I'd like to expand on my thoughts regarding Obama's speech yesterday, and why I think there's an enormous gap in his thinking.
If Obama had spoken truthfully, and he touched upon this in his speech, he would have said the following:
I repudiate and denounce Rev. Wright's specific comments, and make no apologies or defense for them. Further, I apologize to Senator Clinton, because his comments make it sound as though she has never been discriminated against. They were wrong-headed and stupid.
However, some of the issues he raises, about inequality, are issues we Democrats have been trying to address for decades. We've been trying to level the playing field, to make opportunity possible for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or orientation. That the issues coalesce around race is a function of the simple ability to identify a black man or woman by sight.
And gone on from there. There's a speech that truly speaks to unity, to making people understand that it's not about black or white, female or male, poor or rich.
It's about equality. Fairness. Justice.
Go read his speech. Not once, NOT ONCE, does he mention being a woman in America, or being gay, or being anything else but African American (he does have one instance of talking about the working classes, in passing).
Rev. Wright's hideous comments deserved to be repudiated, and then expanded upon to mine the kernel of truth within. People are hurting in George Bush's America. People are hurting a LOT more in George Bush's America than they were in Bill Clinton's America, despite Obama's attempts to rewrite history to suit his purposes.
If your campaign is based solely on words, and those words themselves are found lacking and half-hearted, then what's to be made of your candidacy and your heart?
Imagine John Edwards making this same speech. He would not have limited himself to describing the "black experience" but would have correctly pointed out that this describes Two Americas. It was the one big reason I voted for Edwards in 2004 and the one big reason he remained in my considerations going into the primary season this year.
He gets it. I see this all around me. America is supposed to be about opportunity, but America is slipping away from those who have had a hard time keeping up.
Indeed, I'd make the case that America is turning its back on those who can't keep up.
It's not about minorities, because in truth, any equality program would begin with the majority who suffer degradations in this society: women.
African Americans make up, what? Less than a quarter of America's population?
Women make up 51%, and you can look that up. By addressing only the "black experience," Obama foolishly leaves out an entire group of Americans that can speak bigger volumes about repression, degradations, discrimination, even physical and mental abuse.
It's about levelling the playing field. Again, Bill Clinton's legacy. Instead of spending so much time defending the indefensible, he could have easily done 26 minutes on how the poor and working class see their jobs lost, with no hope of a better future even for their children through education and training.
How in this country, the quiet shame is that the largest group of poverty stricken Americans is not blacks or whites, but single mothers. Women. How economic "opportunity" for them usually means choosing between losing a job or taking care of a sick child.
He squandered a golden moment in American history to speak about how race is no longer codified in law, but in money, and how to break those chains requires an intensive effort to move the country forward in economics, not in some ethereal dialogue regarding "scary black men," as one commenter at my blog put it.
But what really got my knickers in a twist was how he so off-handedly claimed the mantle of repression as the "black experience" when in truth, women have had it far worse, for far longer, and have only recently made up some of the grounds that African Americans have taken from American white male hegemony.
How many women can sit alone in a bar reading a book and not worry about how many eyes are mentally undressing her? Or walk down a street, for that matter?
How many women can run for President without being called a "bitch" or "Hitlery" or "cunt"? How many women can attain an executive office in a corporation without having smears of "sleeping her way up" being launched?
Why does a woman have to act "like a man" to be taken seriously?
Hell, we even joke about how long it takes for a woman to pee in a public place, which by all rights should be an insult to anyone! If blacks had to queue up for the few toilets while whites had a few dozen, there'd be marching in the street.
Even Obama himself, blinded by the log in his eye even as he speaks about the mote in mine, has poopooed and denigrated Hillary Clinton, speaking of her "periodic outbursts," with little note in the popular press.
Why is that, do you think, that he's allowed to remind people that she has a menstruating vagina with all its entanglements like PMS with that kind of code, when if someone mentions, say, his "articulation" like Joe Biden did, the world goes crazy with charges of racism? Or why is it that Obama's minions go nuts if Bill Clinton calls him on his "fairy tale," assuming the Big Dog meant his candidacy, when he was very clear he was talking about the fallacy of his war opposition?
And the Obombers aren't bothered one bit by this hypocrisy on the part of their candidate?
They aren't bothered by the fact that Geraldine Ferraro said effectively the same thing that Rev. Wright did, that there's a "black experience" in America that differs from the white experience, and they screamed bloody murder, while shooing away any criticism of Wright as being "irrelevant"?
Why do they give Obama a pass to be a white man in black skin on this stuff?