Dude, watch his speech. It's great. Really.I think I'm about ready to give up my cynical distrust and fully expect him to lead us into the Glorious Future. (Reading a New Yorker interview with his wife didn't hurt, either, she's awesome).
Here's a text version.
Here's what I thought, while (and shortly after) I watched it:
His introductory remarks were a bit boring. His introduction was wonderful oratory, but only by comparison to modern American speakers--good intonation, less than ten "Um"s in thirty minutes, great pacing, super clear and distinct. Wonderful job.
I liked the way he dealt with Rev. Wright, and refusing to disown his racist grandmother was a nice touch. That was really the "job" of this speech, to make sure that the media didn't make anything too big out of his connection to Wright, and he finished that in twelve minutes or so. But then he kept going.
I didn't really see what was so great about the speech until he said, "I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork... But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now."
At this point I thought that he was really going to devote over half of his speech to a genuine discussion of the "black experience", and really attempt to explain why folks like Wright are so pissed off. To say, "Look, I really don't agree with the fellow, but I do understand where he's coming from" is just ridiculously nuanced for American politics. I thought that that was pretty damn amazing that he would try.
But then he began to discuss the "white experience", giving serious weight to the idea that white folks don't have it easy, either. I think that is absolutely brilliant. I'm still not sure that this is "Obama's Gettysburg Address" but, damn that's amazing. This ability to really see both sides, and genuinely sympathize with each is one of the most attractive qualities about him, and one of the real things that he has over Clinton.
When he said the line "as if this country... is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past."*, there was an awful lot of camera movement. I presume that the CNN camera man started applauding wildly--it seems sensible enough.
I did think the the line about "mustard and relish sandwiches" should have gotten more of a laugh...
*Note that Obama's volume increases for the first time in 27 minutes at this point--not that it was ever flat before this, but it was fairly calm by comparison. I really, truly love Obama's oratory skills, and I found this section moving.
Also note that I left out my favorite bit, "a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old". I love the deliberate inclusivity of his language. I love how he says, later, "Let us be our brotherís keeper... Let us be our sisterís keeper."