I have often wondered how it is that Barack Obama commands such fame and excitement from those who voted for him. Much has been made of the mainstream media baptizing him with superlatives and the Right’s complaint that he is a “celebrity-in-chief,” but after listening to his remarks after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (which is a mystery in itself), I am sure I have found my answer. When Obama makes a speech and you find yourself agreeing with it, it is a really good speech.
This is not once again simply taking note of his skills of oratory. That much is obvious. Even in speeches that contain much to dispute there is still an appreciation for his gift of public speaking. But in those moments he is able to skillfully articulate exactly what you think, you feel represented and represented well.
Obama’s appreciation for Reinhold Niebuhr came shining threw yesterday as he articulated a coherent “just war” theory that was sensitive to both history and philosophy. Acknowledging the awkwardness of his historical moment, receiving a prize that has honored the work those committed to the way of non-violence in the past, and making the case that a just peace is sometimes worth the price of a just war, Obama performed a juggling act that the great 20th century theologian would have applauded.
I have not always felt well represented by Obama, but in yesterday’s speech his moral realism made be proud to have him as President.