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Deggans on CNN Sunday Talking Obama's Race Speech



Reliablesources Howie Kurtz must be desperate on an Easter Sunday.

How else to explain the Washington Post media critic's invitation for your truly to join him on his CNN show Reliable Sources at 10 a.m. Sunday to discuss media coverage of Barack Obama's speech on race?

I was unfortunately sidelined by the whole wisdom tooth thing when he actually gave the speech -- though watching it through a haze of Novocaine and Oxycodone was a novel experience -- and in the days since, I've been struck by a few things.

Barackobama_time_mag TV, of course, manages to trivialize everything. so it is no surprise that much of the TV coverage I've seen has trivialized this landmark speech. Still, much as I hate to agree with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on anything, I do think he's right when he says this particular issue turns on anger. (Here's a great piece on that issue)

Until now, Obama has found success with many types of white voters by avoiding the Angry Black Man Syndrome. But when I think scares some white people about Obama's ties to Jeremiah Wright isn't the specifics of what he's said -- white and black preachers have said similar things about America since the days of Elmer Gantry. What scared some white voters is Obama link to a typically angry black man.

Until now, Obama has always met talk about race issues with the same kind of cool reserve William F. Buckley brought to discussions of conservative values. This is the communication mode much of America accepts best. It's the way Dick Cheney sold us all on the Iraq War; big ideas presented calmly and with an air of authority.

But Wright is all the things which scare some white voters and anger others. He's aggressive, angry, wild-eyed, full of conspiracy theories about race and loud contempt for the institutional racism which dogs our political system. If you were to bloodlessly list all of his arguments, more folks white and black would likely agree with many of his points. But it's all in the presentation, these days.

Angryhillary Ironically, Hillary Clinton has often suffered from Angry White Woman Syndrome in her run for the White House, disregarded and marginalized by some commentators as emasculating, shrill, shrewish or an example of the b-word because she is a powerful woman expressing opinions powerfully. Now, she's benefiting a bit from seeing that show shoved on Obama's foot.

Given that no one has suggested any of Wright's rhetoric has influenced Obama's policies or initiatives, I'm not sure what all this has to do with the job he'll do as chief executive. Instead, it says much more about our own tangled dysfunctional attitudes on race and anger than anything either Democratic candidate actually stands for.

Watching me try to fit all this commentary into a two-minute segment on CNN is bound to be entertaining. Here's an interesting clip where Chris Wallace actually takes Fox & Friends to task for its unfortunate and distorted discussion of Obama's speech on race.


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:44pm]


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