Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Obama’s Speech

Posted by MEC on August 29, 2008

The beginning of Barack Obama’s speech worried me a little: it sounded like a standard campaign stump speech, and I believed he needed to give us something we hadn’t already heard from him and all the other politicians who spoke at the convention.

It got better.

He showed that he knows the lives of ordinary people.

He demolished the Republicans’ attacks on him, and then wrapped the responsibility for their failures around their collective neck.

He described his specific proposals to address the country’s most pressing problems.

He reminded us of the Democratic legacy of great leadership in wartime and peacetime.

He described a philosophy of government based on American ideals.

He challenged us to live up to those ideals.

As he described his policy proposals, I thought, “This is not a campaign speech. It’s a State of the Union address.”

As he concluded with a call to “keep that promise — that American promise — I thought, “This is, indeed, a president.”

6 Responses to “Obama’s Speech”

  1. I’m not normally one to quote Andrew Sullivan.

    But he friggin’ nailed it here. As did Obama.

    Just one choice quote of many:

    The McCain campaign set Obama up as a celebrity airhead, a Paris Hilton of wealth and elitism. And he let them portray him that way, and let them over-reach, and let them punch him again and again … and then he turned around and destroyed them. If the Rove Republicans thought they were playing with a patsy, they just got a reality check.

    He took every assault on him and turned them around. He showed not just that he understood the experience of many middle class Americans, but that he understood how the Republicans have succeeded in smearing him. And he didn’t shrink from the personal charges; he rebutted them. Whoever else this was, it was not Adlai Stevenson. It was not Jimmy Carter. And it was less afraid and less calculating than Bill Clinton.

  2. MEC said

    When I read that passage, I thought, “Rope-a-dope! They did say Muhammad Ali was going to be at the convention, didn’t they?”

  3. Charles II said

    I must have been watching a different channel.

    I thought it was a decent speech. I gave it a B or B+. Certainly presidential in caliber, but not a gobstopper. And certainly not a GOPstopper.

    What I was looking for was a sketch of what the fundamental problem(s) is(are), directions to his supporters on what to do in the next 60 days, and an explanation why their sacrifices would result in a concrete, positive payback– with a reality check on how probable it is that a Democratic president with a pink tutu Congress can do it.

    If I wanted to force the speech into that mold, I would select these passages:

    * THE PROBLEM: a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more…These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

    * THE SOLUTION (OVERVIEW) market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities…government ….should…protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology….ensure opportunity …for every American who’s willing to work.

    SOLUTION (SPECIFICS)…stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas… eliminate capital-gains taxes for the small businesses and the startups …cut taxes — for 95 percent of all working families. …In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East…. tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies retool…invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy…recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries [but] ask for higher standards and more accountability….If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves….make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick…paid sick days and better family leave…change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected…equal pay for an equal day’s work

    INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOW TO ACHIEVE VICTORY: hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess

    First, I did like his marching slogan: America, we cannot turn back.

    The problems I see with the speech are many.

    In the specifics, he started out with tax policy. For example, A capital gains cut for startups? What does this mean? If I renovate houses, I pay no taxes? Corporate officers who give themselves QSOs pay no tax on the gain?

    On his energy policy, clean coal technology? I realize this is popular with Western governors, but to most environmentalists this will sound like a betrayal. As will the “safe nuclear” pledge.

    Pay teachers higher salaries? The federal government has nothing to do with teacher salaries in all but a tiny number of school districts. And more “accountability,” after all the weakening of job security that has already taken place, will not sound very attractive to most teachers, I suspect. (I could be wrong. I know that incompetent teachers and the protections they get from the union are a sore point in the profession).

    When he finally got around to healthcare, it started sounding better. We didn’t hear any detail, though. Is it universal? Is it tied to a job or is it portable… even if you become unemployed? How much will it cost?

  4. Charles II said

    PS: Vi Ritholtz Here’s a visual of the speech by Wordle.

  5. Sorry, Charles, they didn’t nominate you. But thanks anyway. :-)

  6. Charles II said

    If nominated, I would not run. If elected I would not serve. If installed by coup, I would not issue decrees.

    I am an analyst, not a politician.

    How did the speech serve to direct supporters of Obama as to what they should say and do over the next sixty-odd days?

    The election is here, and I just don’t see Democrats as prepared for it.

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