What “What Obama means” means

The good news: My post-election Obama post has been the biggest thing ever on this little blog, with 459 views as of this morning (four times as many as any of my other posts), and 30 comments (23 more than any other post).

The bad news: Some of y’all took issue with it, and after giving the piece another hard look, I understand why.

Here’s the sentence that most folks had problems with — it’s the next-to-last sentence in the essay:

Obama means that our country is founded not on myths and legends, not on frilly phrases jotted down by old white men two centuries ago, but on fundamental truths that we can still make real.

Upon further review, as they say in the NFL, I didn’t do a good job here. I didn’t intend to denigrate the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution or the Founding Fathers — in fact, my feelings are just the opposite — but that’s the way some people read that sentence, and it’s easy to see why.

My point was (is) that those documents aren’t just words, and the story of the Founding Fathers isn’t just a tale we tell so we can swell up with pride on Independence Day. What’s important is the truth behind those words, the values and ideals brought to the birth of America… values and ideals that were denied to a lot of people in this country for a long time.

Obama’s election doesn’t mean the bad parts of our history are wiped away. But it does mean that one of our country’s fundamental ideas — that even the highest office in this land is open to anyone — has some new and refreshing evidence to back it up.

That’s what I was trying to say and didn’t say very well.

Back at the beginning I put all this under the heading of “the bad news,” but of course it’s not bad news at all — this is the virtue of blogging, and commenting, and the conversation that (I hope) continues.

So thanks to all the commenters — even the ones who found me through e-mail and taught me a couple of new profanities. The highlight was the guy who called me a “vomitous, racist mass,” which I recognized immediately as a takeoff on “The Princess Bride.” If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

One thought on “What “What Obama means” means”

  1. Hey Cousin! Your writing still imprsees me everytime I read it. I’m going to have to make a point of popping over to the Observer to read your column far more often than I do (sorry… still seems far away here in south Georgia.)

    This particular piece (both of them, actually) is esepcially well written – very well done!

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