Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dr. Bill and Barack

As the Jesse Jackson/Barack Obama tiff erupted recently, it made me think back to Bill Cosby's comments that got him into hot water with some of the black political establishment. I found the full text of Bill Cosby's speech at the 50th Anniversary of Brown vs Board of Education.

Really interesting stuff.
Now look, I’m telling you. It’s not what they’re doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing. 50 percent drop out. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There’s no English being spoken, and they’re walking and they’re angry. Oh God, they’re angry and they have pistols and they shoot and they do stupid things.
Here is Obama's Father's Day speech. One of my favorite snippets is:
Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more after school programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.

But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it's the courage to raise one.
As I read the transcripts of these two speeches, it struck me that Dr. Bill was full of passion, but he did not really put together the best oratory. Obama delivers on the oratory. Both men can claim early hardship (Cosby grew up on the mean streets of Philly, while Obama's father left when he was 2,) but Obama's delivery really works. His status as an outsider helps him see and speak more clearly about what ails us.

Both men make some good points, but Obama's discourse is more balanced. He is all about shared responsibility: the government has responsibility, but so do individuals. Obama wants all of us to get out and push. We can't just sit back and let the government solve our problems.

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