Obama's speech just now was magnificent not because he relied on soaring rhetoric but because he eschewed it. He spoke simply and directly about one of the third rails of American politics from his unique vantage point as a black man with white ancestors and the child of an immigrant. His analysis was measured and brilliant in how he empathized with disgruntled and cynical black youths defeated by racism, but urged them to transcend; how he also empathized with struggling white workers unsympathetic to America's history of discrimination and yet urged them, too, to join in the fight to better this nation.
What he did this morning in Philadelphia was put his theory of change into practice.
I have to tell you I was worried. When he was the color-blind candidate, he was Teflon. None of the Republican strategists knew how to run against him. Then the Ferraro flap followed so closely by Rev. Wright's words whipped up again by first Fox and then the real news outlets (plus the losses in Texas and Ohio and the Rezko scandal) threatened to stop this historic campaign in its tracks.
Instead, Obama's willingness to cowboy up and face all the accusations at the same time has been breathtaking in its transparency. After he sat down with the Chicago Tribune to explain in detail his dealings with Rezko the once critical paper gushed, "Barack Obama now has spoken about his ties to Tony Rezko in uncommon detail. That's a standard for candor by which other presidential candidates facing serious inquiries now can be judged."
He did the same thing today in Philadelphia. Instead of running and hiding, slipping and sliding he not only confronted the problem head on but used it as a springboard to talk about his solutions for the real issues that devil this nation.
Trey Ellis is the author of Bedtime Stories: Adventures in the Land of Single-Fatherhood.
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