Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Follow-up Thoughts on "The Speech"

Two quick thoughts on Obama's speech this morning:

1. Everybody seems to be looking over their shoulder to wait and see what everybody else thought of Obama's speech. I can't tell you on how many blogs I've read "I thought it was a bold and powerful speech...but is America ready for such bold talk?" On the way home I heard Joe Klein opining on NPR about how the reaction to the speech would be largely determined by how he and other members of the media portrayed the speech, even as he-a member of the media he was referring to-personally praised Obama's performance. All of these people-even the cynics- were amazed and delighted by Obama's candor, frankness and willingness to speak so plainly about race in American and his own involvement with Rev. Wright. Again and again I read the words "bold" and "courageous" used to describe Obama's speech. But it's as if they're afraid of their own hope that one man alone can raise the level of discourse in our nation; they're afraid that Obama will be punished for his candor, and for his willingness to talk to the American people as equals, and not talk down to us as is so typical for politicians of both the left and the right. I can't say that I blame them. But frankly, I think Obama knocked this one so far out of the park that a jaded and cynical media that is grown far too accustomed to equating skepticism with the adoption of right-wing manufactured "common wisdom" can't possibly spin his speech. The speech is simply above that. Is it possible that Obama has in one speech gone even further, and managed to win over the Beltway pundits and the media stars and the average American voter who's thinking of voting Democratic with a thoughtful, nuanced and intelligence discussion of a difficult subject? Maybe.

2. Though I haven't really seen this more than hinted at, there seem to be a few who think Obama's speech-however eloquent-is just more "speechifying", more words. They seem to miss the fact that Obama's willingness to say what he did reflects a desire to tackle the issue of race differently from the way any other politician has before him. They somehow forget that a typical politician in Obama's shoes would've raced to denounce and disown Rev. Wright and hope for the storm to blow over, however flimsy such might appear. The very fact that Obama was willing to say what he did indicates that he is not your typical politician, and it is a fine illustration of the type of judgment the man possesses. After today, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama is more than fit to be the next President of the United States of America.


adam said...

The most fit, I'd say.

As The Daily Show put it last night:

"And so, at 11am on a Tuesday, a major politician running for president spoke to us about race... as if we were adults."

Michelle said...

Acropolis Review, Charles Murray and Drew Westen summarize some of the important points concerning the speech: