Reading the posts and comments about Obama’s speech, it strikes me that, except for Steve Hayward’s and Peter Lawler’s, they seem fussy and doctrinaire: Obama confused the Declaration and the Constitution (thank God, is all I can say, considering the alternatives—Steve is right about this); he got a date wrong by a few months; he’s a Progressive; his thought is un-American. Obama’s understanding of the need to perfect the constitution is sound. The answer to the slavery issue was in the constitution because “equal citizenship under the law” is embedded in the constitution. As Steve pointed out, this understanding could be called Lincolnian. There is no claim that the truth unfolds over time or was inherently blighted by its compromise with slavery and so we need constantly to improve the constitution or start over. Obama also said that Blacks had to take responsibility for their own lives, so he did not simple-mindedly blame the “system” or whites for the problems of blacks. I was also glad that he did not cave into pressure to disown the Rev. Wright. It was enough to disown his views. Wright has helped him it seems and so to disown him personally would have been an act of ingratitude and so of injustice and to have done so under pressure a sign of cowardice. I suppose we will all have differences over various of his policy prescriptions. I think he is wrong to criticize free trade, for example.
With regard to religion, I must add that I think Peter is wrong to stigmatize Obama or the religious tradition of the Rev. Wright as heretical. Or rather, if this is heresy, then so is much if not most Protestantism in America, which has tended to confuse itself with the Messiah and has been political and often too political from the beginning.