Monday, January 21, 2008
The soul of the country, and the high stakes we face


David Gergen
Senior Political Analyst

I am writing this note from Europe so I have not had a chance to hear any of Barack Obama's speech at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on CNN or on the radio, but I have had a chance to read the text on the Internet. Let me just say:

Obama's speech on Sunday was the finest oratory of this campaign and indeed of almost any campaign I can remember in some 40 years. WATCH an extended excerpt

It was wordy in parts -- especially in the middle -- and it may make no difference in this campaign. The cynics are right on one point: he has to win South Carolina or the speech will probably (sadly) be lost in the midst.

Mario Cuomo and Jesse Jackson both delivered excellent, moving speeches at the Democratic National Convention in 1984 and the Democrats went on to lose in a landslide. Do you remember what either said?

Even so, we should give credit to Obama for lifting the discourse in this campaign to a higher, moral level. Inevitably, candidates and the press become ensnarled in horserace, stylistic concerns, and policy speak. Rarely do they feel they can or should rise slightly above the din. Obama soared.

He reminded us not only of the moral deficits of our times but also, echoing Martin Luther King Jr., made it clear how much our capacity to close those gaps depends upon us coming together as a people. And he helped us to see that our challenges have a significant moral component.

Franklin Roosevelt in one of his most memorable speeches early in his days a the White House proclaimed that the presidency is foremost about moral leadership -- a leadership that clarifies and helps us to make great choices.

I am not saying that this single speech makes Obama the right choice for Democrats. Far from it. Hillary Clinton is fundamentally a person who has cared deeply about the moral life of the country for a long, long while. (So have Republicans like John McCain.) And there are legitimate questions about Obama's experience.

What I am saying is that in the midst of a campaign when we talk more about who will win South Carolina and Florida than we do about the soul of the country, this speech is a welcome event that reminds us of the high stakes we face as a people.
Posted By CNN: 7:16 PM ET
  2 Comments
Yes, Obama can give a speech that soars like MLK did and he does remind us of the high moral ground. But I wonder if he's soaring with his speeches to obscure the fact that he really has not talked specifics on any of the "change" he wants to do. Until he does that I'll be inspired by him but I won't vote for him.

Annie Kate
Alabama
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 7:48 PM ET
David,
Yeah Obama gives great speeches but those speeches aren't going to get anything done in the White House! People need to focus on the issues and what he can actually do! Talk is cheap as they say!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 8:11 PM ET
ABOUT THE BLOG
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.



ARCHIVES
• 01/29/2006 - 02/05/2006
• 02/05/2006 - 02/12/2006
• 02/12/2006 - 02/19/2006
• 02/19/2006 - 02/26/2006
• 02/26/2006 - 03/05/2006
• 03/05/2006 - 03/12/2006
• 03/12/2006 - 03/19/2006
• 03/19/2006 - 03/26/2006
• 03/26/2006 - 04/02/2006
• 04/02/2006 - 04/09/2006
• 04/09/2006 - 04/16/2006
• 04/16/2006 - 04/23/2006
• 04/23/2006 - 04/30/2006
• 04/30/2006 - 05/07/2006
• 05/07/2006 - 05/14/2006
• 05/14/2006 - 05/21/2006
• 05/21/2006 - 05/28/2006
• 05/28/2006 - 06/04/2006
• 06/04/2006 - 06/11/2006
• 06/11/2006 - 06/18/2006
• 06/18/2006 - 06/25/2006
• 06/25/2006 - 07/02/2006
• 07/02/2006 - 07/09/2006
• 07/09/2006 - 07/16/2006
• 07/16/2006 - 07/23/2006
• 07/23/2006 - 07/30/2006
• 07/30/2006 - 08/06/2006
• 08/06/2006 - 08/13/2006
• 08/13/2006 - 08/20/2006
• 08/20/2006 - 08/27/2006
• 08/27/2006 - 09/03/2006
• 09/03/2006 - 09/10/2006
• 09/10/2006 - 09/17/2006
• 09/17/2006 - 09/24/2006
• 09/24/2006 - 10/01/2006
• 10/01/2006 - 10/08/2006
• 10/08/2006 - 10/15/2006
• 10/15/2006 - 10/22/2006
• 10/22/2006 - 10/29/2006
• 10/29/2006 - 11/05/2006
• 11/05/2006 - 11/12/2006
• 11/12/2006 - 11/19/2006
• 11/19/2006 - 11/26/2006
• 11/26/2006 - 12/03/2006
• 12/03/2006 - 12/10/2006
• 12/10/2006 - 12/17/2006
• 12/17/2006 - 12/24/2006
• 12/24/2006 - 12/31/2006
• 12/31/2006 - 01/07/2007
• 01/07/2007 - 01/14/2007
• 01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007
• 01/21/2007 - 01/28/2007
• 01/28/2007 - 02/04/2007
• 02/04/2007 - 02/11/2007
• 02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007
• 02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007
• 02/25/2007 - 03/04/2007
• 03/04/2007 - 03/11/2007
• 03/11/2007 - 03/18/2007
• 03/18/2007 - 03/25/2007
• 03/25/2007 - 04/01/2007
• 04/01/2007 - 04/08/2007
• 04/08/2007 - 04/15/2007
• 04/15/2007 - 04/22/2007
• 04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007
• 04/29/2007 - 05/06/2007
• 05/06/2007 - 05/13/2007
• 05/13/2007 - 05/20/2007
• 05/20/2007 - 05/27/2007
• 05/27/2007 - 06/03/2007
• 06/03/2007 - 06/10/2007
• 06/10/2007 - 06/17/2007
• 06/17/2007 - 06/24/2007
• 06/24/2007 - 07/01/2007
• 07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007
• 07/08/2007 - 07/15/2007
• 07/15/2007 - 07/22/2007
• 07/22/2007 - 07/29/2007
• 07/29/2007 - 08/05/2007
• 08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007
• 08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007
• 08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007
• 08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007
• 09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007
• 09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007
• 09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007
• 09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007
• 09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007
• 10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007
• 10/14/2007 - 10/21/2007
• 10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
• 10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
• 11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007
• 11/11/2007 - 11/18/2007
• 11/18/2007 - 11/25/2007
• 11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
• 12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007
• 12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007
• 12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007
• 12/23/2007 - 12/30/2007
• 12/30/2007 - 01/06/2008
• 01/06/2008 - 01/13/2008
• 01/13/2008 - 01/20/2008
• 01/20/2008 - 01/27/2008

SUBSCRIBE
    What's this?
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.
Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2014 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.