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Monday, November 03, 2008

The Best Moment on the 2008 Campaign Trail

There's an interesting round-up on Politico, of scholars, pundits, lobbyists, and heads of think tanks, all recalling the moment in this Presidential campaign that was most memorable for them.

I know mine, no question, and only one other person mentioned it: the beautiful, thoughtful, nuanced speech that Barack Obama gave in the wake of the Reverend Wright "scandal," the best political speech I have heard in my lifetime.

The person who pointed it out, Eric Liu, said of the speech, "Under even ordinary circumstances, to have offered such a transcendent meditation on race and American identity would have been remarkable; to have created it under attack and when his campaign was in grave danger was stunning."

Here's just one of the many best parts of that speech:

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. 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."