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August 28, 2008


"This is why he got nominated — and he came through."

As a former Clinton supporter, I was thinking the same thing.

Obama made McCain and his attacks on "celebrityhood" seem very small.

Gadzooks!! First time in my life I'm supporting a candidate who totally deserves to win. If he loses, it's nothing to do with him.

Second observation is that this speech makes the last six weeks look like an epic rope a dope.


No matter how many times I think he's on the ropes, he comes back better than before. You'd think that after a half dozen times I'd stop being so surprised, but... nope. To be doing this for a year and a half -- he really is tough as nails. He's going to be a good President.

Every night of the convention seemed designed to parry the objections of the pundits to the night before. Michelle Obama was great... but where was the Unity? Hillary brought unity... but why didn't she say Obama was ready to lead? Clinton said Obama was ready to lead, but where is the "red meat"?

By the time Gore had spoken, the red meat had been delivered, the convention narrative was down, but Obama was only promising a "workmanlike" speech.

And then he proceeded to offer a point-by-point dismantlement of the entire Republican set of talking points, and the narrative they'd set up for the RNC.

All in all, not too shabby.

Projection and wishful thinking. Very average speech. He was anxious as manifested by the frequent and uncharacteristically rapid pace of his delivery. The content was disappointingly predictable and pedestrian. His rhetoric does not soar and it never will even at his rather young age. Of course no one can connect and explicate as well as Bill Clinton except Martin Luther King. So yes, i had high expectations too. He is only slightly better than Gore and Kerry. his youth serves him well.

Channeling McMegan eh RICH?

His rhetoric does not soar and it never will

THis seems at odds with observable reality.

smells like someone stepped in troll dung

Yes, the pundits (and the Republicans) were pretty speechless. Go Obama!

I just hope that voters get a proper glimpse of this speech. If they do, he will win this election.

Also -- I have always been quite happy with Obama as a candidate. He has always seemed to be to have good judgment, intelligence, and intuition.

But after this speech, I find myself believing that not only could he govern well but that the country could, under his leadership, address ongoing problems which in the past have seemed intractable.

I'm seeing a lot of high praise of that speech out here in the blogosphere, but that thing was just stunning. Stunning. Wise, inspiring, and deeply pragmatic. I don't know what more you could want from a presidential candidate.

Ironically enough, I think Obama’s speech benefited from the GOP’s preemptive attacks,


Indeed, some of the most powerful moments involved Obama turning McCain’s own words against him.

Each gifted politician has a unique personal style. Obama is clearly a counter-puncher, perhaps the best I can remember in my lifetime.

He is at his best at the moment when he takes his opponent's attacks and turns them around to make them look stupid and petty and really an act of disrepect for the audience. His most devastating counterattacks show up how we the electorate are having our intelligence insulted by the trivialization of our politics.

This makes him the perfect opponent for Rovian attack politics. Let them show their hand first, then hit them back hard at the precise moment when their attacks start to seem stale and lose their energy (which is what John Kerry never did in 2004).

Mohammed Ali's rope-a-dope strategy is the metaphor that comes to mind.

I was a POW. I was a POW. I was a POW. I was a POW. I was a POW.

I like Josh Marshall's ***** Slap Theory of Politics.

John McCain just got ***** slapped.

Second observation is that this speech makes the last six weeks look like an epic rope a dope.

That was exactly my thought. I guess we don't yet know how it'll play, but right now it does feel like just about every Republican narrative of the last two months was utterly demolished. Bravo.

Indeed a masterful rope-a-dope. He let McCain spew nonsense and look small ... and then schooled him in why it was a bad idea. I thought it lagged a bit in the middle, but the first half and the last bit were pure Win. I have no idea what McCain can do now that his last several weeks' campaigning have been beautifully thrown back in his face.

I guess we don't yet know how it'll play...

If that speech doesn't penetrate the white noise of the cable news TV chatter, then nothing will and we are all hopelessly fucked. That's my humble opinion.

Fantastic speech.

The Republican reaction --to act outraged and angry because Obama was allegedly angry. Funny how they don't get it. Reminds me of a favorite laugh in my family, when my little sister went whining to mommy about how her big brother "hit her back."

The pundits I saw were overwhelmed, and to be precise, both envious and eager to attach their lamprey suckers to the moment and hope some of the glow would reflect on them. Most TV pundits are a form of ad lib actors more than anything -- and it was obvious that they were taken aback by how good Obama was. Pure envy -- "if only I could do that" was the obvious inner mantra.

Fantastic speech. The contrast when McCain goes solo under the lights will be stark.

rope a dope, maybe it is. the Obama camp, after all, out-witted the Clintons. But it could also be that patience in politics has it's virtue. And three decades of perfecting the art of getting-out-in-front-of-an-issue, we haven't seen much deliberation, not since the 1994 Budget stand-off that sank Gingrich.

once again, brilliant publius:

But when you base your entire campaign on such trivial ridiculousness like “celebrity,” then you become a victim of your own hand when the ambition and power of a speech like tonight's put those tactics in their proper perspective. The McCain campaign seemed small and petty tonight — it has nothing to say about the large yet concrete issues discussed tonight.

you're best when you give your wine time.

but I still have to give Bill Clinton the most memorable line award:

"People around the world have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."

blah blah blah. what's he ever done?

But it could also be that patience in politics has it's virtue

"Hold your fire until you see the whites of their eyes".

Patience is a virtue which never comes to candidates and campaign staffs who are slaves to the media and the story of the day.

Plouffe in contrast has been quoted recently as being very dismissive of the Gallup daily tracker poll, for example. That is the fruits of an organization driven campaign, rather than a top-down media-centric campaign which has been McCain's strategy. It has looked like his (McCain's) strength up to now, but may prove to be his undoing, because if the media narrative turns against him, he has nothing left, no safety net.

Live by the media, die by the media.

blah blah blah. what's he ever done?

publius? obama? redwood? The middle one has done quite a bit (see eg his website for details). Publius contributed a post. Redwood contributed some useful commentary. Heck, all I ever did was smack you down, and that's still more than you've managed to add. If you're going to only type six words, try for more variety next time.

If that speech doesn't penetrate the white noise of the cable news TV chatter, then nothing will and we are all hopelessly fucked.

A distinct possibility. I tend to be a bit more optimistic than that, but cable news is genuinely horrible.

Been reading your Krauthammer, a? Don't forget to throw in a mention of Ayers.

I'm going more with classic rhetoric rather than counterpunching or rope-a-dope.

Any idiot can turn the volume up to 11 and keep it there. That's Rove's game and he won two elections with that strategy.

Obama's not just trying to win, he's getting ready to GOVERN. The key thing that Biden brings, besides the hetero white male thing, is a senior staff that's probably the best in the business. They know how to get legislation passed.

Combine the Biden pick with the tempo of this week and I see a truly remarkable political mind laying the groundwater for claiming a mandate. As Kennedy gets too sick, who steps up? Clinton on health care and Kerry as the new senior senator from Massachusetts. Who had great speeches this week? H. Clinton and Kerry.

Obama knows that the press isn't going to give him a fair shake. There's no possible middle ground for him; he's either too shrill or too passive. The only way he gets to change the rules of the game is to orchestrate the entire convention the way he orchestrates one of his own speeches.

What message did we get from both the convention and the speech? He personally is last and least important. The party belongs to US. But he's set certain ground rules. Ridicule and contempt are unacceptable; the fight will be on substantive grounds.

The Republicans don't have a single major speech to complain about. While all of us short-term thinkers [raises hand] were worried about the lack of red meat, Obama was playing the long game. The response to every Rove-style attack ad is now easy: we are the party of new ideas; they are stuck in old-style politics.

Not only is it a great judo move, it lays the groundwater for being an effective president.

Obama appealed to a heretofore underserved demographic: Intelligent-Americans.

He did not serve up "red meat" to a mindless mob; that's what Republicans do with lines like "pre-9/11 mentality", "cut-and-run", and similar tiresome nonsense. Obama merely got across the message that you have to be kinda dumb to fall for the GOP line on issues big and small. Very workmanlike, I'd say.


I have been thinking how Obama has grown during this campaign - James Fallows has a good article in the Atlantic about this. The bar gets being pushed higher and higher, the pressure gets more and more intense, and time after time, Obama delivers.

And damn, he has such a long patient game that I'm starting to think Hillary's people were right about that kindergarten paper!

I think the most brilliant thing here, which I certainly didn't expect, was the inversion of the usual strategy of leaving the red-meat attacks to surrogates.

What most people assumed was that we'd see a few days of blistering attacks on McCain followed by a sweetness-and-light acceptance speech. Instead, Monday and Tuesday were light and positive enough that Democrats were starting to worry that there wasn't enough negativity here. The aggressiveness started to increase toward the end of the week, and then it was Obama himself who came out with the baseball bat at the very end--not with a bunch of stupid personal attacks but with palpable anger about what's wrong with the country.

I don't know if there was enough coordination about speech content to actually plan that, but the buildup let him do this without looking scary. He instead ends up looking serious and powerful, which is exactly what you need when the standard attack on Democrats is that they're weaklings.

He instead ends up looking serious and powerful, which is exactly what you need when the standard attack on Democrats is that they're weaklings.

wingnut consensus appears to be that Obama was "inexplicably angry" and "negative".

I didn't watch most of the speech, but read it online. The most important thing about this one is how it struck the undecided voters. (Depressing as it is to think about how that crowd sees things.)

I did watch it for ten seconds, and didn't see the Greek columns I was expecting. Did they make an appearance at any point? Because otherwise it's almost as though David Brooks decided to write a satirical piece about a speech he didn't actually see.

The rest of the satire (link below) also falls flat in part because he's handicapped by the hackish necessity to stick up for McCain. That's brave of him--it's hard to ridicule one politician's hypocrisy while simultaneously defending another who is far worse. It makes you look like a hack.

< a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/29/opinion/29brooks.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&oref=slogin">Brooks

Not sure what happened to that-I'd almost swear that's not how I typed the link. Anyway--


hey, when did the NYT get comments?!

nice to see the 45 comments they allowed are consistent : the column sucked and Brooks is a cynical hack

Apparently the Republicans don't know that most folks who go to Ivy League schools are quite competent individuals (unlike the current occupant of the White House who would never have gotten into an Ivy League school if he had to do it on his own).

Obama makes me like him more each time I hear from him.

Why did they turn off comments for Brooksie's pathetic attempt at humor?

Their costs are rising and they waste money publishing his nonsense. Why?

Obama got me so worked up I couldn't sleep, woke up around 3 a.m.

Turned on FOX because MSNBC and CNN was replaying most of what I had seen.

Thought I was still asleep, dreaming: Bill Kristrol was taken aback, effusive in his praise of the speech.

Alas, Fred Barnes, the very definition of "stick in the mud," wasn't impressed a lick.

But Brit Humes -- impressed. Maybe I was sleeping.

Then, they went to the Washington studio, and things really got surreal. Check this out KCinDC, I remember saying: Krauthammer is praising the speech. Krauthammer?

Am I still sleeping?

Or am I at work, where one of my lifelong Republican managers, from a dyed-in-the-wool red district in Pennsylvania -- who seemed to be bullshitting about coming over to our side -- is in his office replaying The Speech.

He's yelling, "Tony, Enough!"

I better do some work.

Obama appears to be growing into the Presidency.

Yep. That set looked a whole lot like the White House at night... and he looked right at home.

So how did the columns look? A few people here were expressing 'concern' that it would look bad.

I didn't notice anything, but perhaps my sensibilities aren't finely tuned enough.

Think the GOP is going to use those columns to smack Obama now?

Also: What Matt McIrvin said, exactly.

Not great speech. I say this as a supporter.

He did seem at terms not to be totally on his game, but eventually did get into the flow of things. The reference to New Orleans early on, e.g., seemed strangely bland.

The speech was largely about the economy and about economic things he will do as President. As Dahlia Lithwick and Glenn Greenwald noted (but you for some reason did not) this sorta lacks something. That's right. A core reason "we are better than this" to paraphrase the theme.

Even Iraq was only referenced late in the game after he went through policy proposals. How about the reckless executive power? Or is supporting telecom immunity a problem in that department?

The speech ended well with a great quote, but sorry, I did not think it was "great."

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