The Corner

Re: Obama and the Right

I don’t agree, Jonah, with the notion that conservatives are criticizing the Obama speech because he has been insufficiently conservative on racial issues. It is true that some conservative critics of the speech have expressed the wish that Obama would come out for basing affirmative action on class rather than race or for school choice. But the dominant criticisms have been different. Obama didn’t have to give a race-relations speech at all. What he had to do was offer an account of what we should think of his long and tight connection to the Rev. Wright. Talking about America’s racial dilemmas, even well, as he sometimes did, was a way for Obama to shift the subject from his judgment to our collective failings. Even that might have been fine if he had been forthright about the subject that called forth his address. Instead we got many, many paragraphs excusing or minimizing Wright’s offenses even as Obama claimed to have no interest in doing either.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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