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Obama’s Speech: Total Spectrum Reaction Round-up

March 19, 2008

I was too busy earlier to make a coherent post on my thoughts about the speech, and reading all the responses + giving Little Dork a bath + writing two reviews gave me even less time. So, here’s what a bunch of other folks thought.
First, an assortment of liberals and leftists. I didn’t include many because the supportive statements were pretty identical (cultish, even):

Maureen Dowd in the Grey Lady: suggests in the last week Obama has made himself less an object of worship and more of a real politician person.

Up until now, Obama and his worshipers have set it up so that he must be so admirable and ideal and perfect and everything we’ve ever wanted that any kind of blemish — even a parking ticket — was regarded as a major failing.

With the Clintons, we expect them to be cheesy on ethics, so no one is ever surprised when they are.

But Saint Obama played the politics of character to an absurd extent. For 14 months, his argument for leading the world has been himself — his exquisitely globalized self. He should be congratulated on the disappearance of the pedestal. Leaders don’t need to be messiahs.

Time collected responses from a gaggle of pol-sci professors and professionals, and nearly all seemed in awe.

Joel Connelly asks, in a clear reference to the role that gay marriage played in 04, will race be used to hijack the 2008 election?

The Conservative response was split along the divisions in the party, those old school moderate types who get misty eyed whenever Regan is mentioned and those hard line neo-cons who tend to enjoy the dulcet tones of Rush Limbaugh:

David Gergen, Obama lover.
From my perspective, watching alone from a hotel in Florida, I found it refreshing to have a political candidate who finally talks to us as mature adults and also appeals to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”

As you scan the Internets, you will notice Lincoln mentioned A LOT.

Jonah Goldberg reduces the speech to mere politics and casts it as the old decrepit battle of Big government vs. small. Only a small mind could come away from the speech with only this:

The old baggage has been replaced with shinier suitcases, but the contents are the same as ever. Black America’s problems can be solved by spending more money on the same old Great Society programs. Any talk about black America’s problems that takes the eyes off that prize is a “distraction.” And, yet again, white Americans can prove their commitment to racial justice by going along with more big government. My hope for something better proved too audacious in the end.

Investor’s Business Daily
“Election ’08: Rather than break ties with his demagogic, anti-American pastor, Barack Obama used a speech on race to excuse his behavior and sweep the controversy under the rug. Passing the buck is not very presidential.”

This is the basic conservative talking point, one which you will see and hear again and again for the next week as the right rehashes this over and over, still desperate to keep Wright’s few statements on the front burner. I doubt that even if Obama had said “YASS SUH BOSS! I sho’ do reject what dat deh Reb’m Wright say, I sho’ do!” they would not have been satisfied. To agree with anything Obama said in his speech is to admit their whole social philosophy is bankrupt, and they would prefer a destructive discussion on race rather than a constructive discussion. As long as Wright is a villain, not only do they have their general election issue, but they can play the “victim,” mean old Obama is picking on the White man. As evidence:

Andrew Sullivan gushed over several posts and his right wing love for Obama is no secret. However, I think the note he recieved from a reader sheds light on the general conservative reaction.
“Then I left, got in my car, turned on the radio and already Laura Ingram was taking soundbites of Obama’s speech and mocking them, dismissing them out of hand while her listeners chimed in, supporting their queen of talk.”

I’ll end the conservative block with Sullivan himself: “What I do know is that it was the right speech, with the right nuance and brave. If America cannot embrace such complexity, then that says more about our current polity than it does about Obama.”

In other parts of the world, people were paying attention to the speech.
The Scotsman (go Celtic!) has an article on the speech listed under “Racism in America” and they don’t mean Wright.

Globe and Mail (Toronto) Adam Radwanski gushes
With Obama established as the frontrunner, that free ride has come to a jolting halt lately. And today, not only did he face a tough test – he aced it.

Telegraph UK

That makes it a great gamble, a move on to new terrain. If it works, it will be because he has now dared to be daring: going over the heads of focus groups and spin doctors with a heartfelt and bold appeal to American voters, on both sides of the racial divide, to rethink their positions. For that bravery, at least, he deserves much credit.

Colby Cosh, Canada’s National Post
“You can already tell by today’s news-cycle shift toward the ethical question of the Florida and Michigan delegates that the Clinton campaign has given up trying to lash Obama to the mast of the USS Jeremiah Wright. Obama has made that impossible.”

NDTV.com in India:
Obama sought to provide a healing touch by appealing to his countrymen to spurn racism and the anger and resentment it spawns.

Finally, a Kos diary on the experience of watching the speech in a crowd, somewhere Southern, I guess.

Locally . . . the center held. Conservatives towed the line, Obama’s Dem supporters were lovin’ it and the Clinton supporters, well, let’s say they still believe in fairy tales. This post from my Skeptical Brother mirrors a lot I heard from African Americans who called into the radio show.

Will add more as I find.

A comment from Big Man in a thread @ racialicious

Look, I don’t care if Obama wins anymore, this speech was enough. To have somebody with his profile speak in detail about race on national television was outstanding. I don’t care about the people questioning his motives, or scoffing at his sincerity. I do not care. This speech was empowering, even if it’s the only thing that survives this cutthroat political process. This was a man asked to navigate a path so unique that failure seemed inevitable, yet he rose to the occasion and prospered. That makes me happy as a black man in America. It makes me very happy.

yep.

Here’s some chatter from Chattanooga. Been getting visits from here all day I see.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Lexi permalink
    March 19, 2008 4:50 am

    DOES OBAMA EVEN KNOW WHO HE AND HIS DESPICABLE PASTOR HAVE OFFENDED MOST, AND WHY HIS FAVORABILITY RATING IS IN FREEFALL?

    Why is a guy who grew up a rich kid with a Kenyan father and Southern White mother (no ties to being a slave whatsoever) lecturing Northern Whites regarding the Civil War when it was our ancestors who fought and died in the Union Army to free the slaves?

    Is Obama kidding or what? Yes, Senator Obama, let’s have a discussion about race in America and then maybe you’ll understand why you are in absolute freefall against John McCain in States like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Michgian.

  2. March 19, 2008 11:00 am

    Lexi here is a prime example of people who rant without having any clue as to what they’re talking about. It would be a fun game to pick out the foolishness.

  3. Bryan permalink
    March 19, 2008 7:16 pm

    Fantastic Obama Endorsement!!!

    I bet the right-wings will keep this off the news too!!

    [link to irrelevant story deleted]

    Nobody really thinks this guys is a racist….naw…wright, farrakan, and now this endorsement….pure coincidence

    [I considered disapproving this comment, however, I decided to let it fly minus the link. This speaks for itself. The half-witted reliance on anything but facts is in evidence enough.]

  4. March 19, 2008 7:16 pm

    But you know, I’m tired of kicking at fools. Their stupidity is a toxin that I don’t need to worry myself with and they aren’t going to surrender their delusions because some lady on the Internet demonstrates conclusively that they are jackasses who have substituted a TV tuner for a brain.

    Personally, I thought the speech was pretty damn good.

  5. thom permalink
    March 19, 2008 10:48 pm

    Here’s the bottom line of race in America; Everyone is prejudice. Anyone claiming not to be prejudice is a liar. By realizing that you are prejudice and looking further for the real truth will make you a better american.

  6. Malik ReignMan Soliman permalink
    March 20, 2008 2:12 am

    Conservative reactionaries and the democratic political opponents have excelerated their attacks on Barack Obama as of lates…because of what they can forecast politically. Obama will end up having run a better race than Clinton in the end (he in fact won in Texas numerically and that is not being adequetly reported for a reason)…WHAT WILL END UP HAPPENING IS…political football will play out at the convention, and the tossing of favors will go around until a mockery of the political system and the people’s popular vote will not be taken into account (what’s new, after seeing Bush’s re-election victory), whether by the hand of super delegates or by the ballots of Florida and Michigan re-votes, the drama will happen, and this is as sure a fact as Obama is half-black.

    He didn’t just give that speech because of what some might call the “Wright problem” but he gave that speech because of what he can see coming ahead…could you for a second…TRY envisioning what it would be like for the moral conscience of America…if an African American presidential hopeful is robbed of the democratic nomination (despite having gotten the popular vote) to be robbed of his chances because of a grey area in the mechanics of our electoral process…the faith that would be lost in the hundreds of thousands of people who shout…THEFT…if Obama did not rightfully win.

    And ask yourself this question…why shouldn’t he be given the chance…WHAT…he shouldn’t be president because of his choice in pastors, the man was non-religious before, would you have chosen him if he still were, the pastor helped him understand Jesus, he never admired the man’s political views, hell I got friends I’ve known for years, some of them believe as I do spirtually…and I love them to death, but I would not get into talks about politics with them, and I would not refute my friendship to them because of it either…

    The debate is making the country sicker…Obama really showed some class addressing the nation in the manner in which he did…and now all he can do is throw up his hands in the air…and say heh…I tried…and for that…I respect him even more.

  7. Zee permalink
    March 20, 2008 4:35 pm

    I agree with Thom, and it’s a good discussion to have. But calling people “fools” doesn’t change the facts: Obama was raised in Hawaii by his white family members and misrepresents his roots all the time. In fact, that is why he joined Wright’s church in the first place: he needed credibility with the very people he was trying to “community organize.” He really has a nerve letting the Clintons be smeared as “racists.” But then again, he smeared his own grandma as a “typical white person.” However that moves us forward.

    http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillygossip/Obama_on_WIP_My_grandmothers_a_typical_white_person.html

  8. March 20, 2008 6:42 pm

    You have to explain how Obama misrepresents his “roots all the time.” His “roots” are so well known it’s impossible to misrepresent them.

    How has he let the clintons be smeared? Did he “let” anything more than Clinton “let” Ferraro make her mistakes?

    The phrase “typical white person” may need some clarification however it’s hardly an invective. People can read the link for themselves, where even the original poster isn’t at all sure about what was said.

    It’s complete folly for the more rabid Clinton supporters to try to engage in a battle of who is more racist. I understand you’re all back on your heels on the subject after the last couple of weeks, still it does Sen. Clinton far more good to engage rather than playing a blame game. Y’all do protest too much.

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