Obama Seeks to Quell Storm with Speech on Race

Faced with what his advisers acknowledged was a major test to his candidacy,” Barack Obama seeking to quell the political firestorm that arose last week over his mentor/Pastor’s divisive statements and sermons, has stepped up to the podium today, to deliver a speech on race.

Though he has faced questions about controversial statements by the pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., for more than a year, Mr. Obama is enduring intense new scrutiny now over Mr. Wright’s characterizations of the United States as fundamentally racist and the government as corrupt and murderous. […]

Mr. Obama said Monday that in his speech, to be given at the National Constitution Center, he would “talk a little bit about how some of these issues are perceived from within the black church community, for example, which I think views this very differently.”

After removing Mr. Wright from a religious advisory committee on his campaign on Friday, Mr. Obama concluded over the weekend that he had not sufficiently explained his association with the pastor. He told several aides he was worried that if voters did not hear directly from him — in the setting of a major speech — doubts and questions about him might grow.

Indeed, some Obama associates had advised him against giving the speech:

Race is now officially on the table. It’s not going away after this,” a senior aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, recalled one adviser saying.

As Susie Madrak notes on the advise from Obama associates against giving the speech:

Yep. In most voters’ minds, he is now officially the Black Candidate. And that’s why throwing racism allegations at the Clinton campaign was such a bad tactic in the first place, because in addition to poisoning Clinton for the general election, it took him off his positive, post-racial message. A large part of his appeal to independents and moderates was the hope that Americans could transcend race, and instead, it’s now front and center.

The Obama camp as noted here so many times was quick to cry wolf frequently over statements made by Clinton surrogates and claim them as “racist.” By contrast some have seen through the Obama camp’s claims and noted that in fact it has been the Obama camp playing the race card. Bill Clinton addressed the media spin on “racist” charges yesterday in interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Taylor Marsh notes:

Senator Obama gave a speech today that is larger than politics, but it in no way ends his political challenges. The national wound of race Barack didn’t want to touch is now reopened nationally and in the spotlight again. While his campaign wants to move on, the country will not, because everyone will be talking about race, through the invitation of Obama’s speech today. A powerful political candidate has now become what he’s been trying to avoid, a civil rights symbol, however reluctantly he takes on the role.

Time will tell whether Obama’s speech will quell the storm or simply add to it. The full text of Obama’s speech is here. Memeorandum has all the buzz.

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6 Responses to Obama Seeks to Quell Storm with Speech on Race

  1. alrudder says:

    Pamela, I’m interested in what your actual opinion of the speech is, I didn’t sense it in your post.
    I give it 3 and a half stars out of four. It repeatedly denounced the famous clips of Wright, yet put a context to where he is coming from. He also talked about the prejudice of his white grandmother who raised him, as well as acknowledged the insecurities of white ethnics.
    It was sincere, it was comprehensive, and it was needed to be said by a states(wo)man. I only dock it a half star since it could have been shorter and crisper.

  2. Alrudder

    I haven’t had time to fully read it actually. I’m overloaded with work right now and probably won’t get to it until this evening. But I will let you know what I think.

  3. bjerryberg says:

    David Axelrod, a former Chicago Tribune writer-cum-political consultant now Obama strategist specializes in racial polarization. Why do such people get paid?

    I personally witnessed his inaugural ‘vote your color’ 1983 campaign supposedly on behalf of Dem Harold Washington. Axelrod’s divisive tactics nearly elected an unknown GOPer mayor of Chicago. That takes some peculiar skill.

    History repeats itself–Axlerod’s tactics today might nominate the unelectable Obama–depending on the timetable of the Rezko trial.

    And anyone who disagrees is a racist.

  4. BlueWashington says:

    3 words – It was terrific!

  5. Jon says:

    Here we goes again. Obama is trying to use the Race issue to side step his association with Wrigh. The issue on hand is his characteristic and judegement on not denouncing Wright and continue going to his serman for years before Obama’s political life began.

  6. Janis says:

    Reminds me frankly of all those people who were out of work thanks to Reaganomics but who kept voting for him because he made nice speeches and used great slogans.

    Who cares what he actually said or did? He Makes Me Feel Good! *sigh*

    Looks like the Democrats are doing their best to be as much a shell of empty content-free image as the Republicans have always been. I think that’s the secret of Obama’s admiration of Ronald Reagan: they both have very little to offer and no actual concrete plans, but they make nice speeches and use cute buzzwords.

    It’s almost as if the Obama “movement” has figured out a way to harness evangelical religious revivalism, previously only the domain of the Rethuglicans, in service of the Democratic party. They’ve turned “us” into “them.” Now, instead of one party that hangs and swings on slogans and speeches and lack of critical thinking, we’ve got two.

    Leaving those of us who try to listen to the CONTENT of a speech and contrast it to other speeches, who try to pick facts out of the muck, SOL once again.

    Image baby, it’s all about image. who cares what you actually say, just use rolling rhetoric to do it, and you’ll be forgiven anything — because no one will recall the facts of what you actually said.

    There’s times when I wish I’d stayed in academic physics rather than going out into industry. If it were for the rampant, repulsive sexism, that is. Scientists at least, when you write the equation in front of their noses, will say, “Oh, that’s right. I was wrong.” They don’t decide which equation to rely on based on the handwriting or how pretty the color of the ink is (although they do more than occasionally decide based on whether a girl wrote it down). They decide based on how well it jibes with reality.

    Reality? That thing with the “well-known liberal bias?”