More on Obama’s Race Speech

Obama’s speech on race today is certainly garnering it’s share of headlines and critiques from both the media and the bloggers, left and right. Among the most notable of reviews I have had a chance to read so far today is the over the top one from Andy Sullivan, who is a self-proclaimed Obamican:

I do want to say that this searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian speech is the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime.

I’m not sure I would agree with Andy’s dramatic paint on the speech. Mark Murray also lays out his first thoughts on Obama’s speech here. If you missed watching the speech, as I did, you can watch it here:

Be sure to read Kevin Drum’s “Checking In With The Other Side…” for a perpsective of what the wingnuts are saying and check out Tom Watson’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” Memeorandum has all the buzz.

UPDATE: What has come before.

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17 Responses to More on Obama’s Race Speech

  1. Stuart O'Neill says:

    I’ll be writing a bit more critical look at his speech tonight or tomorrow. Reading the speech, rather than hearing or watching it first, gives a slightly different flavor and perhaps some internal contradictions.

    I do think it was a great speech. There are passive-aggressive (my term) race based ‘attacks’ (too strong a word) within the speech.

    One paragraph sounds great in my mind…but has some clearly contradictory structure within the topic.

    It’s complicated. We’ll see if I can make some sense of my notes on the written speech. Maybe yes…maybe no.

    Andrew Sullivan’s column was as dramatic a comment as I’ve ever seen him write. Obama did hit a nerve again. Whether it was the contruction or the delivery or the content…I’m not sure.

  2. Peace Out For Unity says:

    Interview with Anderson Cooper several days ago and Obama’s speech today? Appreciate your finally being honest after they caught you in a tough ,hot spot ! Great speaker and to conclude,speeches vs solutions! Go Clinton! Where is that interview tape Anderson? Will America see the truth reported in comparison?

  3. Peace Out For Unity says:

    Compare racial controversial content of Rev Wright and then interview #1 with Anderson Cooper, to the speech on 3/18/08 of Obama and now tomorrow night ,we will have interview #2 on the same issue as comparison of truth vs false and damage control sending to fact check! “Put your hands together” and play the OJay’s! Tomorrow we are all the colors of a rainbow,will that help? Anderson Cooper is in North Carolina on the trail with Obama and interview #2, is at 10:00 pm on 3/19/08. Stay tuned with Clinton after this needed peaceful ,station identification!

  4. Sandra says:

    I’ll be blunt.

    The speech itself was good. If BO didn’t have to use the speech as damage control, I might have actually believed what he had to say.

    I don’t believe the Barack Obama was telling the truth when he said he didn’t know about the “controversial” message that his spiritual mentor and pastor has been spewing. I learned about some of this when I read an article about Obama’s church and faith in the online edition of the Chicago Tribune about a year ago or more.

    I find it presumptuous for a man to sit and listen to such vile, bigoted, and anti-American language and then stand before the American people and lecture us about race relations!!

    Give me a break.

    We will be lucky if Jeremiah Wright’s sermons and Barack’s response don’t set race relations in this country back about 40-50 years. (And it would, but lucky for them, white people aren’t as racist and backward as they think we are).

    P. S. Pamela, your blog is like a breath of fresh air!

  5. Bob says:

    This is the key passage to me :

    “”Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes.” – Senator Barack Obama, 3/18/08

    So he lied again to the press, American people espeically Democratic voters. Friday he denied he did not hear or aware of such things. Obama thinks voters are stupid.

    I can’t honestly remember the last time a prez candidate who has been caught twice with big lies and is still in the race. NAFTA-GATE and now WRIGHT-GATE.


  6. Please hold on a minute, Bob. This racial controversy was one which Obama had not really anticipated. In large part, it was facillatated by right leaning TV networks playing the same Pastor Wright dialogue again, again, and again over the course of several days. If anything, I think Senator Obama’s initial reaction, although the wrong one, simply proves that he is human. He obviously had not thought this through very well and consequently reacted like a deer caught in a car’s headlights. I, as likely most of us, did feel that Obama was not being up front with this innitial reaction. So, after giving it much more thought, he delivered a speech which will undoubtedly go down as one of the best in the history of our country.
    He fully realized that the Bob’s of America would first pick up on the fact that he had not been forthcoming. However, the sheer eloquence and soul searching tone of the speech, left the majority of American’s (even his detractor’s) spell bound!! This speech was a real risk for Barack to take. I am sure he realized that some would pick up on the fact that he had innitially been less than forthcoming. However, the benefit of him coming from mixed race parents, outweighed the risks. He was able to address the fears of both whites and blacks. He was able to articulate the things some of us say only with our “own kind”.
    Hillary constantly likes to bring up the debateable fact of Obama’s lack of experience. She thus plays to fears that he would not know how to react in a crisis. I would submit that his pastor’s comments had put his entire candidacy in crisis mode. Doubters can now see that he is able to react calmly, eloquently, and intelligently. So, I would urge Hillary to stop playing the fear card. After all Bush has been pushing the fear card for almost eight years. America is long overdue for a message of hope and inspiration. This speech proved. beyond any doubt, that Obama can deliver on both!!!! Buzz

  7. Bob says:


    I call your comment about his speech Bullshit !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mr Obama lied repeatedly again and this is the second time he had lied. First he lied about NAFTA but fortunately, the Canadiens Gov produced a memo which proved conclusively that he lied. What was so bad about the NAFTA-GATE was that he used it to win votes. He won in Wis by big numbers using NAFTA as the weapon of choice. Ohians did not buy his BS and he lost all 88 counties except 5.

    Now today Mr Obama lied again about his knowledge of hateful comments from his mentor. Do you want to bet that they already have tapes showing him at these sermons?

    I could not care less about the speech. It did nothing for me or my family when we have to pay 4 dollars for gas. Maybe some rich Democrats wanted to applaud the speech b/c they are for him but not me.

    Mr Obama has been caught twice with big lies. He should end his campaign for the presidency.

    Mr Obama should do what he preaches. Go convince his pastor that saying hateful stuff is not OK. That should be the right thing to do at this moment. Instead Mr Obama sent his pastor to Africa.

  8. kcowley says:

    Well yes, he did lie, but his ability to manipulate will hopefully distract us from the repeated lies. Sad, really.

  9. Well, it certainly seems that the Obama haters are trying to turn this speech into one about lying, instead of one about queling black/white racial hatred. The fact that you can scream “gotcha” obviously, in the minds of some, far outweighs
    the both the risk taken and the atttempted accord he took by making this speech. Does not the Bible say, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone?” So when pressed, I guess, you could say that Obama at first did lie. This was a mistake and he had the presence of mind to both realize it and correct it. Some people have said that they don’t trust Obama because, although he is both intelligent and eloquent, he just doesn’t act like a politician. Well, now that he has been caught in a “lie”, I submit that this argument no longer holds water. Perhaps he can now be praised for playing the part of a seasoned Washington politician, for most all have been, at one time or another, been caught in lies. Did President Bush Sr. lie when he said, “Read my lips, no more taxes? Yes! Did President Clinton lie when he said, “I didn’t have sex with that woman?” Yes! Did President Bush Jr. lie when he said Iraq had, “weapons of mass destruction?” Yes! Does Hillary Clinton lie when she tries to portray Obama as a flip-flopper on his opposition to the Iraq war? Yes! (remember his “yes” votes in the Senate matched Hillary’s as they were all tied in with funding our troops) Perhaps we have to go back to George Washington, who in response to the question if he cut down the cherry tree, admitted that he had by saying, “I cannot tell a lie.” Yes, I agree, kcowley, that it is “sad, really.” What is sad, however, is not that Obama innitialy lied but that some are unable to admit the greater good his speech served. He obviously realized that a few would cast him as a liar. However, he was willing to take that risk in order to attempt to bridge the racial divide, which unfortunately still exists in this country. In my opinion, years from now, this speech will be viewed as a water shed moment in American history—yes on the par with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and King’s “I have a dream speech.!” Those who oppose this man will never see good in him. They would have “thrown stones” if he had allowed his lie to go unaddressed. Now, that he has delivered one of the argueably best speeches in US history, they “throw stones” for him having had the guts to set the record straight, For them it’s just a perfect example of, “damed if you do and damed if you don’t!!!! Buzz

  10. debunker says:

    Obama’s speech was nice and may have been historic because he’s the first one to publicly say what both black and white are feeling. However, why now? If he is truly wanting to heal the racial wounds of our country why has he sat in the pews of this church and listened to these hate-filled sermons of Rev. Wright for twenty years? He should have been appalled and gone to another church, as Oprah did, or speak to Rev. Wright about his remarks. However, he has remained at this church and was married by Rev. Wright , chose to have his children baptized by the Reverend, chose Rev. Wright as his “mentor” and chose Rev. Wright as his “spiritual advisor”. Obama made these choices of supporting Rev. Wright and doing nothing towards “change”. If he did not attempt or was not successful at calming the racial intolerance of his Pastor and 8,000 church members, why should we think he could make a difference with 200-million Americans? His flowery words at this time is an attempt to save his presidential campaign. We should not confuse his words now with lack of action in the past. He lost a great opportunity to turn things around in his church, make an impact, and to use that story in this “historic” speech. If he had spoken up, or left the church what a great point to make in this speech about his vision, compassion, courage, and leadership. Show us the way! Instead, he chose for two decades to sit there in a pew and missed an opportunity to heal racial wounds. For 20 years he sat in that pew…heard a lot of hate but said nothing. And today he is being praised for speaking-up and saying what no politician has said before? In my opinion, he shouldn’t be praised and we shouldn’t be impressed. He’s at least 20 years too late.

  11. Peace Out For Unity says:

    Obama just finished his speech on Iraq in Fayetteille and the crowd ,not as large as what you may expect. He’s on at 3:30 at the Grady Cole Center in Charlote and that will hold 3000 people and sold out. There are larger accommodations to hold events, and go figure! “We need a president that has intrgrity and Obama ‘s our man?”Amazing Grace,was blind but now I see!! Obama is knocking Clinton on her judgement calls concerning the war? Where was Obama when 911 went down, was he absent voting? Fox news on interview # 1 with speech 3/18/08. Integrity?Clinton will stop the streets and we’ll line up on the sidewalks! Accommodations will be important and we’ll need a litle more than a place that holds 3000 and have that available thank-you!

  12. Bob says:

    The only risk Obama wanted to take is to save his own campaign. The Wright stuff is explosive and it could end his campaign so he must do something.

    Have anyone apologize to The Clintons yet ?
    Have anyone apologize the Jewish people yet?

    It is astonishing that people think lying is acceptable. Obama has repeatedly treated Democratic voters as fools and infact Democratic voters are fools b/c people continue to make excuses for him.

  13. Peace Out For Unity says:

    Fayettville’s city is empty pretty much and husbands all in Iraq as a military based area. Just an observation but Obama wasn’t introduced by the mayor or any ,area state elected official ?Some one by the name of Paul traveled into open and not sure if he’s even from NC.Let’s have a parade and stop the streets and put Clinton in a fire truck with security! Where are the marching bands? That’s what we think about racism and divide,call the fire department! Blast the the campaign theme song via firetruck siren from a jam box on the way, to outside stage to where she speaks! Call the mounted unit and let’s ride in! “Fire it up and let’s go.” Signed ,sealed and delivered ?Returned to sender ,address unknow and that’d be Elvis in the old days of rock and roll! The 60’s was arrested for doing the shag and belly roll ! We won’t re-wind the 60’s fight but will respect their historical sacrifice.Let’s go 70″s it’s time! Thanks Elton John ! It’s complicated for those from the 60’s but the 70’s is sick of it and united from it ,because of what we’ve been taught. We won’t re-wind history!! Our fight is not your fight anymore and go heal! We are the generation of understanding diversity and racial divide.We grew up with it and let us go! Cloud 9 by the Temptations,you’re a million miles from reality! Everyman is free,up,up and away! Live the life you love! Love and harmony! You wern’t listening to your own music but we did! Be hot pink and we’ll be blue but we won’t re-wind history for racial controversy because of the 60’s divide and struggle.Charlotte is on and typing fast,whatever,call edit! We’re all americans and make me the color red God ! Great speech Obama but it came a little to late after the interview with Anderson Cooper several days ago and don’t understand the lies about a pastor and why would anyone lie about their minister on national news being interviewed? I’ve never heard tell of anything like that and it’s sad ! Let’s see what Anderson Cooper reports in about it? He was defending a sensitive topic of discussion concerning and discredited in compromise of his own integrity in light of the situation? Didn’t hear anything in his speech that apologized for that,did anyone else?

  14. I remember quite clearly being among different groups of people “in the old days” where things like “we should all get together and burn down the fucking country”, etc. were quite commonplace. And both sincere, and on many levels, justified.

    I haven’t had a chance yet to pay attention to what the good Reverend said, but did it top that?

    Thanks for your help.

  15. As suprising as it may seem, I have to give those of you pointing out negatives to Obama’s speech some credit. He has now admitted that he was aware that his pastor sometimes delivered a message of hate. Perhaps his loyality to Pastor Wright, was a factor in not leaving this church, But I, like you, wonder why he can’t provide some instances in which he attempted to change the overall message. I have always been opposed to the adage, “America love it or leave it.” I prefer the pharase, “America, love it or change it.” It sure does look as if Barack never has had any intention of leaveing this church and has made no attempt to change it’s message in over 20 years.
    I am white, and am a member of a mostly all black Baptist Church. There are only two white members. It;s a small church and our unfortunately small congregation (about 35 total) know each other by first name. I can honestly say that all members seem “color blind”. All of us admired the caliber of Obama’s words and the manner in which they were delivered. However, the language of Pastor Wright was way over the line to all of us. Basically blacks expressed embarassment and I and the other white member expressed outrage. His continued membership in this church most likely will not enhance his Presidential aspirations and his leaving at this time will be viewed only as being politicaly expeident. Either way, it may be a no win situation for him. I still support him over candidate Hillary. However, my support which had been running hot, is now, unfortunately, luke warm. Buzz

  16. kcowley says:

    Firstly, I am not a hater of Obama. Initially I was just uncomfortable with many things he said. They just seemed too vague, and left too much wiggle room. I really didn’t like the way he spoke loftily as the anti-war candidate, despite having voted to fund it twice. I did come to disilke him and his campaign around the time of his comment about getting Hillary’s votes. There were a number of sexist remarks that offended me then as well, from him, his wife and the press. I remain appalled by Michelle’s “pride” comment- acceptable from a citizen, not from the wife of a presidential candidate. I resent the role the media has played in this campaign by either overlooking or presenting sexist statements. Racial statements by the Clinton campaign became considered racist statements I don’t like double standards. Obama spoke very strongly against Don Imus’s ugly, cruel comment which was meant to be a joke, yet he tolerates serious comments from his own pastor.

    “There’s nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude,” Obama told ABC News in an April 11 interview.

    “He didn’t just cross the line,” Obama said. “He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America.”

    About 8 years ago while leaving Mass here in my town, I was handed pro-life literature by the priest. It offended me and I have never gone back to that church. Not returning was an easy choice to make. As in other towns, there are a number of other religious institutions I can attend. I made that choice and no one cares what I do. I am not running for president. It is troubling to me that Obama remained in that church and exposed his children to those hateful, anti american, racist sermons.

    As for the speech, it’s purpose was to save his campaign from the “firestorm” regarding Wright, Obama was dishonest in his statements last week and he needed to rectify that before the press exposed him to be present at one of Wright’s hateful sermons. He is very skillful with words , employing tactics I don’t appreciate. There are fallacies in the premises of his statements and comparisons which skew the logic. One must listen too carefully to catch them. In addition, I just felt as if I was being “lectured” about race. I live in the oldest black resort town in the country. It has been known historically to be very racially tolerant. I chose to live and raise my children here in this atmosphere where people are able to be interact without consideration of shade of their skin.

  17. Janis says:

    Naah, I don’t hate Obama either. He’s a decent candidate, too green for me. It’s the foamier of his supporters that drive me apeshit.