In contrast with JFK, Obama ignores his own minority status
During his 42 minute long acceptance address Barack Obama never explicitly addressed questions some voters might have about his race. As the NYT has pointed out, no one at the convention did all week long. His approach was sharply different than John Kennedy's in 1960. Kennedy, the first Catholic nominee of a major party, directly tried to reassure voters that his minority status would not affect how he governed and shouldn't affect whether people voted for or against him:
I am fully aware of the fact that the Democratic Party, by nominating someone of my faith, has taken on what many regard as a new and hazardous risk--new, at least since 1928. But I look at it this way: the Democratic Party has once again placed its confidence in the American people, and in their ability to render a free, fair judgment. And you have, at the same time, placed your confidence in me, and in my ability to render a free, fair judgment--to uphold the Constitution and my oath of office--and to reject any kind of religious pressure or obligation that might directly or indirectly interfere with my conduct of the Preside ncy in the national interest. My record of fourteen years supporting public education--supporting complete separation of church and state--and resisting pressure from any source on any issue should be clear by now to everyone.
I hope that no American, considering the really critical issues facing this country, will waste his franchise by voting either for me or against me solely on account of my religious affiliation. It is not relevant. I want to stress, what some other political or religious leader may have said on this subject. It is not relevant what abuses may have existed in other countries or in other times. It is not relevant what pressures, if any, might conceivably be brought to bear on me. I am telling you now what you are entitled to know: that my decisions on any public policy will be my own--as an American, a Democrat and a free man.
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Tom Gibbons - 8/29/2008
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