Monday, July 23, 2007

Notes on Obama

Last weekend, RM and I went up to JWW's new place in Cold Spring, NY for lunch. To our pleasant surprise, JWW's father, step-mother, and sister were there, as well - all three of us, RM, JWW, and I have a great deal of fun talking to his father, who never fails to be engaging while relating his opinions and experiences, covering forty-odd adult years in the New York area. During the course of our gin and hamburger-fueled conversation, Mr. W cast out an interesting aside - that he found Obama to be an intriguing candidate, generally very likeable, and would consider voting for him. This counts as an interesting aside as Mr. W has a certain amount of disdain for any politician, it seems, equally reviles Clinton and Bush, one for his equivocation, the other for his sheer incompetence, and maintains a laughing distaste for "that Catholic president." So is this a small bellwether for the Obama candidacy?

Being without TV, I missed tonight's debate - and I'll catch up to it tomorrow on the news sites, Slate, and TPM. I am, in general, very pro-Obama. My only concern is that winning the 2008 presidency might not be the best presidency to win. What with our problems, and all. But that's a discussion for another day.

Today, I wanted to re-visit Obama's speech from the 2004 Democratic convention, nominating John Kerry. Previous to that speech, I did not know much of Obama, and I found the speech electrifying. I'll get into the whys in a subsequent post, but I distinctly remember forwarding the text of the speech to all my friends who vaguely care about politics immediately after Obama finished. An excerpt of the speech is below, with a link to the full speech following:
OBAMA: [...] Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely.

My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin- roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

OBAMA: But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that's shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him.


While studying here my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas.


Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor, my grandfather signed up for duty, joined Patton's army, marched across Europe. Back home my grandmother raised a baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA and later moved west, all the way to Hawaii, in search of opportunity.


And they too had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream born of two continents.

OBAMA: My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success.


They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential.


They're both passed away now. And yet I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride.

And I stand here today grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my two precious daughters.

I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.


OBAMA: Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...


... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

That is the true genius of America, a faith...


... a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm; that we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door; that we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe; that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution; and that our votes will be counted -- or at least, most of the time.

Full text of the speech here.

Also, Obama has a Flickr site. It's sort of crazy. You should check it out.


Eli said...

get the story behind the speech:

Ritik Dholakia said...

Interesting article, thanks.