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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
A Speech Worth Reading
I already voted for Barack Obama. But if I were in a state where the primary had yet to occur and wavering in my decision, the speech he gave today -- here's the transcript -- would have won me over for good. I don't know whether that means it was the right thing to do politically, since I am hardly the demographic he most needs to court. Still, I want to believe that Americans can be convinced by rhetoric that is more than rhetoric. Long an advocate of heeding the autobiographical impulse in prose, I recognize that it is often used too freely, particularly in political discourse. In this case, though, Obama's first-person singular is not the empty "I" of stump speech boilerplate. It's the "I" of his first book, written long before he was out on the Presidential campaign trail, steeped in the language of Frederick Douglass and Henry David Thoreau alike. I only hope that this strong, clear voice survives the muddy waters ahead.

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cpratt From: cpratt Date: March 19th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Have you read his book? The first hundred pages are quite possibly the best I've ever read (from a political book). By comparison, Living History is proving to be quite a slog...
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 19th, 2008 03:58 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The first one, though quickly. It's pretty fine writing.
cpratt From: cpratt Date: March 19th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Same here (I bought the 2nd one, but haven't started it). I was floored by the quality of the writing and also by what he had to say; a lot of hit close to home (in the sense that gay men often feel like we're not really a part of the greater community, and it takes a while to figure out where we fit in exactly).
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 19th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's a great connection. What's so nice about the speech he gave tonight is that it doesn't come down on one side of the divide.
tommix From: tommix Date: March 19th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've read "Dreams for My Father" twice, first after I heard Obama during the 2004 DNC speech. When I first read it, I was struck by the writing and serious scope for a "political" book. And the fact that the book isn't ghost-written, which can't be said for any Hillary book, no matter the slog, is even more impressive.

I read "The Audacity of Hope" after Obama declared his nomination, but it's more of a wonkish, policy book; interesting, but not like "Dreams."

I just finished "Dreams for My Father" for a second time, and I can say that it is a great, important book. Obama's speech today, which has to be one of the best speeches on race since MLK's "I Have a Dream," was courageous because he didn't "throw Wright under the bus" and because he addressed black and white racial anger. As a bi-racial candidate, he presents the opportunity for us to have a real discussion about race in the US, something that we've been afraid to openly discuss.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 19th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Right. I have read around in the second book. It's good, but not exciting like the first one. The first one is simply outstanding. Before that, the only politician's memoir of recent vintage that I read to the end was Bill Bradley's book, which had basketball interest. The thing is, Barack can hoop!
fermi_daza From: fermi_daza Date: March 19th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
When I watched that speech I had tears running down my cheeks. It's seemed like common sense to me and he addressed any possible criticism anyone might have about it that people are plain stupid if they didn't see the wisdom.

He spoke the honest words that politicians should have spoken decades ago.

I finally put my Obama '08 bumper sticker on my car.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 19th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I just hope that honesty plays, for once. For all of his faults and the fact that he his beliefs do not match up with mine at all, McCain has played the honesty card well over the years and sometimes in a sincere way. He'd have a hard time attacking Obama for engaging in straight talk. Clinton is another matter.
celebrian_3 From: celebrian_3 Date: March 19th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I want to believe.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 20th, 2008 07:25 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Me too. And I also want not to feel that the tactics of the Clinton campaign are going to make me into a non-voter come November.
From: babyiwasshot Date: March 20th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Hear hear!!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 20th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I imagine that I'll suck it up, after seeing that Romanian movie especially. But it will be hard.

Don't delete, BTW. Just wait it out.
From: babyiwasshot Date: March 20th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Man, I still don't even truly KNOW (for sure) the full extent of what's going on; I have a good hypothesis, but it has never been concretely confirmed, in writing or verbally, so........what's there for ME (in any case) to reveal. Anything I say is pure accusation without any substantiation that isn't hearsay. Shit, I STILL don't even know if it's real, mannnnn. People could STILL be jerkin' my chain. and I, for one, am not going to tell anybody because I no longer care, really.

Hell, seeing as the whole thing was so concderted, I imagine it's incredibly common, and that's cool. Whatever. I just needed to know whether or not I was crazy, and I'm assuming (judging by this reply) that I'm not.

No big deal, really. Everybody's human and makes mistakes. The important thing, to me, is that everybody's ALIVE and capable of learning from the past.

Further, if my hypothesis is correct, then the fact that I saw through all of the text and allegory, in itself, I think, is a pretty decent indication that my confidence in my abilities is pretty accurate, but it was never about proving that, anyway. I just had to see if I was going crazy, man. If people would've simply been HONESt, none of this would've happened and (depending on what the OTHER party does) perhaps nothing all that bad will.

This whole ordeal is worthy of a captivating critical study or novel, truthfully. Everyone involved is so damn good at conveying meaning without "going on the record" that we all nearly go crazy (Hamlet style). I want to relate this to "the crying of lot 49."
schencka From: schencka Date: March 22nd, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Party line?

Dr. Bertsch, I thought you were a Republican.

Just kidding -- that story you've told about how some of your undergraduates assume you're GOP is hilarious.
cpratt From: cpratt Date: November 5th, 2008 06:58 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I only hope that this strong, clear voice survives the muddy waters ahead.

It did. God bless America.
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