Beliefnet
J Walking

John McCain’s band of white advisers had best take a stroll down the lane of African-American oratorical history before they launch their next anti-Obama missive. [This is not to suggest that there is anything racial about McCain’s ad. I’m sure that his color blind associates aren’t even aware that Sen. Obama has more melanin than Sen. McCain.]McCain’s new web ad, “The One” mocks Obama’s grand, seemingly arrogant oratory. The problem with it is that it simultaneously mocks generations of African-American oratory. As my friend Patton Dodd pointed out to me, would the fact that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., filled his speeches with grand rhetorical flourishes make us doubt his ability to lead? I’m wondering what the ad meisters would do with this “arrogance”

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.I have a dream today.I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.I have a dream today.I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

Or consider Barbara Jordan. Should her 1976 convention speech, one of the greatest political speeches in American history, have caused people to doubt her leadership ability simply because she said,

There is something special about tonight. What is different? What is Special? I, Barbara Jordan, am a keynote speaker.A lot of years passed since 1832, and during that time it would have been most unusual for any national political party to ask that a Barbara Jordan deliver a keynote address…but tonight here I am. And I feel that notwithstanding the past that my presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the American Dream need not forever be deferred.

By the McCain camp’s standards, every great speaker should be disqualified from public office simply because they refer to themselves in the personal pronoun and because they use rhetorical flourishes. Perhaps this gives an insight into who McCain is considering for his VP pick – someone who utterly boring in their public addresses… Al Gore.

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