The furor over remarks by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's former pastor has been silly from the beginning. Not only has it epitomized a double standard for reportage - no mention has been made of hate-filled comments from clergy whom G.O.P. candidate John McCain has actively sought out for support; men like John Hagee, Rod Parsley or the late Jerry Falwell - it has been a distraction from the real issues of our time: Iraq, the economy and massive corruption, incompetence and lawlessness in the White House. After all, following the idea that Mr. Obama is a closet black radical to its logical end - that in winning the presidency he would somehow implement (or even be able to move forward) some sort of anti-white pogrom - quickly illustrates the ridiculousness of the whole situation.
All that said, Barack Obama's decision to confront this political crisis head on and do so in a thoughtful, mature manner completely free of the pandering and lowest common denominator cliches we have come to expect after seven years of "they hate our freedoms" (and other, like-minded pabulum) was courageous, powerful, effective, and perhaps most importantly, demonstrative of his capabilities as a leader. He seized the high ground and spoke like an adult with the ability to reason, demonstrating that he actually perceives nuance and sees the world as it is rather than as he believes it to be. What an amazing and thoroughly revitalizing change from George W. Bush, who, as Stephen Colbert pointed out so eloquently, believes the same thing on Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday.
Glenn Greenwald has an insightful examination of Mr. Obama's speech yesterday and what he terms the candidate's "faith in the reasoning abilities of the American public" which I won't waste time duplicating. I will however, close with this: As the eager heir-apparent to George W. Bush's legacy, John McCain eliminated himself from my considertion set of viable presidential candidates a long time ago. (Well, for that and other reasons.) The choice to me has been Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for several months, and my opinion has been that Mrs. Clinton can probably be depended upon to govern well. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, looks like he can lead, and his speech on race (see video below or here for a transcript) has done nothing but reinforce that appraisal. I will unquestionably vote for either Democrat over the Republican nominee in the general election, but I cast my ballot for Barack in the Missouri primary, and I remain very happy with that decision.