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Monday, September 22, 2008

The End of 60 Minutes Last Night

posted by on September 22 at 11:56 AM

Did you see 60 Minutes last night? An hour of questions and answers with McCain (transcript here) and Obama (transcript here). It was a lot of the same old stuff—John McCain was asked, “Longest you’ve lived any one place?” and he replied, “Hanoi”—but when Obama was asked the touchiest, trickiest question of the night, predicated on the AP/Yahoo poll that found that racial prejudice could cost Obama as much as six percentage points in November, he gave a beautiful, crazily intelligent, winning answer. The question:

I know, for a fact, that there are a lot of people out there, there are a lot of people right here in Elko, who won’t vote for you because you’re black. I mean, there’s not much you can do. But how do you deal with it? I mean, are there ways that, from a political point of view, that you can deal with it? And how do you fight that?

Obama’s answer:

Going up against a very formidable Republican machine, and having been subject to constant attack and millions of dollars spent trying to scare people over the last two months, I’m still tied or in the lead with John McCain.

That tells me that the American people are good. That they are judging me on my ideas and my vision my values, and not my skin color. Now are there gonna be some people who don’t vote for me because I’m black? Of course. There are probably some African-Americans who are voting for me because I’m black. Or maybe others who are just inspired by the idea of breaking new ground. And so I think all that’s a wash. The bottom line is am I viewed as somebody who’s gonna be a champion for the guy who’s waking up every day, working hard for a paycheck? And I’m confident that if they think I can help them, that I’ve got a shot at getting their vote. And it may take a little more work on my part. But I don’t mind working harder than the other guy.

Check that shit out. It proceeds from the reality that he is tied or in the lead, it acknowledges that some people are racists without casting himself as the victim of anything, it acknowledges that his race has helped him in certain ways, it treats as a given the inherent goodness of Americans, it doesn’t take anyone to task for (or go anywhere near mentioning) this country’s 200 years of enslaving African-Americans, it includes a shout-out to people “inspired by the idea of breaking new ground,” it makes its descent on that Clintonesque (either of them) note about working hard for the guy who gets up every day and works hard, and then there’s that amazingly humble show of strength at the end: I don’t mind working harder than the other guy. That’s amazing writing—extemporaneous, effortless. Who knows, but it seems like a good enough answer to convert a person who’s a little unsure, who’s battling with their own racial reservations. And it’s “just words.” Need it be said again? Dude can write.

RSS icon Comments


wow, that's awesome. i'm sooo inspired.

so maybe the stranger should take writing classes from the obamanator.

Posted by emily | September 22, 2008 11:56 AM

That is phenomenal. So pitch perfect.

And the comparison with McCain's "Hanoi" answer perfectly demonstrates what each of the candidates have to offer us.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 22, 2008 12:00 PM
John McCain was asked, "Longest you've lived any one place?" and he replied, "Hanoi"

$20 says that's a lie, and if it's not, it's because he was moving between his 5 houses.

Posted by w7ngman | September 22, 2008 12:05 PM

Hear that, Palin? No whining about racist tactics or unfairness, just straight up "This is why people are voting for me". How refreshing. Think you could try the same approach? Oh, wait... no... because your inclusion on the ticket pretty much comes DOWN to sexism and a cynical ploy for the votes of evangelical conservatives and the womens. Thanks for playing! Obama Biden '08

Posted by Suze | September 22, 2008 12:07 PM

What was with the little mustache that Obama was sporting? Was he going after the Lionel Richie vote?

Posted by DOUG. | September 22, 2008 12:13 PM

1. Yes agreed he's smart he's cool etc. Good, intellectual answer. You can deconstruct it and analyze it and shit.
Probelem is he didn't make a short flat declarative statement type answer of say 20 words that would actually get any of those 6 % to vote for him.

You gotta get these votes with eocnomics, duh.

Until he gets a short message down that connects with those people, he runs the risk of LOSING.

His intellectual mini lecture on the complexities and challenges facing him relative to race don't mean jack shit to a Wall Mart mom. She can't even follow the deconstructive analysis. She needs someone to blame (wall st.; greed; corruption;) she needs a hero to fight for her and she won't get ithe message if it's all cluttered up with the whole subject of race.

He'd be better off saying he understands some folks feel no affinity for an urban northern liberal like himself but here's the deal:

he'll put $2000 in their pockets, right away.

HE'll fight greed and corruption destroying their dreams.

He'll get up every day to fight like hell for them resotring American carmaking industry so they get all the jobs back.

AS he once said the election isn't about him, it's not about race, it's about the voters, and now it's about the swing voters.

What's in if for them?

That's what he needs to tell them.

The notion should be to get them to vote for the black guy. Mini-lectures on the copmlexity and challenges of race won't do it. IMHO.

Flame at will, but please, no pit bull lovers.

Posted by PC | September 22, 2008 12:14 PM

There should be a law that people who want to register to vote should go under the same questions as a juror does.
"Will your racism hurt the defendant's case?"
"Sorry, you can't be a juror in this trial. Oh yeah, and you also can't VOTE."

Posted by hereComedaJudge | September 22, 2008 12:15 PM

Christopher, my reaction was much the same. I was immediately struck by that answer.

Obama has a wonderful way of reframing the political world in sane and sensible terms. We've become so used to accepting the dysfunctional terms on which the political establishment frames our political discourse that--when somebody actually speaks of himself and his fellow Americans in true good faith, stripped of any "original sin"--it feels like a revelation.

Posted by cressona | September 22, 2008 12:20 PM

Yes, I know Iím repeating myself, butÖ

- September 10th, McCain in a tv interview:

"The fact is that she's coming out in the next couple of days with interviews with numerous people."

- September 11th/12th: Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson (ABC) airs.
- September 17th (?): Palin's interview with Hannity (FOX) airs.

- September 21nd ,McCain on 60 Minutes:

Pelley: Senator Biden, Senator Obama's running mate, has done 84 interviews and news conferences by our count. And Governor Palin has done two. And I wonder why that is. There's a perception that you might be nervous about what she might say, that you're not putting her in front of reporters.
McCain: She's gonna be doing more all the time. She's, as you know, been introduced to the country. We're campaigning hard. Look, everybody that has met her and known her and the enthusiasm of these crowds, the American people are vetting her. And they're liking a lot what they're seeing.

Posted by stinkbug | September 22, 2008 12:40 PM

stinkbug @9, keep repeating yourself. That's a great catch.

Posted by cressona | September 22, 2008 12:52 PM

Oh, two more dates I should have added:

August 29th: McCain introduces Palin as running-mate
September 3rd: Palin gives speech at RNC.

So that's 2 interviews in nearly one month.

Posted by stinkbug | September 22, 2008 12:56 PM

Oh, two more dates I should have added:

August 29th: McCain introduces Palin as running-mate
September 3rd: Palin gives speech at RNC.

So that's 2 interviews in nearly one month.

Posted by stinkbug | September 22, 2008 12:57 PM

Werdz? I'mma skeered of fancy-talkin' college boyz. John McCain was a war hero, and dat's whut counts.

Posted by kebabs | September 22, 2008 1:27 PM

But for real, Obama's answer was inspiring and a perfect example of how great he is. As the Emmy winning writer who was cut off by the censors said, it's about time we had a president who "articulated complex thoughts in complete sentences." Thank you for bringing it up, Christopher.

Posted by kebabs | September 22, 2008 1:30 PM

I would have read PC's post @6 but it was over 20 words. My attention span just ain't up to more.

Posted by asteria | September 22, 2008 11:22 PM

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