For the record, I liked the Obama speech. I thought it was well written, well executed, and most importantly, incredibly effective. For that matter, I agree with John from Dymaxion World about the headshaking nature of the entire situation.
And yet there was one little passage that made me want to go down there and knock some sense into
both Obama and his speechwriters him:
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners - an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.I'm no fan of patriotic rhetoric in general, but this particular flavour of it always makes me want to retch. The ignorance in it is astonishing. The kind of story Obama is talking about is no more and no less unique than the story of any mixed-race individual in any immigrant nation. There are plenty of Canadians with variants on this story, plenty of Australians, plenty of New Zealanders. Cut the historical timeline down a bit, and these days, there are even Germans, Belgians, French with it. The U.S. just isn't all that special in this regard, sorry. And you know what? That's okay. You don't have to be the "best little country in the whole wide world" in order to produce great leaders with compelling personal stories.
So yes, great speech. Wonderful achievement. But please, I'm begging you, put a lid on the over-the-top exceptionalism. You're embarrassing those of us who actually know something about the world beyond the borders of the United States.
[Update: Apparently, he wrote the speech himself. Oh good, only one person to knock some sense into, then!]