Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Poetry and Politics

I realize that many of you think I'm on an unnecessary, unwarranted, and unjustified "Lefty roll". Well, as I wrote about Tony Judt, us Jewish intellectual types are not always fully reliable. I expect I'll come off it by and by, in the fullness of time. Until then, however:

I've continued spending more time than I probably should wandering about the Internet imbibing American politics. And the Obama story continues to fascinate me.

Here's his speech to his supporters the night he didn't win the New Hampshire primaries. He spoke for 13 minutes, with no script so far as I can tell. Eventually he climaxed with this:

For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.

It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land: Yes, we can, to justice and equality.

Yes, we can, to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.

And so, tomorrow, as we take the campaign south and west, as we learn that the struggles of the textile workers in Spartanburg are not so different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas, that the hopes of the little girl who goes to the crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of L.A., we will remember that there is something happening in America, that we are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people, we are one nation.

And, together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea: Yes, we can.

Say what you will, this is as close to poetry as a politician can get.

It is only right that it has been put to music, and seems to be serving as a sort of anthem of the campaign.

PS. Before you pile onto me, I remind you that I don't know if Obama should be president. Even the voters of his party don't seem fully convinced. I don't know enough about him, and some of what I know doesn't impress me. But he does seem an unusually interesting candidate.


Lydia McGrew said...

If you're a lefty, you can't help going on a lefty roll from time to time. I go on righty rolls all the time. :-) Deliberately.

What continues to astonish me is that Israel has managed to survive this long with so many peace-seeking lefties in charge. It's kind of amazing, when you think about it. It reminds me a bit of the old saying, "God takes care of drunks, little children, and the United States of America." :-)

Boycotted British Academic said...

did you notice the woman singing in Hebrew on the song version of the Obama speech? it occurs on two occasions, as far as I can tell, and is the only foreign language used:

Yaacov said...

I noticed. There is one brief section in what I think is Spanish, another in sign language, and these two in Hebrew. Moreover, the striking young woman uses archaic Hebrew - ken, anu yecholim - not at all what you'l expect of an Israeli woman her age, from which I deduce that she's not (Israeli).

Mildly puzzling, I admit.