I notice three glaring flaws from a speech that I’m sure will make Chris Matthews’ leg explode, prompt Keith Olbermann to start chiseling at Mount Rushmore, and that will be hailed by many media commentators as the greatest in American history – just as Obama’s Berlin speech was, just as Obama’s race speech was, just as his Iowa victory speech was, just as his 2004 convention address was…
Obama’s speech was predictable, it was implausible, and it was strikingly, inexplicably, angry.
Predictable: I could have prewritten a lot of it – “four more years that look like the past eight,” “voting together 90 percent of the time,” “McCain is no independent.” Anecdotes of working men who have to ship their equipment overseas, the reference to “a city drowning,” the implicit comparison of himself to Martin Luther King. If you’ve seen any of Obama’s previous speeches, you’ve heard a lot of this stuff before. He even reused the not a “red America, not a blue America, but the United States of America,” his signature line from the 2004 address.
Implausible: I wish I could trust him when he says America can’t prosper in the 21st Century with a 20th Century bureaucracy, and when he talks about going through, line by line, and eliminating unnecessary programs – boy, I’d love to believe him. But nothing – nothing – in his background suggests he would be a fiscal conservative. Nothing suggests he’s willing to take on his own party and public sector unions. If he really felt that strongly about it, he would have done something in the U.S. Senate. For all of these issues, all of these grand promises to tackle America’s biggest problems, he could have at least laid the groundwork. I’ve wondered if Obama has the patience and the discipline to put together a really complicated, controversial, major piece of legislation. I still have those doubts; apparently his solution to the doubts is to make the promises even bigger and grander.
(Same deal on guns, gay marriage, and abortion, which he tiptoed around and did his best to sound moderate and reasonable.)
Angry: Of all the aspects of this speech, the anger was the part that surprised me the most. I didn’t expect him to take it easy on McCain, but after McCain’s “well done,” ad, I wondered if they would take out some of the sharper or snippier lines. I can’t imagine anything came out, unless this morning’s version included him dropping the F-bomb. The red tie fits Obama tonight, because he was angry. As another blogger noted to me while Obama was giving the speech, McCain’s congratulatory ad looks out of place tonight, as he just made a nice gesture to a guy ripping him six ways to Sunday.
Obama clearly was offended by the “Celebrity” ad. He ought to blame his organizers, who treated this night as a mega concert, not a key step in the democratic process.
The line “McCain said he will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives,” was disastrous. Obnoxious.
“I’ve got news for you John McCain. We all put our country first.” First of all, no, some people don’t. Second, he made that line into an attack line.
Obama was bitter. Clinging, I guess you could say.
Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Obama won. He’s promising the moon, the sun, the stars, a chicken in every pot, and government-managed health care for all. It’s tempting, as everyone wants to believe in a free lunch. Sometimes, the American people have to see that ideas that sound too good to be true always are, and that command-and-control big government doesn’t work.