As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Monday, August 19

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


Fuel

charlie / March 19, 2008 11:37 AM

I thought it was right on the mark. The sort of speech I had always hoped to hear a candidate for Pres give.

Screw the detractors who say he did not go far enough in condemning Pastor Wright.

If all he had done was walk up to the podium and played the "damage control" card we would not be having this conversation. Would have been more of the same........

What he did was gutsy beyond words and I can only say that I was pleased to have been able to hear it in it's entirety.

I thought it was brilliant and it made me feel proud.

Cheryl / March 19, 2008 12:00 PM

I thought he sounded Presidential. I mean that in a good way, not that he sounded like the current guy.

Julian / March 19, 2008 12:09 PM

There exist times when someone stands naked in front of you and speaks their truth without guile or contempt. These moments reach deep into your gut and force you to face your beliefs, morals, behavior and core ideology.

Yesterday Barack Obama stood in front of the country and spoke about race in terms so rarely heard, with honesty so often cloaked, and with a humility that can only come from the experience of living the topic about which one speaks.

I sat at work unable to move with a lump in my throat and though of how I understood race and my role in the larger conversation. Say what you will about the emptiness of rhetoric, or the failed promises of politicians this speech, in 38 minutes propelled our country farther forward than has any speech, bill, promise, or action in the past thirty years.

I was proud to be a part, if only in the audience, of the making of what I can only hope will be the beginning.

Basically / March 19, 2008 12:20 PM

Those that say his speech is empty rhetoric weren't going to vote for him anyway, so their opinion is of little consequense to me.

However, while I didn't hear it, I read it and have to say it was the most honest political speech I've ever heard. Disegaged himself from Jerimiah Wright's statements several times. Pointed to the subtle "racism" that exists in this country (far more dangerous than the overt kind) by using his grandmother as an example (while clarifying his love for her). I cannot see Hillary or McCain giving ANY kind of speech even close to what he said. At the risk of being too graphic, he laid his balls on the table, basically saying, "Look, here is who I am, here is what I think. Either vote for me or don't but this is who I am."

Perfect.

JAH / March 19, 2008 12:34 PM

Honestly, he could have been speaking about what he had for breakfast as far as I'm concerned.

I was so shocked and thrilled to hear a politician actually speaking to the American people with intelligence and nuance about a difficult subject that the actual content went right over my head.

steven / March 19, 2008 12:38 PM

Said what he needed to say in the most eloquent way. He's a damn good orator.

Can you imagine Bush giving the same speech? Coming off as a good ole boy? I can only hope that we can look forward to Obama giving more speeches like this over the next 4 years. He inspires with his words.

eep / March 19, 2008 12:53 PM

This is the first time I've ever felt that a politician was speaking both for me and about me, but the whole time he was speaking about America.

CVAL / March 19, 2008 1:12 PM

He communicated in the most accurate and sensitive words possible the origin, attitudes, and actions that have been an unfortunate part of this country's history. It won't end racism but hopefully will make someone think before they just go off and judge someone a lazy criminal or racist. It made me think about my de facto attitude about individuals I encounter and prejudge before getting to know them. I have encountered racists and ignorance and have been at a loss to how to address these individuals. Obama framed the argument and gave perspective on the attitude of openness we really should have toward everyone we encounter. I just hope media outlets (msnbc, FOX) don't play to myopic sensationalism and racebaiting to help the conservative lobby further their agenda of divisive and negative politics.

Not the devil / March 19, 2008 3:18 PM

It was a good speech. It always gets me, though, when people start drinking the kool aid for a good public speaker.

I think part of it comes from people want to feel better about themselves and if someone gives them something that they can project that self image, they will eat it up.

I mean JFK had great speeches... while popping pills, screwing movie stars, and engaging in "illegal" military adventures.

chode / March 19, 2008 4:12 PM

It was a speech full of fluff and did not distance himself from his hate filled pastor. Since Obama has been elected to office, what has he done for the people that elected him to Senate in the first place? Nothing.

Cliff on Rosedale / March 19, 2008 4:13 PM

I didn't get to see him deliver it live, but I read the transcript, and it's an amazing speech that truly identifies with nearly every aspect of the American experience.

His observations on the pervasiveness of racism is spot on, and I empathize with his cringing at his grandmother's remarks as I grew up in the south and observed racism as a way of life. Even with people I loved. I was never able to reconcile the dicotomy of going to church one day and hating a man due to the color of his skin the next.

I understand now that change doesn't happen overnight, but through generations. I think that my generation is a a step closer to the goal than the last. And with a little hope and integrity the next generation will be even closer than we are.

Before this I was of the opinion that Senator Obama was a good choice for the Oval Office. Now I know he is.

Chris Rock / March 19, 2008 4:51 PM

He speaks so well!

He is so well spoken!

gate / March 19, 2008 5:08 PM

What has Obama done?

Since you asked here is a list the the bills he sponsored or co-sponsored in 2007 that passed.

Obama's Success:
S.AMDT.1041 to S.1082 To improve the safety and efficacy of genetic tests.
S.AMDT.3073 to H.R.1585 To provide for transparency and accountability in military and security contracting.
S.AMDT.3078 to H.R.1585 Relating to administrative separations of members of the Armed Forces for personality disorder.
S.AMDT.41 to S.1 To require lobbyists to disclose the candidates, leadership PACs, or political parties for whom they collect or arrange contributions, and the aggregate amount of the contributions collected or arranged.
S.AMDT.524 to S.CON.RES.21 To provide $100 million for the Summer Term Education Program supporting summer learning opportunities for low-income students in the early grades to lessen summer learning losses that contribute to the achievement gaps separating low-income students from their middle-class peers.
S.AMDT.599 to S.CON.RES.21 To add $200 million for Function 270 (Energy) for the demonstration and monitoring of carbon capture and sequestration technology by the Department of Energy.
S.AMDT.905 to S.761 To require the Director of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education to establish a program to recruit and provide mentors for women and underrepresented minorities who are interested in careers in mathematics, science, and engineering.
S.AMDT.923 to S.761 To expand the pipeline of individuals entering the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields to support United States innovation and competitiveness.
S.AMDT.924 to S.761 To establish summer term education programs.
S.AMDT.2519 to H.R.2638 To provide that one of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5 million or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee certifies in writing to the agency awarding the contract or grant that the contractor or grantee owes no past due Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.2588 to H.R.976 To provide certain employment protections for family members who are caring for members of the Armed Forces recovering from illnesses and injuries incurred on active duty.
S.AMDT.2658 to H.R.2642 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.2692 to H.R.2764 To require a comprehensive nuclear threat reduction and security plan.
S.AMDT.2799 to H.R.3074 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.3137 to H.R.3222 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.3234 to H.R.3093 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
S.AMDT.3331 to H.R.3043 To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into a contract in an amount greater than $5,000,000 or to award a grant in excess of such amount unless the prospective contractor or grantee makes certain certifications regarding Federal tax liability.
Senate Resolutions Passed:
S.RES.133 : A resolution celebrating the life of Bishop Gilbert Earl Patterson.
S.RES.268 : A resolution designating July 12, 2007, as "National Summer Learning Day".

P.S. It was a good speech.

dan / March 19, 2008 8:45 PM

I think this sums it up for me. It actually causes me to tear up a bit...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPLtotzqH0M

kelly / March 19, 2008 9:38 PM

Was it a good speech? Absolutely.

Will America listen? Only the ones who were interested in Obama in the first place.

America is not interested in nuance. They are interested in :15 sound bites. Since that speech's "nuance" cannot be captured in a :15 sound bite, the only people who really TRULY heard the message are Obama supporters themselves. You have the interest to seek out not only the speech, but the transcripts of the speech. You are in the minority. You can bet about 2 people "on the fence" sought it out themselves.

Sorry folks, it was awesome. And as much as I believe in change and the good hearts of Americans and all the progressive thinking I can tell you, the only thing to combat :15 sound bites of a passionate pastor saying "god damn america" every 10 mins on every news channel, is to hear Obama shooting back, in no uncertain terms: he does not agree at ALL. With the man, with the statements. Sorry, but to most people, they can't and won't separate the TWO.

While YOU can appreciate the speech and the tactics behind the speech, invoking images of his sometime inappropriately racist white grandmother doesn't speak as loud as the footage of his Pastor being shown every 10 seconds. All of the whacked-out right-wing new outlets, "legit" "fringe" and all are have already been talking NON STOP about what a cop out they think this speech is. All headlines point to Obama DEFENDING his Pastor. Not the nuance of separating the man from the words. Surely you all read up on that as well. As great as it was: it means nothing to "non-believers."

I appreciate that is not Obama's style. I appreciate him sticking with his plan of change, where "ugly" politics and "ugly" speeches don't play a part in any rebuttal, to who he is. Where he EXPLAINS rather than jerking his knee....

But holy crap, this is a FIGHT and there are people out there waiting for decisive, fighting words that appeal to ALL, just not those who already "believe" it's possible or whatever. You may be beyond that, but the majority is not. I hope come November I am wrong, but I living in the Democratic but not necessarily LIBERAL "bubble" I live in people are not as sure as you'd think.

Fear and bigotry is still a huge motivator, as it seemed to be the premiere motivator in any recent election. I hope we've learned from the past like...

2004, anyone? Gay marriage on the ballot? You can bet the GOP was THRILLED to have that on the ballot because you know many of those people came out to vote against it and while they were there, why not vote for GWB. Which they would have anyway, but put something like that on the ballot, tiredness, snowstorms WHATEVER was forgotten. The Christian right was OUT to vote.

Which, by the way is pretty shitty because I know in "progressively social" (taking care of the needy and the poor) churches today (including the one you may go to every Sunday) feels VERY FREE to Damn The Gays every weekend because that's in the bible --- but you don't see that sound bite being shown every 10 seconds on the news. Which is one of the big reasons why this whole episode rubs me the wrong way.

I only hope nuance and "change" are enough TO VOTE FOR on the Dem side. Because hatin' on whitey (as they will see it, in :15 sound bites from the Pastor, no matter WHAT the true intention was as WE see it) will sure enough be enough to vote AGAINST this year.

And THIS. This is NOTHING. If Obama gets the nom, I hope his speech writers are ready to GO. Because this little shitstorm is nothing. That man better be ready to FIGHT. In no uncertain terms.

yoya / March 19, 2008 11:17 PM

He's a good orator. But a good candidate for president? I'm not convinced.

I think in the beginning Obama tried to keep it clean and stay away from the mudslinging that has defined elections. But then he started losing footing and has joined the fold of pointing fingers instead of rising above. The racism speech was a last-ditch attempt to reconnect with the ethic that made his so popular.

I know I'm in Obamaville but this guy's a huge disappointment and will not win against McCain if put to the test. Sorry.

Leroy / March 20, 2008 6:22 AM

S.RES.268 : A resolution designating July 12, 2007, as "National Summer Learning Day".

Wow. He has my vote!

john / March 20, 2008 9:44 AM

Well, like everything Barack does the media has blown it way out of perspective. To call it as some media outlets have a done as a "Key moment in American History" is ridiculous.

Sure he's a great orator but keep in mind the original intent on the speech was to deflect from the mixed messages of his pastor.

To place it in the realm of other great speeches is premature at best.

vit / March 20, 2008 10:02 AM

I thought it was a great speech. But then again, having known people of attended TUCC over the years, I find this whole Wright thing to be very overblown.

Spook / March 20, 2008 10:09 AM

"Key moment in American History"

you're kidding?

Please stop, I gave the speech an 8 didn't I?
So enough already I'm trying to be positive, so back the F*ck up Mutha F*cker!

Mikey / March 20, 2008 10:44 AM

Politics aside, this speech should be required reading for all Americans.

What's the mada? / March 20, 2008 11:10 AM

It was a speech full of fluff and did not distance himself from his hate filled pastor.

How come chode only crawls out from under his slimy rock to utter the occasional homophobic or anti-Obama statement that adds nothing to the discussion?

I have no doubt that you neither listened to nor read the speech.

Dave / March 20, 2008 12:21 PM

The speech was great... but can we please stop critiquing the speech and start talking about race in America?

David / March 20, 2008 12:43 PM

This honest appraisal of the current state of race in America is all the more amazing because of what Sen. Obama DIDN'T do.

He didn't immediately cloak himself with advisors, spinners and talking heads when the controversy erupted.

He didn't try to distance himself from his pastor, a man who he clearly respects, and kick the man to the street.

He didn't try to backpedal like John McCain has done with the vile puddle of slime known as James Hagee.

He faced up to this crisis with strength, courage and an eloquent determination. Can anyone imagine Mrs. Clinton or Mr. McCain making a similar kind of speech?

No.

dragonflypurity / March 20, 2008 1:35 PM

I think Obama hit it right on the nose with his speech. By condemning the words of his pastor but not condemning his pastor as an individual showed real character and true moral fiber. I truly believe if it was Hillary or McCain on that stage they would have totally lost their backbone and gave in, disengaging from their pastor 100%. In addition, by throwing down all his cards and speaking openly about race and inequality from a bi-partisan standpoint really impressed me further. But, I think it was something that had to be done or else his candidacy would have been pretty much over.

I do think though you need to read or hear the whole speech in its entirety to get the full grasp of his speech. Taking just quotes from the 40 min sermon would certainly take the meaning behind the whole speech out of context and would be misguided.

I truly hope his speech makes people think about the real issues in this country and look into themselves to find pieces of their own story in his speech. As for me, I find him a breath of fresh air and that his passion for this country has somehow rubbed off on me in strange and unusual ways. Out of 30 years, I have never been so politically charged as I am after hearing him speak. And isnít that what the president is supposed to do?!!

In a nutshell: Kudos for Barack for having big cajones and doing it with a smile and eloquence.

Here we go again... / March 20, 2008 2:17 PM

Yes, I can't wait to hear his speech about how he wants more of my money to make this change of his happen.

That one is going to be great!

Mikey / March 20, 2008 2:52 PM

Yes, I can't wait to hear his speech about how he wants more of my money to make this change of his happen.

Yes, because paying hundreds of billions of tax dollars for the no-end-in-sight Iraq war is so much better an investment...

sara / March 20, 2008 4:21 PM

@kelly: It's not Obama's job to provide 15-second sound bites. It's the media's job. That's why they employ reporters and editors and anchors - to write headlines and preview clips.

Obama shouldn't have to worry about shortening his message to ten words; every media outlet in the country will do that for him.
I agree with most of what you said - that our attention span is short and fear and bigotry are motivating. But hopefully a "speech about race" is sound-bitey enough to spark some interest from "everyone else."

Steven / March 20, 2008 5:10 PM

It was okay but it still doesn't motivate me to vote for him. I really don't have a problem with Obama being black. Similiarly, I don't have a problem with Clinton being a woman. What I have a problem with is them both being straight and I fail to see why I should vote for either one of them to drive the bus when my gay ass still has to sit in the back seat.

Lauri / March 20, 2008 6:40 PM

It was golden:

http://flickr.com/photos/lauriapple/2344846144/

C-Note / March 20, 2008 6:49 PM

Steven, I really hope you're kidding. If you're really that much of a one-issue voter (the issue being gay rights, I assume), I'm sure no one other than the candidates themselves would care if you chose to stay home on election day.

Not only that, but civil unions and adoption are state issues, not federal. You'll want to talk to your state legislators about that.

If you really want to join the military, and your sexuality is holding you back, well, I guess that IS a problem that Barack and Hillary have neglected to address, and I guess that's just, you know, tough shit.

Steven / March 20, 2008 7:22 PM

No I am not kidding. And apparently there is at least one person other than the candidates who cares if I stay home on election day, otherwise you would not have commented.

Why should I bother voting? The outcome has no effect on me. I donít care whether the war in Iraq continues or not. Itís not my childrenís economic future thatís being mortgaged. I donít care about abortion. Why should I care about womenís rights when I donít have my own? I donít care about global warming. Again, itís not my childrenís future at stake.

Obamaís speech was okay Ė if youíre straight. But you straight people donít see the footnote that is clearly there in his speech, in Clintonís speech, in every candidateís speech: We are all in the same boat (1). (1) Unless youíre gay.

Itís interesting that so many applaud Obamaís refusal to jettison or condemn his pastor for political reasons, yet isnít that exactly what he and every other candidate has done with gay rights? Kicked us out of the boat in the name of electability?

He or she who does not support me on election day will no longer get my vote. No candidate is worthy of my vote so Iím staying home. I don't think I'll be alone either.

Ramsin / March 20, 2008 7:32 PM

Somebody gotta rise above raise. Rise above sex.

Real leadership. A choice; a chance.

Don't cry about what you don't have--use what you got!

Common Ground.

Who am I talking about?

Ramsin / March 20, 2008 7:33 PM

"...rise above *race*" obviously.

Mikey / March 20, 2008 7:52 PM

@Steven

As someone who is all for allowing gay people full access to marriage, work benefits, the military, etc., I find your attitude disturbingly selfish...

You can't be bothered with a multitude of important issues that have implications for all of us (whether you have children or not) because you're so single-mindedly focused on the one issue that personally affects you. People like you don't deserve the right to vote...

You sound like the whiny kid on the playground who takes his ball and goes home because he doesn't get to play quarterback.

Benji / March 20, 2008 11:12 PM

Hey Steven--
There are plenty of common issues that gays and heteros have in common.

Me? I care about having clean fucking air to breathe and water to drink.

I also care about being able to get reasonable medical care despite my choice of profession.

I care about education because I hope that with it ignorance will begin to be erased.

Get off your lazy ass and do some research and find something that you give a shit about besides yourself.

You're giving the rest of us a bad name.

mikely / March 21, 2008 10:27 AM

"Obamaís speech was okay Ė if youíre straight."

Hilarious.

"Obama's speech was okay - if you're a Leo." Libras revolt!

"Obama's speech was okay - if you're sighted." Vision-impaired people revolt!

"Obama's speech was okay - if you're a Christian." Wiccans revolt!

etc.

W / March 21, 2008 12:19 PM

He should own the fact that he's a racist liar. What president of the U.S. hasn't been?

Goldilocks / March 22, 2008 12:17 AM

I hate Barack Obama because:

He's not black enough.
He's too black.

He's not progressive enough.
He's too progressive.

He's too much against the war.
He's not enough against the war.

He's Muslim.
He's Christian.

He's a conventional polititcian.
He's too unconventional.

He speaks too candidly.
He's not candid enough.

He'll change things.
He won't change things.

He's just not the perfect candidate I dream of, and until that person comes along I'll just continue to sit on the sidelines and whine.

GB store

Recently on Fuel

Urban Ethos [26]
What is Chicago's "urban ethos"?

Cool Glass of... [16]
What're you drinking?

Supreme Decision [22]
What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act?

Taking it to the Streets [20]
Chicago Street Fairs: Revolting or Awesome?

I Can Be Cruel [9]
Be real: what is the meanest thing you've ever done?

View the complete archive

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15