I missed Obama’s speech--I’m just finishing a conference in Indiana on (snore, snore) climate change--and now I have to dash to the airport to increase my carbon footprint, but from the brief news accounts just out it seems to me that Obama hit a home run. This comment in particular stands out:
"The answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution -- a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time."
This is not too far removed from Lincoln’s language in his speech attacking the Dred Scott decision. This contrasts rather sharply with Thurgood Marshall’s deprecations of the Constitution in the 1980s, when he said he wouldn’t celebrate the Constitution’s bicentennial because, as a black, it wasn’t his Constitution, or Jesse Jackson, who got the meaning of the three-fifths clause exactly backwards.
We’ll want to read the whole thing, of course, and especially watch for the reaction among blacks who have been fed the Marshall-Jackson line for along time now. Perhaps Obama can get them to change course at long last.