Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's speech

It seems noteworthy that the transcript of Obama's speech on race and politics is on top of most e-mailed lists of the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
It was a good speech, to be sure, but beyond that, I think people regard his speeches as potentially historic, and they want to participate in that moment, to say that they remember reading or seeing and hearing it when it happened.
Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic says Obama wrote the speech himself, "working on it for two days and nights.... and showed it to only a few of his top advisers."
You can see video of the speech here.


Michael said...

For me, the most striking passage was what I saw as a direct, personal appeal to the patriotism of journalists:

"We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

"We can do that.

"But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change."

A lot of people have been saying that his speech won't solve his problems, because it wasn't pitched to reach the downscale white people he needs. This passage suggested to me that his major audience for this address was the actual individuals in the media, whose personal choices will determine what those downscale white people think of Obama.

If this is true, the speech reminds me of ... Ratatouille and I'm Not There, two movies that became the best-reviewed of last year by being films about criticism.


somebody said...