Friday, March 21, 2008

Obama's speech - Some reactions so far

This doesn't pretend to be a systematic consideration either of Obama's speech on Tuesday or of the range of responses it has generated. Just a few random items offered as food for thought ...

=> According to The Jed Report during the morning of Wednesday, March 19:
In its first two and a half days online, Barack Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech (including this version) has been viewed 2.7 million times.

By contrast, John McCain's entire YouTube channel has delivered just 2.5 million videos -- since the beginning of his campaign, more than one year ago. It's not like he hasn't tried -- he's got 172 videos on his channel [....]

Another contrast: the original Jeremiah Wright video from FOX News has been played 590,000 times -- and it's been up a week longer. During the time that Obama's speech generated 2.7 million views, Wright's clip generated less than 100,000. [JW: OK, but that's certainly not the only video with incendiary excerpts from Wright's sermons circulating on the internet.]

Obama's speech has been seen about as many times as the five most viewed videos on Hillary Clinton's channel -- combined. Most of those clips have been up for more than a month. [....]
Later on Wednesday:
I'm gonna' have to stop posting these updates at some point but I'm still absolutely floored. Since my post this morning, there have been another 700,000 video plays -- in approximately 11 hours.
Granted, The Jed Report is rabidly pro-Obama, anti-Clinton, anti-McCain ... but its factual claims tend to be well-researched and reliable (whether or not you agree with the interpretations).

=> And here is a VIDEO that features some intelligent, reflective, and sympathetic remarks about Obama's speech and about the controversy behind it delivered by, of all people, former Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. (The Obama-related portion of this TV interview begins about 3 minutes & 25 seconds into the conversation.)

=> Some useful roundups of immediate journalistic & blogospheric reactions:
From MediaChannel (to which I was helpfully alerted by Robert Rosenwein).
From TPM Café: HERE & HERE--some very intelligent discussions there.
From The New Republic: HERE & HERE--ditto.

=> Based on public-opinion polls taken this week by Rasmussen and Fox, it appears that an astounding proportion of likely voters claimed to have seen at least part of Obama's speech, and most had a favorable impression: "Majority Liked Obama's Race Relations Speech, But Doubts About Wright Remain".

Today's Gallup tracking poll (as reported & interpreted by Erik Kleefeld at TPM)
shows that Barack Obama is starting to rebound after the Jeremiah Wright controversy dragged him down, but he still has ground to make up. Hillary Clinton currently leads 47%-45%, not as wide a lead as the 49%-42% advantage she held just two days ago.

Gallup's analysis notes that Obama's attempts to address the Wright flap, notably his Tuesday speech, might have been effective. But it's not all good news for him: "Still, Obama has yet to recover fully from the apparent damage done by the Wright controversy. It was only one week ago that Obama led the race by a significant six-point margin over Clinton, 50% to 44%."
=> HERE is a freelance right-wing attack video, "Don't tell me words don't matter", that artfully blends TV snippets from Obama, Wright, Michelle Obama, and Malcolm X. If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, we should be prepared to see a lot more of this sort of thing between now and November.

=> And, last but not least, let me mention an intelligent analysis by Jim VandeHei & John F. Harris in Politico which nicely surveys the range of interconnected dilemmas that Obama sought to address in his speech on Monday, the ways that the speech addressed them, and the reasons why they will probably remain dilemmas and potential problems for his campaign. Incidentally, the main title of this piece, "Obama's Racial Problems Transcend Pastor," is misleadingly reductive. The subtitle actually conveys a better sense of what this piece is about: "Speech Offered Lines Calculated To Reassure All Groups With Which He Is Most Vulnerable". Of course, that focus leaves out a lot of things that were important about Obama's speech, but it does highlight some genuinely important dimensions of the subject, so it's worth reading.

Yours for democracy,
Jeff Weintraub