In a campaign as interminably long as the American presidential campaign has become, it is not an easy thing to pick a turning point, especially before the final die is cast. Having said that, Barak Obama’s speech today on the issue of comments of his pastor that have been played and replayed in recent days, might well be the turning point in this campaign.
Obama could have simply said, “those were dumb things to say” and disowned his friend, as many a politician would have. He could have done that, but instead he chose to embrace his friend while simultaneously distancing himself from the comments and explaining them as the product of the racial injustice that has plagued the United States from its outset.
Instead of putting out a campaign fire, he gave perhaps the most important speech on racism in a generation.
There is no question in my mind that this speech marks a real beginning for something good, maybe even great, in the United States, and the effective end of the Clinton campaign. Of course she won’t give up, nor should she, but it is her moment to decide whether whe wishes to be relevent in this new American day. If she continues to fight for a pyrrhic victory, she will become very much a footnote in history and she will still lose.
If you would like to, you can see the speech and read the transcript here. If you haven’t yet, I urge you to.
Update: If anyone saw John Stewart last night, you would have seen this review of the speech:
And so, at 11 am on a Tuesday, a prominant politician spoke to americans about race, as though they were adults.