A commentary about sports, media, and interpersonal relationships encountered throughout everyday life.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Clinton & McCain in Memphis on MLK's 40th Anniversary

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Commemorating this anniversary, Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton appeared in Fort Wayne, IN and Memphis, TN respectively to pay tribute to Dr. King’s life and the fight for equality that he died trying to achieve.

Earlier in the day, there were a number of different speeches were delivered. First, Senator Obama discussed Dr. King’s dream for equality in all spheres of life. King Jr’s dream to bridge the racial gap was also a dream to bridge the economic gap, as Obama pointed out. He continued, noting that Martin Luther King was in Memphis on the day of his assassination in order to fight for sanitation workers’ rights in the city. Obama, drew parallels to the economic divide that our nation witnesses today and how it is important continue the fight to bridge the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’

John McCain did not stand in a cozy gymnasium hundreds of miles away, he stood, under storm clouds and rain, in the very location where Dr. King’s assassination took place. Right off the bat, McCain talked about how he initially voted against having Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday as a national holiday years ago. He said he “made a mistake,” by initially voting this way and was sorry he did. Boo’s reigned down on McCain from the crowd as he struggled to maintain his political smile and composure. He repeated near three times that he “made a mistake,” as voices from the crowd gathered began to die down. One voice was heard through the podium microphone saying, “It’s okay, we all make mistakes.”

I am not a McCain supporter, but it was inspiring to see McCain go to the very place where King Jr was murdered and ask for forgiveness from the masses in attendance today. As the crowd’s booing died down, allowing McCain to finish his speech (miraculously without one of his bad jokes), I can't help but think that he won a few votes with his public apology and decent speech delivered today in Memphis.

At first, I was surprised not to hear from Hillary Clinton this morning. In fact, I was angered that she was not going to show up and speech about the life of Dr. King, especially since she appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno the night before. My anger subsided when she MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News all announced that she would be speaking in Memphis within the hour…

A question then entered my mind: Why is Barack Obama in Fort Wayne, Indiana? His two main competitors, Clinton and McCain, traveled to Memphis to pay homage to Dr. King’s life and sacrifice on a disgusting Memphis day, while he stood in a temperate, dry Fort Wayne gymnasium dozens of miles away. This is, in the least, a questionable decision by the Obama campaign and, in my opinion, could cost him in upcoming polls (not so important) and subsequent primaries (very important).

Again, I can’t say for certain that this will hurt him in the upcoming primaries, but Hillary Clinton, his competition, was on the West Coast less than 24 hours ago. If she can catch a flight across the country to be in Memphis on this important day, the least Obama could’ve done is the same…


Anonymous said...

It's suggested that Obama didn't go to Memphis for security reasons... quite a few people expressed concerns for his safety there. 40 years ago on the day MLK was assassinated, Robert Kennedy was campaigning in Indiana for president and addressed the crowd about MLK and his death, while the rest of the country went into utter chaos, Kennedy was appealing for Indiana to be calm and rational as thats what MLK would want. Obama speaking in Indiana was fitting.

mike's spot said...

funny you bring up MLK- with Charlton Heston, who just passed at 84 years old marched with MLK and was a life long civil rights supporter.

here's a short piece i did on it.

people love to take McCain to task for whatever they can- but it is not often a politician flatly says they were wrong- especially with the presidency on the line.

Kudos for McCain for following his moral compass above all else and doing the right thing.

bfadds said...

Anon-- Good point. I hadn't considered that metaphorical link. Thanks for the thoughtful insight.

Mike-- I thought it was really morally good for McCain to make this speech. As you know, I'm not a huge McCain guy... but I thought this was a nice move.

(Thanks for comments both!)