A More Perfect Union

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March 18, 2008 10:48 a.m.
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Sen. Obama is giving his major speech on race now in Philadelphia. We have the text posted here.

It is remarkable for its nuance, for its long view of history, and for its decency.

I am not sure, on first take, how effective it is politically. Your thoughts?

Late Update: The text is one thing. Delivery is another. And Obama doesn’t seem to have his A game today.

Later Update: TPM Reader DW:

He found his A game towards the end, I think.

Had to watch on Fox, due to some DirecTV weirdness on CNN and MSNBC.

I think it’s a great speech, but it’s nuance. There are too many soundbytes that will be taken out of context, and Fox already got one.

“Obama: Rev. Wright is family to me”

That’s all the wingers need, and all the Foxwatchers need, to perpetuate what they already believe.

I agree with DW. Obama picked up the pacing and spoke with more energy toward the end. At his best, Obama doesn’t just read the text of his speech, but delivers a speech. Overall today, he seemed flat.

TPM Reader HC says:

Just scrolled through Obama’s speech and I think it does all the heavy lifting it needs to — his disavowal of Wright’s inflammatory statements while refusing to reject the man altogether bolsters, rather than diminishes, the whole philosophy of his campaign. At first blush I wonder if it’s too smart for most Americans, especially those easily swayed by Atwater/Rove race-baiting, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. In any event, it seems to me to be an extremely important speech, one rich in history and nuance but pointing the way past the Bush-Clinton era. I’m on board.

Still Later Update: TPM Reader PT is looking for the same things I am:

In my eyes, the question going forward is this: what is the bite-sized take-away? What sorts of things can supporters and campaign representatives now say when asked questions like, ‘How come he didn’t leave the church after hearing those things?’ ‘How could he expose his children to that?’ ‘In 20 years, he never noticed?’ Maybe Obama can answer the question by reframing it and throwing it into the biggest possible context, but can his noisy and undisciplined supporters on DKos do it? Can Durbin do it? Can Sebelius do it? Can media types summarize it on his behalf? And if they can’t, doesn’t that just return us to the old, unsettling gotcha questions? That’s what I’ll be waiting to see.

This was after all a campaign speech. Ultimately it has to be judged on whether it achieved its purpose.

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