Somewhere along the way in the gushing coverage of Barack Obama's March 18th speech the actual purpose of the speech was lost. Let's hit reset.
Nobody was asking Senator Obama to make a sweeping speech about race relations in America. The 60's are long gone. A substantial number of people were, however, asking him to clarify his personal relationship with a hate-spewing, bigoted, racist pastor who Obama claims was his spiritual mentor and father figure. It was Senator Obama and his handlers, Axelrod and Plouffe undoubtedly, who decided to subtly change the subject.
Yesterday I declared that his effort was a failure. This view ran contrary to the predictable opinions of the legacy media but also to some McCain supporting pundits, notably Rich Karlgaard at Forbes. If the strategy was to fog up the real issue it worked to that extent. But, again, the speech didn't deal effectively with the real question at hand. That's why it was a failure.
Many voters wanted to know Obama's stance vis-a-vis Jeremiah Wright and his hate-speech. His answer to that was to explain away Wright's rhetoric. Obama didn't even point to what he specifically found objectionable. Then, to compound his problem, he embraced the racist minister and declared that he couldn't turn away from him any more than he could turn away from all of "black America." A subtle call to arms there, by the way.
So, yes, it was a failure. Assigned a speech on one topic he chose to give a different speech. The takeaway then becomes that Jeremiah Wright did what the Clinton Machine never could. Obama has now become "the black candidate." His poll numbers are dropping and intrade now shows McCain futures surging with Obama futures falling; the gap is just 43.5/40.0. What will they look like after 527's run ads using Wright's and Mrs. Obama's statements about America? Michelle's rhetoric was problematic enough but he had a chance to break clean from the minister at least-- he chose not to. You can respect that but it doesn't mean it's a good political move for November.
The candidate of HOPE and CHANGE brought low by the man who was his spiritual guide through life. A man of the cloth doing to his faithful follower what no opponent could. It's the stuff of novels.