I think it’s safe to say that the reaction to the Obama speech has been overwhelmingly positive. (How about that seven columns devoted in Democrat-Gazette — as part of a two-page spread on campaign coverage — to the TEXT of the speech?)
The lingering question is whether the speech changed hearts or the current political calculus. The answer on hearts is obvious all around us. It will take more than a speech to effect broad change there. Politically, we’ll just have to see.
Oddly, I didn’t view this speech in the same rarified way most did. (Additional point for readers who misunderstood my original post. I mean I didn’t have the same pre-speech expectations or feel this was necessarily a make-or-break moment, certainly not THE singular moment in the history of presidential campaigning, as some overheated cable commentators put it.) The pastor’s views had been known for months and generally were ignored by mainstream media, even as the right-wingers kept up a din aimed at November. I never held Obama responsible for his pastor, though he was disingenuous in suggesting recent surprise at the incendiary nature of Wright’s remarks.
Even more oddly, I found myself agreeing on a few points with the hateful Maureen Dowd this morning. We’re not on similar wave lengths very often. She generally praised Obama’s speech, though faulted him for, among other things, waiting so long to address directly his problematic associates.
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.
So can we agree? Obama is human. Post-racial politics are still politics. They ain’t beanbag.