August 29, 2008


Obama The Orthodox (Michael Gerson, August 30, 2008, Washington Post)

In substance, Barack Obama's convention speech could easily have been given by Al Gore or John Kerry -- and, in various forms, was given by Kerry and Gore. It was all in there: the lunchbox economic populism -- based on the assumption that most Americans are filling their lunchboxes with scraps from Dumpsters. The attacks on corporations, millionaires and other sinister job creators. The touching faith in the power of diplomacy.

This is not to say that these themes are ineffective -- both Gore and Kerry almost became president with them. And these nominees did not possess even half of Obama's political skills.

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 Obama campaign has become so reactionary that in order to dodge the celebrity appellation he went for boring.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 29, 2008 9:14 PM
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