Huffpost Media

Olbermann on Obama: An Audition For President

Posted: Updated:
Last night on MSNBC's "Countdown," Keith Olbermann examined the politics of Barack Obama's speech on race yesterday in Philadelphia, noting the "political stagecraft" of the placement of eight American flags flanking Obama as he delivered a speech that Olbermann said looked a lot like "an audition" for the presidency: "It looked looked like he was delivering a State of the Union address, right down to the flags." Olbermann's guest, Newsweek's Howard Fineman, had covered the speech and noted that the stage had been carefully set by the Obama team:

It was masterfully put together — it was what they intended, these people in the Obama campaign have a good eye for these things. It was amusing to watch before the speech — I was in the hall — them experiment with exactly how many flags to put behind him.

Olbermann and Fineman also discussed whether the speech would have practical effect politically — not just with people who are already voting for Obama , but for voters he doesn't already have. Fineman wondered if the speech was "too high-minded" for the average voters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Fineman noted that Obama's hand had been somewhat forced here, in terms of having to respond to the Wright conflagration, and that he was betting that high-minded was the best response, and one which would resonate with voters. Said Fineman: "If he wins that gamble he will have turned a speech he had to give and that he really didn't want to give, into one that will make history." Watch a clip from the speech and their ensuing analysis below:




Olbermann's comment that the "dirty little secret" of political journalists was that they hope to witness a history-making speech was interesting, given the pre-buildup of the speech as "major" even before the text was released (here are just a few examples of headlines announcing a "major speech" on race as opposed to a "speech" on race: Politico, MSNBC's First Read, Wall St. Journal, The Guardian (from their man in D.C.) . Now there is no question that it was a major speech, but the framing was noticeable.

Related:
Obama Discusses Speech: "I Have No Idea How This Plays Out Politically"

Full Text: Obama's Speech on Race
Obama Race Speech Reaction