OK, everybody else is doing it, so I might as well indicate my awe at Obama's reframing of the racial question with the greatest American political speech of the past thirty years, by providing a link to what was this morning the most-viewed item over at YouTube:
I won't gush too much over the speech itself. Enough has been said elsewhere, and it's inarguably a great speech delivered by a great orator, whether you agree with his politics or not. But Lars, a previously unknown-to-me diarist over at DKos pointed out in whimsical fashion what may be the most remarkable aspect of this speech:
He Wrote It Himself.
I spent the last five hours in my woodshop with a lathe and sandpaper and an awl, carving this beautiful oak chair that I now present to you.
I did it because you will need something to sit down on when the full measure of what Ambinder wrote crashes upon you like all the heavens and the stars above.
Let me repeat it.
Because it bears repeating.
That speech today? The one that has pundits--from the liberal David Corn at The Nation ("This is as sophisticated a discussion of race as any American politician has sought to present to the public") to the conservative Charles Murray, of National Review Online ("it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols."), and those in between--noting the brilliance, sophistication, sincerity and candor of the words spoken by Obama? That speech?
He wrote it himself.
Once more, with feeling:
He wrote it. Himself.
Barack Obama did. He wrote it.
Now, if you are like me, and I pray for your soul you are not, you had the normal reaction to finding out this piece of information. You rushed right to the Library of Congress to determine exactly the last time that a President or a presidential candidate wrote a major speech alone, by himself or herself.
And, of course, what you discover is that other than the speeches Obama has written for himself, the last time a major speech was written without the aid of a speechwriter by a president or presidential candidate was Nixon's "Great Silent Majority" speech delivered on October 13, 1969.
Now that was a good speech. Evil, no doubt, to its very core, and designed to proliferate the feelings that allowed the great Southern Strategy success, but a good speech nevertheless.
In other words, not in my lifetime. And I am oldish. I have kids and wear dark socks with slippers and complain about the quality of my lawn and get hungover way too easily. But in the last 37 years there hasn't been a speech like this written by the man himself. Not like this.
Here is a chair. Regardless of who you support, or what you think of Obama, I want you to sit here, right here on this chair and consider something wonderful. To wit:
It is possible that we will have a President who not only will speak in full, complete sentences, but who will do so in a manner that is eloquent, and who will also be articulate and eloquent in delivering words he is intelligent enough to know, understand, and use in a speech he is capable of writing himself.
This chair, it is oak.
Sit and think about that.
After seven years of the worst crumble-bumblings of the nattering nabob from Crawford, think about that.
He wrote that speech. He wrote it. He, himself.