The Campaign Spot

Barack Obama Revises His 2004 Convention Speech

Obama, on The View, Friday (actually taped Thursday), after Hasselbeck says how much she admired Obama’s 2004 address to the Democratic convention:

HASSELBECK: But the person who you chose time and time again to be your spiritual advisor when he says and characterizes the USA as you said, wrongly — U.S. of KKKA, that the chickens were coming home to roost after 9/11, suggesting that we got what we deserved. You told them again to, you know, marry you, to baptize your children, you named a book after one of his speeches. For 20 years would you think that somehow suggested that that is a lack of judgment on the man? You had no idea, you never heard about these sermons?

SENATOR OBAMA: These particular ones that you mentioned I haven’t heard but like I said, this is over the course of 20 years. What you’ve been seeing is a snippet of a man. Imagine if somebody compiles the five stupidest things you had ever said and put them in a 30-second loop that was played every day for two weeks. If I —

HASSELBECK: It’s on a DVD at the church.

SENATOR OBAMA: I didn’t purchase the DVDs and I didn’t read the church bulletins. Here’s my point. The vision at the convention, that’s ingrained in me. My mother was white, my father was black, I had a sister who’s Indonesian, who’s married to a Chinese Canadian.

VOICE: Spicy in your family.

VOICE: Very spicy.

SENATOR OBAMA: So that embodied the vision of America that I believe in deeply. Now, part of that American experience is the racial divisions that we’ve dealt with, and my intention in that speech in Boston when I talked about there is no black America or white America, it was aspirational. It wasn’t suggesting that we don’t have real divisions and that we don’t have real problems and, you know, ironically the most memorable phrase from that speech, the Audacity of Hope, I drew from one of Reverend Wright’s sermons and what it shows is that people are mixes of good and bad. I saw mostly the good. There were some things, as I said, that I disagreed with him on. But I didn’t — I didn’t see some of the things that were said that I would have taken offense to.

Really? Obama’s “no black America or white America” was what he hoped the country could be, not what it is (or was in 2004)?
Read it in context:

It is that fundamental belief — It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.
E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us — the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of “anything goes.” Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an “awesome God” in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

That sounds descriptive to me, not aspirational. He didn’t say, “we will someday reach a day where there is no Black America or White America,” etc.; he said “there is,” present tense.
Was it “aspirational” in that if John Kerry won there were no separate Americas? Was a Bush’s reelection ipso facto a victory for “those who are preparing to divide us”? We had the potential to be the United States of America, but then the voters went and loused it all up by voting for the wrong guy? 
Did many whites who became fans of Obama in 2004 interpret his convention address as a description, that Americans had put their racial divisions behind them, when he now suggests he meant nothing of the sort?


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