In the midst of scandal — and yet again plagued by rain — President Obama delivered a very good speech Sunday at Morehouse College. But few seem to have noticed or cared. After all, nobody ever accused him of not being a good speaker.
This is a shame, because it wasn’t just his soaring rhetoric, but also his positive message that deserved more attention.
As Andrew Sullivan observes, “Obama’s speech at Morehouse was something every conservative has always asked of African-American public figures. We have in Obama a black man raised by a single mother who is now, as even his critics acknowledge, a dedicated father to two daughters, whom he obviously adores. If the right is concerned about the black family, they should be falling over themselves to celebrate what Obama’s family is, and means. But they don’t. It would kill them to say anything gracious about this president.”
Indeed, this was a very good speech — and we would all be better off if more leaders and mentors summoned us to our better angels, just as Obama summoned young black men with college degrees to invest in their communities, to serve as role models, and to follow a calling larger than their own self interest.
So I commend President Obama for using his position of influence in this way.
But in criticizing the lack of plaudits Obama’s speech garnered from the right, Andrew Sullivan must also appreciate the context. It is alleged that some in the Obama administration have used their positions of influence in less savory ways. So Mr. Sullivan will have to forgive us for being less ebullient than we might otherwise have been.
Here’s a clip: