Elizabeth Edwards' Chutzpah
Plus--Obama, from Cling to Ping!
The most disastrous sentence in the speech. If Obama's saying that those who fear young black men on the street are racists, the equivalents of Rev. Wright in offensiveness, then he's just insulted a whole lof ot people. If he loses the votes of everyone who fears young black men, he loses the election. People fear black men on the street--as even Jesse Jackson once momentarily admitted--because they cause a wildly disproportionate share of street crime. Does Obama want to be the candidate who says that thought is verboten?
Later, he says:
So when [whites] are told ... that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Who would tell them such a thing? Obama, a dozen paragraphs earlier, dissing his own grandmother.
In general. Obama's explanations of black anger seem intimate and respectful. His explanations of white anger seem distant and condescending. ("They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away ....") Unfortunately for him, it's white votes he needs.
Troublesome Equivalence III**: Drawing his central parallel between often-counterproductive black anger and white anger, Obama declares:
Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many ...
Wait. I thought Obama just told us that welfare exacerbated the decline of the black family. So white "anger over welfare" wasn't misdirected. It was directed toward what Obama himself fingers as a prime source of the black-white disparity. And if a culture of broken homes tends to produce more crime, it was also directed at a prime cause of urban disorder, the impoverishment of working class-white neighborhoods, and of white flight. In other words, it was directed at a "real culprit," not a phony culprit. Is Obama too locked into standard left "welfare is a scapegoat" ideology to admit this? If so, Bill Clinton had more "nuance" and "complexity." Obama's taking us back to 1991.
Can't we ignore race, please?
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now.
Actually, a lot of voters supported Obama because they'd kind of like to ignore race, you know? Wasn't the point of his celebrated South Carolina victory speech that thinking along racial lines was one of the "habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation"? That's the whole point of Obama, from one perspective.
Photograph of Ann Coulter on Slate's home page by Brad Barket/Getty. Photograph of a wedding cake with two grooms on Slate's home page by Hector Mata/AFP Photo. Photograph of Princess Diana on Slate's home page by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images. Photograph of Barack Obama on Slate's home page by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.