First, my own brief thoughts. First, the speech was brilliant in that it targeted Democrat superdelegates, the only people who can deny Obama the Democratic nomination, and the media class, those who have the largest impact on his general election campaign against McCain. The speech slyly attacked the media for focusing attention on the issue, and also slyly admonished sheltered white people who found the atmosphere in a black Christian church "jarring to the untrained ear."
Polls now show that the whole Rev. Wright flap hurt Obama minimally if at all (a far cry from being analogous to a "hooker in a trunk"). Of course there is always the possibility that this will increase the Bradley effect as voters might not feel comfortable telling a pollster that they don't want to vote for Obama because his pastor is a scary black man. We'll know in November.
As always, the reactions of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert shouldn't be missed.
My usual criticism of Obama's speeches, that he doesn't provide any concrete policy proposals and instead buries them in his website for policy wonks to find, doesn't really apply to this speech. It's not like you can pass an anti-racism law or something.
Now for other people's thoughts.
And sadly, those who do that fighting are often considered to be "unamerican" and "unpatriotic" because by demanding that America change, they are making a case that America is not perfect. For the chauvinist, nationalist, exceptionalist right, (and the mindbogglingly provincial thinkers in the village) that is something you are not allowed to admit.Brown professor Glenn Loury:
Wright's error, Obama tells us, is that Wright's view of America is static, ignoring how things have changed -- so much so that one of his own parishioners now stands on the threshold of being elected to the highest office in the land. As a (more or less) angry black man of Jeremiah Wright's approximate generation (I graduated high school in 1965), and while offering no brief for Wright himself and no defense of the remarks that have created this firestorm, I nevertheless find that argument very patronizing. I know, just as Wright surely knows, that things have changed a great deal. I also know that, as I write this, one million young black men are under the physical control of the state; a third of black children live in poverty, and, the Southside of Chicago, with more than one-half million black residents, is one of the most massive, racially segregated urban enclaves ever to have been created in the history of the modern world... These things are a reflection of social, cultural, economic and political forces deeply enmeshed in the structure of American society. They are not merely the consequence of attitudes embraced by some more or less well-meaning but benighted black and white persons -- attitudes which can be thrown-off if only we were to become determined, under the inspiring and inspired leadership of the junior senator from Illinois, to work together to solve our common problems, etc.Publius:
He didn’t run and hide in Kerry/Daschle-esque cowardly fashion. He stood right up and said, “yes, he’s my friend.” He cast him as mired in the old world, to be sure, but he didn’t give into the Russert-style pressure to do some sort of Maoist confessional disavowing all association with the man. (I also thought it was savvy to preemptively ridicule the press if they continue obsessing about this story).