Obama Receiving Praise and An Endorsement From Republicans

Some partisans will oppose members of the other party regardless of what they say or believe. Others are willing to consider specific statements and perhaps even support members of the other party. Obama’s speech on race provides a good litmus test. Conservatives who attack the speech are likely to attack anything said by a Democrat purely because it comes form the other party, while more open minded Republicans have found this speech worthy of praise.

One example of praise for Obama’s speech comes from Christopher Caldwell,  a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, in an op-ed in the Financial Times. Normally I would post an excerpt but there are really no excerpts which would do justice to the full article.

Peggy Noonan had an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal labeling this A Thinking Man’s Speech:

The speech assumed the audience was intelligent. This was a compliment, and I suspect was received as a gift. It also assumed many in the audience were educated. I was grateful for this, as the educated are not much addressed in American politics.

Here I point out an aspect of the speech that may have a beneficial impact on current rhetoric. It is assumed now that a candidate must say a silly, boring line — “And families in Michigan matter!” or “What I stand for is affordable quality health care!” — and the audience will clap. The line and the applause make, together, the eight-second soundbite that will be used tonight on the news, and seen by the people. This has been standard politico-journalistic procedure for 20 years.

Mr. Obama subverted this in his speech. He didn’t have applause lines. He didn’t give you eight seconds of a line followed by clapping. He spoke in full and longish paragraphs that didn’t summon applause. This left TV producers having to use longer-than-usual soundbites in order to capture his meaning. And so the cuts of the speech you heard on the news were more substantial and interesting than usual, which made the coverage of the speech better. People who didn’t hear it but only saw parts on the news got a real sense of what he’d said.

If Hillary or John McCain said something interesting, they’d get more than an eight-second cut too. But it works only if you don’t write an applause-line speech. It works only if you write a thinking speech.

They should try it.

Obama also received not only praise but an out right endorsement form one Republican, Douglas W. Kmiec. Kmiec’s biography makes this an endorsement of some significance:

Douglas W. Kmiec is Caruso Family Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University. He served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel (U.S. Assistant Attorney General) for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Former Dean of the law school at The Catholic University of America, Professor Kmiec was a member of the law faculty for nearly two decades at the University of Notre Dame.

Kmiec wrote:

Today I endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States.  I believe him to be a person of integrity, intelligence and genuine good will. I take him at his word that he wants to move the nation beyond its religious and racial divides and to return United States to that company of nations committed to human rights.  I do not know if his earlier life experience is sufficient for the challenges of the presidency that lie ahead.  I doubt we know this about any of the men or women we might select.  It likely depends upon the serendipity of the events that cannot be foreseen.  I do have confidence that the Senator will cast his net widely in search of men and women of diverse, open-minded views and of superior intellectual qualities to assist him in the wide range of responsibilities that he must superintend…

In various ways, Senator Barack Obama and I may disagree on aspects of these important fundamentals, but I am convinced based upon his public pronouncements and his personal writing that on each of these questions he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view, and as best as it is humanly possible, he will respect and accommodate them.

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  1. 2
    Marion says:

    Intelligent thinkers appreciate intelligent thoughts.


  2. 3
    j jones says:

    I am glad that people of varying backgrounds can look at Obama’s speech and see it for what it truly is–a masterful discourse on one of the great complexities of our time.

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