A Tale Of Two Speeches: Roundup And Reactions

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As far as I can tell, the reaction to Palin's video statement and President Obama's speech has been pretty disparate, and interesting. One theme shines through: Both were commenting on the same event, but the focus was very, very different. The video is The Nation's John Nichols commenting on the differences and similarities. His conclusion: If Democrats claim the mantle of civic involvement and responsibility, that's not such a bad thing.

Tristero over at Digby's blog thinks this speech transcended his race speech. I do, too. I think this speech was even more personal for him than the race speech was, because it touched on so many of his core values: civil involvement, setting an example for children, and family. But more than that, it highlighted something that's fairly easy to intuit but harder to pinpoint:

Proper analyses of this great speech are surely forthcoming from people far more qualified than this blogger. Garry Wills, who examined Obama's famous race speech by comparing it with Lincoln's Cooper Union address, will, I hope, weigh in. What I'd like to focus on is something about the speech that probably wont get remarked. I also noticed these things during the campaign, and until I understood what was going on, it drove me (not to mention many other people) almost crazy with despair. But I think it ultimately played a central, if usually unheralded, role in Obama's spectacular victory. I’m talking about Obama's uncanny skill at setting traps for his political opponents, traps in which they themselves - ie, not Obama - act foolishly or so otherwise poorly that they disqualify themselves as serious opponents, who emerges from these fiascos looking not only like the only rational choice but, more emotionally, as the only conceivable choice.

Alan Colmes highlights the differences between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in these situations, and than heavens someone did before my head exploded over the constant media drumbeat on this being Obama's "Clinton moment".

Conversely, President Obama used the moment to summon us to our higher angels. Disagree all you want about his politics, his religion, or even his birthplace. It is no accident that Barack Obama achieved the highest perch in American politics partly because of his ability to inspire. Bill Clinton felt our pain. Barack Obama speaks to it.

He, along with many others, also gives Palin low marks for her tearing-down of others at a time where lifting up is needed.

Sadly, for Governor Palin, she took what could have been a teachable moment and used it to continue her practice of being defensive, divisive, and accusatory. And whoever injected the phrase “blood libel” in her missed opportunity was either ignorant of its true meaning or was playing the basest form of politics.

Nate Silver thinks this was probably an easy speech for the President to give, because there was a big gap in the room where adults should be, which the President filled well. I would only add this to his analysis: The other contender for the 2012 election did NOT fill that role.

The cynic in me wants to say that, in this context, this was a relatively easy speech for Mr. Obama to deliver (in a political sense rather than an emotional one). Nobody seemed to be playing the role of the adult in the room or moving us toward closure, which provided Mr. Obama with an opportunity to do so. Mr. Obama played that role very well tonight, although I suspect that almost all of his predecessors would have done the same.

By contrast, the right-wing voices are somewhat predictable. It began with Michelle Malkin's apoplexy over the t-shirts, which were not an invention or thought of the White House, but which were part of the University of Arizona's plan for the service. Of course, it was certainly easier to focus on those than it was the substance of his speech.

Rush Limbaugh, who is never one to waste an opportunity to remind everyone who is really in charge, slammed the entire service as a "pep rally" and had some harsh words for the Fox News panel that complimented the speech.

Glenn Beck? He couldn't quite go where Rush did, so he complimented the speech but slammed it for being "late." Who knew there was a time limit on grief?

And wingnut WorldNetDaily went there, calling it Obama's "Reichstag Moment", while calling for outrage on the right for Sarah Palin's "blood libel."

Other than the crazies at WND, though, there wasn't much good said about Palin's statement/speech. That won't stop her from trying in 2012, though. I expect the announcement any day now.


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