Barack Obama’s speech about race in America was largely an attempt at damage control. With the controversy surrounding his pastor’s anti-American remarks now seriously affecting his support, he had to do something, and for him, that “something” was a major speech on race in general. Now this speech may have stopped, at least temporarily, the freefall in his favorable ratings, and it may have succeeded in shifting attention from Rev. Wright back to Barack himself. Unfortunately for him, it may also have made him the “race” candidate – a damaging label that could make his name political poison. Its too early to tell, but this speech could very well start a national debate on race, and, while it may very well be time to have that debate, the last thing Obama wants is to be at the center of that debate. Until now, Obama has managed to run a remarkably post-racial campaign, but by provoking this debate, that could very well change.
One of the most damaging quotes from Obama’s speech was one where he permanently tied himself to his controversial preacher:
“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”
Now, Barack’s grandmother aside, by tying himself as strongly to this preacher as he does to his race and family, he is going to turn off many voters who don’t want the President of the United States associating so closely to a man with such strong anti-American views.
Maybe I’m wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time, but I do not believe this speech has accomplished what Obama wanted it to.