Powerline’s Scott Johnson deconstructs Obama’s glide away from Pastor Wright. Key graphs recall the rapture that followed Obama’s Philly speech on race, a speech which is now revealed as at best contingent:
For [Garry] Wills, Obama’s speech stood with Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 Cooper Union Speech. Lincoln’s speech was a remarkable work of original scholarship reconstructing the views of the founding fathers on slavery. Obama’s speech was a Clintonian triangulation seeking to negotiate his way through an inconvenient personal controversy, and not very honestly at that. Wills presents himself as the voice of moderation in the media hosannas over Obama’s Philadelphia speech:
Obama’s speech has been widely praised-compared with JFK’s speech to Protestant ministers, or FDR’s First Inaugural, even to the Gettysburg Address. Those are exaggerations. But the comparison with the Cooper Union address is both more realistic and more enlightening.
Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech is still looking good 150 years later. Obama’s Philadelphia speech didn’t last six weeks. It failed upon the reeentry of Wright to reiterate the views that had prompted Obama to give the Philadelphia speech in the first place.
Obama ignored Wright’s Sunday racist speech to the NAACP in Detroit. Rather, he framed his remarks as a response to Wright’s appearance at the National Press Club on Monday. In this appearance Wright reiterated what Obama had previously dismissed as “snippets of those sermons” on 9/11 as America’s just desserts, AIDS as a product of the United States government, and Louis Farrakhan as a great man. The Wright on display at the National Press Club, however, was a person unreognizable to Obama. Indeed, he is a persona who can be disowned. Moving on from Clintonian triangulation in his Philadelphia speech, Obama had become Nixonian at his press conference. In the immortal words of Ron Ziegler, Obama’s Philadelphia speech had been rendered “inoprative.”