Monday, September 22, 2008

Barack Obama on the Economy

This video was made well before the current crisis.

No need to "revise and extend" what he said here. Barack Obama's measured response to this and every crisis that comes along makes him the best person to be in the Oval Office. One British observer I read said that McCain as president would be like a flame thrower in a fireworks factory.

I prefer Obama's more circumspect response to crises any day.

I found this video at Tom Watson's blog. His recent post, The Race Race is worth reading.

Twelve men to hold office of President were slave-owners during their lifetimes - eight of those keeping black men and women in bondage while they were chief executive. The first was George Washington, who freed his slaves upon his death and was the rare American leader of his day to change his mind about the actual humanity of African slaves. Of the first five presidents, only John Adams never owned a black man. The last slave-owning American to serve as President was Ulysses Grant, the great Union general who died in 1885 - a year after Senator John McCain's paternal grandfather was born to a former slave-owning plantation family from Mississippi...and only ten years before Barack Obama's paternal grandfather was born in Kenya.

You can tease the family roots of both of our major candidates for president, and unwind a fading history of slavery, racism, colonialism and segregation. Indeed, Obama's unusually broad genealogy may contain the ultimate irony: several of his mother's ancestors appear to have been slave owners. To me, it's the immediacy of that history that stirs the imagination; in terms of generational advance, the turning over of leaves in the family scrapbook, most American history is shockingly near to us as we choose the 44th President of the United States.


Clearly, there's a generational change in the wind; the group of African-American politicians who came to prominence during and after the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s is fading. But age is just part of the equation. Obama represents a new path: the African-American politician who happens to be black - perfectly aware of the problems of the black community in America - but not tied entirely to representing those concerns as (in general perception) almost the entirety of his policy brief. Early in Obama's candidacy, the combination of Obama's refusal to "be black" politically and close historic ties to President Clinton, kept many prominent African-American politicians from his side. Winning changed that, of course. Evident talent changed that. And perhaps the chance to move finally from the traditional we/they structure of racial politics in the United States also played a role.

In the last few weeks of this campaign, as Senator Obama attacks the treacherous economy, our perilous foreign policy, and issues like poverty, infrastructure, taxation, the environment, health care and education, the descendants of slaves and slave owners alike will see a politician of color take on the broad responsibility for public policy - and make his final, specific arguments for the highest office.

And that ain't hope, baby. That's change.

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