March 20, 2008


Will the Answer Outlive Questions?: Obama's Speech Driven by Necessity (Dan Balz, 3/20/08, Washington Post)

Obama said that the politically easy thing would be to hope that the firestorm triggered by video excerpts from Wright's sermons would somehow fade away. Instead, he said, the Wright controversy provided the pretext for -- even demanded! -- a more honest confrontation of the racial divisions that persist and a more open-minded understanding by whites and blacks of why bitterness and anger exist on each side of that divide.

Obama obviously knew better than to pretend that the ugly controversy would somehow disappear. Wright, in fact, had created the most serious crisis Obama has faced in this campaign, and no amount of wishing would change that fact. The candidate rightly understood the threat to his candidacy and immediately told his advisers that he wanted to deliver a major speech on the subject. By enlarging the discussion, he hoped to defuse what was most dangerous to his political aspirations: his long association with a prominent figure who has said things that many Americans -- white and black -- find repulsive.

Democratic strategists see the dangers ahead for Obama. While not lethal to his hopes of winning the Democratic nomination or the presidency, they say, the damage could be lasting. "This has tarnished Obama's image, though certainly not in a fatal way, and we will see it used by the GOP repeatedly if he is the nominee," one strategist said in an e-mail on Wednesday. "At the end of the day, I believe whoever the Democratic nominee is will win, but those who think that, if Obama is the nominee, he won't have Clinton-like negatives by Election Day are naive. This whole episode underlines that point." [...]

What cannot be known at this point is how the episode is resonating around the country among independents or those who were once called Reagan Democrats. Has Obama reached them in a way that inspires their confidence that he is perhaps uniquely equipped not just to start a conversation but to lead the country to a new, if still imperfect, place in racial relations? Or has he simply raised doubts among them about who he is?

Consider only what he accused Reagan Democrats of:
[T]hese resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition.

You voted for Reagan because of racial resentment. Vote for me, you racists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 20, 2008 9:34 AM

Those dastardly racists will have another chance in November. Racists -- Come one, come all and vote for all those straight racist Republicans tickets.

Posted by: erp at March 20, 2008 10:44 AM

Now the question is "What have the Democrats learned from Kerry?"

Have they learned that they can no longer depend on the MSM to cover up their candidate's flaws?

Have they learned that Americans won't elect an anti-American candidate? And if so, do they care?

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at March 20, 2008 10:47 AM

Upon reading this post, I went back and googled up some "Reagan at Philedelphia, MISS" posts.

As conservatives, we ought ot be intellectually honest. When bad policy and bad poltics create a "southern strategy" and wrap it up in a bow, who wouldn't use it?

Certainly, Reagan wasn't a racist, and, if placed out in the open, would have repudiated 'racist' voters.

OTOH, the idea that there wasn't a "wink and nod" campaign going on with "state's rights" elements in the south is just plain silly.

The appropriate response to Obama's comments about the "Reagan coalition" shouldn't be to circle the wagons around Saint Ronald, but to say "so what" and precipitate that "dialogue about race" that the left says they want, but are scared senseless of.

Posted by: Bruno at March 20, 2008 12:19 PM

You don't deal with issues that matter with a wink and a nod. That's how you handle minor ones.

Posted by: oj at March 20, 2008 3:21 PM

One problem is that IMHO most folks, unless they have a vested monetary/political interest in the issue, *don't* want to talk about race. It's exhausting, it's unproductive and it's divisive. I don't think this will be a winner for Obama.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at March 20, 2008 3:39 PM

And useless.

If you talk about race and don't admit that America is fundamentally racist then you are called a closet racist.

Posted by: ray at March 20, 2008 4:09 PM