Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Son of the Issue of the Day

Point 3. Obama's speech was very good and unfortunately necessary, but not flawless.

Let's get some liberal responses to Obama's speech. First of all here's Joan Walsh, who was generally positive, but feels that Obama didn't effectively respond to accusations surrounding Jeremiah Wright.
In his speech Obama tried to distance himself from Wright's more outrageous remarks, while honoring and preserving the personal -- and frankly political -- strength he's derived from his affiliation with the church and his spiritual mentor. It was a perilous move for Obama, and it's not clear he succeeded. Describing Wright as "family," Obama compared his incendiary views to the occasional racial insensitivity of his elderly white grandmother: "As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me ... I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe." It was an intriguing leap, but I didn't buy it. I don't think Obama's elderly grandmother, who still lives in Hawaii and is reportedly too frail to travel, who was a product of her time and place and yet did her best to raise her half-black grandson, deserved to be compared to Wright, a public figure who's built his career around a particularly divisive analysis of American racial politics. It is easily the most tin-eared thing I've ever heard Obama say.

But most of the speech was deeply inspiring.
She's not wrong. On either point.

Glenn Greenwald has a more negative opinion of the speech. Well not of the speech itself but of what effect it will have on the campaign, particularly if Obama gets the nomination.
But in Obama's faith in the average American voter lies one of the greatest weaknesses of his campaign. His faith in the ability and willingness of Americans to rise above manipulative political tactics seems drastically to understate both the efficacy of such tactics and the deafening amplification they receive from our establishment press. Even Americans who authentically believe that they want a "new, better politics" may be swayed by the same old Drudgian sewerage because it is powerful and ubiquitous.

Petty, personality-based demonization works, and the belief that it won't work any longer in the absence of a major war against it may be more a by-product of faith and desire than reality.
I hope Obama can work up an adequate defense against this situation, but I can't claim that I'm sure that he will.

Still it was a great speech, one for the ages.

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