Obama Speech: "A More Perfect Union"

18 March 2008

Full Text

What I liked most about this speech was its indictment of our political discourse and the tendency to boil complex issues down to fast and easy soundbytes that we can all raise our voices and argue over. If you've got 40 minutes to spare, I suggest that you watch the whole thing.

UPDATE: This is a great quote:

We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.”

UPDATE II: Right out of the gate, we still have to put up with these headlines.
CNN: Obama: Constitution stained by 'sin of slavery'
ABC: Obama: Pastor Has Distorted View, But He Is Family to Me
FOX: Obama Condemns Pastor, But Won't 'Disown Him'
MSNBC: Obama: Racial anger is 'real'
CBS: Obama Urges End To "Racial Stalemate"
None of these does justice to the content of the speech itself. Again, I recommend listening to it all the way through.

UPDATE III: The American Enterprise Institute's Charles Murray weighs in at the National Review here:
I read the various posts here on "The Corner," mostly pretty ho-hum or critical about Obama's speech. Then I figured I'd better read the text (I tried to find a video of it, but couldn't). I've just finished. Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols.... But you know me. Starry-eyed Obama groupie.
For those not familiar with Murray, that last line was sarcastic.

UPDATE IV: Highlight reel here. Reactions here and here.

UPDATE V: Another important aspect of this speech is that it treated the voting public as adults in the way it discussed the issue of race. Rather than using simple sound bytes and misdirection, Obama substantively evaluated the issue, identified the valid concerns of the many different sides, and really broke it down in an understandable fashion. Contrast that with Sen. Clinton's radio ads mischaracterizing Obama's statements about Ronald Reagan and Republicans in general. Or her demonstrably false claims about Obama's Social Security position. As a voter, I constantly get the impression that Sen. Clinton is just trying to mislead me. That's particularly the case whenever her pollster Mark Penn opens his mouth.

What has always appealed to me most about Sen. Obama is the procedural change he plans to bring. When it comes to federal budget issues, Obama wants to bring back PAYGO rules so that we're not just borrowing money and adding to our national debt without any way of paying for it. On issues of transparency and accountability, his Ethics Bill has done more than any other candidate in the field and perhaps more than any other sitting member of Congress. Even when it comes to the way that we discuss issues, Obama's technique and maturity is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the field (compare that with McCain's awful dissembling over Romney's positions at the January debates).

UPDATE VI: Cameron Fredman has a great annotated version of the speech for those of you out there with short attention spans.

UPDATE VII: Jon Stewart: "And so, at 11 o’clock am on a Tuesday, a prominent politician spoke to Americans about race as though they were adults."


Cameron said...

Such an awesome speech. What a nice reminder of why he'll be our next president.

Utah Savage said...

Thank you for posting the text. Yes, I'm here because of Ashley, too.

Cameron said...

Hey Sam, incidentally, when I imported my old posts into the new blog, it dropped the links back to commentators. If you leave a comment on the new blog, I'll assign all your old comments to your account. The blog is overbreadth.com.

Also, I should apologize for picking out the same quote from the Obama speech as you. It really is a good sample for those who haven't listened or read the speech yet.