Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Quick Reaction to the Obama Speech and Its Coverage

I may or may not write more later about the acceptance speech of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama this evening, but for now a couple of thoughts come to mind:

I was a bit surprised at the harsh tone of the speech. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. Regardless of how Americans perceive the policies of John McCain, many have a great deal respect for his service, and those who are prone to so respect him include many in demographics that Sen. Obama must appeal to. The harsh tone toward one he claims "doesn't get it" may backfire. Joe Biden makes the better attack dog.

Will people contrast favorably Sen. McCain's congratulatory commercial with Sen. Obama's attacks, or will they dismiss the McCain commercial as a ploy to get them to do so? It will be interesting to see.

Of course, more was promised in the speech than can ever be delivered, but that is always true in political speeches these days. The Republicans will do the same next week.

While flipping channels to hear some of the commentary, I came across MSNBC and was stunned. As regular readers know, I rarely watch television, so this may have become the norm in the last few years without my awareness, but I have never heard on national television the sycophantic level of cheerleading that was going on with that network. By traditional network standards, it was an embarrassment. Of course, many accuse Fox News of behaving this way toward the Republicans, but I have never heard anything like what was going on at MSNBC tonight. Admittedly, I am a partisan observer, but I think I do as well as most at stepping back and viewing things in a disinterested manner. That network tonight was bizarre.

Update. A.C. Kleinheider also notes the harsh tone and argues that the departure from Sen. Obama's "utopian, sentimental fluff" reveals a realism that is "bad news for John McCain." That is certainly a possibility, and, while I don't usually cover the horse race of election campaigns, I will be interested in seeing the poll numbers coming out of the close of the convention. There were other ways that he could have taken a realistic tone through this speech, and, to be kind, too many of the promises he made were little more than pie in the sky.

Partisan Republicans loved their 1992 convention, at which Pat Buchanan and Marilyn Quayle declared a culture war, but most of the rest of the country was repulsed. I think Sen. Obama took an enormous, arguably unnecessary, risk.


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