Linda Chavez makes the vital point that a key to African-American advancement is the rebuilding of the black family. I think she's right; and the lack of many fathers for black kids and poor parenting is central to the lack of advance of the next generation. And I think Obama needs to make an entire speech on this subject at some point. He had no real father in his life and was reared by his mother and grandparents. He did all right, obviously, but, as I have seen in my own urban neighborhood for too many years, too many others don't.
Supporting marriage, defending marriage and insisting on responsible parenting are all key. I think he needs to do more; but it is not fair to say he has not addressed these issues. Here's one of his more memorable campaign riffs directed at a primarily black audience. It gets very interesting half-way through so hang in there through the education stuff. Oddly, I think this kind of discussion, while seeming to define him again as a black candidate, also reassures white candidates that he gets what went wrong in the 1960s and 1970s. I should also add that his own marriage and parenting seems to be a great personal example of how an absent father need not perpetuate itself from generation to generation. So Linda is half-right on the facts and totally right on the analysis. But few politicians have the ability to get this message across. It is not John McCain's fault that he cannot effectively talk about this to black audiences very well. Obama can. And must.