Europeanview on “A more perfect Union”

Senator Barack Obama’s words are bold, brilliant and fascinating. The speech adressed and acknowledged the intrinsic racism and inequality in society, but adressed ways to overcome that divisiveness, too. This was not merely a campaign speech, but a news item. The media have immediately after the speech begun to dice it up and publish the pieces according to the respective media’s own agenda. Therefore, and because, frankly, I was impressed, I was glad the Zoo has shared with you the full text in writing, to see for yourself and make up your own minds. Unsurprisingly, the major English papers are offering their view on the speech this morning, too. To make the picture a little more complete, here’s what they say:

The Economist:

Disowning racism

For Mr Obama it appears that the words of Mr Wright are a bigger liability than was Kennedy’s Catholicism. But Mr Obama has shown considerable talent on the campaign trail thus far. If he fails to keep defining himself aggressively, his pastor’s paranoid and angry comments will let opponents do it for him.

The Independent

Obama speech aims to end race row with bold plea for harmony

In a breathtaking speech, delivered before a backdrop of American flags, Barack Obama attempted yesterday to lance the boil of the ugly racial row that threatens to destroy his campaign for the presidency.

The Telegraph

Barack Obama’s powerful speech on race 

Barack Obama has taken the biggest gamble of his White House campaign by confronting the issue of race in America and refusing to disown his controversial black pastor for his “profoundly distorted” sermons.

and

We knew that Barack Obama could deliver a moving address. And no doubt Hillary Clinton and her supporters will be saying, accurately, that a great speech doesn’t necessarily make a great president. And while the media elites and the foreign audience will give rave reviews and hail Obama as the new political messiah, the cold hard judgement of the speech will be delivered in opinion polls and, eventually, at the actual polls by ordinary Americans who aren’t aficionados of highfalutin rhetoric.

The Times

The Wright Stuff

Today we heard a clever speech by a clever politician. It was not, as some suggested, a “Martin Luther King” moment. Instead it was a textbook illustration of how to turn a weakness (The Rev Wright) into a strength (national unity/racial reconciliation)
[...]
And, just because I think it was a speech by a good politician does not mean he had bad motives.

The Guardian

Imperfect union

I have to assume that many white Americans have been attracted to [Barack Obama] in no small part because he seemed to offer a narrative that wouldn’t take us into these discomfiting, cobwebbed corners of the American psyche. He seemed, as someone’s one-liner had it, “just the right amount of black”; like he probably belonged to a genteel inter-racial Episcopal church.

Well, tough – he didn’t. And here he basically told us why. He did so with about as much honesty as we have any right to expect from a person seeking the presidency. I’m sure it helps us, as a society, to hear it all put out there with intelligence and subtlety. I’m less sure about whether it will help him.

I personally wonder, too, whether Senator Obama has salvaged or sunk his campaign here. But if this bold move somehow failed, he bows out with a grace that Hillary Clinton cannot hope to ever achieve again after her petty, nagging campaigning. On his own terms and standards. America will have refused to hand the Presidency to yet another brilliantly intelligent man after preferring George W. Bush over Al Gore. Vice President Gore moved on to a world-wide respected leadership on the most pressing issue this world faces. Barack Obama will move on, too. But America will get stuck with either John McCain or Hillary Clinton. To borrow a line from Barack Obama’s speech: “Not this time!”

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8 thoughts on “Europeanview on “A more perfect Union”

  1. EV – I think Barack Obama’s speech will help him and not hurt him. He showed leadership in that he is able to confront an issue right on and honestly and that is what this nation needs. In the meantime, Hillary Clinton is in Michigan whining and pleading about getting a re-vote. This constant whining of hers makes her look weak whereas Obama addresses problems in an intelligent manner. The reviews in the US press are positive. The enthusiasm in his supporters is remarkable. If Obama drops out of the race, then the world can look forward to more of the same old same old. Doesn’t matter if Clinton or McCain win because nothing will change except all the newly registered Democrats will disappear and take some old timers, like me, with them.

  2. Thanks ev for gathering up all these editorials. I really value reading what people outside this country think and feel about what is happening here.

  3. If this is the end of Obama’s presidential run, which I doubt, then it’s the only way he could go out — with dignity.

  4. EV, the problem is assuming that the average American can keep their focus for more than 30 seconds. I have my doubts.

    I just read a comment yesterday about a man who thought that Obama didn’t speak to the average person but with his nose in the air. I responded that we don’t need another president who the masses want to have a beer with. If that’s what you want, go to the local tavern. I want someone who is vastly smarter than I am.

    I don’t have much faith that Americans can maintain their attention for longer than that 30 se…OOOH SHINY SHINY PRETTY PRETTY..onds; what was I just saying/doing/reading/thinking?

    Here’s another link. Can’t say if it’s good or not, but….

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0308/Wright_not_quite_viral.html

  5. If people want to crucify Obama for words that did not even come out of his mouth, words that he repudiated, then I don’t know how to help those people.

  6. Shall we forget all that our grandmothers taught us about birds of a feather and show me who your friends are? How about we are judged by the company we keep?

    These old expressions endure through the centuries because they prove true time and time again.

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