March 18, 2008

I suspect it’s pretty easy to guess how Democrats will come down on Obama’s speech on race — his supporters will say Obama effectively clinched the nomination, while Clinton’s supporters will argue that great speeches do not necessarily make a great candidate.

And what of our conservative friends? Kevin Drum grabbed the various reactions from the blogging staff at the National Review.

“Amazingly bloodless and dull; part moral hectoring part awkward defensiveness.” “I think if you want to be romanced by your candidate, he romanced you. And if you’re a guilty white person, you’re with Obama because he said so.” “Was it just me, or did anyone else note that for the first half of the speech, Sen. Obama seemed annoyed, put out by having to give the speech in the first place?”

“This a breathtaking attempt to pass off Wright’s hateful rants by implying that they are little different than the ‘political views’ of some priest with which a parishioner might disagree.” “Obama is no longer a post-racial, he has embraced the politics of grievance.” “Blame whitey, and raise high the red flag of socialism. This is a serious candidate for the Presidency? Toast, toast.”

I know others have made this observation before me, but reading these bizarre reactions made me wonder what the reaction might have been to, say, JFK’s speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960 if The Corner was around to live-blog it. Or really, any of the great campaign speeches of the modern political era.

I almost wish there had been live-blogging at the time, if only because the reactions would appear so utterly ridiculous in hindsight.

I’m not necessarily arguing that Obama’s speech in Philadelphia will still be talked about decades from now — though, in all sincerity, I think it’s certainly possible — but if it is, I hope historians remember to reference conservative responses. “Blame whitey, and raise high the red flag of socialism.” This is what passes for insightful conservative thought in 2008 — at one of the right’s highest profile blogs?

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