I have already said that the Speech was historic and remarkable and marvelous (albeit ultimately unsatisfying).

But what about the politics? The Horse Race?

Remember: Obama is an insurgent candidate locked in a death match with the political equivalent of "Anton Chigurh," the relentless pursuer from No Country for Old Men. To win in the end, he has always needed to run a near-perfect race with no big mistakes. After performing flawlessly for months, coming mere inches away from realizing the impossible and closing out this race on March 4th, was this crisis Obama's fatal error?

Dr. Politics, Steffen Schmidt, commented here today:

"Rest assured that only political geeks like us heard or read the speech. At best voters got some fleeting report on local news that Obama gave a speech. The GOP is compiling short, grainy black and white mini-spots of Wright overlaid with an unflattering picture of Obama that floats in a scary way across the screen.

"The stuff Wright said may be justified for blacks but it is not acceptable to most whites, Jews, Asian Americans, and many Hispanics.

"I think the "O'Mentum" has been stopped dead in its tracks."


Obama has two major problems coming out of Philadelphia:

1. The Speech, while interesting and provocative, placed the comments of Reverend Wright at the center of the campaign. This is not insignificant. We (the conservative world) and ABC News have been talking non-stop about this revelation-slash-crisis since last Thursday, but this morning, in order to analyze the monumental address, NPR was forced to introduce the story to its listeners--as they had virtually ignored it until yesterday. The Newshour with Jim Lehrer was in a similar position--having ignored the story--save for the end-of-the-week political wrap-up with Shields and Brooks--Brooks having pronounced Obama's disastrous dissembling from last week "the perfect statement of dignity" and "a glimmer of hope" in a world otherwise gone terribly wrong. You just can't buy that kind of analysis. Even Tim Russert soft-pedaled the emerging crisis on Meet the Press Sunday, burying the discussion in the midst of other more important issues.

Last night and today, in order to cover the Speech, and demonstrate how transcendent the moment, tenets of basic journalism forced the mainstream media into explaining the context of the modern "Gettysburg Address." The downside of all the superlatives: Jeremiah Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ are now fair game through November.

Why did Obama do it? Because he had no choice. He understood the wild fire that was raging underneath the radar and gaining ground. He made the best of a bad situation, but, all things considered, he suffered a net loss: his eloquent treatise on race in America does not overcome the "mainstreaming" of Jeremiah Wright. This is one "crazy uncle" that Obama desperately needed to stay in the attic.

2. Worse yet, after so skillfully avoiding the potential pitfall over the course of his long campaign, the crisis forced Obama into making race the central motif of his candidacy. Goodbye subtlety. Goodbye quiet undertone. Goodbye plausible deniability. This development makes his run exponentially more challenging.

Again, why did he do it? Again, he had no choice. He was desperate. Only a wider and more majestic discussion of race could temporarily insulate him from the growing firestorm.

What now? Even as he basks in the glow of nearly unanimous admiration, he is bloodied and staggered. He may well be mortally wounded. And as Obama continues to hemorrhage, Mrs. Clinton gets stronger with each passing day.

Remember the equation: the superdelegates get to pick whomever they deem the most electable candidate come fall--and the rationale for public consumption need not conform to the reality.

What can save Barack Obama?

Perhaps a liberal backlash. Right now Obama's tormentors are the very same folks good liberals love to hate: Hannity, Limbaugh, FOX News, the conservative blogosphere.

The conservative schadenfreude could save him, just as it resurrected Mrs. Clinton in New Hampshire.

But that strikes me as unlikely.

As the Swabian Prince suggested earlier this week, Mrs. Clinton will more likely benefit from the hard feelings against the vast right-wing conspiracy that deprived America of its transcendent Deliverer.

Perhaps the question now is this: will the Clintons attempt to rehabilitate Obama sufficiently for a run as VP--or is he already too radioactive?

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers; it is always an honor.