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.
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.