Obama's Speech: Clean, Articulate
Leading up to Obama's speech tonight, there was plenty of criticism with which I disagreed. I heard several of my pals wonder whether it would be creepy for Obama to give a speech in front of so many people, even likening the event to a Nazi rally. (Apparently, we don't like Nazi references until we need to utilize one.) I actually thought the idea to have Obama speak in a large outdoor arena was a good one - whatever "creepiness" people felt about the venue was more than offset by the the bottom line - 80,000 f'ing people showed up to a political speech.
(My inside sources have told me that as a response, John McCain has now upgraded and asked for the smoking section to be reserved at the Denny's where he is expected to make his acceptance speech next Thursday.)
That being said, while I think the venue was electric, I thought the speech itself was a little under-done. It was basically a paint-by-the-numbers Democratic speech - sprinkle in some personal examples, overpromise a laundry list of new programs that will never happen, and offer a pre-buttal to the GOP convention next week. As I'm sure most GOP observers will note (and already have in the post-speech analysis on television), it seemed like a pretty static speech for the candidate of change.
(In March, on this very blog, Dr. Emil Shuffhausen posted his "Do-It-Yourself Democrat Speech," which is worth a re-read.)
In fact, the most appealing aspect of the speech is the way in which Obama delivered it. He looked and sounded up to the challenge such a large crowd commanded. You could have watched the speech with your television on mute and you would have known just based on his delivery what point of the speech he was in. Obama could read the back of your cereal box to you in the morning and it would sound like he was saying something profound.
"And I say to you this morning... YOU NEED MORE RIBOFLAVIN!" (You applaud, perhaps start crying.)
But the speech didn't really offer us anything new (and if McCain's next week doesn't, I won't be afraid to say so.) At one point, he used the example of out of work auto workers to hit McCain on the economy - yet just minutes later, he pushed for higher fuel economy standards, which would have left many of those workers jobless even sooner. He finished his speech by trying to convince us he is a uniter by saying that there is no "Red America" or "Blue America," while spending the first 40 minutes explaining why Republicans would really rather you not have health care. He called for more parental involvement in their kids' lives, but opposes allowing them to send them to the school of their choice.
(Incidentally, I appreciate the line about more parental involvement. John Edwards, not so much.)
As I mentioned, a good portion of the latter half of Obama's speech was spent pre-emptively protecting himself against charges that are likely to surface at the GOP convention next week. He told us not to listen to charges that he's a celebrity, or that he hates America, or that he is untested. What would have been a good strategy, I think, would have been to throw the GOP completely off by pre-butting arguments that they never would have made:
"And don't let the Republicans tell you I don't like peanut butter and jelly. I have enjoyed a variety of spreadable dressings throughout my life growing up fatherless in Hawaii."
Guarantee half McCain's staff would start scrambling, looking for inconsistencies in Obama's sandwich consuming habits. Lexis Nexis would be deluged by searches for "Obama" and "salami."
At the end of the speech, the music started playing, and it was... some horrible country song. Thousands of African-Americans showed up in Denver for this watershed civil rights event, and the DNC punishes them with that crap? Wouldn't that have been a good time for a nice Isaac Hayes tribute? Playing country music after Obama's speech is akin to following McCain's speech up with a video tribute to Alec Baldwin.
As the music played, unable to stomach coverage on MSNBC, I switched over to Fox - and immediately heard Brit Hume refer to to "Barack Hussein Obama." I remain firmly planted in the camp that this is obnoxious and plays to the least common denominator. I also think any network that features a reptile like Dick Morris so prominently is undercutting any legitimacy they may be trying to convince us they have.
I'm off to Ann Arbor for the weekend - have a good one, honkies!