21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine: Politics USA

That Speech + Readers Letters
James Campion
Inside Barack Obama's Bold Sonnet To Our Bitter Demons & Better Angels

For 37 minutes on the18th day of March 2008, Barack Obama, junior senator from Illinois and leading Democratic candidate for president of the United States, delivered as brutally candid a speech about race, human nature, and the forces for change that lie between them as intellectually possible.

It was the first time in the history of this nation, a candidate for high office, or any office for that matter, addressed the hard truth about its deepest, most festering wound; a self-inflicted lesion so profoundly absurd and odious it stands to this day as the greatest failure in America's boldly infinite quest for equality.

Obama, son of a black Kenyan man and white mother from Kansas, not only addressed the realities of cultural divides in the most direct of terms, but ripped open wide the scabs that we've been less-than gently picking at for decades of riots, marches, assassinations and defiantly booming rhetoric, but also let slip from our subconscious at dining room tables and private parties.

It may have been political suicide. It may have been transparently self-serving. But it was without valid refute brilliantly honest and long overdue.

    It had to be said, and it had to be said by him, the first truly legitimate African American presidential candidate.
    It also had to be written and spoken as eloquently and forcefully as it was, and it had to be done now.
    It had to be done on the heels of one solid week, hour after hour, of rip-roaring lunacy from another religious/politico psycho by the conspicuous name of Jeremiah Wright, former pastor from something called the Trinity United Church of Christ. The man who married Obama, baptized his kids, and originally hailed from the church the candidate has clung to like a life preserver as he was accused from every corner of being a Muslim, as if it were the crime of all crimes, on 60 Minutes, the Internet wilderness, and by his smarmy opponent.
    A Muslim? Imagine the horrors of that?

    What a crock it all is, this grab-ass cloak of religious righteousness we demand from our public servants, who are forced to lip-service our superstitions and by association are abducted by the cauldron of separatist hate-speech and fire and brimstone diatribes aimed at everything not falling in line.

    It is a sick and terrible world we enter in these Houses of the Lord, closed-door meetings of the flock, who look to the pulpit for atavistic pandering submentals to spew personal angst against whatever you've got.

    So here was Barack Obama, standing in the birthplace of liberty, draped in racist innuendo and religious madness, evoking the words of Thomas Jefferson and William Faulkner, referencing the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the Katrina disaster, deconstructing the social and cultural ramifications of Affirmative Action and Jim Crow, using the widest array of colloquialisms and slang from "gangbanging" to "the laziness of welfare".

    Fucking amazing is what it was. Shockingly, mind-numbingly crazed. I literally laughed out loud during it. Chills and laughter; these are my tenets; the bare essentials of why I wandered into writing about this miserable shit in the first place.
    This was history. Real history. Not this fabricated televised nonsense we're force-fed like lab rats. It was revolution in words. Striking words. Distinct words. No surrender in them. Powerful stuff.

    This was a man not only running for president, a black man no less, but a frontrunner down by nearly 20 points in a crucial primary state, peering out into the glare of lights, poised microphones, scribbling pads, and the one-eyed monster that had been tearing pieces from him for seven long days, delivering the goods. This was not a cultural leader like Martin Luther King or a radical voice of a fringe movement like Malcolm X. This was not a professorial university discussion or a stand-up routine by Chris Rock.

    This was a minority candidate for president of the United States, and he was not running for cover, offering up rhetorical apologies or lame excuses. He was not rising above the issue like Jackie Robinson or dancing around it like James Brown. Instead, Barack Obama dove headfirst without a hint of remorse, embracing his race while deftly looking beyond it, as his campaign has claimed to strive for since its inception.

    It is not even fair to pull quotes from the thing without missing its nuances. It would be like playing you 40 seconds of Miles Davis' "So What" and pulling the plug or offering up "When I'm Sixty Four" and claiming it captures Sgt. Pepper's. Fuck that noise. Listen to it. Read it. Watch it. It's all over the net. If you haven't seen it all the way through and do not emerge at least in awe of the type of person who dares to provide a tangible, concrete opinion on a passionate, divisive subject while also trying to sucker you out of a vote, then I'm sorry, we're not watching the same game.

    What Obama was able to do for what basically constituted 29 out of 37 minutes (the other eight or nine minutes were admittedly jammed with pandering populist stuff) was box Pastor Wright and everyone who clings to old grudges as some kind of badge of courage, and told them it is time to let go. Change for real. No more of the same anger Baby Boomers harbor for the Left and the Right; the old guard, the has-beens, the jesters on radio and brooding curmudgeons at the typewriters and the creaky bones using up space on Capitol Hill. They all have axes to grind. They all have a point, black and white. Everyone is mad with envy, disdain, fear, and posturing, but Obama says, for his part -- and it has steadily become a very significant part in all of this -- that he will abstain, thank you very much.

    And here is where the purported Candidate of Change officially crosses the generational divide. Here is where if found yourself supporting what has heretofore been a showcase of progressive goofiness, you can begin to believe this guy may actually mean it.

    Look, there was always very little chance a black man would ever be elected president of a country forty years removed from his race being denied access to eateries, public bathrooms or hotel accommodations. It is a nothing short of a miracle and a testament to this great nation's force of progress he stands before a crowd of predominately white middleclass journalists in the city of our birthing and pitches his domestic or international policies much less how and why we are pandemically incapable of looking beyond a person's skin or gender or religious affiliation in these infant years of the 21st century.

     But then isn't it ever more shocking when you consider America currently fights and dies halfway across the globe in a desert where the kind of religious, racial and cultural chasm has grown as a cancer for centuries, while we are less than two centuries removed from our own bloody Civil War.
    Glory, glory, Halleluiah.
James Campion March 24th 2008

Readers Letters:
It is amazing to me that can declare this Republican nominee process over before mid-February. (GOODBYE SUPER TUESDAY Okay, it doesn't look good for Mitt Romney, but there is still Mike Huckabee, and he will soldier on, if nothing else but for conservatives, both social and fiscal (even though it appears his fiscal conservatism is in some question) but John McCain stands for no position, and this will not fly in a year where the Democrats are not only getting a two-to-one advantage in voter registration and attendance in these caucuses, but this abysmal economy coming around the corner and really no end in sight for this Iraq Occupation (as you like to call it).
    I think the process must will out. There has to be a voice for some corner of conservatism in this party, even if you deride it as a fantasy and it seems like many of the Right Wing talk show hosts agree. And I know this makes you cringe to consider it, but it is true. Lately Rush and Hannity and all the rest sound very much like you, harkening Goldwater and Reagan (although they do not consider Reagan a "myth" as you so smugly argue).
    Anyway, pay attention to the Republicans, not just this circus the Hillary and Obama supporters want you to. There will be blood!
M. Olsway

I thought it was all going to be over by Super Tuesday? Where are all the Hillary Machiniacs now?
    Seriously, though, I see much trouble down the line. What are Hillary and Hubby going to do now they don't have this wrapped up and this guy on the other side has got the Big Mo! Where are all those promises of an end-gaming beating on the big-state votes? Now what happens if she is languished until summer? Is she toast? Will she sling the mire?
Can we dream?
The Troops!

Where do your cats stand on abortion and gun control? I like their chances in '12.

What happens to Michigan delegates and yes, the Florida voting polls? Obama's money is from many grassroots supporters, but don't think Oprah's money, with real estate investments in Hawaii and the Asian-Pacific Hawaiian connections to the Bishop Estate Trust, isn't being laundered to campaign supporters around the U.S. Check out the blind ambition at: Goldman Sachs, Chinagate political funds -- John Huang and Pardongate (Marc Rich -- SEC fugitive financier now in Europe).
    I don' think Howard Dean and the DNC want to broker a "Fair and Balanced' political convention in Denver.
Hapa 1234

Would be great if you are right about the demise of the 2-party system.
(INDEPENDENCE RULES -- Issue: 2/20/08)
    As for Billary ... watch out for the 'super' delegates.
    As you know, I feel about Billary the way that the Roman senator Cicero (I think it was) felt about Carthage ... at the end of every speech on the senate floor, not matter what he was talking about, he would say, "And by the way, I think we should burn Carthage."
Vive les independents!

This breakdown of the schizophrenic disillusioned Clinton Campaign is far more on the money and brutally honest than anything I have read in the lame-ass Times or anywhere else. (THE EMPEROR'S NEW FACTORY GIRL -- Issue: 3/12/08) I am tired of these lazy journalistic monoliths pretending events are rolling along nicely for their bemusement. They do not comprehend the darkest side of our collective nature in this country. You do.
    Completely and dominantly.
    Have a drink, dude, you win!

The fact is there is a bunch of people responsible for the survival of Madame Hillary. First off is Rush Limbaugh. Rush, stealing a page from the Democratic playbook of crossing over to vote for McCain, convinced hardcore Dittoheads to go to the polls and "keep the national soap opera" going. You can also thank a fawning national media that broadcast faintings at Obama rallies like the resurrected Christ was on the Democrat ballot. Finally, you can thank people so tired of Bush that they would sooner believe in Obama than to believe in nothing at all.
    Hillary has no other choice. It's not like she can wait another 4 or 8 years. Her time is now and she knows it, which is why she is fighting with every last ounce of hubris she has. Face it, this is her party and she can do what she wants with it. If she pulls a Nero and torches the party that's OK because she is still Senator in one of the most blue of the blue states (she's safe) and Bubba is making phat cash on the speaking tour. If the Democrat Party goes down in flames they can survive, walk away from it and blame the Republicans to an all-too sympathetic public.
    Didn't Mel Brooks once say..."It's Good To Be The King".
Bill Roberts

I love the fact that this Democratic primary season is going down to the wire, so voters have a legit chance to investigate who they are voting for and not just rubber-stamping some party favorite picked after three contests. After watching numerous debates, it is clear to me that old Hillary actually has ideas and plans and understands specific issues much better than Obama.  Like Bubba, who was the master, her attention to detail and minutia is impressive and speaks of that great catch phrase "gravitas." On the other hand, Obama's brains and potential and message of hope and unity is welcomed indeed, but I think his overly general feel-good message has started to wear a tad thin and people wonder exactly what he would do as president, really?
    The Clintons are cut throat, indeed, and to survive Barack will end up doing some mud slinging himself, but ultimately it should be who will do the better job.
    Would Hillary be a paranoid Nixon figure hated by half the country but perhaps feared or respected by "rivals" in Russia, China and the Middle East? Or maybe she ends up being a pragmatic leader who champions women's rights across the country and the world while standing up for the little guy in tough economic times? Is Obama the fresh face, the Black Kennedy who would restore pride in Americans at home and trust abroad while ending a foolish war, or would he be the next Jimmy Carter who never could figure out what to do with his power and was run roughshod by extreme outside forces?
    We may never know either way if McCain takes the prize, the pseudo-Eisenhower figure, who is "a good guy" but nothing special or risky to voters.
Chris Barrera

The Democrats are Burning
James Campion

The unabated immolation of the Democratic Party, ceremoniously sparked with extreme prejudice by the Clinton Machine two weeks ago, has now officially become a raging firestorm.
The Emperor's New Factory Girl
The Madam Shoo-In Shuck Jive Express
James Campion
There is only one book ever written worth a damn on the subject of politics, The Shining.

More Opinion


© Hackwriters 1999-2008 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy - no liability accepted by or affiliates.