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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A brief intermission (54 Days Remaining)

I'm sure you've all managed to find your way to Senator Obama's absolutely brilliant speech by now.

What you may or may not know is that he wrote it. It's not the product of a talented room of writers, he did over the course of a couple days and nights. On his own.

You can read the full text of his speech here (bandwidth courtesy of the Huffington Post, though basically cut and pasted from Senator Obama's Blog).

Now, being Canadian and having witnessed what's been going on with our politics these days - ie. the soul-crushing banality of the CTF Taskforce and Bill C-10 issues - I can't help but watch things unfold across the border with a touch of jealousy.

When was the last time you heard a Canadian politician give a heartfelt speech that was brutally honest and yet filled with hope? Open about our flaws and yet inspiring us to be a part of the change?

I'm coming up blank here.

Some time back I wrote about the problem with being earnest - about how people don't like to be preached to, how they inevitably rebel against it and about how we end up having to hide our messages so as not to seem 'preachy'.

Then here comes Senator Obama, not preaching, not attacking, not splashing around in the political pool - he simply tells his message and he gives it context and lets the rationality of it sink in on its own merits. He lets the weight of past mistakes - and the mind-set that allowed them to occur - speak for themselves. Senator Obama put his trust, his faith in the end user - the viewer - and invited them to make the connections with him on a personal level.

And it worked. It worked fabulously. It worked so well that the spinners are still trying to find bits that they can safely turn on him.

But I'm still left conflicted by it all.

You see, as a writer, I'm in awe of a speech like this - to be able to excavate and communicate decades of intolerance and prejudice and fear so eloquently; to acknowledge these failings while offering a determined sense of hope -- it's quite simply the best speech I've ever heard from anyone involved in politics. Hands down.

Yet, as a Canadian, I can't help but have mixed feelings. For while Senator Obama is a wonderful speaker with great ideas and hopes for the future, he is still American and will have American interests at heart.

I see his passion and his determination and it forces me to look at our leaders, the ones who seem to be coasting and ask:

Where's OUR Obama?


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