Monday, March 17, 2008

If Real Life Were The West Wing, Barack Obama Would Win The Presidency During His Speech on Race Tomorrow

If Aaron Sorkin was penning the script for the race for the Democratic nomination for President, tomorrow morning, when Barack Obama speaks in the shadows of the city which helped create this country more than three hundred years ago, the race would be over.

After weeks of hostilities between not the candidates but their surrogates, after comments with racial undertones and blatant racism, deplorable comments and resignations, from both sides, it all my end tomorrow when Barack Obama gives a landmark speech in Philadelphia on race in the race for the White House. Barack Obama, the first African American with a legitimate chance to become President, has tried to stay above the racial divisions which still plague this country. But have it be the racial rhetoric from Bill Clinton or Geraldine Ferraro or the despicable, unforgivable statements and actions taken by Obama's own Reverend, Jeremiah Wright and the church Obama belongs to, he has been unable to stay above the conflict without becoming dragged into it. The son of a Kenyan student and a white Kansan, raised by his mother, by an Indonesian step-father and party by his two white grandparents in Hawaii, Obama's story and his rise to the precipice of the Presidency is uniquely and proudly American.

Every week, campaigns send out press releases and hold conference calls, trying to "set the agenda" for the day or the week. And they hold big speeches on the economy and Iraq and say to the media, "Hillary Clinton is giving a major address on Iraq today" or "Barack Obama is giving a major address on the economy tomorrow." Most of the time, despite the public claiming they want to hear about the issues and not the partisan bickering, and despite the media claiming the grit their teeth as they have yet another Democratic "strategist" come on to talk about the latest gaffe or misstep in the horse race instead of spending time discussing what really matters to Americans in their every day lives, it are these policy speeches which are left unaried and unheard by the vast majority of the American public. Was Hillary Clinton's major address on Iraq covered by all the major cable news outlets today? No. But comments by Barack Obama's church were covered from every angle, multiple times. The same ground trodden over and over again.

Tomorrow's speech should be different. Barack Obama speaking on race on our country and our politics. It could be a monumental day as this is not an ordinary speech. It could be the speech which marginalizes Obama as the "black candidate." The candidate who wins Alabama and Georgia and Mississippi despite receiving only a quarter of the white vote becuase he wins 90% of the black vote. Or it could be the speech that shows America that Obama is more than what he appears to be from the outside looking in and more than what his church says or his pastor does. The candidate that won overwhelmingly in Iowa and Utah and everywhere in between, attracting votes of people of all races and ethnicities.

You can almost hear the music from W.G. Sunffy Walden, the roar of the crowd, the feeling that one speech can move a nation and while it won't solve the problems of race in society, unlike the continued taunts of the Clinton campaign, words do matter. Words move people, words affect people. The words Barack Obama chooses tomorrow may very well decide whether he is the next President of the United States, and more than that, whether he can bring the country together, not just Republican and Democrat and Independent, not just rich and poor, but Black and White and Asian and Hispanic, and every ethnicity and religion and culture.

It is not an easy task, it is a high bar that would take somebody, some person, to reach. But nobody told Barack Obama this was going to be easy. He is not lucky to be who he is, he has worked for where he is, and if there is any politician that can inspire and lead a nation with his words, yes, just words, there is no question there is no better person in this country today to do so than Barack Obama. Maybe his speech tomorrow will be forgotten as soon as its given, as the 24-hour-news-cycle moves to some other scandal, some other campaign storyline. Or maybe it will win Barack Obama the Presidency, put the racial divisiveness of this campaign behind us , and convince Democrats that the only way to win in the fall is not continue to fight amongst ourselves, but to come together, and there is no way to do that, unfortunately, without addressing the racial tones which have dominated the campaign for the past two weeks.

I'd watch the speech tomorrow, something tells me we may see something truly special. If West Wing is any guide, tomorrow Barack Obama will win the Presidency.

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