The Corner

Quick Pointlets About the Obama Speech

Scribbled some notes, during the Main Event. FWIW, as they say:

1. The introductory video was pure Norman Rockwell — no hint of the radical from Chicago.

2. As with Hillary, people seemed reluctant to stop applauding, if not fearful of doing so. Must not be the first to stop applauding the leader.

3. When he spoke of his “great humility,” he did not sound greatly humble.

4. He talked about Hillary Clinton as an inspiration “to my daughters and yours” — just a woman candidate. Of course, HRC has spoken of herself in those terms.

5. Biden, pointing his finger at Obama — “Hey, you da man, dude” — and flashing those choppers. I thought that was gross. But then, I have never been a Bidenite.

6. People keep talking about Biden’s taking the Amtrak as though it were some prole activity. Goodness gracious — that train, on that route, is elitist!

7. The Obama kids are 100 percent scrumptious.

8. If he becomes president, he will regret being so stupid and so severe about Bush. He’ll see that it’s no picnic.

9. “We are a better country than this” — effective, I guess.

10. Again, as in other speeches, the veterans sleeping on the street, the soldiers ignored and abused when they return. A theme of the convention. Bush and Cheney just hate the veterans. I say again: If they want to hold the election among veterans — just veterans — fine, fine.

11. “. . . a government that . . . sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.” Nicely worded. Referring to the Dems in NOLA and Baton Rouge?

12. As he talked about Bush and McCain, linking the two, he sounded shallow, clichéd, sophomoric. This is the great thinker and speaker?

13. Phil Gramm, “a nation of whiners” — go, Phil, go. Gramm has a better understanding of the nation, of the economy, and of people than Obama can presently hope for.

14. “. . . a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement.” Actually, the gamble is sticking with the old program, which is going down the tubes. Smart Democrats, like other smart people, know that there will be a reckoning, and that reform is necessary.

15. Like previous speakers, Obama painted our philosophy — a Reaganite philosophy — as Social Darwinian. Either he’s ignorant or slanderous.

16. He put in a good word for entrepreneurship — which is extraordinary for a Democratic acceptance speech.

17. He sounded centrist, reasonable, and solidly American. Again, not the Chicago radical, not the friend and partner of Billy Ayers.

18. What he said about the place of government — who could disagree with it? Again, pure Americanism. Civics 101. If you knew nothing else about Obama — you’d say, “Golly, maybe an Eisenhower Republican, or a Kennedy liberal” (and those species, from this remove, look just about the same).

19. When he talked about tax cuts, the convention exploded in applause. Activist Democrats cheering madly for tax cuts? If Obama came out for school choice, or strict constructionism, they might go mad for that.

20. Obama won’t settle for an America in which some kids can’t get an education. And we child-haters on the right would, of course.

21. Occasionally in this speech, he sounded like an arrogant jerk. And at other times, he sounded like a genuine statesman.

22. Obama promised to raise teachers’ salaries. The president can do that?

23. I’m not sure that the Democratic Leadership Council could disagree with any of this — rather Clinton, 1992.

24. When Obama said government cannot replace parents, the convention went mad with approval. But would they take these words — this idea — from a Republican? Interesting.

25. “Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility” — twin values of America. Very nice.

26. After the first debate of 2004, I said, “If I were a good, moderate-to-conservative, war-supporting American — who knew nothing about the candidates except what I learned in this debate — I’d vote for Kerry.” I had a similar feeling about the Obama speech: If I were a normal, moderate-to-conservative American — who did not follow politics — I’d vote for him.

27. Now and then, Obama seemed angry, aggrieved, responding to criticisms by McCain. We talk about the Republican’s thin skin. Could Obama suffer from the same — and could it affect his performance in the general-election campaign?

28. “I’ve got news for you, John McCain: We all put our country first.” Very, very effective — and pretty much sidelined McCain’s slogan.

29. He talked about “tough choices” — reminded me of Michael Dukakis in ’88. In fact, Dukakis said “tough choices” so much, William Safire, who was columnizing, called him “our tough little chooser.”

30. At least Obama said the word “abortion” — he did not resort to “right to choose,” or some other euphemism. Semi-refreshing.

31. He was sensible on guns — does he mean it?

32. He said things about gay rights — hospital visitation, etc. — that few, few Republicans could disagree with.

33. Said Obama, “This country of ours has more wealth than any nation” — but the convention has portrayed America as one big dust bowl. It might as well be 1930!

34. It was a very, very strong speech — well conceived and well delivered. Obama’s reputation as an orator, and as a politician, is not hype.

35. He was very self-confident, taking the fight to McCain. He said, in effect, “The question’s not whether I’m ready to be president. The question is, ‘What about you?’” He seemed sure-footed, commanding — I dare say presidential.

36. He might have protested a little too much on the patriotism business — there is more danger that Democrats will portray Republicans falsely as McCarthyite than that Republicans will portray Democrats as com-symps.

37. But they certainly have the patriot rap down pat — which is bad news, electorally, for the Republicans.

38. With the fireworks and all, it was a great show — as good as the theater from the Beijing Olympics?


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