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These voters resent the cropping up of Rev. Wright because he represents the thrusting of race back to the center of the campaign. By lecturing them on the centrality and unavoidability of race, Obama seems to be embracing Wright's error and undermining at least one basis for his appeal. (He gets into trouble with his wacky pastor andnow he's challenging us on race?)
Fortunately, the we-cannot-ignore-race stand is a fraud. What's Obama's alternative?
Walk about the crumbling schools ... talk about ... the lines at the emergency rooms ... the shuttered mills ... the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life.
In other words, the alternative to ignoring race is ...to ignore race and talk about economics.
Obama's not a race man after all. Just a standard old fashioned doctrinaire blacks-and-whites-together-for-health-care progressive. One achievement of the speech is that it makes this leftish orthodoxy come as a relief.
P.S.: Excellent closing anecdote also helped. Would have been better 15 minutes sooner! ...
**--I'm not even getting into the parallel Obama draws between Rev. Wright and Geraldine Ferraro--Troublesome Equivalence IV. Whatever you think of the equation of the two (it's absurd!) how un-strategic is it for Obama to require white voters to disagree with Ferraro in order to agree with Obama? 4:40 P.M. link
Early Souljah Is Like Yeast! In his Big Race Speech today, I hope Obama remembers the lesson of his breakthrough 2004 convention keynote address, which is a) say something conservative and anti-PC sounding; b) say it strongly and c) say it early. After that, you'll have the doubters on your side and you can more or less be as doctrinaire-left as you want. But the longer you wait to say something heterodox, the more heterodox you have to be to have the same effect.
In Obama's 2004 speech, the Early Souljah moment that made it work came about a third of the way in:
... children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. [E.A.]
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.