It didn't make sense. A politician responding to a TV news scandal during an election and he's not on the attack or the defensive. Instead he's asking us to look at the forces that shape our feelings on race and understand them. My first reaction was to call DirecTV. Clearly my antenna was out of alignment and picking up old broadcasts of the Outer Limits or Playhouse 90 that are bouncing back to earth from Jupiter. Or maybe that California roll I ate was a week old and I'm unconscious on my living room floor and chemicals in my brain are sloshing towards the wish fulfillment part of my frontal lobe.
But it happened. Barack Obama spoke like an enlightened leader from 2008 instead of like the fake cowboy from 1885 that most politicians evoke or like a pharmaceutical salesman talking about change, but "not that much change" at a team building exercise in Tahoe. In other words, he didn't pass the buck to save his own ass. It was a monumental moment in modern American politics. He didn't distract, deflect, or attempt to frighten. He didn't accuse, declare war, or get angry. He didn't game play, scape goat, or blame. Can you imagine? We need to engrave this shit onto a commemorative coin fast.
Corporate tabloid news coverage, the influence of lobbyists and opinion polls have turned our politicians into the biggest group of hacks since the writing staff for Real People disbanded in the eighties. It's been all button pushing and gamesmanship for our representatives over the past twenty years. Anyone who stepped out of line (Howard Dean, Jimmy Carter, Paul Wellstone) was either written off as boring, naive or nuts. All real issues faded to the background and instead "gay marriage" and "tax breaks" and "military photo ops" became the go to bag of hack political tricks. And our newspapers and TV news shows loved it because it took the discussion away from anything constructive and instead veered it towards juicy programming (Governor is Gay! Congressman involved in Three way! Do Gay Flag Burners Want to Pick Up Your Kids on the Internet?! etc.) and the corporate agenda.
But today's speech was different. It felt like a noise I had never heard but someone once tried to describe to me. It was somewhere between a good episode of The Wire and a John Dos Passos novel. It had perspective. Barack Obama was talking about the future of man and whether or not we will continue to fight each other because of random colors (flags, skin, etc) or whether we will solve big problems together like we have done before (medicine, space travel, democracy). Will we evolve or will we skirmish...? Tilt your head the right way when you listen to the speech. I'm pretty sure it's there.
And then as Obama finished I had to laugh. "Man this must have fucked Wolf Blitzer's shit up" I thought. He spends all of his time trying to avoid constructive discourse and discrediting those who do... This must have made him feel like he was on the tilt awhirl with a belly full of funnel cake and Stroh's. I haven't see his response but I'm sure he turned to the speech into a tactical move on Obama's part. If he didn't and was actually thoughtful about it then Hallelujah.
But enough about the fun-dents, as Ice Cube said "today was a good day."