Obama’s many messages

Posted on Saturday 10 February 2007

Today, Barack Obama is going to officially throw threw his hat into the ’08 presidential ring, and of all the candidates who have declared themselves thus far, this is the one Polimom’s watching most closely.

Most of what I know about Obama to date have come from his books; I read Dreams From My Father last week, and I’m about halfway through The Audacity of Hope… and I like what I’ve read there.

A lot.

Obama’s theme — the underlying core message — is so radically different from what we’re used to hearing from politicians, I can’t help but respond to it. It’s a visceral reaction — a balm to a wound I didn’t even realize I had.

Of course, how he intends to implement his visions are another matter.

Health care, foreign policy, immigration reform — those aren’t trivial issues, and while I’ve seen him put his verbal finger smack on some problem definitions, that doesn’t mean I’ll be as excited about his proposed solutions. But I’m willing to listen.

There’s another aspect to Barack Obama, though, that is already causing a ripple — his ethnic background. Evidently, they’re going to be talking about that on 60 Minutes tomorrow:

When asked by Kroft if growing up in a white household had caused him to make a decision to be black, Obama replies, “I’m not sure I decided it. I think … if you look African-American in this society, you’re treated as an African-American. It’s interesting though, that now I feel very comfortable and confident in terms of who I am and where I stake my ground. But I notice that … I’ve become a focal point for a racial debate.”

Well of course he has. Race relations in this country are behind the curtains of nearly every domestic issue we have, underlying the debates about education, immigration, and poverty. Bringing the dialogue out of the shadows is a side-benefit to his candidacy that has enormous value to all of us… and we’re talking about it already. For instance, in response to a question by the interviewer for Sunday’s 60 Minutes segment, another blogger writes:

But, the response by Michelle Obama is not as strange as the racist question by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes who asks the Obamas:

“This is a tough question to ask, but a number of years ago Colin Powell was thinking about running for president and his wife really did not want him to run. She was worried about some crazy person with a gun. Has that been a factor. I mean have you talked about that?”

Where is 60 Minutes coming from?

I am hoping they are not suggesting some racist white man with a gun is going to shoot Obama because he’s black. Please, tell me he didn’t just ask that!

Does “60 Minutes” know anything about race crimes by the way?

How was the interviewer’s question racist? Yes, he was asking whether Michelle Obama is worried about her husband’s safety…. and yes, we have nuts in this country. That would be why taxpayers fund the Secret Service, right?

But Obama’s candidacy lets people ask these questions, and look at the issues surrounding them, in a different way — all by itself, a reason to be excited that he’s entering the race.

Could he have waited until he had more time and experience before trying for the White House?

Yes, he could have. We’d still be a damaged country, and his approach to politics would still resonate.

But I think America needs to hear — and talk about — the larger message he’s trying to deliver; that no matter how wide the gulf looks between left and right or red and blue or black and white, we all have a stake in this country. We’re all Americans who have shared values, dreams, and goals.

That we’re not so different after all.

It’s too early — by a lot — for Polimom to jump on anybody’s campaign wagon. In fact, I’ve declared myself a delegate in the Unity08 project now, which publicly says I’m sick to death of divisive, left or right wingedness; that I want candidates who are not focused on polarization and partisanship.

I don’t know whether Barack Obama is going to fit my criteria, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t like the many pluses he brings to the political table.

* * * * *

h/t: Drudge Report via memeorandum

Further coverage of the announcement: AP via YahooNews, Washington Post

12 Comments for 'Obama’s many messages'

  1.  
    February 10, 2007 | 11:45 am
     

    Joe Biden aside, Obama IS in fact clean-cut and articulate. One of his best qualities is that he hasn’t been corrupted by D.C. yet. Hopefully that will remain true. I like the 60 Minutes question even though it’s partially designed to showcase Obama’s courage for running. There is some risk to him, I think, although not what there has been in the past.

  2.  
    roux
    February 10, 2007 | 12:24 pm
     

    Can’t believe you are falling for this guy.

  3.  
    February 10, 2007 | 5:35 pm
     

    [...] More here. Posted on February 10, 2007 | Permalink | Categories Politics, 2008 Elections, Barack Obama | | View blog reactions &#187 [...]

  4.  
    February 10, 2007 | 6:07 pm
     

    Roux — it’s a loooooonnnnggggg way til the elections.

  5.  
    February 10, 2007 | 9:22 pm
     

    I am a conservatve that voted twice for George Bush (and regrets it now) and I also llke what I am seeing in Barack Obama. Ive read a number of exerpts from his new book and it sounded incredily genuine. And trust me Im no touchy feely type. Its been a number of years since I voted for a Democrat. This is going to be an interesting race. But if he teams up with Hillary as a VP candidate then all bets are off.

  6.  
    February 10, 2007 | 9:30 pm
     

    Did you see Thursday’s Colbert Report? Stephen was interviewing Debra Dickerson, who says that Obama is not “black”.

    http://www.rawstory.com/news/2007/Colbert_questions_Obamas_blackness_0209.html

  7.  
    February 10, 2007 | 10:11 pm
     

    Ashley –

    I saw her opinion piece on Salon, (link) but hadn’t seen your link. Thanks for putting it here.

    That is, in fact, another awesome piece of this dialogue. What she’s writing about isn’t a rogue opinion; the issue is astoundingly complex… and people are talking about it! It’s great!

    Debra Dickerson’s view, though, really does require a full post. I have a lot of thoughts about it.

  8.  
    February 11, 2007 | 1:06 pm
     

    One more little thing: A bit over a month ago, I put this post up:

    So you think we’re ready for a black president…

    There really are some folks out there (and unfortunately, “out there” is really “right here”) who prove the point of the 60 Minutes interviewer’s question.

  9.  
    February 12, 2007 | 6:46 am
     

    Black… or Not Black?…

    No, this isn’t about Michael Jackson.
    There are reports that Presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-Ill) is not Black, after all. According to this statement from eyewitness ashley Morris,
    Did you see Thursday’s Colbert Report? Stephen was intervi…

  10.  
    Glide
    February 12, 2007 | 7:06 am
     

    “that no matter how wide the gulf looks between left and right or red and blue or black and white, we all have a stake in this country. We’re all Americans who have shared values, dreams, and goals.” Not so. This country is as fractured as anything I’ve ever encountered. It resembles a saltine cracker after it’s been hit with a mallet. (not unlike the foundation of my house ha ha). If anything, I’ve come to recognize, particularly in the aftermath of Katrina/Rita and the gov’t's inability to deal with those disasters, that the very fact of the gov’t's failure is the proof of the fracturing in this society. Much more stress on this system and we’ll truly come to see that while a house divided can not stand, a house fractured goes down with only the hint of a whisper. The center will not hold.

  11.  
    February 12, 2007 | 9:15 pm
     

    Glide –

    I very much hope that you’re wrong.

    The center will not hold.

    Dunno about that one. We haven’t taken it in hand yet.

  12.  
    August 22, 2010 | 4:19 pm
     

    [...] Obama definitely hit all the right notes but questions remain over whether he can translate his charisma into a democratic party nomination. He’s surely a breath of fresh air and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in the days to come. Let me close with another one of my favorite quotes from his address: For that is our unyielding faith – that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. [...]

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