The Plank

What A Speech Can't Fix

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I continue to think that Obama's speech on race, from a few weeks ago, is one of the most elegant and powerful political events I've ever seen. And I gather, from the poll numbers, that it was at least modestly successful (if not very successful) at winning over voters who'd soured on Obama because they heard Rev. Wright's controversial comments.

The problem with the speech is that--like any great speech--it's not nearly as powerful in sound bites. And listening to Obama defend himself over the Wright controversy, I fear this is a preview of what we'll see in the campaign.  He comes off as defensive and--frankly--a little annoyed to be addressing this for the umpeenth time. (I don't blame him at all. I'm sick of this debate, too!)  And his answers, restricted to the confines of a 90-second debate answer, just can't get across all of the things he has to say.

I hope I'm wrong about this--and that the strong impression from Obama's speech carries over. But I'm definitely nervous about it.

--Jonathan Cohn 

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