Interlude: Reactions to Obama’s speech from around the web

Obama’s Philly speech is here.  My initial thoughts on the audacity of his campaign are here. 

Initial reactions from around the web are coming in.  I agree with Melissa at Shakesville about the absence of reaction to Wright’s comments about Clinton.  She links it to complaints (like mine) about elitism, and I’d only add that sexism is infused in this elitism, as the worlds of politics, academia, and other high status professions are often the worst arenas for gender inequity and (white) male privilege.  Feministing commenters continue the debate about the absence of addressing sexism in Obama’s speech.

I also agree with Jeralyn at Talk Left that this speech will ameliorate unsettled Obama supporters and not work with those already disinclined to support him.

Finally, I don’t have the same reaction to his speech as Riverdaughter, but she raises a good point about his passive references to the use of race during the campaign.  Obama’s use of vague and passive language like she points out has bugged me to no end this campaign, as his phrases like “the forces of division” remind me of Bush’s framing of geopolitical conflict as the war between good vs. evil.  The rest of the speech was strong and direct, so let’s knock off the insinuations, Obama. 


5 Responses to “Interlude: Reactions to Obama’s speech from around the web”

  1. March 18, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I’m confused. What is it you think I am insinuating? BTW, I think there is a difference between reading the text of a speech and watching it being delivered. You *do* tend to get a different perspective than if you are just listening to it in real time. The introduction of race was a deliberate thing by Obama in order to alienate Clinton from African-Americans. And it worked brilliantly. But it is time for Obama to take responsibility for doing this. If he does not, then a speech, no matter how nice, doesn’t signify anything. It is simply an attempt on his part to quiet the noise that he himself instigated.
    You will note that he gratuitously equated Wright’s statements with those of Geraldine Ferraro. There is no equivalence in reality. That, right there, will point you to his sincerity. It was a cheap shot.

  2. March 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Riverdaughter!

    I listened to the first few minutes on the radio, but ended up reading the rest. Definitely leaves room for a different interpretation, I agree.

    Mainly, I didn’t have a negative reaction to the speech, which I think is the difference b/w you and me. I actually thought it was a great speech.

    I don’t think there’s a specific “reality” that we can point too re: Wright v. Ferraro or the claims of race-baiting from either side, unfortunately. I find the graph of viewer response to the speech that Jerome Armstrong linked to on MyDD indicative of that – African-Americans viewers responded to the speech very differently than Green v. Dem v. GOP viewers (though we could argue that these are not commensurate viewer categories).

    I think the damage is done to Clinton’s reputation, unfortunately, and from both sides and the media (since 1992) more than anyone, and I agree with Melissa at Shakesville that he should have been more forceful in demonstrating that he and Clinton are in the big picture on the same side of things. But I think, for all the great content of this speech, this was less about unifying the Dem party than saving himself. I tend to view the speech less as a political tool than as a commentary on race in the U.S. For the latter, I think he was great.

  3. March 18, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Redstar: he is very good at giving prepared speeches, that much is true. And it is very easy for an AA man to give an uplifting, inspiring speech about race. But as for content, his words as written contradict what he needed to say.
    I don’t think Ferraro’s words were in any way racist. I think she was trying to make a similar point to what Gloria Steinem said. I also don’t think that Clinton’s reputation is ruined. The AA’s who are voting for Obama are looking for an excuse to vote for him and his campaign provides one, easily. But Clinton’s committment to the AA community is well known.
    The thing that disappoints me most about Obama is that I and many Americans really *are* post racial. I could have worked for him easily if he had won a decisive number of delegates. But he took the low road and for his own purposes, brought up race in the most divisive way. It was a desperation move after NH and it was very successful. But it was also the thing that defines the primaries on our side so far. And this is exactly how the GOP wants it. The would like for us to fight about race all the way to the convention. Then, if he wins by excluding FL and MI, they are going to say he is the Affirmative Action candidate because he got there by suppressing his better qualified opponent’s delegates. It will be a nightmare of our own making.
    He shouldn’t have brought it up. He shouldn’t have hired on his pastor as a spiritual advisor. He should have stuck to the issues. Having a discussion about race, NOW, in the middle of a campaign, is just what the Republicans ordered. Pretty stupid.

  4. March 18, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Interesting perspective. I think in the big picture, this speech is great. I’m losing faith that Obama is electable (though I still think he is). You should read my post prior to this one (Movements v. Elections) to understand where I think Obama’s political problems lie. I think this speech advances some important conversations we need to have in this country, but I’m not sure that necc. jibes with campaign strategies and electability.

    Do you see what I mean? I guess I’m seeing the speech as one thing, and how it fits into his overall electability and the primary as something different. Because my cynical gut tells me that no matter what this speech said, his association with Wright is probably deadly, but I don’t think that’s necc. Obama’s fault. Naive that he thought it wouldn’t set off alarm bells with conservative white America? Perhaps. But I think I’d actually think less of him if he had not joined this church 2 decades ago because he wanted to run for political office someday. I don’t think his membership signifies any kind of extraordinary contempt for certain groups of people (though there’s an interesting debate going on over at Shakesville re: sexism and white women) more so than we might find in organized religion, among social groups, or among political elites, generally speaking.

  5. March 18, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Riverdaughter – P.S. I just re-read my post and realized “insinuations” sounds like it’s directed at you. It’s actually aimed at Obama. D’oh!!

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