I watched the speech this morning right before we hopped in the car and drove home from the grandparental abode. Aside from the fact that his dilatoriness and verbosity delayed our departure, my focus group (my dad, my mom, a nephew, his girlfriend, my wife, and kids) wasn’t impressed. Of course, I didn’t expect them to be, as they’re for the most part not exactly swing voters.
My first blush reactions (recalling them after a mind-numbing ride on the interstate) were that (1) he began by confusing the Declaration and the Constitution; (2) his "perfect union" is much less modest than that of the Founders, which isn’t surprising, of course; (3) for those who had read or heard lots of his speeches, there was quite a bit of recycling, with not much genuinely new; (4) he understands everyone’s anger, but only seems to blame conservative politicians and talk radio hosts for exploiting it; (5) the policy proposals are familiar, but he wants those who object to them to seem somehow crabbed and backward-looking; (6) the speech was quite self-referential in a way I found off-putting; and (7) his limited praise for conservative "Cosbyism" is undercut by the ways in which he continues to wish to apportion lots of blame for the plight of poor blacks on things like education (which has been massively funded by all levels of government since the 60s and which has been controlled in urban school districts by leaders elected by African-American majorities for almost that long).
I’ll have more to say when I can read and think about the speech at my leisure. My preliminary bottom line is that he probably won’t lose too many more Democratic voters over his relationship with Rev. Wright (barring any new bombshells), but that this speech doesn’t help him much with the rest of the electorate. It’s not, I think, a pivotal moment in his campaign.