Defining an <em>Effective</em> Speech ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Mar 19, 2008 4:28 PM
While Barack Obama's race speech yesterday has been widely praised by the MSM, my suspicion is he did not achieve his ultimate goal of putting the issue behind him.  My guess is that, despite the speech, the Rev. Wright controversy will hurt him in Pennsylvania, and beyond.

JFK's Catholic speech (along with his father's money) clearly assuaged the concerns of enough protestants to allow him to win the nomination and the presidency.  In that regard, I think it's reasonable to conclude the JFK speech was a success.  

While Mitt Romney's Mormon speech was well-received and widely praised, it was not so good as to have helped him win the nomination.  Clearly, there were many factors involved in how the race played out -- including Huckabee winning Iowa and taking votes away from him in South Carolina.  Still, exit polls would confirm that on election day, some voters were still influenced by anti-Mormon bias, meaning Romneys' speech -- though well-delivered -- did not persuade the folks who needed persuading.  

It is important to note that a speech's efficacy should be based not on whether or not it is immediately praised by insiders (this may include writers, pundits, and even bloggers) -- but on whether or not it achieves the long-term objective of persuading actual voters.  In this regard, I think Obama's speech fell short.