The Best And The Brightest!


 The Best and the Brightest

A Contemplative Moment


The Reinging Poet Of American Politics Takes the Stage


On Thursday morning President Obama delivered a speech on his health care initiative at the University of Maryland and went over like a rock star…lil Wayne ain’t got nothing on this brother when it comes to rocking the house with his rap!  Again I was reminded of what the early twentieth century Afro-American renaissance man James Weldon Johnson said of the black preachers he heard holding forth in rural Florida as a boy, “They had all the devices of eloquence at their command.” 

 Johnson immortalized those black bards in the epic poetry of his book “God’s Trombones,” in which he captured their art in verse. Barack’s elegantly cadenced oratorical style was forged in that tradition and attest to the extent to which he is truly Afro-American culturally in spite of the fact that biologically he is bi-racial.  Forged in the bosom of the Afro-American church, it is the most dynamic oratorical style in the world!  And every time it enters the public discourse, flowing from the mouth of a thoughtful and engaged black intellectual, it moves the multitudes and the actor who speaks well in this style changes history. 

 I think of Frederick Douglass, who was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Paul Robeson, whose father was a minister who read Greek and Latin and danced in his pulpit as he preached, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. – one of the greatest legislators of the twentieth century, authoring and passing some sixty bills – was an ordained Baptist minister and long time pastor of Harlem’s venerable Abyssinian Baptist Church.  William Gray Jr., the former chairman of the House Budget Committee, was so effective as a legislature because of his intelligence and peerless eloquence.  An ordained Baptist minister he was perhaps the most eloquent man in the Congress. Only Walter Fauntroy, the Representative from the District Of Columbia, who is himself an ordained minister, could compete.  And, of course, the apotheosis of the black preacher’s art: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 This is the grand oratorical tradition that Barack Obama has inherited, and he is making the most of it.  There is something of the tragic in the way Barack has been forced by the motion of history and the imperatives of politics to dramatically rupture his long standing relationship with the man who tutored him in the art of oratory by his very example: The Rev Dr. Jeremiah Wright, a theologian and great preacher of the Social Gospel.  He may be gone from Barack’s life alas, but his influence will never be forgotten.  For every time Barack mesmerizes and audience with his flawless eloquence it is a tribute to his mentor, For he did not grow up in this religious tradition; hence he was mentored well. 

 During his speech he beguiled the adoring audience of students and scholars, who seem to be overjoyed that this hip, handsome, very smart young President chose to honor them with a visit.  It was obvious that there is no one in the leadership of the Republican Party who can attract smart young people like the President; in fact that’s how he won the presidency in the first place.  Hence they are in real trouble, which is why they have resorted to vicious lies and other malignant fictions. The President’s speech was a masterpiece of political oratory; the measure of his performance was the response of the audience.  And there were many pregnant pauses as he gave them intervals in which they could go crazy with applause.  Watching them I could tell that the Republicans are in a world of trouble

 What is becoming increasingly clear is that in a contest for the hearts and minds of the American public, Barack will get the best and the brightest and the Republicans will be saddled with the untutored mob.  No contest!  Although the ranks of the ignorant are formidable and growing, they are proving to be risky business for the GOP.  As the situation stands the most popular and visible members of their party are Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Dirty Dick Cheney: A verbose dope fiend; a loquacious ditz who shoots from the lips, and a war criminal! 

 I don’t see anybody in this crowd, or elsewhere in the Republican ranks, who will have a ghost of a chance against this President, and should I be proven wrong on this point it will surely be a giant step backward for the nation that will render us unable to compete with other advanced nations in the 21st century.  For it is clear that President Obama’s vision is directed toward the future, as he made clear in his talk to the students, and the reactionary Republicans are interested  in returning to the past as the rest of the world moves on.  Nothing makes this point better that the positions of the two parties on health care reform.



Commentaries On The Times

September 17, 2009

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