Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

As the President reviews the speech he will deliver this afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial, his mind is clearly distracted by the decisions that he will be making beginning on Thursday in the Middle East. This speech clearly is very important for him on a personal level. In addition, on a policy level, especially in light of the events which have transpired throughout the country on civil rights in general, this speech and this moment are particularly important. Given the spillover on voting rights matters since the spring and especially since the Supreme Court’s decision in June which voided Section 4, the key operating section, of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, these issues could have significant ramifications already in the fall 2014 elections. Obama now knows that his speech and any legislative and legal recommendations which he will be presenting could be overwhelmed within perhaps hours—or days–by action that will be taken by the U.S. in the Middle East.

This speech is holding up the White House at this time more than the continued presence of U.N. inspectors in Syria or the pressure to postpone the inevitable until after the forthcoming G-20 meeting in Russia during the week after Labor Day. This speech has domestic political ramifications and could put pressure on Congress to act; or could set down additional markers for the President’s fall confrontation which already is likely to become very ugly. So this speech will have its moment and civil rights will have its day, and then all of Washington will turn to Syria to see what happens next.

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