On the whole â€” except on the Right, of course â€” Obamaâ€™s speech is being well received. I watched Hardball, and Chris Matthews was almost as giddy about the speech as he was about Dubyaâ€™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.