Friday, August 29, 2008

Mile High Home Run

The TV commentators gushed, even Pat Buchanan was beside himself with enthusiasm. And now the print reviews are starting to come in, with raves like this and this and this from the New York Times, this and this and especially this (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post, and this from the Guardian, just to skim off the top of the list.
(A lot of them have photos and excerpts, but not as good as mine.)

The points of view are interesting. Pat Buchanan thought it was centrist, Dionne a fulfillment of Civil Rights, and Kos is thrilled that it's solidly progressive. And they all loved it. So did T. Goddard, and he supplies some other gushers.

In a way I find all this amusing, because my first impression of the speech was that it was Barack's Greatest Hits. Almost everything in it I've heard before, which supports my contention that the people braying for Obama to say this or that just haven't been listening. David Gergen likened it to a symphony, and that's a great way of describing it: it was new in its combinations, its moods and sharpened expression. It was what he chose to put in it, how he arranged it and delivered it.

With the rumor that McCain had selected Pawlenty as VP, the folks as MSNBC seemed to fear that the McCain campaign might just vaporize. The drama of the oncoming storm Gustav may be the only thing that will produce any interest in the GOP convention next week. It may not be that drastic, but I've been waiting for the point that Obama seals the deal. He may be on his way. It may not even take the debates, but I suspect it won't really be sealed until after the first one at least. But the bounce is coming, and people are going to be talking about this speech for awhile.

What seemed to interest the commentators was Obama's "new" combativeness. Some of it was new, like the word "temperament" when Obama talked about a debate on who has the temperament and judgment to be Commander in Chief. It signals an escalation--McCain campaign's attacks have been so scurrilous we may have lost track of how brutal they are. Well, temperament is a real McCain weakness (his temper or at least sourness increasingly evident to the media, as in this interview), and real weaknesses are harder to defend than fictional ones.

I've said here before however that Obama always said he would engage his opponent in the general election in ways he wouldn't engage fellow Democrats in the primary--and by the way, didn't that pay off big time? Bill Clinton, Hillary, Al Gore, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, etc. all made invaluable and specific contributions to his candidacy during this very successful convention. And Joe Biden is his running mate.

And I've pointed out that the pre-convention strategy involved organizing, fundraising and putting together the resume, from the overseas trip to rolling out economic and energy plans. The convention starts the head-to-head, and Obama took this on himself. Democrats are ecstatic, the media has a fight to cover, while the convention did a great job of telling and showing Obama's story, which he used to relate directly to voters with the issues.

Now Obama and Biden campaign together, starting in Pittsburgh. They'll hammer the economic issues, and I expect as we get into late September and October, the economic argument--barring intervening extra-campaign events--will increasingly focus on health care.

Finally, several of the NBC commentators--starting with Brian Williams--noted the notes in the speech that seem straight out of that wonderful couple of minutes in the film (that surprisingly they all knew as well as I do), "The American President." I pointed out the similarity of something Obama said to this speech before. I'll have to look for that post, and maybe post the YouTube clip. Later.

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