting difficult choices. That’s the first change I want in this culture of change. Since I think Obama will be the nominee, I am hoping (without much hope–this is politics) that both McCain and Obama get to some real “straight talk.” Neither is offering much now. Abandon all the easy stereotypes and demons and put the complexities out on the table.

  166. I’m coming late to the party here, but I’ll chime in anyway. I want to talk about Reverend Wright for a second. I have to say that the only thing I find offensive about the few comments that I’ve heard over and over on the news is the “riding dirty” comment about Bill Clinton. I’m moderately offended that he went for the easy laugh to make his point.
    Beyond that, I don’t see how I can be offended by the guy for saying precisely about our culture what prophets have said about their respective cultures since the times of the Old Testament. He criticized the massive destruction of non-combatants. He criticized the abuse of power by the rich (in this case, white men). He criticized the hypocrisy of great sympathy over the 911 attacks, but apathy toward other atrocities in other parts of the world.
    Didn’t Book of Mormon prophets denounce militarism? Didn’t Christ himself abhor hegemonies? Hasn’t a prophet stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”?
    Oh wait. That was a black guy, so it must be racial invective.
    Anyway, I was really hoping to make it through this post without turning into a sarcastic turd, so I’ll sign out.
    I realize that we’re all used to sedatives/orations at church that are much milder, but can we at least consider what the guy is saying before we call it hate-speech?

  167. CE (163),

    It can be found at:

    Unfortunately, you have to put up with listening to Joe Scarborough as well.

  168. Thanks, pla.

  169. CW,
    He is at least as banned as you are, you rabble-rouser!

  170. hawkgrrrl says:

    Huck: “I’m gonna be probably the only conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this” Perhaps the only Southern Conservative he shoulda qualified.

    Gee, Huck really is a white Obama. An ignorant, squirrel-eating, white Obama.

  171. Nat Whilk says:

    @167:

    I don’t see how I can be offended by the guy for saying precisely about our culture what prophets have said about their respective cultures since the times of the Old Testament.

    Then Obama’s “condemnation” of Reverend Wright’s words as “wrong” and “divisive” is tantamount to a condemnation of the prophets. Heavens, there’s no way I could support a condemner of the prophets for President!

  172. Fwiw, I wish we could focus on what he actually said. I thought that was the point of the post. (tucks sarcasm reflex back into pocket)

    Also, this was a speech about race in America. It was not intended as a policy speech. Any criticisms about the speech for not suggesting solutions to the issues he raised are spurious. That was not the intent of the speech. That’s like those who criticized Romney for not addressing Mormon doctrine in his Faith in America speech. That dog don’t hunt.

    Finally, over 150 comments and I’m trying to remember any comment from those who are criticizing Obama that actually quoted something from his speech to do so. I find that both fascinating and instructive.

  173. Bill Anderson says:

    Ray- See my #155. But remember, absence of evidence is never evidence of absence.

  174. Bill, how is what you quoted a criticism of the speech? Are you saying that you disagree with the quote? It read it as an endorsement of the quote.

  175. Ray, I respectfully disagree with your assertion in 173 that this is about race, not policy. About a quarter of the speech is about policy. Policy is the punch line, “where we start” he says is with health care, education and employment policy. Earlier he says black anger and white resentment have distracted us from the real culprits, corporate culture, lobbyists and special interests and economics which he asserts “favor the few over the many.” This speech is about race and religion and policy and can be analyzed from all 3 vantage points. Since convincing us all to love all men as did Christ, the real solution, has proved impractical, I would agree with Obama that good policy is the place to start. And since Obama raises the policy issue, my comment argues for a full-bodied policy discussion short on such distracting and simplistic demons as “corporate greed” and “special interests.”

  176. Molly, I think we are defining “policy” differently. I mean the articulation of actual policies (practices, solutions, etc.); I define what I think you are describing (and what he addressed) as “political issues” (broad concepts, problems, theories, etc.). What I mean is that Obama didn’t give this speech in order to explain exactly what he would do to solve the problems affected by our racial history (to articulate specific “policy”), just as Romney didn’t give his speech to address specific “problems” of Mormon theology. Each of them was focused on the “big picture”, not solutions for the details – even though each of them mentioned some of those details.

    I also argue for the policy discussion you want; I’m just saying this was not the speech to do so. That discussion needs to follow this speech – which is exactly what Obama said.

  177. Bill Anderson says:

    Ray- Here, I’ll try something closer to home. You see, Jerry Falwell “contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.” In fact, “I can no more disown [Jerry Falwell] than I can disown the white community.”

    Or what happens if you try it with Don Imus name? Strange, and yet Obama called for his head. I guess Obama has “disowned” the white community?? Wait, that can’t be right. Surely Obama wasn’t being a hypocrite then. There must be an explanation.

    “He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America.” Again, those are Obama’s words. But who is he talking about??!! Imus or Wright? Wright or Imus? Two very different outcomes but such similar circumstances. My oh my.

    Maybe this will clear things up. From Mr. Obama, “I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus, but I would also say that there’s nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group.” Okay, now it’s clear. So surely Obama would never have let Wright work in his campaign. But yet he did until four days ago…

    “I can no more disown Wright than I can disown the black community.” That one line opens up a can of worms for Obama. And there’s your textual criticism.

  178. How does what Pastor Wright said equate to calling someone a “nappy-headed ho”?

  179. Bill Anderson says:

    They both said something racial that offended people.

  180. sister blah 2 says:

    Bill, don’t you think that the VICTIMS of conflicts like Jim Crow should get more leeway in saying inappropriate things about that conflict than other people? Especially people who, if not personally, at least symbolically (by being white and privileged), represent the PERPETRATORS of that conflict?

    I don’t understand how we can possibly say that victims and others should be held to the same standards in all things.

  181. I want to cite Elder Bendar, but I will refrain.

    Sen. Obama is right: If we don’t address these issues without constantly taking offense, reacting hyperbolically and demanding polemic responses, we will never solve our deepest societal problems.

    Good night, Bill. We simply see things differently, I guess.

  182. Antonio Parr says:

    Wright’s comments about 9/11 are troublesome because of the profound lack of empathy shown by him towards the victims and their families of that tragic event. Had it been his close family member who lost his/her life in one of those towers or on one of those planes, I think he might have made his point with a bit more reverence for the lives lost on that awful day.

  183. Bill,
    I seem to remember someone here criticizing me yesterday for trying to substantively equate non identical situations. Can’t quite remember…

  184. Deux es Machina says:

    Uh, it was Bill — Bill Anderson.

  185. Your timing is uncanny, DeM.

  186. My biggest problem with the speech is this line:

    “Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.”

    Though he’s being vague here, but it sounds like he wants to really stick it to the private sector. One of the great things about America is respect for private property and business.

  187. Great comment by Molly. (#166)

  188. Trevor, each thing he mentioned in that comment is something that is not a “pure” private property and business issue but rather a “distortion” of the principle of free and open markets. I would think that Republicans would be leading the charge to identify and address those issues, since they all abridge our ability to operate freely in our economy.

    “Inside dealing” – “questionable accounting practices” – “short-term greed” – government “*dominated* by lobbyists and special interests” – “(governmental) economic policies”

    He is too liberal in many ways for my comfort, but these specific issues aren’t good things anywhere, imo.

  189. Btw, I somehow missed Molly’s #166 when I wrote my final paragraph in #173. Sorry, Molly.

  190. I’m sure that multiple people have said the same thing since I’ve not read the 190 comments.

    What does eloquence have to do with addressing the concerns many now have of a presidential candidate who has voluntarily associated himself in a very personal and intimate way with a spiritual leader who appears to be the exact opposite of the unity mantra the candidate has espoused now for months on end?

    I agree that Obama is an eloquent speaker, but I think Sam MB has been duped by that eloquence.

  191. KLC,
    Did you actually listen to Obama’s speech or did you use the O’Reilly filter? Obama the Minister’s statements.
    Isn’t part of unity listening to all sides of an issue? Obama can hear the guy speak, go to the guys church and avoid becoming the guy’s lackey.
    Under your logic, I guess I need to accept that I’m a redneck dumb(TK wording deleted) because I attended the church session when some fool insinuated that poor people in New Orleans were responsible for their situation, and that their cry-baby bed-wetter pleas for help were Satanic.
    If we all had to take responsibility for everything everyone says with whom we are associated, we might be in some trouble.

  192. Sorry, I meant to say “Obama DENOUNCED the Minister’s statements.”

  193. Antonio,
    Like I said in my post, I don’t think tactful preaching is this guy’s strong-point. Also, I think I may have jumped the gun a little by drawing conclusions about this guy’s views based on a few snippets, but I figured that snippets were what started this whole mess in the first place, with the help of news programs looking for something new to report on.
    That said, what I heard the guy say was less of an attack on the victims of 9/11 and more of an attack on US policy. Some of the apocalyptic rhetoric, including that of Jerry Falwell seemed just as tactless and hateful. The untimely deaths of thousands of people must not be taken lightly, but it also shouldn’t be distorted in comparison to the untimely deaths of other thousands in other parts of the world. That’s how I read Walker’s statement.

  194. Nat Whilk,
    Good luck finding a candidate for any elected office who hasn’t at some point–in word or in action–condemned the prophets (:
    My point is that it’s a little ironic that we all go to church every week and some crazy gets up and speaks about the hellish direction of American society. I don’t know about you, but I don’t walk out, although I wish I do about half the time. We can hear over-stated, spiteful rhetoric and not be taken in by it. Otherwise, I need to find a new church. Or maybe I’ve been mistaking my church for the LDS church all along. I was wondering about those rattlesnakes by the pulpit . . .

  195. Sorry Antonio,
    “I don’t think TACTFUL is this guy’s strong point.”
    I don’t think word rightfulosity is my strong point today.

  196. blt, #192 I agree with your statement that “If we all had to take responsibility for everything everyone says with whom we are associated, we might be in some trouble.”

    But racial concerns are often based on fears for which we have no proof one way or the other. If Obama really wants to accomplish what he says he wants to accomplish, and had a credible plan to do it, I am sure he would be everybody’s favorite candidate.

    But those are the 2 big problems of his candidacy. He has no credible plan to back up his eloquent speech. And the fact that he has no credible plan casts doubt on his sincerity. Which is one reason many people have the creepy feeling that he really believes what his pastor says, and covers for it with “eloquent” words. He wouldn’t be the first politician to lie.

    If he had a 20 year record in the senate we might be able to address some of these fears, but he doesn’t. What else do we have to look at, if not his relationship with Wright, to figure out his real agenda? His wife, who has never been proud of America?

    People may not like McCain, but he has enough track record we know what we are getting. Same with Hilary, she is more of a known entity than Obama. The fear of the unknown is always worse than the fear of the known.

  197. Again, I think we have pointed out the wisdom of the policy of not recording our sacrament meetings, or allowing photographs to be taken there.

    The church tries to be apolitical, but the members obviously are not. Other churches tend to be a little more overtly political, and some may say “Shame on you, Barack” for not voting with his feet and finding another congregation. I can understand people’s concerns about Obama’s continued attendance at this particular church, but I’ll also point out that I love my bishop and stake president, even though we are at odds politically.

    How do you fault a guy for publicly denouncing the statements he disagrees with, but still reverencing the man who helped him find his faith?

  198. CW, I for one am very fearful of the known in McCain’s record in the Senate. I suspect that most people would find him a lot less of a “straight talker” since New Hampshire, and his rise to presumptive nominee of the Republican party. Our presidential campaigns anymore are seeming to be a very poor way to choose our leaders, and the publics appetite for sound bites over substance is particularly distressing to me.

    I really wish we had another choice, but we are left with what we are left with. Another campaign where we have to choose the lesser of several not good choices.

  199. Bill Anderson says:

    Brad,
    And didn’t someone else pretend it didn’t matter?

  200. re: #199 – If I have to choose among 3 Democrats – none of whose policies I really like much, I might as well vote for the one who is a good orator. If I’m going to be miserable, I might as well enjoy that misery.

  201. CW: “but he has enough track record we know what we are getting”

    Unfortunately, yes.

  202. With McCain we know what we need to prepare for. But like Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, at least they were able to prepare.

    As an Alaskan I am not happy with any of them. Gas prices are sky high and all 3 are opposed to opening ANWR.

    And if I want to hear good oratory, I won’t be turning to Obama. Maybe re-runs of Neal A. Maxwell, or dare I say it in this forum, Bruce R. McConkie?

  203. CW–he’s at least thinking about race issues, and talking about them in a way that I think really shows he’s thought about what the underlying problems are. I really appreciated his willingness to condemn the hate speech without abandoning the speaker, and thought that showed an amazing amount of maturity and moral clarity. Normally I’d suspect we’d have seen blood (indeed, I think that’s what the media and probably many people wanted, was for Obama to shove his minister under a bus) but he didn’t take the bait. He’s a better man than that.

  204. Kristine, he is a better man, OR more politically wise. Am I presuming too much if I say, neither you nor I know which one it really is?

  205. Nat Whilk says:

    @195:

    Good luck finding a candidate for any elected office who hasn’t at some point–in word or in action–condemned the prophets

    Surely I can at least find one who doesn’t make his condemnation explicit, precise, premeditated, and in the biggest speech of his life.

  206. #206 – So, Nat, can I assume you are upset because you view Pastor Wright as a prophet, and Obama condemned what he said? *grin*

  207. I find the in-fighting over this speech remarkable. Lanny Davis (hardly a Rush Limbaugh ditto-head) asks the following questions in the Huffington Post after calling the speech “brilliant:”

    “1. If a white minister preached sermons to his congregation and had used the ‘N’ word and used rhetoric and words similar to members of the KKK, would you support a Democratic presidential candidate who decided to continue to be a member of that congregation?

    “2. Would you support that candidate if, after knowing of or hearing those sermons, he or she still appointed that minister to serve on his or her ‘Religious Advisory Committee’ of his or her presidential campaign?”

    I am not sure these questions are completely fair (I’m not sure that Wright’s rhetoric could be compared to the KKK).

    I go back to my earlier statement that there are more important things to consider with Obama than whether or not he makes chills run up and down spines when he speaks. The very fact that a politician can do that and makes such an impact on the emotions makes chills run up and down my spine. And they are not good chills.

  208. blt, I don’t think I said anything that could cause someone to think that I hadn’t listened to or read Obama’s speech, but just so you can lay to rest your concerns, yes and yes, listened and read.

    Do you think Rev. Wright’s comments are uniting? Do you think Rev. Wright’s comments will lead us to the kind of change that Obama has based his campaign on? Do you think Rev. Wright’s comments will bring us to the unity that Obama dangles in front of us as the de facto consequence for electing him president?

    If Obama had simply decided to address race in America that speech would be a classic in American politics and well worth the praise it has been given here. But that isn’t why he made that speech, was it? As far as I know, he made that speech because his pastor, friend and role model for the last 20 years has made more than a few comments that threatened his campaign and threatened the image he has carefully crafted. But instead of specifically addressing the Wright problem head on, and then following his words with specific action to remedy that problem, he did what makes me wary of him. He used his oratorical skills to pull a sleight of hand, speaking grandly of race in America, hoping that it would distract people into believing he had actually done something. But the reality is that everything in Obamaworld is still status quo and people are praising him for it.

  209. sister blah 2 says:

    But instead of specifically addressing the Wright problem head on,

    Did you watch the speech?? (the whole thing) He used the word “Wright” 14 times. And the entire speech, even when not using the word “Wright,” was taking it head-on. It just so happens that taking the Wright problem head-on means helping people understand the context in which people like Wright came to exist and be listened to by other people. I think this was the correct response to the controversy, and in no way a “sleight of hand.”

    and then following his words with specific action to remedy that problem

    It’s been like 48 hours since the speech. You can’t be serious. If there was any action that could be done in 48 hours that would heal racial problems in this country, it wouldn’t be a problem worth talking about. Absurd.

  210. CW–could it be simple political savvy? Sure, but I find it doubtful. It’s not like a savvy politician to, in a somewhat backhanded way, chastise us for chastising him. By the maturity of his response, by his willingness to hate the sin while loving the sinner, he shows how overly simplistic and juvenile the tactic of going after him for the views of his associates is.

    If he’s being politically savvy here it’s only by throwing out the normal playbook.

  211. KLC,
    Thanks for clarifying. I think that everyone, including his democrat disciples, are wary about Obama’s heavy on rhetoric, light on specifics strategy. I guess it comes down to whether or not a voter is willing to put money on him or not. You don’t seem to be and I do. That said, put yourself in the place of one of his advisors. You detest this Minister and want to distance Barack. Aside from denouncing the Minister’s remarks, what would you suggest? Should he quit the church publicly? Should he slap him or something? Should he try to arrange a hunting expedition between the Reverend and Dick Cheney?
    Further, I don’t know your politics. From your posts, you seem to be either a disillusioned dem or a conservative who is looking for any chance he can get to attack the two candidates who will inevitably win when the general election rolls around.
    If you are the first, I’d really like to hear what you suggest. If you are the second, can’t you just let all the liberals enjoy this smiley glad-iron for a while? You guys had Reagan, after all.

  212. Sister B, did you read my comment? Did you? I saw the speech, I read the speech. It was stirring, it was impeccably crafted and skillfully delivered. But it did not directly address the reason why he was there on that day having to give it.

    How the Rev Wright came to exist, what he has said, the black American experience or racism in America today were not the reasons for the speech. Senator Obama was there that day for one reason, his relationship with Rev Wright posed a danger to his image and to his campaign. And the senator said little about why a presidential candidate who has preached unity and change to all Americans since the day he threw his hat into the ring would choose to intimately associate with someone who appears to be the opposite of that agenda.

    And if he said little about the relationship he said nothing about what action he would take to distance himself from such a divisive character, nothing at all. That is the action I was talking about, not action to heal racial problems in America.

  213. blt, what would I suggest? I’m not the one running for president, but I think Obama did the best thing he could do given the circumstances. He can’t remove himself totally from Wright, that would only draw attention to his 20 years of association before the removal. But he can’t appear to do nothing either. So he goes with his strength and gives a moving speech that masterfully shifts the focus from his relationship with this man to race in America in general, past and present, knowing that if he can tingle enough spines and moisten enough eyes the tempest will pass without him ever having to really deal with it. Based on many of the comments in this thread I’d say that he succeeded.

    And to my knowlege I’ve never mentioned another candidate for president here, Democrat or Republican. So how you can deduce that I am someone looking for any chance he can get to attack the two candidates based on my posts is puzzling.

    I’m impressed with Obama, but this incident and the way he dealt with it, shows him to be not the great anti-politician that so many fervently see him to be, but rather one of the most skillful professional politicians in America today.

  214. sister blah 2 says:

    KLC: fair enough, and apologies for unduly blog-rage-style post. I guess we just disagree on the premise that the right thing to do, the right “action,” was to throw Wright under the bus. I think he made throwing Wright under the bus obsolete by giving the context and fostering charity and all that.

    As far as efficacy of the speech to accomplish that, absent further action that you were expecting, we now have this evidence (via Talking Points Memo):

    A new poll from Fox News, the first major poll taken since Barack Obama’s big speech on race relations, shows that the effect of the Jeremiah Wright flap might not be so bad after all.

    By a 57%-24% margin, registered votes do not believe that Obama shares Wright’s controversial views. The internals show only 17% of Democrats saying Obama shares Wright’s ideas, along with 20% of independents and 36% of Republicans.

    Hard to say if the speech actually moved these numbers, or if they were already at this point before the speech.

  215. blt, I forgot to mention that 25 years ago I reacted to Ronald Reagan’s speeches in much the same way that I have to Obama: moving, emotionally involving but frequently beside the point.

    Tastes great but less filling…

  216. KLC,

    How else would you have him deal with it? Leave that church and start attending another? I fear sometimes that we in the church, having all the truth (as we believe), look at all the others as directly interchangeable. Perhaps that’s a bad assumption. I did not leave the church over Pres. Benson’s political views while in the Quorum of the 12, which I believed were antithetical to mine. The church meant more to me than my political views.

    I really believe Senator Obama did the best thing he could under the circumstances, which is to distance himself from the soundbite fury over Rev. Wright’s statements, while maintaining his ties to his own chosen religion.

    Would you have a Senator Lieberman have denounced his Jewish faith when he ran over Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies? Or Governor Huckabee denounce his Southern Baptist congregation over anti-Mormon rants (not his own, but of other Southern Baptists)?

    For those of us who want people of faith in office, this gets to be a slippery slope to use this form of logic. Would you as a white patient refuse to be treated by an MD that also attends Rev. Wright’s church?

  217. Sister blah, fair enough, we do disagree on what the right action would be.

    I just hope this outpouring of charity and understanding is extended to the opposition when something troubling percolates to the surface of the national consciousness.

    Maybe Earl Butz, who a generation ago had to resign his cabinet post because of telling a racially tinged joke, should have just said, “You have to understand my culture, the reasons why a white American uses humor in ways that others may find offensive. My grandmother told a joke or two in her time but I can no more disown her than I can disown the historical function of humor in assuaging white guilt….”

  218. Kevinf, see my #214 as to what I would do. But your question about the doctor is, to put it mildly, despicable. Because I disagree with the posturing of a career politician, however skillfully and emotionally it is done, I am somehow a white racist that would refuse to be treated by one of the Rev Wright’s congregants? I know, I know, you’re going to tell me that you really didn’t mean it that way, but planting the insinuation can’t hurt, right?

  219. Not to beat a dead horse here, but Obama didn’t use those racially charged words, KLC. Wright did. Trent Lott’s admiration and respect for “reformed’ segregationist Strom Thurmond didn’t cause a lot of his supporters from dumping the Republican party over it.

    Besides, Butz was Secretary of Agriculture. Who missed him? His name says it all, anyway (Tongue firmly in cheek!)

  220. KLC, I was only taking the argument to it’s obvious and opposite extremes, not accusing you of being racist, which I certainly have seen no evidence of here.

    I agree that there was political posturing present in Obama’s speech, but that is, I believe, because no one would care about Obama’s relationship with Wright if Obama was not running for President.

    I went back and looked at your number 214, and perhaps I missed it, because I’m not sure I understood what you would have had Obama do, other than address this in a speech. Which he did. In a manner that touched some, and not so much others. Pretty much what any speech by any politician does. I suspect that all of us are bringing some of our own political baggage to the campaign with us, and it colors our perceptions of events. Hence, I am more likely, and I recognize it, to not listen as carefully to Pres. Bush, VP Cheney, Mitt Romney, or John McCain. I try to be as objective as I can, but my political paradigm is always filtering things.

    Do I wish there was another good choice out there? Sure, but our bad luck is three fair to middling prospects. Obama is the best speaker of the bunch, IMO.

    Sorry for my weak Earl Butz joke, if I offended. I can never stay serious too long under just about any circumstances.

  221. You’re right, it didn’t cause his supporters to dump the GOP, but it did cause Lott to resign his position. So are you saying that no one should quit the Democratic party over this issue but Obama should quit the race?

  222. I have it on good authority that this guy is also on Obama’s spiritual advisory committee.

  223. Some time ago it seemed to become a standard response to any Obama speech that although Obama speaks well, we need action and not rhetoric.

    I’m not quite sure why Obama’s ability to speak well makes him unable to take action – in my experience, those who can speak and, more importantly, listen well have distinct advantages in persuading others to cooperate with them. That, in fact, is the main reason that I will vote for Obama over Hillary.

    But, that said, I wish would think hard before immediately labeling “action” as a virtuous activity, especially action coupled with an implied rejection of conversation. In my opinion, we do need action, certainly, on a number of serious issues. But I doubt that any action will be effective unless we are first willing to have a transparent, complex conversation about the issues we need to contend with, lead by people able to effectively assess what they hear, to listen to everyone, and to speak, yes, with rhetoric that can unify our country and skirt problematic ideology. Words do count insofar as they can prevent or enable people to make good decisions.

    If I were in government, I would push hard not to change single policies, but to change the way the political process is conducted – using, perhaps, the great technology that is coming out and that we who blog all love – to ensure that more voices are heard and that information is transparent. That alone would not be enough, but it would help us take – after lots of thinking and talking – more responsible action.

    Action without thinking got us into Iraq. Let’s not worship action for its own sake.

  224. Thomas Parkin says:

    “Some time ago it seemed to become a standard response to any Obama speech that although Obama speaks well, we need action and not rhetoric.

    I’m not quite sure why Obama’s ability to speak well makes him unable to take action … ”

    Beyond that: speaking is an enormous part of being a leader. I may agree with Bush’s policies, or not – but his biggest failure, in my view, hasn’t been in idea nearly as much as in leadership. And the biggest part of that has been failure to communicate, literally failure to speak and to speak well. It’s possible to not be a great communicator – to be a Moses, but you’ve got to have an Aaron. And Bush has had? No one. They’ve been by make up resistant to talk. I love a laconic guy as much as anyone, but not as president.

    Anyway, the fundamental principle of action is faith, and faith cometh by hearing. How shall we beleive in what we have not heard, and how shall we hear unless there is a preacher?

    :>

    ~

  225. Natalie,
    Well put. But I think that citing particulars might be beneficial for Obama and other Democrats. For example, I’m a teacher and I don’t care if Dubya declares martial law and announces himself king of Amerca (spelling intentional here). If he came out in support of the abolishing or dramatic refiguring of NCLB, I would probably vote for him.
    I thought this speech we’re all so worked up about was Barack’s best precisely because of the specificity with which he laid out his position. I don’t think that the nuances harmed it at all, in fact, they made it compelling. I think he owes the public that kind of honesty and nuance on all issues. I think it would strengthen his appeal.
    Hopefully, this wouldn’t thrust him too quickly into the role of “decider.”

  226. Side note: I’m nowhere near the citizen I should be, so if there is some repository of position statements from the campaign I’m unaware of, please let me know.

  227. blt,

    http://www.barackobama.com is the main site for his campaign. (Googled his name.) There are detailed position statements on various topics under the “Issues” tab.

  228. blt:

    www dot barackobama dot com (wouldn’t take the actual link) has detailed position statements on various topics under the “Issues” tab.

  229. I was so impressed with the speech, too. I’m almost 50 years old and I’ve never heard a politician in the United States speak to me with so much intelligence and hope before. I’ve never been talked down to less than with that speech. I didn’t realize before now that it was possible. I feel hopeful about our country and our society in a way that I’ve never felt before, because of Barack Obama and specifically because of that speech. I’m just so grateful to him for raising the level of political speech above what I thought was the inevitable low level at which it always seemed to stay before now.

    I immediately felt the contrast with Romney, about whom I thought “he didn’t do too badly…. I’m not too ashamed of him” after his Mormon speech. After Obama’s speech I felt inspired and elevated. I felt as one with the American people.

    I’ve never felt better about supporting any candidate in my life. Always before in our democracy I had the feeling, as in Douglas Adams’ parody, that I had to support the lizard I chose so the wrong lizard wouldn’t win. For the first time I’m voting for someone toward whom I look for real leadership. I’ll be so amazed and glad if he wins. Imagine being treated as adults!

  230. The Krauthammer article was hardly great. His representation of Obama’s speech is more disingenuous and intellectually dishonest, by an order of magnitude, than the misrepresentation of Wright that he claims Obama engaged in.

    Conservatives are panicking about this speech and what it represents. A candidate that in one speech can speak to the injustice towards blacks AND the injustice towards poor whites who’ve often borne the brunt of America’s racial repentance? A candidate in control enough that, after the worst two weeks of his campaign, can transcend the media damage control style that has become the de facto mode of rhetoric in this country?

    This speech will go down as a historical moment in the national dialogue on race. And commentaries like Krauthammer’s will go down as quaint and feeble reactions.

  231. Furthermore, as others on this thread have stated, if every LDS member followed Krauthammer’s advice, we’d all have left the church long ago over racially venomous comments by our leaders.

  232. sister blah 2 says:

    #231–amen Jeremy. Just two specific examples of misrepresentation (not horribly significant in themselves, but emblematic of the whole piece): “why doesn’t he leave even today — a pastor who thundered not once but three times from the pulpit…” As has been amply publicized, Wright is no longer the pastor of TUCC so this is moot. “Moral equivalence…at the other ‘end of the spectrum’ [from Wright] there’s Geraldine Ferraro” Actually, Obama only brought up Ferraro to say that she was *not* racist.

  233. Steve Evans says:

    Amen Jeremy. Krauthammer just revealed how irrelevant he really is.

  234. “racially venomous comments by our leaders.” You people belong to a different Church, than the one I attend.

  235. CW,
    It is more a reference to our historical church. There are two major differences between the racism of Wright and the racism of Mormonism. Wright’s is less serious than ours was. He makes racially charged comments and invokes race to make points not justified by sociological empirical data. But he doesn’t ontologize or essentialize the differences between the races — he doesn’t claim that people of some races are intrinsically, unchangable better or worse than others. He just overplays the race component in his very angry but largely bible-based criticisms of American society.

    What makes his problems worse for Obama than LDS historical racism is that it’s temporally closer. He only recently quit actively preaching at Obama’s church. Then again, the overwhelming majority of his preaching was not racially charged and overall was no more so than, say, Dr. King’s.

    What makes Mormonism’s racism worse for LDS — especially those of older generations (including most Church leaders and people like Mitt Romney) is that when it was a problem it was a much, much worse problem. We did ontologize, in highly moralistic terms with sweeping soteriological implications, the differences between races (especially between blacks and non-blacks). We not only kept otherwise worthy blacks from access to essential salvific ordinances, but relegated them in our organizational ontological schemes to second class children of God, unvaliant preexistence fence-sitters, destined to serve their white brothers and sisters as slaves in the eternities.

    Obama faces a problem of close proximity to relatively innocuous, nonetheless problematic and divisive racial rhetoric. LDS face the problem of widespread and systematic overtly racist rhetoric and policies, distant enough in the past to shield ourselves from personal stain (at least the younger of us) but close enough to still be embarassing (it took until 1978!?!?!).

  236. CW,

    If my parents had acted according to Krauthammer’s argument, statements by Mark E. Peterson or Alvin R. Dyer or Bruce R. McConkie or even Joseph Fielding Smith, about how people are born Chinese or Black because they weren’t righteous enough in the pre-existence, would have driven my folks from the church before I was born. And if I acted according to Krauthammer’s argument, the high councilor’s talk from last week would have sent me packing.

    Also, I’m surprised that no one on this thread has brought up Pastor John Hagee’s endorsement of John McCain — an endorsement which McCain happily accepted. This is the same John Hagee that said that Catholicism was a cult and that hurricane Katrina was a divine curse for America’s tolerance for homosexuals.

  237. The clear part when he said that its understandable to hate whitey.
    http://www.goodoleboybumperstickers.com

  238. Brad in #238 is not BCC Brad (i.e. the viciously sarcastic Brad who has been heretofore commenting on this thread).

  239. So the responses to my contempt for the Obama speech can be summarized thusly:

    DKL is a racistDKL is a RepublicanHalf of Obama’s double speak sounds like he’s being hard on Reverent Right.

    You guys are a bunch of liberal whack-jobs. Everybody swooning over the speech was already supporting Obama. Those who aren’t already brainwashed by the opiate that is Obama don’t much like the speech. That’s why his numbers have gone down since he gave it.

    Mark my word, if Obama wins the Democratic nomination, then this speech may well have cost him the election.

    Moreover, it’s a shame to see that BCC has been handed over to the shrill and frustrated leftists of Mormonism. John F, you need something more forceful than you’re “I really loved [such and such], except for a couple of minor points…” formula.

  240. Who is Reverent Right?

  241. Reverend Jeremiah Wright, misspelled.

  242. Ah, I know DKL. Just funnin’ ya.

    So, what do you think of the liberal whack-jobs and shrill and frustrated Leftists at NR, like Charles Murray and John O’Sullivan?

  243. DKL, I thought the “DKL is a racist” slam was over the top and untrue. DKL is a Republican is a true statement, though, and probably informs your opinion of the speech, no?

    That said, I agree with what you’ve said in your comment: I loved, loved, loved the speech, but I also am an Obama supporter. The Reverend Wright controversy has been on the back burner simmering for a year now, as shown by this article in the New York Times at the end of April in 2007. That it has been seized by the Right as “News” at this point shows how hard they are working to make sure Senator Clinton, by far the weaker candidate, gets the nomination.

    John McCain stomps Hillary Clinton in a general election. My guess is that he beats Obama, too. I have never underestimated the ability of the Democratic party to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  244. DKL, I’ve voted Republican more than Democrat in my life, even though I have strong reservations about the Religious Right’s influence on the Party. As a moderate independent, I have little institutional bias. This thread was about a speech, and as someone who has written political speeches, I can attest to how brutally difficult it is to do. It’s from that viewpoint that I praise Obama’s speech. It simply was a phenomenal political speech, imo.

    Again, strictly from a political perspective, I really do think that the best measurement of bias for Mormons (and especially Mormon Republicans) is how one reacted to this speech compared to Romney’s speech.

  245. DKL,
    This thread has not been about you since a few days ago when you dropped in to make it about you. We were all quite content to forget your your shrill, frustrated Rightist whack-jobbery on this thread until you tried to drop back in and place yourself front and center. We all get it. You hate Obama and all things politically left-of-center and will deploy as much over-the-top rhetoric as is necessary to direct attention at your self/brand. All people who enjoyed this speech more than you did are liberal whack-jobs. Your positively Churchillian tactics are an exercise in self-congratulatory demagoguery.

  246. Here’s something by Charles Murray, as Mark IV also mentioned.

  247. Brad, I love this: I express an opinion forcefully, people respond by scrounging for reasons to simply dismiss my opinion, and all of a sudden, I’ve made this thread about me! Should I take this as a representative sample of the quality of your reasoning?

    Rather than make this conversation about you, let’s be perfectly clear: It’s not like Obama’s speech was has been overwhelmingly well-received. Even some veteran civil rights leaders thought he made serious gaffs. But the overwhelming majority of commenters here pour saccharine adulation on it, to the point of being positively bizarre and other-wordly — Even the title of this post: “The Best Sermon I’ve Heard in Years” (emphasis added).

    This post and most of this thread is a load of crap, Brad. This is shown by how anxious folks here are to accuse me of self-promotion because I vehemently disagree with them. This is shown by how anxious folks here are to impute hatred to me because I criticize someone who invites criticism by throwing their hat into the presidential race.

    I didn’t come here to say, “Look at me, I’m DKL.” I didn’t come here to say, “I hate Obama,” because I don’t. I didn’t come here to spew hate-laced speech, and I haven’t. I came here to say (in effect), “Obama’s speech and all of this adulation of it suck.”

  248. Mark my word, if Obama wins the Democratic nomination, then this speech may well have cost him the election.

    Just like we were all supposed to “mark our word” when you guaranteed that Romney would win the Republican nomination? Things just started looking up for Obama. Thanks, DKL.

  249. Johnny, actually I always said that Romney would not get the Republican nomination. If you’re going to site my opinions, you might want to (a) actually read them, and (b) get them right.

  250. And you might want to learn how to spell. Site? Really?

  251. Johhny, I have a job opening in my entourage for an editor. It pays minimum wage. Are you interested?

  252. Steve Evans says:

    Sign me up! Wait — can I get paid in Euros?

  253. Can you feel the love tonight . . .

  254. DKL,
    My reasoning for drawing the conclusions I drew had more to do with the utter lack of substance of your original critique and its over-the-top rhetoric. I don’t think you’re a racist to the least degree, and I know you are far from uncritical of your own chosen party of affiliation. And while, as you point out, there are legitimate reasons for reasonable people to not fawn lavishly over this speech (which, by the way, you’ll notice I have not done here either), I don’t believe for a second that you really think it was as bad as you claimed to have, nor do I believe that you really think Mitt’s was as stupendous as your analysis implied. It was because I assumed that you were doing more than just expressing your opinion forcefully that I also assumed that you were being, quite deliberately, self-consciously, and self-amusingly, more of a demagogue than a thoughtful interlocutor who really thought that the speech flat out sucked.

    The speech didn’t suck. It was a good speech — surprisingly grown-up, nuanced, and non-platitudinous, especially in this day and political age. It was a better speech than Romney’s. And no one in this or any other forum is going to believe that you would think differently if it was delivered by a Republican.

  255. So now that Barack has completely flip-flopped on Wright how do you all feel about the “Best Sermon Ever?” A month later this speech looks pretty silly. I hope not too many testimonies were shattered.

  256. Steve Evans says:

    Bill, that’s a preposterous comment to make. Wright has very little to do with Obama’s message in this speech. Obama’s overall message, that of bridging gaps, has remained fairly consistent. It’s sure fun to play the troll, though, huh?

  257. Gosh, Bill–thanks for pointing that out. Those of us who liked the speech all feel pretty sheepish now. You were right all along.
    [hangs head in shame]

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