Sen. Obama delivered an eloquent speech on March 28, 2008. It is already being touted as one of the great American speeches, on par with speeches given by Pres. Kennedy.

Rather than listen to the speech and be swept up in the cadence of his words, I preferred to read what he said, all the while remembering that he had to give this speech and that he chose to give it when he did for the sake of his candidacy.

He has been given high marks by many, whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans, foes and supporters. Indeed, you can’t help but read what he wrote with relish. His words have power, and he writes with style, verve, and, most importantly, conviction. But what happens now? He denounced his former pastor’s remarks by saying, in effect, that his anger was justified, that he grew up in a generation of slavery and that we should be charitable about judging him because of his own historical context. He talked at great length about the racial divide and about the hatred inborn among many of us, regardless of our skin color. He listed problem after problem after problem. His speech set the stage for a larger conversation, a conversation in which the problems that he listed could be laid bare for all to see and then have something done about them. And then…..

Nothing. Race is no longer the topic about which he wants to talk. He has dispensed with the racial problem with some eloquent, if empty, remarks. He offered no policy changes. He offered no programs. He offered no suggestions. All he did was set the stage and ask us to unify around an amorphous idea with no contours, with no substance. And now that the speech has been delivered, he’s back to dumping on McCain and talking about Iraq.

If the topic of this speech is so vitally important, then why isn’t it the center-piece of his campaign? The man keeps claiming that his candidacy is historic as he runs away from the very reason it is historic, that he’s black. If this topic hits at the core of our problems in America, then why hasn’t he offered ANY programs or policy changes or suggestions of any kind whatsoever to harmonize our society?

He said himself that racial equality can’t be purchased on the cheap by a single election or by a single flawed candidate upon which blacks and whites alike can project their own dreams and grievances and guilt. Be that as it may, he still thinks he’s the guy to unite us and help America perfect its union. The only problem is, to quote Sen. Clinton, “Words are cheap.” Leaders don’t just lay out the silverware and set the table. They LEAD by example and by showing us where to go. Sen. Obama sees many things clearly. If he could only see where he wants to go, perhaps people like me would be willing to follow him.

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