Saturday, February 24, 2007
What Kind Of Crossroads?
Something else that jumped out at me about Obama's Austin speech, which I'm assuming is a variation of what's becoming his standard stump speech. He starts off by saying that America is at a crossroads. Then towards the end, to illustrate what he means by the audacity of hope, he runs off a litany of turning points in American history, where small movements defied the common wisdom of the day to transform both the country and its destiny:
- The defeat of the British Empire in the Revolutionary War;
- The experiment in democracy;
- The abolition of slavery;
- The women's suffrage movement;
- The organization of labor;
- The Civil Rights movement.
A litany that he wraps up with, "And that's the moment that we're in today."
Which is a pretty striking claim to make. Especially considering that the meat of the speech that precedes it is largely a gloss on health care and education, with a lingering emphasis on the War in Iraq. About the most radical proposal he tosses out is a new way of doing politics, which ends up being... unity and consensus. In other words, the very qualities critics so often used to argue against the movements he cites.
If you ask me, there's a significant disconnect here, and as it stands, something's got to give: Either he tones the speech down, or tones the policy up. Count me as one of the cynics, but I've got a nagging suspicion it'll be a couple notches down on the rhetoric.