Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Faced with a media crapstorm that could bring down his campaign, Barack Obama this morning delivered a big speech that succeeded on multiple levels.
Strategically, it puts Sen. Obama in front of the Jeremiah Wright controversy... at least for this news cycle. All day and into tonight, cable-news talking heads will chatter about Obama’s elegant oratory.
On a deeper level, Barack Obama displayed the qualities of self that got millions of Americans excited about him in the first place. He was intelligent, thoughtful... cool under pressure... conciliatory, unifying. Forward-looking.
Most of all, he didn’t seem like a manipulative politician. He seemed sincere.
The instant reviews were rapturous. The speech was “sweeping, some would say stunning,” according to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.
Broadcast essayist Nancy Giles, who is black, said on MSNBC: “I’m so staggered by the speech that I can hardly put it into words.”
Author and high-society priestess Sally Quinn, who is white, said: “This may be hyperbole, but I think this was the most important speech about race in America since Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”
CNN’s Candy Crowley said admiringly: “He took kind of his entire campaign and wrapped it around the issue of the day.”
Even right-wingers offered grudging praise. “It was deft, it was graceful,” said Brit Hume of Fox News, adding that whether or not it ends the Rev. Wright mess “remains to be seen.”
Pat Buchanan on MSNBC said: “I think he delivered an outstanding speech.” But parts of it were “grating,” he said. Particularly when Obama seemed to put all the blame for black people’s problems on white society and none on black people themselves.
Did y’all watch? (I know y’all watched. But if you didn’t, the entire 37-minute address is embedded above.) What did you think?