First off, just as fan of debate, I have to say that this cat is the most incredible counter-puncher I've ever seen. Let's review: It was widely believed that the Wright conflict represented a mortal threat to Obama's candidacy. You could turn on Fox or MSNBC any day this week and hear the talking heads and their claims of impending doom. But Obama pulled the rope-a-dope. All campaign his pushed race to the back, and let all of us--people like me--wax on about what this means for black folks. Only when cornered and with nowhere to go, does he come out with combination that stops the doom-sayers cold. It was the "reject and renounce" moment writ large. Obama turns what everyone is sure a gaffe, into a devastating counter-attack. That is a mean bit of jujitsu
I appreciated Obama extending the olive leaf to Geraldine Ferraro, despite my criticisms, I really did. The dude is running for president, it's his job to lead, and back and forth bickering about her comments would be unsightly coming from him (I said coming from him, not me). No one likes to see people whining to the refs. That saidm this is why Geraldine Ferraro is dead wrong. Being black put Obama in this debate--but there is not a candidate in this race, who sharp enough, or intellectually flexible enough to give the speech Obama just gave--on any subject. What's Hillary Clinton's earth-shattering speech on the future of feminism and gender? Where is John McCain's great ideology-bending speech on foreign policy? Obama has been thinking about this stuff all his life, so I guess to some extent he has an advantage. But it takes a supple mind to offer such a textured analysis of where we find ourselves.
I especially appreciate that he didn't taken Mickey Kaus's foolish, cynical and hamfisted advice and throw black folks off the train. It would have done nothing but lost him some black votes, and gained him nothing among whites, who likely would have taken it all as disingenuous. Instead he explained why we feel the way we felt, why we tend to shout, and with that in hand, did the same for ethnic whites. White bloggers, them being, you know white, tend to think that was the most important point in the speech. But we've had black conservatives before who basically sided with ethnic whites. What Obama did was show how all these grievances, while understandable, ultimately miss the point, that both of us are shooting at the wrong enemies. He went right at the jugular of the Reagan coaliton, and did it without fear. Obama articulated old liberal "voting against your interest" argument, without the patina of condescension and insult.