donna-edwards.thumbnail.JPGDonna Edwards gave a characteristically uplifting and provocative speech tonight for the keynote address at Netroots Nation. I’m sure the entire speech will be available soon, so be sure to check it out.

But especially striking was how she tackled the Barack Obama problem. Obama’s absence here, frankly, has taken a lot of air out of things, but even more so is the general sense of disappointment with Obama for his recent rightward shift, especially his behavior with FISA. So Edwards — who has been an Obama supporter from way back, but also seems as disappointed as the rest of us — tackled it head on, as she always does:

I was an early Barack Obama supporter and I’m really proud of that. But it doesn’t mean that the presidential candidate that we have, the nominee that we have to stand behind now, that we have to be silent when that nominee is not saying the things that need to be said to our community, and doing what we need them to do for the country. So that’s an important lesson.

And that’s an important lesson. And it’s a lesson that I learned, actually, when Bill Clinton became president. Because when Bill Clinton became president, many of us on the left, liberals and progressives, became very silent. And that was a mistake, because that mistake brought us some policies that were really not so great. And so we really can’t make that same mistake with President Barack Obama.

But we need to be on the job today to make sure that he, and not John McCain, is elected as president of the United States. And don’t be fooled about that.

… Finally, I want to share with you that not on any day, by any stretch of the imagination, do I believe that the United States Government should be listening to my phone calls. And if they do, and if they decide they want to listen to my phone calls, then they need to go to a real court and get a warrant.

And I want to tell you that just temporarily we lost that fight. But it’s only temporary. Because it’s going to come back. Because there is no way — it’s about the American public being smarter than the politicians in Washington.

Thanks for having the courage to say that, Donna.