ABC provided immediate and enthusiastic praise for Barack Obama's speech, Wednesday, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" address. Anchoring live coverage, he praised, "President Barack Obama, playing the role of teacher and preacher and president today."
Stephanopoulos then began to link Obama and King. He allowed that Obama insisted in his speech, "No one can match the brilliance of Martin Luther King." The ABC host then connected, "But it does seem on the relatively rare occasions where the President chooses to speak about race directly, he rises to the occasion." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
(Rare? Obama just spoke out about the Trayvon Martin case in July.)
Stephanopoulos brought on Obama's old mentor at Harvard, Charles Ogletree, to provide commentary. Unsurprisingly, he loved it: "But I think this speech is going to go down as one of the greatest he ever gave. Not today, not tomorrow, not next year. Maybe it will be a decade from now."
ABC's Cokie Roberts also appeared and lauded the President's remarks as "quite a speech."
A transcript of the exchange can be found below:
ABC Live coverage
[Immediately after Obama's speech.]
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: President Barack Obama, playing the role of teacher and preacher and president today. He told the story of that march 50 years ago, August 28th, 1963, The man who electrified it, Martin Luther King. And he said he is now the work of all of us to carry on the work of those heroes from 50 years ago, saying they did not die in vain. There's been so much progress in this country over the last 50 years, but there's still so much work to do. Cokie Roberts, perhaps by simply speaking from that podium as the first black president, President Obama fulfilled a dream that Martin Luther King didn't say on that day, but he did emphasize how much work is left to be done.
COKIE ROBERTS: His presence in the speech, but then he gave quite a speech. And he did talk about the economic problems that everybody faces. But he talked about reigniting the embers of empathy and the coalition of conscience. And I really think that's what this day has really turned out to be all about.
CHARLES OGLETREE (Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Harvard Law School): What I found most amazing in the speech, and I hope people understand it, the humility as opposed to bravado. He's not a preacher, as you said. He's teacher, he's a president. And I think that's different. He's not King and he's not trying to be King. But I think this speech is going to go down as one of the greatest he's ever gave. Not today, not tomorrow, not next year. Maybe it will be a decade from now. Because what he's trying to say is all of us have to make this battle together.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, he said in the speech that no one can match the brilliance of Martin Luther King. But it does seem on the relatively rare occasions where the President chooses to speak about race directly, he rises to the occasion.
OGLETREE: Right. And he did that today.