I disagree with huge swaths of the speech, and we’ll be discussing a lot of that for a while. Substantively, I don’t think there was anything new to it. Indeed, I think it was a very old speech, going right back to Herbert Croly.
I think his shots at McCain were ill-advised. Who the hell is Obama to try to out-hawk McCain on Bin Laden? Please. Not plausible. What is Obama talking about when he tries to suggest there are more Republicans for Obama than there are Democrats for McCain? C’mon. The Clintonian false-choice b.s. was particularly grating (gay marriage: punt! Gay hospital visitation, hooray! AK-47S boo, 2nd amendment, wahoo!).
And I should say his appeals to patriotism and personal responsibility were welcome coming from a Democratic podium (yes, yes: previous Democrats have done some of that too, but Obama can sell it).
But, I think he’ll get his bump. He’s a compelling personality. He’s telling a lot of Americans, particularly a lot of Democrats, what they want to hear. He’s making himself into a conventional Democrat when a conventional Democrat should be running away with things. He’ll get his bump.
And then, as the details of the speech are picked apart and compared to his actual record and — most importantly — compared to McCain’s his lead in the polls will fall apart as well.
I think one of his biggest problems is that he wants a new politics for a new time — or whatever the phrase is — but the time for a new politics spiel was actually 1992, when everyone thought there was going to be a peace dividend and a new world order and all that. The war on terror, the rise of Russia and China etc, make such pie-eyed utopianism less compelling, and less believable.