Obama’s speech

Rather than have my own reaction to Obama's race speech (which I haven't actually watched), I just wanted to make note of what I thought were the most interesting observations on it that I came across (yes, late, but blame travel for Easter). 

TNR's Jonathan Chait writes that Obama's race allows him to give a thoroughly intellectual speech in a way a white Liberal Democrat may not be able to:

My first reaction is that the speech was
extremely smart and intellectually subtle. It's very unusual for a
politician to give a speech that works at such a high intellectual
level. At every turn he resisted simplifications and added nuance.

This in turn reminds me of one of the things I like about Obama's
candidacy. He may be liberated to operate at a high intellectual level
in public because he's black. I'm not trying to be Gerry Ferraro here;
let me explain. Candidates like John Kerry and (even moreso) Al Gore
were also very smart, but constantly forced to dumb it down lest they
be tagged as out-of-touch elitists. Since the egghead image is so at
odds with the prevailing stereotypes about African-Americans, he has
much less to fear by speaking at a high intellectual level.

I cannot remember quite where I read it, but in a similar vein, I also thought it was interesting that Obama being Black allows him to legitimize white concerns over race in a way that a white politician never could.  Along the only Nixon could go to China lines. 

Finally, I think Kevin Drum has a great point that it is important that Obama did not just throw Wright under the proverbial bus:

There's a lesson here. Republicans have a reputation for standing by
their colleagues through thick and thin. It's a reputation that may or
may not be deserved (they usually find ways to quietly get rid of their
albatrosses once the cameras move on), but their public posture is
almost always to defend their allies, attack their enemies, and insist
that they won't abandon their friends. And people respect them for it.
Most of us prize loyalty even if we don't always admit it, and most of
us recognize politically motivated firings for the cowardly acts they
often are.

Finally, given the generally rave reviews from elite media types, I don't think this issue will disappear, but at least the media feeding frenzy around it should.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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