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Obama, Reverend Wright, The Speech: A Problem and An Unanticipated Upside

03/20/2008 01:54 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It is already clear that Obama's Tuesday speech could not have been better. It is being justly compared, by knowledgeable people, to some of the great political speeches in American history. Whether it will register on the public consciousness in that way is another question.

Because there's this problem: there may not be a place in this culture for a history-making speech anymore -- I mean literally, no room in the flood of imagery and commentary for something of lasting value to sit there and be itself, to sink in and define the moment. Ask yourself: what would FDR's "fear itself" speech or MLK's "I have a dream" speech actually have been, as a cultural phenomenon, in the context of 24/7 news cycles, talk radio, cable, YouTube -- and, yes, blogs like this?

At a minimum, the answer to that question is: diluted. This has to be faced, especially by those of us who support Barack, because our job is to deconstruct and counteract this inevitable effect of postmodern media. One good thing, sometimes, about the old top-down mass media was that everyone paid attention to the same thing at the same time and for a long time and in more or less the same way. Of course, that was also a bad thing. But, like it or not, this is the situation within which Obama's great speech must find a way to last.

There is however an unanticipated upside: as the right wing platforms play and replay the loop of sound bites from Rev. Wright's sermons -- it gets trickier for them to sustain the rumor that he's a Muslim! Ah, the little ironies...