Michael Crawford

Barack Obama: I Believe in What This Country Can Be

Filed By Michael Crawford | January 27, 2008 9:06 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton, South Carolina

This is one of the most inspiring political speeches I have ever heard.

Barack Obama scored a big win over Hillary Clinton in South Carolina. On to Super Tuesday!

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I so agree Michael. Amazing. I cannot wait to see President Obama and First Lady Obama in the White House. And I believe it will happen. And he will, as captain of his team, put together a roster of the best and the brightest for key roles in his administration, with the right amount of intellect and experience and VISION, to get the job done on day one, and every day thereafter - I have not a doubt.

I don't think that's so much a "big win" as it is an ass whooping.

Michael Bedwell | January 27, 2008 11:24 AM

Video link doesn't work for me for some reason, but the article link indicates he said: "The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders," Obama said. "It's not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white."

Why no "it is not about nongay versus gay"?

Or does he mention us, explicity calling homophobia wrong and laws guaranteeing gay equality?

Did he thank Donnie McClurkin?

Just asking.

Thanks for posting this! I don't have cable at home and it was like pulling teeth last night to find the footage on the rabbit ears (and the blasted Internet, as well). I got to read the speech on Time's website, but it's not the same.

I know I recently made myself the poster boy for queers who eschew the primaries, but the truth of the matter is I'm victim to it as much as any other (and so the criticism is aimed at myself, as well). I'm an Obama Boy, if such a thing exists :) I was worried after New Hampshire that he wouldn't be able to hold his own in a fight. My confidence is renewed.

(As a sidenote, I'm so tired of talking about Donnie McClurkin. The truth is we can't count the number of homophobes working for the candidates on a scientific calculator, so why lambaste a guy whose response to the high profile performance of an anti-gay figure in his campaign -- a response I think he truly means -- is that we have to talk to people we don't believe share our personal values in order to make change? I know it's slightly more complicated than that, but in this moment, I say bah humbug to the queers who every time they hear Obama they see Donnie McClurkin!)

This win and this speech are especially important to a South Carolina boy, born and raised. I've been in the Northeast since I was 18 years old, and never would I have thought at 17 and three quarters that I would spend a good bit of my time "defending" the South. Yes, it's racist. Yes injustice runs thick and is nearly heralded as part of the reactionary culture. But the South is also the birthplace of the black civil rights movement, and there has been more opportunity, especially in the last few decades, for whites and blacks to interact than in most other parts in the country, save, perhaps, a few major cities.

What I've noticed since leaving South Carolina is how much of Southern culture is shared between blacks and whites -- food, church, recreation, manners, humor. So much is shared. And despite the endemic racism -- especially of the institutional variety -- there are great many Southerners, black and white, who want to move past racism, but lack the confidence to try or the know how to get it started.

I'm not saying Barack Obama is the ANSWER to these prayers, but dang if his candidacy doesn't fling open some doors. Only time will tell if he and the nation truly capitalize on this opportunity to "heal," as he so often says, but his is the candidacy that offers this opportunity -- not Hillary's, not John's, and not, as so many on Bilerico would have us think, does Dennis's. As progressive and/or experienced as any of them may be, they cannot do what Obama can do in this regard. They just can't.

As for the speech itself, it was goosebumps all over again. "I didn't see a white South Carolina and a black South Carolina, I saw South Carolina." It doesn't ring as well in print, but it's brilliant in its recognition that there "are" black and white South Carolinas, just as well as there is one South Carolina over and in between.

His one mistake in delivering this rousing oratory to the citizens of South Cackalack?

He said DUNKIN DONUTS instead of KRISPY KREME! DUH!!

I've been fortunate enough to not only hear some great political orators such as Barbara Jordan and Ann Richards, but call them my congresswoman and my governor.

Barack is moving up fast in the ranks of political orators.

Great win for him last night.

Michael Bedwell | January 27, 2008 2:14 PM

Finally able to listen to the entire speech and here’s what I heard.

Repeated shout outs to members of “the most diverse coalition of Americans” that Obama says included:

The young—mentioned three times

The wealthy—mentioned twice

The poor

Blacks—multiple times

Whites—multiple times

Latinos—at least four times

Native Americans

Asians

Gender

Black children

White children

Independents

Crossover Republican voters—three times

Different religions—twice

Teachers

Maytag workers

Wal-Mart workers

Mothers of several kinds

The old and seniors

Patriots

Both veterans and active duty soldiers.

But I never heard the word gay

or lesbian

or bisexual

or transgender.

The candidate who runs campaign commercials bragging about telling people what they need to hear not what they want to hear apparently thought they didn’t need to hear about LGBT Americans, even those who voted for him Saturday.

Or is South Carolina the Iran of America where there are no gays. And there are apparently none in Iowa or Nevada, states he also mentioned.

Apparently across the state and nation that Obama talks about seeing so vividly and wisely he sees no LGBT blacks, whites, latinos, Asians, veterans, soldiers, mothers, teachers, workers, senior, rich, poor, or of any religion or creed.

Yet, despite spending most of his victory speech identifying by category all the different groups that voted for him, he said, "I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina.” That’s fair given that he only appeared by one-way video to introduce everyone at the Obama-McLurkin “God delivered me from homosexuality” revival where 99% of the attendees were black.

But did anyone else notice all the countless, bright red signs waving behind him last night that read:

“STAND for change” echoing the title of McClurkin’s greatest gospel hit, “Stand”? Ah, but I'm sure that is just a coincidence.

It’s sort of ironic actually. George Bush pere used the racist “Willie Horton Factor” to beat Democratic President candidate Michael Dukakis twenty years ago. Now historians can add the “Donnie McClurkin Factor” to the lexicon. I hope Senator Obama has sent an appropriate thank you gift. Maybe an invitation to sing at his inaugural?

And someone should thank Bilerico contributor the Rev. Irene Monroe for predicting the outcome in South Carolina. That is, if they can snap out of their Obama-induced hypnotic trance long enough.

Michael Bedwell | January 27, 2008 2:53 PM

Finally able to listen to the entire speech and here’s what I heard.

Repeated shout outs to members of “the most diverse coalition of Americans” that Obama says included:

The young—by rough count, three times
The wealthy—twice
The poor
Blacks—multiple times
Whites—multiple times
Latinos—at least four times
Native Americans
Asians
Women [actually just as “Gender” but you take what you can get I guess]
Black children
White children
Independents
Crossover Republican voters—three times
Different religions—twice
Teachers
Maytag workers
Wal-Mart workers
Mothers of several kinds
The old and seniors
Patriots
Both veterans and active duty soldiers.

But I never heard the word gay once

or lesbian

or bisexual

or transgender.

The candidate who "always talks about gay rights wherever he goes," who runs campaign commercials bragging about telling people what they need to hear not what they want to hear apparently thought they didn’t need to hear about LGBT Americans, even those who voted for him Saturday. Even after everyone who wouldn't like hearing about "the gays" had already voted.

Or is South Carolina the Iran of America where there are no gays. And there are apparently none in Iowa or Nevada, states he also mentioned in reference to "diverse" suporters.

Apparently across the state and nation that Obama talks about seeing so vividly and wisely he sees no LGBT blacks, whites, latinos, Asians, veterans, soldiers, mothers, teachers, workers, senior, rich, poor, or of any religion or creed. He talked about what he believes this country can be which is apparently LGBTless.

Despite spending most of his victory speech identifying by category all the different groups that voted for him, he said, "I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina.” That’s fair given that he only appeared by one-way video to introduce everyone at the Obama-McLurkin “God delivered me from homosexuality” revival where 99% of the attendees were black.

But did anyone else notice all the countless, bright red signs waving behind him last night that read:

“STAND for change” echoing the title of McClurkin’s greatest gospel hit, “Stand”? Of course, that's just a coincidence we suppose.

We saw a great irony at work in his South Carolina campaign. George Bush pere used the racist “Willie Horton Factor” to beat Democratic President candidate Michael Dukakis exactly 20 years. Now historians can add the “Donnie McClurkin Factor” to the lexicon. I hope Senator Obama has sent an appropriate thank you gift to Rev. McClurkin. Maybe an invitation to sing at his inaugural?

And someone should thank another Reverend, Bilerico contributor Irene Monroe for predicting the outcome in South Carolina. That is, if they can snap out of their Obama-induced hypnotic trance long enough.

While I have to admit I'm swinging Barack's way, I do have to agree with Michael B that I noticed we weren't included right away too...

hmmmm - as a gay, HIV+ man, I felt included when he talked about the races, rich/poor, Dem/Repub... Frankly, I didn't need him to say gay/straight last night to feel the transformative power of his words. We could go on and on with the folks he didn't mention.... Had he recited a laundry list, people would've been ragging on him for that. Give it up!

Not to be an apologist, but I have to say that I've heard Obama speak much more openly, positively and convincingly about LGBTQ people than the other candidates. Edwards's "It's very difficult/personal for me" line while his wife gave him a pass by coming out for marriage equality never sat well with me. And Clinton, well, I think she has a genetically predetermined authenticity disorder, so none of her LGBTQ overtures have ever resonated with me.

If your litmus test for a candidate is that they mention the LGBTQ community by name each time they give a speech like this, then fine, Obama failed. I can accept that. But if it's about him versus other candidates, I'll take his 2004 convention speech (in a time when John Kerry was selling us down the river with the marriage amendments nationwide) over anything the others have to offer at this point.

Plus, I think it's important for us to remember that, in terms of "minority" groups, the only LGBTQ folks who were left out his speech entirely were whites. Sure, white people were mentioned, but we LGBTQ white folk tend to separate ourselves from the rest of the white population by (typically speaking) our only otherness -- sexual orientation.

Who's to say that LGBTQ people of color felt left out of that speech, simply because the LGBTQ language wasn't used? I imagine some felt that way and others didn't, just as some white LGBTQ folk did and didn't.

I'll be honest, supporting a candidate in these primaries as an LGBTQ person means making concessions. Where people draw their individual lines is their own business. There's no manual for this. If Obama's speech writers feel like it's best to focus on divisions of race and class after a South Carolina win so heavily influenced by race and class, and to leave sexual orientation out, I can deal with that.

Now if he becomes president and makes similar State of the Union speeches, come and talk to me then. I assure you I'll feel different.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 27, 2008 11:54 PM

Barack has spoken numerous times about his support for LGBT civil rights in front of audiences both LGBT and non-LGBT and he has done so more than any other candidate.

I don't feel the need for him to say "LGBT" in every speech because I know that when he speaks about Americans united for a common purpose that we are a part of that vision.

He has the potential to be a transformational president at a time when we really need to believe in America again.

Michael Bedwell | January 28, 2008 1:21 AM

"But if it's about him versus other candidates, I'll take his 2004 convention speech" So many do, Dustin. So many do. But do you remember exactly what he said about gays? This is it:

"we've got some gay friends in the Red States.” WOW! What a call for change! How revolutionary! How courageous! How unprecedented [until you remember Jesse Jackson's multiple references to gays and, unlike Obama, gay RIGHTS in his Democratic convention keynoter TWENTY YEARS BEFORE].

And Mr. Crawford, with all due respect, can you document three instances to prove your claim "Barack has spoken numerous times about his support for LGBT civil rights in front of audiences both LGBT and non-LGBT and he has done so more than any other candidate."

Only three, but, nota bene, these are the quite reasonable ground rules:

1. The quotes have to be about his support for our CIVIL RIGHTS not just dropping the Gay-word in touchy feeling phrases as he did at the 2004 convention and "numerous times" since.

2. They cannot simply be in response to reporters questions because for that he scores no more credit than the other candidates initiating the statements; and, in fact, from my study, an obective person contrasting his answers to such questions to theirs would find your candidate with a shorter straw.

You have every right to apply to political candidates what Kierkegaard called a "leap of faith" in relation to theology. In the end, regardless of what they say or don't say, promise or don't promise, do or don't do, it is all we can do.

Clap your hands and tell us you believe in fairies. Click your heels together three or thirty times. But, please, stop insulting my intelligence with assertions with little or no empirical evidence to back them up.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 28, 2008 8:57 AM

Mr. Bedwell,

You and I are clearly coming to decisions about the presidential candidates from vastly different perspectives. You seem to be sitting with your arms tightly folded with an "impress me" scowl on your face. I, on the other hand, came to my support of Barack Obama through a much less cynical process.

The references that Barack has made to LGBT civil rights are widely available and a man of your intelligence has surely seen them.

I don't feel the need to have the acronym "LGBT" or the words "gay or "sexual orientation" come out of a candidate's mouth every five minutes to assess whether or not I feel included in that candidate's vision. I am not looking for a laundry list of constituencies. I am looking for someone who will value all Americans and invite all of us to join together to improve our country.

In addition to being gay, I am also Black, a man, working class, concerned about global climate change, civil liberties, access to healthcare, education and restoring the credibility of the U.S. in international affairs.

Barack is not running for president of The Gays. He's running for president of the United States and I expect him to campaign that way.


Michael Bedwell | January 28, 2008 10:13 AM

"The references that Barack has made to LGBT civil rights are widely available"

Again, re RIGHTS, that is true, but in the same places and no more often and no more of substance than the other two candidates, so, a man of your intelligence will, to be fair and accurate, stop claiming, as you repeatedly have, that he's any better in that way.

No, I'm NOT saying, keep impressing me. I'm saying, "don't be a self-proclaimed hero one day and a hypocrite the next. Put away the mirrors and turn off the smoke machine."

As for his selective inclusion of us in any regard, for one with such a self-promoting and self-adoring reputation for ALWAYS mentioning us, for considering our issues, this is what I hear him saying on such occasions:

"Tonight, Gays, I've saved a seat for you at the back of the bus."

Michael B., you know what impressed me the most as far Obama's support for LGBT's? This. We didn't ask for it, he proactively wrote it and his campaign sent it to us. Sure, it was in response to the McClurkin thing which was still fresh at that point, but he could have just as easily said nothing. Have you seen anything similar from Clinton or Edwards? I certainly haven't.

To my way of thinking, while he certainly had a specific motivation to say something, he could have made a quick statement in mainstream media and moved on. He did something far more significant. Maybe it's not as much as I or many would liked to have seen, but it's leaps and bounds beyond what others have done.

Michael Bedwell | January 28, 2008 4:10 PM

Edwards and Clinton haven't sent such things because they've never done anything remotely like the Obama-McClurkin revival meeting to have to try to explain. It wasn't "PROactive" it was "reactive"—an attempt at damage control after the shock and awe the McClurkin bombs he dropped on us caused. Just like, after ignoring their interview requests for months, he suddenly called "The Advocate" and offered 15 minutes to defend McClurkin gate.

And there were lost of thorns in those roses he sent—by the way, only to gay media. He had the balls to title it, "A Call for Full Equality" after having previously lectured us that we should accept that "marriage" is a term he thinks the church owns. After snapping at Jonathan Capehart, "Oh, come on!" during the Logo forum when Capehart dared challenge him on that position.

And, in the very first sentence he acted as if Donnie had parachuted uninvited; that the couch was on fire when he sat down on it. "the question of GLBT equality was placed on center stage by the appearance of Donnie McClurkin at one of my campaign events." Uh, Senator, YOU placed McClurkin center stage at your campaign event—and after being literally BEGGED not to by both black and white gay leaders; after refusing to include the black progay ministers, gay and straight, they suggested. Girl, Jesus may drop the charges, but I won't!

Within that epistle he repeated the amazing "full repeal of DOMA" hat trick dazzling readers from looking up his sleeve where they'd find he still supports a state's right to deny legal recognition of gay relationships regardless of what they're called; even after repeal of federal DOMA [which doesn't regulate what states do anyway].

One could go on, paragraph by smile fucking paragraph. But, in sum, rather than "embracing" us even, the Gospel According to St. Barack was just more CYA—cover your ass.