Friday, March 21, 2008

Reactions to "The Speech" several days on...

The Daily Show has perhaps my favorite:

And so, at 11 o'clock AM on a Tuesday, a prominent politician spoke to Americans about race... as though they were adults.
I, of course, thought it was a brilliant speech... as I think most educated liberal Obama partisans did. It was a rare Obama speech that was just as good (if not better) to read as it was to hear. It seemed to me to be a courageous speech because of the honesty and the clear political risk involved. However, I'm not really sure what my reaction really means in the grand scheme... what we all want to know is what working class whites thought of it... or if they even saw it. Almost 2 .5 million views on YouTube seems like a good sign though.

I do want to mention the two most surprising defenses of Obama's speech. First up:
Take, for example, the treatment of his reference to his white grandmother. Of course you can go after him in all the ways that people have gone after him—if what you want to do is go after him. But suppose you approach Obama’s text under the twin assumptions that (a) he is trying to communicate with you, and, (b) your obligation is to make a good-faith effort to understand his meaning. I read what he said about his grandmother, and his words left me in no doubt about two things: He really loves his grandmother, and he was saying something important about race that I recognized from my own experience. I bet many of the people who have slammed him recognize it from their own experience too. The guy was being honest, and he was being right. What the hell more do you want?

Ah, but he was trashing his grandmother for political purposes, he was equating what she said with the much more terrible things that Rev. Wright said, blah, blah, blah. Yes—if you insist on interpreting what he said purely as an exercise in political positioning. No, if you go to his text with the intention of trying to understand what Obama thinks about race.
Now who said that? Charles "The Bell Curve" Murray!? Oh my.

And finally:

And he made the point, and I think it's a valid one, that you can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do. You just can't -- whether it's me, whether it's Obama, anybody else. But he did distance himself from the very vitriolic statements.

Now, the second story. It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left that are having to be very uncomfortable with what Louis Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon.

Sermons, after all, are rarely written word-for-word by pastors like Rev. Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say, "Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that."


And one other thing I think we've got to remember: As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say, "That's a terrible statement," I grew up in a very segregated South, and I think that you have to cut some slack. And I'm going to be probably the only conservative in America who's going to say something like this, but I'm just telling you: We've got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told, "You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can't sit out there with everyone else. There's a separate waiting room in the doctor's office. Here's where you sit on the bus." And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had a more, more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

Nobody said Mike Huckabee wasn't a fundamentally decent man. I honestly think we Dems dodged a bullet with him... he would have been tougher than most think.