Thursday, August 28, 2008


How about that acceptance speech?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, just wow!

August 28, 2008 11:20 PM  
Anonymous mr magic said...

Obama is a typical liberal. America isn't liberal.

Worse, no one at the convention made any personal endorsement of him. They simply cheered the same tired liberal proposals that they have cheered for years.

Again and again, Obama told us about the momentous steps he would take, always dodging the real question:

If he has all these great ideas, why has he not introduced or authored any major legislation?

Oh, that's right: he hasn't actually spent much time at the Senate. He's mostly been running for President on no record.

Wow, just wow!

Here's some thoughts from the Washington Post editorial board:

"FOR ALL THE talk of watershed and history, the themes that Democrats presented to America at the convention that ended yesterday, and that they hope will carry them back to the White House, aren't all that different from the arguments they made to the nation in 2004."

"Indeed, many of his proposals fell into the category of pleasing promises that will be difficult to make real: ending dependence on Middle East oil in 10 years, for example, or giving almost every American a tax cut without worsening the deficit."

"Making a case that he would be the superior commander in chief, Mr. Obama caricatured Mr. McCain as a bellicose adventurer "grasping at the ideas of the past." John McCain, he charged, "stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war." Actually, Mr. Obama stands -- unfortunately, not alone -- in his stubborn refusal to acknowledge that improvements on the ground in Iraq were fostered by the surge that Mr. McCain urged and that Mr. Obama opposed."

"Mr. Obama ended his speech last night with a stirring reprise of his call to end old-style politics. He called for finding common ground on divisive issues such as abortion, immigration and gay rights, and he derided the use of "stale tactics to scare the voters." These lofty sentiments were undercut by the fact that Mr. Obama did not exactly shy away from what he called "this same partisan playbook." He was unfair in claiming that Mr. McCain defines "middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year" and has proposed "a plan that would privatize Social Security.""

August 29, 2008 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Wow, just wow said...

Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.

Nothing wrong or even terribly odd about that, except that he is laying claim to the job of crafting the coming history of the United States. A leap of such audacity is odd. The air of unease at the Democratic convention this week was not just a result of the Clinton psychodrama. The deeper anxiety was that the party was nominating a man of many gifts but precious few accomplishments -- bearing even fewer witnesses.

When John Kerry was introduced at his convention four years ago, an honor guard of a dozen mates from his Vietnam days surrounded him on the podium attesting to his character and readiness to lead. Such personal testimonials are the norm. The roster of fellow soldiers or fellow senators who could from personal experience vouch for John McCain is rather long. At a less partisan date in the calendar, that roster might even include Democrats Russ Feingold and Edward Kennedy, with whom John McCain has worked to fashion important legislation.

Eerily missing at the Democratic convention this year were people of stature who were seriously involved at some point in Obama's life standing up to say: I know Barack Obama. I've been with Barack Obama. We've toiled/endured together. You can trust him. I do.

Hillary Clinton could have said something like that. She and Obama had, after all, engaged in a historic, utterly compelling contest for the nomination. During her convention speech, you kept waiting for her to offer just one line of testimony: I have come to know this man, to admire this man, to see his character, his courage, his wisdom, his judgment. Whatever. Anything.

Instead, nothing. She of course endorsed him. But the endorsement was entirely programmatic: We're all Democrats. He's a Democrat. He believes what you believe. So we must elect him -- I am currently unavailable -- to get Democratic things done. God bless America.

Clinton's withholding the "I've come to know this man" was vindictive and supremely self-serving -- but jarring, too, because you realize that if she didn't do it, no one else would. Not because of any inherent deficiency in Obama's character. But simply as a reflection of a young life with a biography remarkably thin by the standard of presidential candidates.

Who was there to speak about the real Barack Obama? His wife. She could tell you about Barack the father, the husband, the family man in a winning and perfectly sincere way. But that takes you only so far. It doesn't take you to the public man, the national leader.

Who is to testify to that? Hillary's husband on night three did aver that Obama is "ready to lead." However, he offered not a shred of evidence, let alone personal experience with Obama. And although he pulled it off charmingly, everyone knew that, having been suggesting precisely the opposite for months, he meant not a word of it.

Obama's vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, naturally advertised his patron's virtues, such as the fact that he had "reached across party lines to . . . keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists." But securing loose nukes is as bipartisan as motherhood and as uncontroversial as apple pie. The measure was so minimal that it passed by voice vote and received near zero media coverage.

Thought experiment. Assume John McCain had retired from politics. Would he have testified to Obama's political courage in reaching across the aisle to work with him on ethics reform, a collaboration Obama boasted about in the Saddleback debate? "In fact," reports the Annenberg Political Fact Check, "the two worked together for barely a week, after which McCain accused Obama of 'partisan posturing' " -- and launched a volcanic missive charging him with double-cross.

So where are the colleagues? The buddies? The political or spiritual soul mates? His most important spiritual adviser and mentor was Jeremiah Wright. But he's out. Then there's William Ayers, with whom he served on a board. He's out. Where are the others?

The oddity of this convention is that its central figure is the ultimate self-made man, a dazzling mysterious Gatsby. The palpable apprehension is that the anointed is a stranger -- a deeply engaging, elegant, brilliant stranger with whom the Democrats had a torrid affair. Having slowly woken up, they see the ring and wonder who exactly they married last night.

August 29, 2008 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Republicans reportedly considering delaying convention

In a post in this space on Thursday, Vincent Rossmeier noted a report that there's been discussion inside the White House about possibly canceling President Bush's speech at the Republican convention next week, depending on the turns taken by Tropical Storm Gustav.

Now, the Washington Post is out with an article that takes things one step further -- because of Gustav, the Post says, "Republican officials ... are considering delaying the start of the GOP convention." The Post also has the same report about deliberations inside the White House about whether to cancel Bush's appearance.

As the Post says, there's a very good reason why Republicans would want to avoid holding their convention as a storm batters the U.S.: Hurricane Katrina. Even if it weren't for Katrina and the negative perceptions still attached to the party from the damage it inflicted, holding what is essentially a political party while Americans suffer just doesn't look good.

And there's one other reason a decision to delay the convention might serve John McCain's strategic purposes. Actually, there are two: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Both are scheduled to speak on that first day, and a hurricane-related delay might be just the excuse the McCain camp needs to ensure that the pair doesn't appear without angering the large segment within the Republican Party that still holds the administration in high regard.

August 29, 2008 7:12 AM  
Anonymous anon-deluxe said...

Hey, look what Barack sent me:

"When Barack takes the stage tonight, he'll look out at delegates from every corner of the country and tens of thousands of ordinary people who are here to be part of this historic moment.

But in the very first row he'll see a group of people who are there because they took ownership of the political process. Some gave just five dollars.

They're folks just like you, and they represent more than two million Americans who own a piece of this campaign. Our success would not have been possible without so many people answering the call by giving whatever they can afford.

On this final day before Barack formally accepts the Democratic nomination, please celebrate the moment and lay the foundation for our victory in November by making a donation of $5 or more now"

How come, after breaking his promise to his rivals to accept public financing, and raising twice as much as McCain, is Obama still looking for more?

Read his lips: he'll raise taxes!

August 29, 2008 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Unlike the Bushleaque, Obama will lower taxes on 95% of working families.

Amen. It's time for America to put Barney Smith before Smith Barney!

August 29, 2008 7:26 AM  
Anonymous mr magic said...

Actually, for most people, taxes will go down even more under the Joebama regime than you think.

As agreed to by a consensus of economists, countries with the high marginal rates that Barack is proposing suffer economic stagnation. Barack's proposals would give us the second highest marginal tax rate in the first world. People will pay less tax because, for the lucky ones who are still employed, they will have less income.

Meanwhile, the Reagan miracle continues in its 27th year. The government revised 2nd qtr estimates this morning. Despite the bellyaching from the media and the jackass party, GDP grew at an annual rate of 3.3% from April to June. With gas prices tumbling, this qtr should be even better.

What happened to that recession that was just around the corner?

August 29, 2008 7:59 AM  
Anonymous wow, just wow said...

same thing that happened to our certain defeat in Iraq

August 29, 2008 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the time Barack Obama took the stage to accept the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, so many people had gathered in Denver's Invesco Field that to call the noise the crowd made merely a roar wouldn't do it justice. For those inside the press box, it was as if the crowd was making the stadium itself shake. Eighty-five thousand people were there to hear Obama speak, one of his spokeswomen told Salon, and he didn't disappoint them.

Those stadium-shaking bursts of enthusiasm had been sweeping through the crowd all night, but the crowd of course saved its loudest cheers for the man they'd come to see. When he came onstage, the crowd erupted. Signs bearing the signature word of Obama's campaign, "Change," went up through the stadium, and the whole place seemed to be filled with waving American flags. Every so often, another rumble built and shook the press box. And just when it seemed the audience might let Obama speak, the familiar chant of "Yes, we can" began, and the stadium seemed to shake again.


News reports suggest that McCain is struggling to fill a 10,000-seat arena in Dayton, on Friday, [his 72nd birthday so he can announce his Vice Presidential running mate], while Obama, of course, could probably hold a standing-room-only rally in Yellowstone National Park.

August 29, 2008 8:03 AM  
Anonymous mr magic said...

Funny, I watched last night and didn't see this uncontrolled and frenzied crowd that the media is talking about this morning. I thought the audience was more reserved than at past conventions.

Not surprising that a lot of people were there. The event was historic because of the racial angle.

"News reports suggest that McCain is struggling to fill a 10,000-seat arena in Dayton, on Friday, [his 72nd birthday so he can announce his Vice Presidential running mate],"

Remind me again: how many people went to Biden's first appearance with Obie-wama?

August 29, 2008 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The economy is booming? Ask the tens of thousands of Americans who have lost their homes:

AS the US economy appears more than ever linked to the health of the housing market, analysts see no end to falling prices or recovery in the sector before 2009.

After several years of a sizzling boom, housing prices in the United States have fallen for the past year and a half, according to the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller index. In May, prices fell a record 16 per cent from a year ago.

But for the majority of analysts, the price decline still is not enough to put the sector on the road to recovery.

‘Home prices in the US are likely to start to stabilize or touch bottom sometime in the first half of 2009,’ former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said on Thursday.

But ‘prices could continue to drift lower through 2009 and beyond,’ he added.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson regularly repeats that the real-estate sector presently is the biggest danger for the US economy.

Mr Paulson in late July warned that foreclosures and the number of existing homes for sale ‘are likely to remain substantially elevated this year and next and home prices are likely to decline further on a national basis.’ Several factors are at work.

The war in Iraq is still the wrong war. The war against those who attacked us on 9/11 from Afghanistan, is not going so well. June, the war in Afghanistan roared back into public view when American deaths from hostilities exceeded those in Iraq. In the face of an expanding threat from the Taliban, the conflict is becoming deadlier and much more violent for American troops, who three weeks ago reached their highest deployment levels ever, at 36,000.

...During the first three years of the war, about two-thirds of all American casualties came under so-called nonhostile conditions — illnesses, vehicle crashes and accidental discharges of weapons, for example.
But that pattern flipped in 2005. Since then, about 70 percent of American casualties in Afghanistan have occurred under hostile conditions, like small-arms fire, rocket attacks and, increasingly, improvised mines and bombs.

August 29, 2008 8:14 AM  
Anonymous mr magic said...

Stable Americans who have held their homes for a number of years have a healthy average increase in spite of the correction. Those being hurt are those who made unwise financing deals. House prices are significantly higher since the beginning of the millenium. There are places where prices are still on the rise. Prices in California, Florida and Nevada ballooned because of foreign investors.

Afghanistan doesn't have near the strategic significance of Iraq. The war is going badly there, however, because we unwisely followed the course Obama would have likely taken. We left the war to our allies to run. NATO is in charge in Afghanistan, the U.S. is winning the war we are running, Iraq.

Obama is hiding in caves in Pakistan. Do you think we should invade Pakistan to go retrieve him?

August 29, 2008 8:31 AM  
Anonymous wow, just wow said...

Obama is nothing more than a shooting star.

Everyone says "ooh" and "aww" at first glance but he quickly fades.

August 29, 2008 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is nothing more than a shooting star.

You hope! Don't count on it!

August 29, 2008 9:27 AM  
Anonymous wow, just wow said...

i'll just count on his poll numbers

not exactly brilliant

it'll take more than standing front of a crowd and blinking your eyes like an elitist to impress the American voters

August 29, 2008 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Polls don't count. Votes do. This year we'll count all of them.

August 29, 2008 9:47 AM  
Anonymous wow, just wow said...

Republicans always do better at the voting box than in the polls

their voters show up

and so does a lot of people's common sense

August 29, 2008 10:35 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Not this year. Polls show that the percentage of democrats who are excited about their nominee is triple that of Republicans who are excited about their nominee. In the primaries Democrats came out in droves compared to Republicans, the number of enthusiastic Democrat voters has and will swamp the number of Republican voters. Republicans can't get excited about the idea of Mcsame and are staying home in record numbers.

August 29, 2008 1:49 PM  
Anonymous mr magic said...

"Polls show that the percentage of democrats who are excited about their nominee is triple that of Republicans who are excited about their nominee."

That just changed, sad sack.

Wait until you see McCain debate Obama.

McCain offered this summer but Barack the Yellow-bellied decided to put it off until the last second.

There's a reason for that.

August 29, 2008 3:00 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Yeah sure Red baron, that just changed like Huckabee's going to be president.

MSNBC Pat Buchanan - "It was a genuinely outstanding speech. It was magnificent. It is the finest - and I saw Cuomo's speech, I saw Kennedy in '80, I even saw Douglas MacArthur, I saw Martin Luther King - this is the greatest convention speech, and probably the most important because unlike Cuomo and the others this is an acceptance speech. This came out of the heart of America and he went right at the heart of America..."
FOX Bill Kristol - "Barack Obama faced very high expectations tonight and honestly I think he met them and I honestly think he exceeded them...He eloquently explained America's promise. He explained why the Bush Cheney administration had fallen short of that...I thought it was an awfully impressive performance."

CNN David Gergen - "In many ways it was less a speech than a symphony...It was a masterpiece"

MSNBC Tom Brokaw - "It was a wonderfully crafted political speech and the Republicans I'm sure were looking in and wondering what they're going to be able to do next week to match it"

CNN Paul Begala - "He went fearlessly at John McCain's greatest strength, national security. He went proudly into the social issue terrain that Democrats are usually so afraid of. He went boldly attacking the status quo of George Bush, Dick Cheney and John McCain, and then he went very comfortably in your living room...This is my ninth convention, it was as very nearly a perfect convention speech as I can imagine..."

MSNBC Chris Matthews - "I thought it was amazing - I've written speeches all my life, of course nothing like this...It was a great way of throwing back the other side's best shot and saying it's full of crap"

August 29, 2008 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, why is he afraid to debate McCain?

You think he just has the jitters?

August 29, 2008 3:23 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Nonsense. Obama's agreed to three debates with Mccain in the fall.

As Dinesh D'souza does Mccain will attemp the gish gallop, a rhetorical technique in debates that involves drowning the opponent in half-truths, lies, straw men, and bs to such a degree that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised.

August 29, 2008 3:35 PM  
Anonymous the blazing baron said...

Priya, you're a misinformed idiot. McCain offered to meet Obama for ten debates this summer to assist the voters in becoming familiar with the distinctions between the two. Obama declined.

Truth is, aside from the faulty and unworkable liberal ideas possessed by Obama, he just isn't ready.

That's not to say Obama doesn't have potential. I've heard him say some truly insightful things. One was last night when he called McCain a great American hero who all Americans owe a debt of gratitude.

Obama is an American.

You're not.

You're part of the Commonwealth.

The Queen's your boss and you are clueless about America.

August 29, 2008 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"mr magic", "Wow, just wow", "anon-deluxe", "the blazing baron" You are all the same troll, right? You still haven't figured out that this is NOT YOUR BLOG bloviate and preen as if you have something important to say. You just LOVE to hear yourself talk, don't you? But then, that is what Focus on the Family, PFOX, Concerned Women for America, Traditional Values Coalition, Femily Research Council, Citizens for Traditional Values, or whatever right-wing, extremist group it is, pays you to do.
With such idiotic, puerile remarks as "Not surprising that a lot of people were there. The event was historic because of the racial angle" or "Obama is hiding in caves in Pakistan. Do you think we should invade Pakistan to go retrieve him? or "Afghanistan doesn't have near the strategic significance of Iraq. The war is going badly there, however, because we unwisely followed the course Obama would have likely taken. We left the war to our allies to run. NATO is in charge in Afghanistan, the U.S. is winning the war we are running, Iraq." or "it'll take more than standing front of a crowd and blinking your eyes like an elitist to impress the American voters" (what was that about McSame's 7 homes that he claims he didn't know he had?), or "Wait until you see McCain debate Obama" (almost the most comical statement you made, except for the tragedy of your self-delusionment), or "So, why is he afraid to debate McCain?" you have, once again, exposed yourself for the fool that you are. sad.
By the way...which of the above trolls is really you?
Just Wondering

August 29, 2008 9:52 PM  
Anonymous wonder no more said...

In tone, Obama's big speech was small, partisan, often defensive and occasionally snide. "I've got news for you, John McCain," he exclaimed. "We all put our country first." It was a pattern for the night: I'm not weak -- you are the one who hasn't killed bin Laden with your bare hands. I'm not inexperienced -- you are the one who is old and out of touch. None of this assault was made with grace or wit.

And some of the attacks were simply unfair. Is it really credible to blame McCain for a tripling of oil imports during his time as senator? What does it mean that McCain "won't even follow [bin Laden] to the cave where he lives" -- that McCain is cowardly? that he knows where bin Laden hides, and won't tell the rest of us? that he doesn't believe in fighting al-Qaeda?

In craft, Obama's speech was aggressively unexceptional, as if he set out to be unmemorable. The applause lines were generally flat: "Enough!" "We are a better country than this!" There was little effective humor. Ronald Reagan drew lines from Clint Eastwood movies: "Go ahead, make my day." Obama drew his tag line -- "Eight is enough" -- from a 1970s TV show. (The song, you might remember, goes, "Eight is enough to fill our lives with love.")

In delivery, of course, Obama was masterfully confident -- which increasingly seems like the self-assurance of a man who believes mainly in himself.

By the last firework of the Democratic convention, Obama's transformation was complete. He had systematically taken the advice of every cynical, hard-edged Democratic political consultant. Get rid of the airy, cerebral rhetoric. Pitch your message to the focus groups, not the historians. Go for the old man's jugular.

In the process, opportunities were lost. Obama said nothing interesting about race in America at a moment when that might have been expected. He made no serious effort to reach out to religious conservatives, something that now seems more like a ploy than a project. He offered no creative policy proposals that might transcend partisan divisions. In fact, his message ran with perfect smoothness along old partisan grooves. That is genuinely disappointing. A Democrat who wins in this fashion will be unable to rein in the inevitable excesses of the Democratic Congress. And the inevitable counter-reaction of Republicans will leave Washington, once again, a World War I battlefield of trenches and grudges.

Some illusions have also been lost. For many Americans, the exciting young candidate who won the Iowa caucuses had the promise of being a new kind of politician entirely -- better than and different from the political norm of bitterness and calculation. Those hopes now seem -- in the words of a famous Democrat -- like a "fairy tale." In this convention, Obama "matured" into the spitting image of the typical Democratic politician. And this raises a question about Obama himself. Between Iowa and Denver there is little consistency except talent and ambition. Is there anything more to this candidate than talent and ambition?

It is the conventional wisdom that this transformation is politically brilliant: In an election year of massive voter discontent, a Democrat who sounds like a Democrat will surely win.

That may be correct. But Obama seems determined to test the theory in full. The Democratic ticket consists of two of the most ideological liberals in the U.S. Senate. It includes no reasonable governor, no candidate with Southern roots, no member with a military background (for the first time in decades). And now it offers the purest message of partisan aggression and class resentment.

Let the depressing battle begin.

August 30, 2008 8:39 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

I saw Obama and Clinton speak in Sioux City Iowa on January First, early in the campaign season. I blogged about it HERE, there are even pictures. At that time, I liked her a little better because she seemed more professional. His grammar is very colloquial, he's very down to earth, he referred to the president of Iran as "kind of a nut" and talked about paying off his college loans and saving money for a baby-sitter, just like he does now. My kid even made a video of the speech with his camera and we uploaded it to YouTube, first time we'd done that. It came out pretty good, for just holding his camera up in the air.

The acceptance speech I saw the other night was not significantly different from the talk I saw in a middle-school gym in Iowa eight months ago. Anon's heckling provides good humorous diversion, it's fine to copy and paste every negative opinion piece he can find online, but it's time to get serious about pulling America out of the gutter, not a time for gallows humor.


August 30, 2008 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My kid even made a video of the speech with his camera and we uploaded it to YouTube,"

Can we get a link, Jim?

I'd love to see it.

btw, I second this emotion:

"but it's time to get serious about pulling America out of the gutter,"

McCain's been battling to do just this for years. That the reluctant Republican has had no choice but to embrace him changes nothing and Sarah Palin is a female Ronald Reagan.

Watch out, guys!

Here it comes.

The future.

August 30, 2008 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

"blazing baron"? Or is it "flaming baron"? I lose track with the momentary changes of name.


August 30, 2008 9:27 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Flaming Baron! Robert, have you no decency?!?!

Good one.


August 30, 2008 9:30 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

And no, Flaming Baron, I won't post a link, out of concern for privacy. Thought about it, decided not to.


August 30, 2008 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to give you guys a chuckle, I'll tell you I almost wrote "flaming" and then it occured to me that could have another meaning.

Jim, I tried searching "Obama, Kennedy, Iowa" in youtube and got lots of clips of Barack and Ted at gyms in Iowa so your privacy is probably safe.

August 30, 2008 10:07 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

If you found it and posted the link I'd just delete it anyway.


August 30, 2008 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't planning to post the link against your wishes, Jim. I was just trying to see the clip. I saw a lot of other clips though.

No big deal.

August 30, 2008 7:02 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

There are lots of YouTube videos from Jan 1 at Sioux City. You can see Obama's style then, and compare it to how he is now. You'll see he hasn't changed, he gave a good speech back then and he does now, too. He's smart, inspired, quick on his feet, knowledgeable, witty, and he was then, too.


August 30, 2008 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Broder, a columnist who generally takes a liberal Democrat view, has what should probably be the final word on Obama's speech:

"DENVER -- The Democrats had themselves a successful convention -- at the price of appearing quite conventional.

The delegates left here happy and enthused, believing that the divisive nomination fight was finally behind them. But their star, Barack Obama, on the climactic night of the conclave, gave an acceptance speech that was no match for the keynote address he delivered at the 2004 convention in Boston. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, introducing his colleague again here, said that first one "changed politics in America."

That is hardly an exaggeration. People were talking about the 2004 speech -- with its powerful evocation of a national unity far beyond any partisan differences -- for weeks. I long ago lost count of the number of Obama volunteers who said they had signed up to support him after watching that address.

No one is likely to argue that the speech here "changed politics in America." His jibes at John McCain and George Bush were standard-issue Democratic fare, and his recital of a long list of domestic promises could have been delivered by any Democratic nominee from Walter Mondale to John Kerry.

There was no theme music to the speech and really no phrase or sentence that is likely to linger in the memory of any listener. The thing I never expected did in fact occur: Al Gore, the famously wooden former vice president, gave a more lively and convincing speech than Obama did.

If this were just an off night by a speaker we know can soar, it would be no more than a blip on the screen. Obama picked a bad night to be ordinary, given the huge crowd that filled the Denver Broncos' stadium and the elaborate Grecian setting constructed for his performance.

But John McCain is hardly a major threat as a speaker, so what's the difference?

Here's why I think it matters. One of the major questions about Obama, of whom so little is known, is whether he is really serious about challenging the partisan gridlock in Washington or whether his election would simply bring on the regular wish list of liberal policies.

His Boston speech -- and many others early in this campaign -- suggested that he was sincere in wanting to tamp down partisanship and would be creative enough to see the need for enlisting bright people from both parties in confronting the nation's problems.

But the Denver speech, like many others he has given recently, subordinated any talk of fundamental systemic change to a checklist of traditional Democratic programs.

Obama's disappointing speech also reflected what I had thought was the one conspicuous failure of the convention program -- the missed opportunity to introduce the country to others in the younger generation of Democrats than just Obama and his dazzling wife, Michelle.

The convention hall was full of bright, attractive men and women serving as governors or mayors or in other posts. Obama knows many of them from his campaign travels, and he gave the keynote spot to one of them, Virginia's Mark Warner.

But the prime-time spots on the convention program went to Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Hillary Clinton, former president Bill Clinton and Sen. Joe Biden, the vice presidential nominee. All are comfortably familiar figures to members of my generation, and all are part of a Washington that is hardly the favorite of most voters.

My guess is that an Obama administration, if there is one, would bring a lot of new faces and fresh ideas to the nation's capital. But by giving such an ordinary speech and filling the TV screen with such familiar faces, Obama missed a chance to signal that such change is his mission.

He is not the first Democrat who has promised a new day. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, in different ways, tried to change Washington, and both wound up frustrated. The status quo forces -- the interest groups, many in Congress and parts of the media -- all are powerful.

The only time a new president can really change Washington is when he makes it the central message of his campaign, as Ronald Reagan did in 1980.

Reagan's skill was his rhetoric; hence the label "The Great Communicator." After the 2004 Obama speech, Democrats thought they had found one of their own. It's too bad that fellow didn't make it to Denver."

September 02, 2008 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "final word" will be spoken on November 5, 2008.

September 02, 2008 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a dumb vice presidential pick.

David Knowles wrote - The first rule of picking a Vice President is to "do no harm." Well, consider this mission not accomplished. Like a hybrid echo of all the lousy picks and appointments from the Bush years (Harriet Miers, Michael Brown), Sarah Palin's was put forth in stunning, "Father Knows Best" fashion. What's clear now is that McCain is a rash man. He makes bold, unpredictable choices, and sticks to his guns. Why take the time to vet Palin? Why make her jump the same hurdles you've placed before Pawlenty, Romney, and Lieberman? I mean, she's got five kids, right? And she just feels right. If you're wondering why America would want to elect a stubborn and irrational man, you're not alone:

Eugene Robinson:

We learned last week that John McCain is not who he is--not, at least, who he claims to be. The steady, straight-talking, country-first statesman his campaign has been selling is a fictional character. The real McCain is either alarmingly cynical or dangerously reckless.

Charles Krauthammer:

The McCain campaign is reveling in the fact that Palin is a game changer. But why a game changer when you've been gaining? To gratuitously undercut the remarkably successful "Is he ready to lead" line of attack seems near suicidal.

Andrew Sullivan:

The salient political issues of the Palin pick are two-fold: Can Palin be trusted to tell the truth? And how competent is a campaign that picks a candidate without any serious vetting of stuff that can appear on the Internet within a few hours of the news? We need to refocus on those core questions. I fear the answers are: we can't trust Palin to tell the truth; and the manner of McCain's pick demonstrates some of the most grotesque incompetence in modern political history.

John Dickerson:

Each new fact we learn about Sarah Palin--her reversal on the bridge to nowhere, her disagreements with McCain on issues from windfall profits to global warming, emerging facts about troopgate--contribute to the feeling that this whole Palin thing is being made up as we go along. It may be fun to read about, and it sure is fun to cover, but it also supports the judgment of the Palin pick that I first heard from a Republican veteran shortly after the announcement: Reckless.

David Brooks:

He really needs someone to impose a policy structure on his moral intuitions. He needs a very senior person who can organize a vast administration and insist that he tame his lone-pilot tendencies and work through the established corridors--the National Security Council, the Domestic Policy Council. He needs a near-equal who can turn his instincts, which are great, into a doctrine that everybody else can predict and understand.

Rob Portman or Bob Gates wouldn't have been politically exciting, but they are capable of performing those tasks. Palin, for all her gifts, is not. She underlines McCain's strength without compensating for his weaknesses. The real second fiddle job is still unfilled.

Margaret Carlson:

The vice presidential choice is the only truly presidential decision a candidate makes. For someone who talks about himself as a man of honor, above politics, who believes that this No. 2 must be ready to be commander-in-chief on Day 2, this is an impetuous, superficial, reactive move designed to excite the fringe of his party and attract disenchanted women from the other.

This would be cynical for someone for whom age isn't an issue. For someone 72 with four bouts of cancer, it's a violation of his duty to do the country no harm. That's true no matter how much you love the Sarah Palin made-for-TV movie.

September 02, 2008 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still unanswered by these erudite pundits is why Palin is a foolish choice by McCain but Obama is a terrific choice by Democratic primary voters.

They are both in the first terms of their first prominent elected positions with the only difference being that she has executive experience while he has spent the majority of his term engaging in a political campaign for higher office.

Visiting every Starbucks in America doesn't really turn you into an expert on running the country although perhaps Obama could organize the coffee service at the White House.

He knows a good cuppa when he tastes one.

September 03, 2008 12:56 AM  

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