Rod Dreher has a thoughtful analysis of Obama’s recent speech on race and what he accomplished and what he didn’t accomplish with it. For one, Dreher believes Obama has lost the white working class for good, and no amount of nuanced rhetoric will bring them back. I think he’s right:
I’ve been thinking today about Obama’s speech, and reading the blog commentary. As you know, I think Obama gave a terrific speech, judged in terms of rhetoric. It probably alleviated the concerns of a number of middle-class people. But I still think that Rev. Wright’s sermons have cost Obama the white working class, and he’s never going to get them back.
I’m thinking of my brother-in-law in Iraq now under arms with his National Guard unit. Most, and maybe all, of the guys in his unit are working class whites. My brother in law is a firefighter in civilian life. I have no idea what his opinion of Obama is, or who he’s planning to vote for in November. But I imagined him and his Guard buddies watching clips of Wright’s sermons, and then listening to Obama’s intellectually nuanced speech today, and I thought: Obama’s toast with them. After that Wright stuff, Obama could speak with the eloquence of angels, and he’ll never get them back.
I think The New Republic’s Mike Crowley, who is sympathetic to Obama and who liked the speech a lot, is right when he explains why the address is not likely to win over white working class voters, even though (in Crowley’s view) it’s in their economic interest to vote for him.