Remarkably, [Obama] instead reached back -- over King and Lincoln -- to
George Washington. He rooted the values he cherishes most (and wants us
to renew) in the Founders, in the First Republic, the slave-tainted one
(as our schoolchildren are incessantly reminded) that had to await
Lincoln for its cleansing.
Obama's unapologetic celebration of Washington and the Founders of
the original imperfect union was a declaration of his own emancipation
from -- or better, transcendence of -- the civil rights movement.
How is that a repudiation of the civil rights movement? Wasn't the notion of redeeming the original promises of America's founding the main intellectual basis for the civil rights movement? I would refer Krauthammer to an obscure text that plays a minor role in the history of the movement:
architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and
the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which
every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes,
black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ...
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of
today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men
are created equal."