I avoided commenting very much on Obama's "Race Speech" last Tuesday. But now I've been sucked into it by a blog posting from Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post. Joel's quite upfront about what he sees as the problem:
Oh oh. And he's also quite straightforward about his opinion of The Speech:
So what's the problem with those "right-wing pundits"? Other than the their sheer effrontry in daring to criticize Obama and His Speech, it turns out to be tough to say.
How dare they?
Newt Gingrich told Hannity that the more he read the speech, "the phonier it got." On another Fox show, Gingrich said, "Look, I think it was a great speech, and I think he is a great speech maker. And I also think it was intellectually, fundamentally dishonest."
In other words: How dare he?
My guess is that there's nothing Obama could have said that would have satisfied some of these folks. Charles Krauthammer writes that the Obama speech was "brilliantly sophistic," which is a fancy way of saying that it was full of specious arguments, which is a fancy way of saying that it was dishonest.
How dare he? Fortunately, there's a link, so you can make your own call on Krauthammer's "fancy" argument.
The link goes to an Allahpundit post at Hot Air. Again, how dare he?
How dare they say something like that? Or imply it? Or at least make Joel Achenbach think they implied it?
I think that quote is more accurately attributed to Jean Giraudoux.
Lowry writes that Obama's speech was designed so that it "couldn't possibly get anything but lavish praise from the press." Fresh from providing said lavish praise, Joel sputters: How dare he say such a thing?
Joel's substantive criticism of all this:
He finishes up:
I liked the Noonan column too. Sullivan, of course has long been even more besmitten by the Obama charm than Joel Achenbach. After listening to Obama's call for unity, he pronounced that "large swathes of today's conservative movement truly are hateful"; after scanning through responses to Obama's speech at the Corner he discovered "anger and bitterness" which was "palpably fueled by fear and racism."
A number of people are pointing out the contradiction in using Obama's speech to encourage a "new conversation" on race in America while simultaneously trashing any person who dares to point out that this particular emperor isn't wearing any more clothes than your typical pol. For example, Jonah Goldberg:
Well, yeah. Also see Tom Maguire and Ann Althouse in the same vein. Frankly, if the Obamamanian appeal to "unity" is used to mask (yet another) unfair and stupid wave of attacks in the conservatives-are-all-scummy-racists-who-should-just-shutup mold, whatever was of value in Obama's speech is severely degraded. And for that degradation, we have to thank folks like Joel Achenbach and Andrew Sullivan.
Of course, it's happened before. Back in 1997 Bill Clinton launched his "Initiative on Race" to "promote a dialogue in every community of the land" on racial issues. Plenty of inclusive talk at the outset, but a few months later:
So much for "dialogue". A few months after that, an opponent of "affirmative action" did manage to wangle an invitation to a "town meeting" in Akron. Abigail Thernstrom found herself confronted by Bill Clinton himself. As recounted by John Hood at Reason:
"Abigail," said the president in mock familiarity, towering over her as she sat in her chair, "do you favor the United States Army abolishing the affirmative action program that produced Colin Powell?" When she hesitated, he pressed on. "Yes or no?" he demanded. "Yes or no?"
Thernstrom refused to take the bait, and began: "I do not think that it is racial preferences that made Colin Powell...."
"He thinks he was helped by it," the president interrupted.
This is, apparently, the kind of conversation that the president would like to foster on race: superficial, bullying, and misleading.
(The late WFB, Jr. also commented on the then-President's graceless performance in Akron.)
When Clinton's panel completed its report 15 months after his initial announcement, it landed with a dull thud in the midst of Monicagate. Positive effect on American race relations: zero.
As Achenbach and Sullivan show, we're all ready for another round of this charade. The "progressives" can't stand honest debate on this issue, because they know they can't win on this basis. The best they can do is snark and slime.