I just finished listening to Barack Obama speak about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the issue of racism in America and was astonished by his generous ability to take so powerful a campaign negative and turn it around into an inspirational vision of what needs to be done to achieve, here and now, "a more perfect union." It was, as one subsequent commentator put it, "a gift to this country," a model of how we need to address our issues around race.
I was happy that he declined to disown the Rev. Wright and that he managed to explain, with no hint of defensiveness, where the words of the infamous sermon came from. I was glad that he managed to spin those mean and angry words into an opportunity to get to the raw, beating heart of many of the problems and prejudices that threaten to poison our society. He spoke directly, without avoidance or denial, and laid out a number of truths about America that we have conspired to bury for too many years.
Will he still lose votes because of this absurd incident? Will the right-wing radio talk show hosts continue, for the rest of this election cycle, to replay the remarks of the Rev. Wright ad nauseam? No doubt. But Obama, in my view, made the best case yet for voting for him to become the next president of the United States. His breadth of understanding of his fellow humans and his authentic compassion for the predicament in which we find ourselves in the contemporary world separate him starkly from both Clinton and McCain. We need this man in the Oval Office, if we are to confront the pressing issues that we face.