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Senator Barack Obama speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta

A few excerpts from Senator Barack Obama’s speech yesterday at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (via RealClearPolitics), with some quick thoughts on what he had to say:

We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can’t afford a doctor when their children get sick.

A classic left wing appeal to class warfare, not very unifying. And we have millions of families living in their own homes because lenders, which exist to make a profit, offered them mortgages.

We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.

Not sure what he means there; Scooter Libby suffered severely for failing to recollect accurately what he said to a few reporters. And while seeing a noose hung from a tree is a bad thing, it pales in comparison to six thugs beating one kid unconscious because of the color of his skin. Obama appears to have no feelings about that, the real crime in Jena.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.

We wonder why Obama is so concerned about innocents in Darfur, where there is no U.S. national interest at stake, while simultaneously so unconcerned about the innocents in Iraq, whom he wants to abandon to terrorist killers.

And of course, homeless policy really changed in this country when Obama’s liberal colleagues, such as the ACLU argued that people have a right to live on the streets.

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion;

To the contrary, there was a huge outpouring of compassion from all over America after hurricane Katrina. This thoughtless regurgitation of the conventional wisdom on Katrina isn’t very unifying.

But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes – a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It’s not easy to stand in somebody else’s shoes. It’s not easy to see past our differences. We’ve all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart – that puts up walls between us.


We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

We can’t afford to tear someone else down – unless he’s talking about CEOs, lenders, insurance companies, companies that create life-saving medications, supporters of the liberation of Iraq, Scooter Libby, President Bush, Republicans…

But if changing our hearts and minds is the first critical step, we cannot stop there. It is not enough to bemoan the plight of poor children in this country and remain unwilling to push our elected officials to provide the resources to fix our schools. It is not enough to decry the disparities of health care and yet allow the insurance companies and the drug companies to block much-needed reforms. It is not enough for us to abhor the costs of a misguided war, and yet allow ourselves to be driven by a politics of fear that sees the threat of attack as way to scare up votes instead of a call to come together around a common effort.

Speaking of lies and fear, that left-wing bromide about schools must qualify. The idea that elected officials are unwilling to provide funding for education has to be one of the most obvious, yet most frequently uttered, falsehoods ever. Has it ever occurred to the senator that maybe, when schools are spending over $10,000 per student, it is not a lack of funding that leads some students to under-perform?

And again, not very unifying talk to demonize the companies that create all the life-saving medications that people use every day to extend and better their lives, or to accuse people of talking about the threat of Islamist terrorism merely to scare up votes.

The Scripture tells us…

Where are all those on the left who scream about “separation of church and state” and “Theocracy!” every time a conservative utters the mildest religious reference? Yet here we have someone on the left giving a campaign speech in an actual church on Sunday morning. The double standard could not be more glaring. But what else is new? As we’ve noted many times on this site, by and large the left isn’t against religion in politics, as long as it’s left-wing religion. They’re against conservatives in politics.

The only place where Obama seemed to deviate from liberal boilerplate was in a small pitch for personal responsibility near the end:

All of us will be called upon to make some sacrifice. None of us will be exempt from responsibility. We will have to fight to fix our schools, but we will also have to challenge ourselves to be better parents. We will have to confront the biases in our criminal justice system, but we will also have to acknowledge the deep-seated violence that still resides in our own communities and marshal the will to break its grip.

At the risk of ending his political career, he sounds like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, or Rush Limbaugh there. This is the kind of talk that conservatives, especially conservative blacks, are demonized for by the left.

But on the whole, Obama seems to have thought very little outside the box of boilerplate leftism. For a man who wants to portray himself as a unifying agent of change, he ought to make more effort to see outside that box. This was an eloquent, well delivered speech, but on the substance much of it was troubling.

posted by: The Editors @ 10:49 am January 21, 2008

1 Comment

  1. Obama’s Best Speech of the Season?

    On the eve of Martin Luther King day, Barack Obama spoke on King’s old pulpit at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. His speech was bold, progressive, and necessary:

    Trackback by The Debate Link — January 21, 2008 @ 2:18 pm January 21, 2008

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