I've been rough on Barack Obama. I think, fairly. Many say not fairly. But I am beginning to see qualities that I think are necessary for a successful run for the Presidency. Yesterday in Frank Rich's column, Obama addresses some concerns:
Mr. Obama is well aware of the serious criticisms he engenders, including the charge that he is conciliatory to a fault. He argues that he is “not interested in just splitting the difference” when he habitually seeks a consensus on tough issues. “There are some times where we need to be less bipartisan,” he says. “I’m not interested in cheap bipartisanship. We should have been less bipartisan in asking tough questions about entering into this Iraq war.”No cheap Broder/Lieberman/McCain "bipartisanship" for Obama.
Bob Herbert writes:
Senator Barack Obama, in his speech in Illinois Saturday formally launching his presidential bid, gave us an excellent reason for being serious:No cheap bipartisanship for Obama on Iraq.
Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a war on.
After going through a litany of lofty goals for a new generation to strive for, including health care for all Americans, a rejuvenated public education system, an end to poverty and real progress in dealing with global warming, the senator offered a hard and simple truth:
“All of this cannot come to pass until we bring an end to this war in Iraq.”
Some may be confused by my title "Jackie Robinson's Second Season . . ." Let me cite this article to provide some background:
[In Robinson's first season,] 1947 . . . [s]egregation was a fact of life. Robinson helped to change that, both in and out of sports. Before Brown vs. Board of Education, before Rosa Parks, before the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he was challenging the notion that people of color were inferior to people with alabaster skin. But it was a hard lesson to learn.What the story does not talk about is Robinson's second season. When he could show the guts to fight back. And did. Because what's not often talked about is that Jackie Robinson was one of the toughest, most hardnosed players in the game.
On the field, Robinson was the constant target of beanballs, spikes and the vilest epithets. Bench jockeys inquired which of his teammates' wives he would be sleeping with that night . . . Off the field, he was forced to stay in different hotels and eat in different restaurants than his teammates.
Robinson had to take it all in stride. When Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey was interviewing Robinson for the role of pioneer in 1945, he stuck his face into Robinson's and told this volatile college man in his middle 20s that he would have to take it -- anything the hatemongers cared to dish out. "Mr. Rickey, are you looking for a ballplayer who's afraid to fight back?" Robinson is said to have asked. "I'm looking for a bat/player with the guts not to fight back," Rickey replied.
Maybe last year was Obama's "first season." Maybe now we will get the unfiltered, fighting Obama.
I watched Barack Obama on 60 Minutes tonight (Click the link for the video) and I have never been more impressed with him. Ironically, I have not seen him less polished and smooth. We got a rougher cut of Obama in some segments. And I could not have been more impressed and satisfied. Because the discussion DESERVED roughness. It deserved a more visceral reaction. Steve Kroft asked Obama about the charge the he is "not black enough." Don't get me wrong, he did not lose his cool but his look and words, conveyed to me a vivid understanding, BECAUSE HE HAS LIVED IT, of being African-American in the United States. He fairly bristled at the suggestion. It is clear that he thinks 'if they had walked in my shoes they would never insult me with that question.' He KNOWS. He will fight.
KROFT: You were raised in a white household?From my transcript, segment transcript not available:
KROFT: Yet at some point, you decided that you were black?
OBAMA: Well, I'm not sure I decided it. I think if you look African-American in this society, you're treated as an African-American. And when you're a child in particular that is how you begin to identify yourself. At least that's what I felt comfortable identifying myself as.
KROFT: There are African Americans who don't think you are black enough . . .
OBAMA: . . . The truth of the matter is when I am walking on the Southside of Chicago . . . those aren't questions I get asked. . . . I also notice when I'm catching a cab (pause) no one is confused either . . .
But to do it justice, you have to watch the video from around the 7:00 mark.
Then Obama's wife says something very important, when asked if she fears for Obama's life because he is running for President (referencing Alma Powell's concern when Colin Powell was considering a run), again my transcript:
. . . as a black man, Barack could get shot going to the gas station . . .This couple knows. This couple has lived it. They will fight.
I'm beginning to believe. I'm not sold yet. I want to hear more. But, I moved a long way tonight.