More on the Speech

On the whole — except on the Right, of course — Obama’s speech is being well received. I watched Hardball, and Chris Matthews was almost as giddy about the speech as he was about Dubya’s flight suit crotch.

I think the question about the speech, articulated by Rachel Maddow on David Gregory’s new MSNBC program, is whether white America will step up and receive the speech in the same spirit in which it was given. Obama’s speech was challenging. He assumed that his audience could hear his words and and think about them. He assumed people could get beyond simple narratives, sound bytes, and jerking knees.

Steve M. wrote that it was a speech for adults, which is why it probably won’t work. (See also “It’s OK in a Roomful of Republicans.”) Will Obama face a backlash from working-class whites? the bobbleheads ask. I guess we’ll see.

Here’s the irony — The “narrative” has been that Obama is an empty suit and his supporters are brainwashed bots. Clinton is the “practical” and the “reasonable” candidate, and her supporters are people who live in the real world. But with this speech, Obama showed himself to be the intellect’s candidate, the candidate for people with functioning critical reasoning skills. (Considering he appeals to better-educated voters, one could argue that’s what he’s been all along.) On the other hand, in recent days Clinton and her supporters have been all about dog whistles and martyrdom complexes.

See also the BooMan and Pam of the House Blend.

13 thoughts on “More on the Speech

  1. I dunno. Obama seems to have received the Reverend’s speeches in the spirit in which they were intended. If these sorts of comments have no place in political discourse, it’s problematic saving them a place at the table, don’t you think?

  2. So Obama gives an eloguent speech that boils down to hey- Blacks are resentful because they have been victimized by society in the past and whites are resentful of blacks – so don’t blame me for Wright as the country is full of victims filled with race resentment including my own grandmother- but you accuse others of a martyrdom complex.
    (and by the way Obama’s staements are not true for many of us, including thos who lived through the 60s and actually fought for civil rights because we thought all people should be treated equally).

    Lets get to the real point- no matter what Obama said you would have found it enlightening and world changing.

    The truth it was a decent speech though a little too long but really said nothing new. When you balme everyone, you are really blaming no one and avoiding all responsibility.

    But it makes a bunch of white liberals happy because it confirms their beliefs that blacks are rightfully bitter victims and they don’t have to feel bad if they occassionaly have a bad reaction to it 0 because they do are a product of their environment.

    Its tripe that doesn’t challenge but excuses- and then adds on an Edwards speech of the real enemy are corporations.

    And I am not a conservative just someone who isn’t bambazooled by the okey-doke.

  3. I finally saw the speech on CrooksAndLiars. It brought tears to my eyes, and did a lot to bring me over to Obama’s side. In my view he completely knocked the ball out of the park. Several reactions:

    1) Who else but someone like Obama could’ve spoken so authentically and eloquently about such a difficult topic? This raises the bar for discourse not only on race, but on talking about difficult issues in general, in this day and age of dumbed down juvenile repartee.

    2) Especially after eight years of infantile, stomach turning pronouncements by you know who… Or years of equivocating or triangulating by nearly any other hack politician…

    3) I understand Obama wrote the speech himself (there’s a diary on DailyKos about this, I unfortunately can’t link to it at this time). Not only can he form complete sentences, and speak in coherent paragraphs, and do so eloquently on an intellectual level and be as broadly inclusive as possible, he did all this out of his own genius.

    People who aren’t intellectual won’t know or care what Obama said. But the fact that he is favorably impressing at least some on the right, says a lot for him.

  4. Joeg — There are a lot of martyrdom complexes out there. Yours is slightly larger than Cleveland, for example.

  5. I got a little misty eyed also..Guess it means I love America after all, and it’s amurka that I can’t stand..Bush and Cheney haven’t hardened my heart to the point where the light of hope can’t penetrate it.

    Bush says the war in Iraq is “worth it”.. Talk about relativity? With all the untold suffering Bush has created, his claim to worth is a black hole of logic. It’s always worth it when you don’t have to pay the price, but if we could go beyond the grave and ask the 100’s of thousands of innocents who paid with their lives doe Bush’s Iraqi fiasco, I think Bush would find some disagreement.

    Bush is a sick, sick creature..and Cheney is worse.

  6. maha to Joeg lol

    yes, Joeg failed to see that Obama put it on the line, took a risk not to run from a controversy or smooth it over with platitudes…he spoke courageously about an issue politicians are afraid to talk about (they frequently talk around it)
    Joeg ignored the fact that Obama may be the first politician in this cycle, maybe even this new century to actually invite people to a national dialogue (kinda essential if our democracy is to recover/survive)

  7. I think joeg’s comment and maha’s post illustrate the dynamic we’re going to have to see play out. Will we take the speech as it was intended, an invitation in a very Christian spirit to consider my own faults and baggage before ritualistically trashing my neighbor for his, and an adult speech to other adults saying that he understands their anger but that anger isn’t enough and that we need to solve the underlying problems (HELLO!!!! CLASS!!!! ECONOMIC INEQUALITY!!!!) that cause it? Or will we take it as joeg does, as an “okey-doke” from a bamboozling black man who didn’t fry his own minister in oil satisfyingly and bloodcurdlingly enough for his mostly white audience (which would never hold a white politician to the same standard)? I guess we’ll see.

  8. And I am not a conservative just someone who isn’t bambazooled by the okey-doke.

    Comment by Joeg — March 18, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

    Joeg may not be bamboozled by the okey-doke but he sure is bamboozled by something.

    Don’t you just love the “I’m not a conservative, but …” part?

  9. At every point here Obama is being just the type of candidate we are always asking for, no double talk,just stepping up and meeting the challenge come what may. I don’t agree with everything on his platform but he certainly rises above the muck and with a lot of style too. (I do wish we could talk about his Pastor’s comments also, instead of sweeping them aside. We are in this because of our foreign policies, not because “they hate our freedom”)

  10. Pingback: Outside The Beltway | OTB

  11. Um, OTB, the well was already poisoned with Kool-Aid. Obama did nothing to add to that. If anything, his March 18th speech provided a partial antidote.

    Every negative commenter above needs to read the speech in its entirety. (And it’s not our problem if you have a tiny attention span or comprehension difficulties.) And if you still don’t get it, then there was nothing Obama could have said that would have pleased you. For whatever reason.

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