Media Still Baffled By Non-Pandering Race Speech

Can we just say, the day after, that we're still totally impressed with Barack Obama's speech yesterday? Jon Stewart, after a whole routine about it that fell 90% flat, suddenly summed it up quite nicely: "and so," he said, "on a Tuesday at 11 a.m., a Presidential candidate actually spoke to Americans about race as though we were adults." That is actually unprecedented—since the 1960s, at the least. It was so odd, in fact, that it melted the brains of the people whose job it is to trivialize everything about the campaign. Times columnist Maureen Dowd filed a column last night that only barely resembles anything she's written in a decade.


To be sure, there are unnecessary cheap shots against the Clintons, she seizes on the color the suit Obama wore as representative of some larger point (it was gray do you see?), and she calls Obama "naïve" (is there a dumber storyline she could've picked for such a savvy sonuvabitch?), but there are no cutesy nicknames (besides one "Saint Obama"), no inept sarcasm, no armchair psychoanalyzing of any politicians, and very few of the tropes and tics that have made Ms. Dowd an irrelevant self-parody. She calls the speech "momentous and edifying" and seems impressed despite herself with the sophistication of the guy she's been calling "Obambi", because she couldn't think of an appropriate pop-cultural or pop-literary reference for him that wouldn't sound offensive.

This uncharacteristic reasonableness is spreading—the intolerable opinion page of the New York Sun today runs a column by linguist and Cosby-defending black curmudgeon John McWhorter that represents, if you'll forgive us for borrowing Jon Stewart's language, the very first example we've seen in the press of talking about the offensive sermons of Reverend Jeremiah Wright as though we were adults.

Some things, of course, never change, and the Wall Street Journal is quite upset that Barack Obama told the whole country that his white grandma is a racist.