Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Obama’s speech.

August 29th, 2008 · No Comments · Politics, Rants

I’m in Seattle for the weekend, so I missed the live broadcast whilst in-transit and didn’t get a chance to watch it until this morning. A few quick thoughts:

The first half of the speech was basically a throw-away. It was all hollow accommodations lobbed at the Clintons and vague statements of position (but not policy) that we’ve heard countless times before. If I hear the “he voted with Bush 90% of the time” line one more time, I’m going to start throwing shoes at the TV. It’s a deeply misleading “statistic” at best. Obama himself has “voted with Bush” (who, last I checked, actually doesn’t HAVE a vote, but whatever) 50% of the time, so I guess we should only expect a 50% change from him. That aside, it was a typical Obama speech - well delivered, full of applause marks and the kind of vague statements about change that make people feel all weepy and affectionate towards him.

But the emotional fog couldn’t last the whole time.

The third quarter of the speech - where he moved into Iraq/foreign policy - was actually pretty awkward. Whenever Obama tries to “talk tough” it comes across as jarringly insincere, so hearing him talk about standing up to Russia or defending Israel or hunting bin Laden down “in the cave where he lives” just felt out of place in his otherwise warm-fuzzy speech. It also draws attention to the extreme lack of specifics he puts forth when it comes to foreign policy issues. He swipes at McCain for failing to kill bin Laden, but then segues into how he wants to pull troops out of Iraq, never returning to discuss how HE will deal with bin Laden if elected. I expect that we’ll start seeing Biden handle most of the foreign policy messaging for the campaign shortly. It’s simply not Obama’s strength and he’s failed to improve over the 18 months the campaign has lasted thus far.

The final quarter of the speech was the most notable and successful portion. Obama is strong on social issues and wisely chose to finish up by addressing those. I thought his “red state/blue state” comments were strong as were his “common ground” examples relating to things like abortion and gay rights. I’d still like to see a firmer stand from him on those issues, but I doubt we’ll hear anything so bold as a statement of full support for legal enshrinement of gay rights during this campaign.

Over all, I think it was a good speech. The venue was a bold choice that worked out perfectly and poor Michelle finally got to smile for real after a week of deeply taxing displays of feigned support for people she hates. I’d give it a 7 out of 10, with points subtracted (as usual) for a foreign policy platform about as deeply as a kiddie pool and a continued focus on vague statements of purpose rather than clear, actionable details explaining HOW “the Change” will be executed if Obama is elected.

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