In Closing Speech, Obama Does What He Needed To Do

President Obama didn't blow the doors off the Time Warner Cable Arena last night, but he didn't need to.

Last night’s acceptance speech by President Obama may have lacked the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 Keynote Address or his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium four years ago, but he nonetheless closed out the Democratic National Convention with a good speech that accomplished what he needed to and closed out what has been a very successful, on message, week for his party:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for a second term on Thursday night, making a forceful argument that he had rescued the economy from disaster and ushered in a recovery that would be imperiled by a return to Republican stewardship.

Describing himself as “mindful of my own failings,” Mr. Obama conceded the country’s continuing difficulties while defending his record and pleading for more time to carry out his agenda. He laid out a long-term blueprint for revival in an era obsessed with short-term expectations.

“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy; I never have,” Mr. Obama told a packed arena of 20,000 party leaders and activists. “You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.”

He added: “But know this, America: Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future.”

The president’s appearance at the Time Warner Cable Arena underscored the tumultuous journey he and the country have been on since his first nomination in Denver. Four years after fireworks consecrated his storybook campaign to become the nation’s first black president, Mr. Obama took the stage on Thursday as a politician who had come down to earth and was locked in the fight of his life against the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

The stirring outsider’s message had become a policy-laden appeal for continuity; the mantra of reform was now a vigorous defense of his current course. The “Change” signs waved in the audience in 2008 had been replaced with placards saying “Forward.” The word “promise,” which he used 32 times in his acceptance speech in 2008, came up just 7 times on Thursday night. Even the traditional balloon drop was missing since a last-minute site change made it impossible.

Mr. Obama issued a string of promises, including one million new manufacturing jobs and $4 trillion in deficit reductions. But he was largely making the case that he had put in place the foundation for a revived country if voters only give it enough time to work. If at times it had the feel of a State of the Union address, that was an intentional effort to jab at Mr. Romney to be more specific about how he would carry out his promises, maximizing the gulf between the parties.

“They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan,” Mr. Obama said. “And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last 30 years.”

Mr. Obama’s speech punctuated back-to-back political conventions in which the two parties, if nothing else, delivered radically different visions for how to end the economic malaise that has afflicted the country since 2008, and framed the two-month spring to Election Day.

A week after Mr. Romney sought to appeal to American disappointment with Mr. Obama, the president pressed his case that the Republican candidate is so disconnected from the struggles of the middle class that he has no idea how to address them. In sharp language, he linked Mr. Romney and his running mate, Paul D. Ryan, to what he long described as failed trickle-down economic policies that favor the wealthy, reflecting what has become a central theme.

“On every issue, the choice you face won’t just be between two candidates or two parties,” Mr. Obama said. “When all is said and done, when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation.”

Inside the hall, the reaction to the President’s speech was quite enthusiastic, as it was to the speeches that preceded it by Vice-President Biden and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. That, of course, isn’t at all surprising given that renominating the President and Vice-President is the reason that all those delegates came to Charlotte to begin with. Of course, the President wasn’t just speaking to the 20,000 or so people in the Time Warner Cable Arena, he was speaking to the voters his campaign hopes to bring to the polls in November. That’s why we saw musical acts like The Foo Fighters and Mary J. Blige, celebrities like Scarlett Johannsen, and it’s why the Obama campaign ran an ad during the MTV Video Music Awards, which aired last night, asking people to change the channel at 10 Eastern so they could see the President speak. How the speech was received by the nation as a whole matters a whole heck of a lot more than what a bunch of Democratic activists packed into an arena in Charlotte thought, after all.

On television, the pundits seemed to give the speech a mixed review:

It was “vintage Barack Obama.” It was “probably not the best speech of the convention.” It was “one of the emptiest speeches” ever delivered on the national stage.

There was no consensus across the cable news networks Thursday night after President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

“It certainly wasn’t a speech full of soaring rhetoric like some of his speeches four years ago,” said CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Some have been comparing it to a State of the Union almost in terms of going down the check list.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow called it a “big, big speech,” but added, “From this president, something we are not used to hearing: an overt request for a vote.”

Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer slammed the address as “one of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard on a national stage.”

“I was stunned,” he said. “This is a man who gave one of the great speeches of our time in 2004. And he gave one of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard on a national stage. Yes ,it had cadence, and yes, there were deceptions in it, but that’s not what’s so striking about it. There was nothing in it.”

Krauthammer called the Obama speech “flat” and said it had “no content in it.”

“It was like, this is a guy who’s the A student in the class who turns in a paper that’s clearly a C and the teacher is astonished and says, ‘How could you do this? Why did you mail it in?'” Krauthammer said.

Democratic strategist James Carville said other speeches this week “probably” topped Obama’s.

“This was probably not the best speech of the convention,” he said on CNN. “But what I’m struck by is the muscular tone and attitude in both the vice president and president tonight. This is not the mommy party on show here. This is the daddy party.”

Fox News contributor Juan Williams praised Obama as a “great speaker” and said the president delivered a “very good speech.”

“People said, ‘Well, exactly how would you accomplish some of the goals?’ But it doesn’t feel, looking at this audience, just feeling energy here, it doesn’t feel like that is what this night was about. It was about a president who has a confidence, who doesn’t look like he’s feeling any anxiety at the moment. He’s clear about  who his opponent is — the vision, the values and difference,” Williams said.

Carville is correct on one point. The President’s speech was not the best speech of the convention. That title goes, without question, to former President Clinton’s rhetorical tour de force on Wednesday night. Indeed, I would say that Clinton’s speech was the best speech of both conventions this year, if not the best convention speech in recent memory. President Obama didn’t have to give the best speech of the convention, though, he merely needed to make lay the groundwork for the argument in favor of his re-election, and that’s an argument that he’s been making in bits and pieces in stump speeches for months now. In that regard, I would say that he succeeded quite nicely. He laid out a strong defense of his five years in office, combined with an, at times scathing, attack on the opposing party. He answered the the “are you better off?” question but picking up on the theme that Bill Clinton laid down last night that the problems the nation faces will take more than four years to fix. And, he made the case for why he should be the one that sits behind the Resolute Desk for the next four years. Comparing his speech to Mitt Romney’s last week, it seems rather clear to me that it was the President who did the better job.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the speech last night was when the President laid into Romney and the GOP on an issue of traditional GOP strength, foreign policy. For as long as I can remember, foreign policy has been an area where Republicans always had an advantage over Democrats. It’s a phenomenon that started, for the most part, in the wake of the Vietnam War and the Democratic Party’s embrace of the anti-war movement and nomination of candidates like George McGovern. Even after Vietnam had ended, that contingent of the party continued to exist and continued to hold sway in a manner that clearly hurt Democrats during the Reagan’s years. It went away somewhat during the Clinton years, but returned again in the wake of the September 11th attacks. That Republican advantage is gone now, though. Barack Obama took office in the midst of two wars, one of which he brought to the end and the other of which he actually increased American involvement. Among his first decisions as President was to authorize a SEAL raid that liberated sailors being held hostage by Somali pirates. For better or worse, he has increased the use of unmanned drones to attack terrorists. And, as we were reminded several times last night, he authorized the raid that led to the death of the man responsible for more American deaths than anyone since World War Two. This time, the foreign policy advantage is on the Democratic side.

Most importantly, as Daniel Larison points out, the President took the opportunity last night to point that advantage out quite starkly:

[T]he real issue, as ever, is judgment. Romney’s “number one geopolitical foe” blunder on Russia painted a giant, red target on his back for Obama to hit, and Obama did just that. Obama said:

After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy – and not al Qaeda – unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. My opponent said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq, and he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan.

Obama took everything that is supposed to prove that Romney is “tough” and reliable (his antagonism towards Russia, his trip abroad, his reflexive support for prolonged wars) and showed how it proves he is unprepared and irresponsible. The Russia blunder plays into the hands of the Democrats more than any other. That blunder comes out of Romney’s knee-jerk rejectionism of current Russia policy. The arguments behind that rejectionism have no supporting evidence, which has forced Romney to ignore the policy’s modest successes and pretend that they never happened.

That one has to sting, and it’s going to make the foreign policy debate next month very interesting indeed. When it comes to that topic, Mitt Romney will walk into the hall with a distinct disadvantage.

Much of the reaction to the speech in the blogosphere has used words like “underwhelming,” but as I noted above I think that this kind of analysis misses the point. The President didn’t necessarily need to hit the ball out of the park last night, he needed to make the case for his re-election and against his opponent and he did that very well. I still have doubts about how much these convention speeches matter, and President Obama’s may not matter much at all in a short while after the August jobs report is released. On the whole, though, the President capped off a very successful convention — more successful, I would argue, than the Republican Convention — with a speech that set the tone for the next two months and laid out a challenge for his opponent. Barack Obama may not have raised the roof last night, but he did everything else that he needed to do, and if I was at Romney HQ right now, I’d be very concerned.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. I actually watched it, and my reaction at the time was similar to others, that it was a safe speech, given by someone who feels they are in the lead. It had no risk-taking.

    As other have also noted, it seems to turn a corner on responses to the recession. Grand economic plans were absent. It was about normal government going forward. Certainly that version of normal had traditional Democratic focus, now described as middle class focus.

    Jobs and education.

  2. John Burgess says:

    Ah… ‘the bigotry of low expectations’. Move the goalpost closer, lower the bar. It makes success seem to easy.

  3. @John Burgess:

    Actually, it was a pretty good response to the two “expectations” marketed by the Romeny campaign:

    1) Clinton will go off message and ruin everything
    2) Obama will be all messianic

    Instead, Clinton was wonky and Obama was steady.

  4. “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” Romney said after accepting the GOP’s presidential nomination in Tampa, drawing laughter from the crowd. “My promise is to help you and your family.”

  5. Fiona says:

    So Krauthammer thought it was one of the emptiest speeches ever given on a national stage? Did he even watch Romney’s acceptance speech?

    I found the first part of the speech to be fairly pedestrian, a State of the Union type laundry list. But the second half was pretty darned good, not just for the shots Obama got off at Romney on foreign policy, but also for the overall feel, which showcased Obama’s oratorical skills. He’s no Clinton, but few politicians can connect to an audience like the Big Dog can. But it was inspirational toward the end and will appeal to the base.

  6. Stonetools says:

    It was a good speech. It, wasn’t the greatest, but it didn’t have to be : Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton already did the heavy lifting.
    I was disappointed that he didn’t really suggest any major move to revive the economy or reduce unemployment . This is really the number one economic problem for most Americans, not the long term deficit and not entitlement reform, as many here think. Luckily for Obama, the Republicans have no ideas about that either. Still, it would have been nice if Obama could have spoke honestly and clearly about what’s needed for economic revival. In the. End, though, talking about a second round of stimulus would have handed ammunition to the Republicans to demagogue about ” failed stimulus” and ” wasteful spending” etc. Unfortunately, Keynesianism is counter intuitive and therefore politically problematical.
    Obama played to his strengths in foreign policy and put forward the theme of citizenship to defeat the Republican ” I built that ” theme. ” We did that” is the proffered counterpoint to “I build that” . Les see if it will catch on.

  7. Stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    It’s good for a President to take a stand for science, for once.

  8. Jeff Sexton says:

    OBL may have been the single man most responsible for so many deaths at once, but the numbers don’t lie: An American citizen is FAR more likely to be killed by American Cops than Foreign Terrorists…

    And in THAT regard, Obama has continued what all of his recent predecessors have: continuing to make us less and less safe by giving cops more and more power to abuse.

  9. @Jeff Sexton:

    OBL may have been the single man most responsible for so many deaths at once, but the numbers don’t lie: An American citizen is FAR more likely to be killed by American Cops drivers than Foreign Terrorists…

    FTFY

  10. Phillip says:

    @Jeff Sexton: No argument there Mr. Sexton, but Romney is not an improvement in that department. I’d be shocked if Romney his chauffeur ever got so much as a parking ticket.

  11. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Obama is not the first liberal to be (partially) mugged by reality. He won’t be the last.

    I didn’t watch the speech, for the same reasons why I don’t watch paint dry or pots boiling, but in reading the above-referenced news account one quote made me stop dead in my tracks:

    And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades.

    Holy hell, Obama just hit the nail on the head. Could not agree more.

    Thing is, however, and not only would this be lost on Obama, it too would be lost on most the chattering classes, the amazing and ghastly irony with that statement is that two of the fundamental elements of the harsh challenges we face, Social Security and Medicare, have their respective origins in the mid-1930’s and the mid-1960’s, during which times Democrats not so coincidentally had absolute federal power. Another fundamental element of the challenges we face, not maximizing our domestic energy resources, is a tragedy that’s been written, produced and directed by the political left wing and by their Democrat puppets in Congress.

    In any event, now that the conventions are over political silly season finally, mercifully, has come to a conclusion. For the next two months it’ll be a mad dash to the finish line.

    Obama undoubtedly will win the pre-election media polls. He’ll unquestionably win the exit polling on Election Day. Whether or not that actually translates into a reelection from the nation’s ballot booths remains to be seen.

  12. @Stonetools:

    I’ve been spending a few minutes introspecting about why I think recession response is “over.”

    I think it’s because, while Presidential terms are not aligned naturally, we do have this “all-in” thing hanging over us. We have “kick the cans” and “fiscal cliffs.”

    IMO, we need to make a grand bargain the goal for the next (Obama) administration.

  13. Jeff Sexton says:

    @john personna: Also accurate. 😀

  14. @Jeff Sexton:

    FWIW, I did look up

    WHAT KILLS US: The Leading Causes Of Death From 1900-2010

    We are blessed to live in a country where violent death doesn’t even appear in the significant statistics (other than as suicide).

    Certainly, as described in Still Life with Woodpecker, we have to balance the crime problem with the cop problem … but as a cause of death, no.

  15. JKB says:

    @John Burgess:

    You should have flipped over to the Daily Show at 11 as I did. They ran the new Obama ad that is hilarious “It could have been worse…”

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    @john personna:

    I think it’s going to be very tough to have any bargain. As far as I can tell, the GOP really does not believe in the 2008 financial crisis. They don’t believe in the global recession, or in the massive loss of capital that occurred. (When the real traumatic effects of climate change take place, we’re going to see something similar–venom and paranoia directed at the scientists who are trying to cope with the problem combined with religious and cultural fury.) All they really know is government spending, regulation and tax cuts.These are people who have given up, or who are making a living on those who give up, and it basically precludes being spoken to like adults.

  17. DGarr says:

    Great scene in the movie American President,

    “This is a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I *am* the President.”

    Last night President Obama declared,

    “I *am* the president.”

    And put Mr. Romney on notice:

    Mr. Romney, your fifteen minutes are up.

  18. @Modulo Myself:

    As far as I can tell, the GOP really does not believe in the 2008 financial crisis.

    I was watching twitter during the convention last night, and that is certainly the way the haters came through. The crash never happened. It was all Obama.

  19. Jeff Sexton says:

    1) How long is the speech?

    2) Does it end with the “I AM the President” line? If so, I might just have to watch at least the ending of it 😀

  20. JKB says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Projection, much?

    But I understand. The financial crisis caused by the DC elites of both parties rushing to the aid of their cronies presented a great opportunity for exploitation by Obama and Rahm Emmanual. Here’s the rub, you can exploit a crisis but you also have to solve the crisis. Otherwise, you just look like someone who robs the victims at a car crash.

    What we do know, is Democrats want to belong to the government. That freedom and liberty stuff is to hard, they want bread and circuses and are willing to serve on their knees to get it.

    Now here’s the problem, bread and circuses cost money and the money is running out. Even if they rob the “rich” not only of income but of assets, the show can only run another year before it goes broke.

  21. Septimius says:

    I would say that Clinton’s speech was the best speech of both conventions this year

    Come on. Jennifer Granholm’s drunken rant was, by far, the best speech of both conventions.

  22. Me Me Me says:

    Septimius, I though Grahnolm letting her freak flag fly was every bit as awesome was it was unhinged. Whatever they were serving in the green room, I want it.

  23. Me Me Me says:

    @JKB:

    The financial crisis caused by the DC elites of both parties rushing to the aid of their cronies

    “Both sides do it” is the copyright of the owner of OTB – they don’t need you to mouth it as well.

    But, just as a point of clarification: the subprime bubble formed, expanded, and burst 2001 to 2006 when Republicans had total control.

    Here are the stats for subprime mortgages as % of all mortgages:
    2000 = 13
    2001 = 9
    2002 = 10
    2003 = 11
    2004 = 27
    2005 = 36
    2006 = 38
    2007 = 22
    2008 = 4

    Both sides did not do it. The financial crisis of 2008 was caused entirely by the “governance” of the Republican Party.

  24. Modulo Myself says:

    @JKB:

    What kind of person equates Medicare and Social Security with serving on one’s knees? That your world view can be squashed and pressed into that of contempt for basic human decencies that happen to come from the government is an atrocity. People have argued about the role of the state for centuries but you will never find such pointless selfishness in a Burke, Locke, or Adam Smith.

  25. Liberal Capitalist says:

    You know…

    For an informed bunch of folk, some admitting that they did not see the President’s acceptance speech while STILL chosing to give an opinion on it…

    You may just want to see it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekltAFvycSk

    It’s an honest assessment of where we’ve been, and where we can go.

    What struck me of this convention, compared the GOP last week, was the focus, optimism, and excitement of the attendees that looked like a cross section of these United States.

    The GOP Convention? A nice balance of an arranged marriage and a badly run wake.

    I think that President Clinton summed up the choice extremely well:

    “The most important question is, what kind of country do you want to live in? If you want a you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we’re-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

    Or… you get Gekko/Galt.

    Choose wisely.

  26. Argon says:

    @Fiona: Precisely. Krauthammer used to be marginally sane — perhaps back in the ’80s, but now he’s reliably an unreasoning Partisan who consistently adds nothing to any conversation.

  27. Stan says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “two of the fundamental elements of the harsh challenges we face, Social Security and Medicare, have their respective origins in the mid-1930′s and the mid-1960′s, during which times Democrats not so coincidentally had absolute federal power.”

    So we should eliminate Social Security and Medicare? You didn’t mention it, but should we also eliminate Medicaid? How about Food Stamps? And the Earned Income Tax Credit? Keep on truckin’, TN. I love reading your posts.

  28. al-Ameda says:

    Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer slammed the address as “one of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard on a national stage.”

    I simply cannot believe that Charles Krauthammer made that observation … no way!

  29. gVOR08 says:

    Doug doesn’t seem to agree with Krauthammer that it was an empty speech. Does anyone? Chuckles the Klown seems to have really lost it in the face of the impending reelection. I couldn’t find a primary source. Did Krauthammer really say that Obama knew three months ago what the weather in Charlotte would be last night?

  30. JKB says:

    Very good. Is that the Journolist theme of the day? Any discussion of controlling government and spending is an attack on Social Security and Medicare? I’m not on the list so I don’t know the daily plan.

    We see the choice here: We belong to the government or We own this country. The politicians as high priests to the god, government or politicians are employees to be fired if they can’t do the job. Do we wait patiently for the promised rapture brought forth by government or do we actively control government and change out the leadership? Do we kneel in hopes government won’t run roughshod over us as it’s escaped its pasture. Or do we put government into the traces and harness it for productive work and put it down if it won’t return to the pasture.

  31. Me Me Me says:

    JKB, FYI, I stopped reading at “Journolist”. Anybody who opens a “response” with a meme that pointless and feeble deserves no further consideration.

  32. @JKB:

    FWIW, I discount you because you bring no economics. Only fictions about economics.

  33. jan says:

    @al-Ameda:

    “I simply cannot believe that Charles Krauthammer made that observation … no way! “

    Krauthammer on Obama: “One of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard”

  34. @jan:

    You might need some help with irony detection, but beyond that, what’s the one thing you can say about a speed with nothing bad in it? It had nothing [bad] in it.

    Obviously Charles and you would like to have found a clunker.

  35. jan says:

    Tomasky of The Daily Beast: Obama: a pedestrian and overconfident speech

    Milbank of the Washington Post: >Obama lowers the bar on hope and change

    Noonan of the WSJ: Obama is out of juice

  36. Jr says:

    Clinton and Michelle basically gave him a two touchdown lead, so he really only had to run out the clock.

  37. bill says:

    it wasn’t really much- some more blame here and there, mentions of people he wants to help (but doesn’t), tries to cram the marginalized segments into a 10 second blurb, a quick mention of the wars, a few digs at romneys successful career, needs more time…..,no figures on what he’ll actually do if re-elected. the crowd of course ate it up, they would have even if he just read a page out of the local sports newspaper. now the real fun begins!

  38. Scott O says:
  39. Modulo Myself says:

    I love that Peggy Noonan begins her column complaining about Barack Obama’s ‘overexposure.’ As in she’s a political columnist who finds it unsettling that a President running for reelection is on the news a lot, and worse, he’s giving speeches.

  40. Fiona says:

    And yet, despite Jan’s links to various right wing pundits, the President’s speech was still better to the vacuous dribble Romney delivered.

  41. jan says:

    @john personna:

    Fact checking Obama: math required

    It’s kind of amazing, as I recall how much was made, by the left wingnuts, of Ryan’s embellishment of a marathon run 20 years, adding an hour onto his time. Then you have the various democrat speeches, and they are off base in ways that are more far-reaching and applicable to the issues being contested in this election — number accuracy relating to the economy and jobs.

    Frankly, though, I came away from Obama’s acceptance speech thinking like Doug, that he did what he needed to do. In fact, my comment to my husband, who didn’t watch the speech, was that it was a “barn-burner.” However, that apparently is not what a whole cross section of pundits and candidate watchers thought. It actually surprised me how, across the political spectum, Obama either disappointed, or, the speech was panned, altogether.

  42. jan says:

    @Fiona:

    Right wing pundits? Milbank and Tomasky? Please!

  43. slimslowslider says:

    Jan keeps posting links… but just yesterday she said:

    But, posting a link about how one person sees the election is hardly electrifying or deemed reason for one to throw in the towel…

  44. Me Me Me says:

    @jan:

    It’s kind of amazing, as I recall how much was made, by the left wingnuts, of Ryan’s embellishment of a marathon run 20 years, adding an hour onto his time. Then you have the various democrat speeches, and they are off base in ways that are more far-reaching and applicable to the issues being contested in this election — number accuracy relating to the economy and jobs.

    Jan, tell us in precise terms which speeches contained which demonstrable errors, then we’ll talk.

  45. @jan:

    Hot air? Seriously? I could give you WonkBlog in response, but I’ll do better than that and give you the Associated Press. Overall, I’d say it ranked as “true” but as even WonkBlog says, you can add “true, but.”

  46. jan says:

    It’s become hilarious around here!

    You are so smitten and intellectually invested in your own political reference points, that it seems most are not capable any more of an honest appraisal or acceptance that something might not have gone too well. All you care to hear about are glowing remarks about your side, while dismissing any hangnail that might disrupt such a mental party in your head! The term ‘wingnut’ means crazy, and lacking the ability to decipher something rationally. Some of you have definitely crossed over, and are firmly ensconced in this definition.

    This is rapidly become a forum of delusional debate!

  47. Me Me Me says:

    @jan: Facts, jan – facts. And data. More numbers. Less words.

  48. anjin-san says:

    Well, there you have it. People who disagree with Jan are crazy.

    Now will she move on and put her time to more constructive uses, or will she stay here and talk to crazy people?

  49. Fiona says:

    Yeah Jan–I blew it on Milbank and, though I had read the Tomasky post prior to your cite as Sullivan linked him, he’s not someone I read regularly. The Noonan piece was pretty weird to my mind, but I guess what she considers extremism, I find to be relatively mainstream positions supported by a slight majority of the public.

    I’ve seen Romney on the airways this morning criticizing Obama for not providing enough specifics about his plans. That’s really rich given he spent about one minute of his speech telling us about his five-point plan. Pretty amusing that he keeps presenting these talking points as anything meaningful.

  50. slimslowslider says:

    @jan:

    LO f’n L

  51. Funny strategy:

    1) post a “hot air” (non) fact check
    2) run away

  52. Fiona says:

    @jan: I stopped reading the Morrisey piece when he said that the largest deficit Bush II signed off on was $500 billion. The last bush deficits topped $1 trillion. No wonder the site is called Hot Air.

  53. Tom Hilton says:

    @Fiona: I was @Fiona:

    I was curious about that myself; here’s his Romney reaction.

    To sum up: President’s speech with lots of policy detail = “empty”; Romney speech with zero policy detail is “personal” and “affecting”.

  54. Tom Hilton says:

    @Modulo Myself: Don’t you remember her complaining about how overexposed W was? Or Reagan?

    Okay, I don’t either…but she must have, right?

  55. mattb says:

    @jan:

    You are so smitten and intellectually invested in your own political reference points, that it seems most are not capable any more of an honest appraisal or acceptance that something might not have gone too well.

    I love the new performance irony Jan!

    Oh wait, she wrote that with a straight face didn’t she?

  56. michael reynolds says:

    The Obama speech was pedestrian. I told Doug on Twitter I gave it a “B.”

    Obama is a good speaker. He’s like a guitarist who’s a really good session musician, and he’s excellent, until Hendrix starts playing. Clinton is Hendrix. He can explain, he can improvise, he can play with the audience, he can control the tempo. Obama’s a good student, but Clinton is a natural.

    As for the conventions overall you have to be blindly partisan or stupid not to know the Democrats did the better job. The single biggest take-away from the RNC? Old man yelling at chair. The single biggest takeaway from the DNC? Michelle and Bill.

    Will it matter? In 48 hours we’ll start seeing the polls.

  57. al-Ameda says:

    @jan:

    Krauthammer on Obama: “One of the emptiest speeches I have ever heard”

    Yes Jan, I read that, and that is why I posted my comment.

    Krauthammer has no credibility. If Obama said that the Sun rises in the East, he would accuse Obama of pandering to people who like a nice sunrise.

  58. michael reynolds says:

    I suspect Krauthammer is having health issues. He’s only 4 years older than I am and he looks terrible. Maybe a consequence of his paralysis, or maybe he’s just enjoying a little too much of the malt. But he’s looking bad and sounding just stupid.

  59. MBunge says:

    @michael reynolds: “He’s like a guitarist who’s a really good session musician, and he’s excellent, until Hendrix starts playing. Clinton is Hendrix”

    I think Obama gets a few extra points for being a better songwriter. Out of all Clinton’s speeches, how much of them are really remembered months, let alone years after he gave them?

    Mike

  60. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:
    Oh, true, I’m just focusing on delivery, and that bizarre Clinton ability to shrink the room around him, make 20,000 people feel like he’s just talking to them, while at the same time relating to the camera.

  61. anjin-san says:

    Obama approval jumps
    President Obama gets a 52 percent approval rating against 43 percent disapproval in Gallup’s daily tracking poll, which surveys 500 Americans a night and averages three days of data. The current tracking poll samples the nights of the Democratic National Convention and represents a major jump for Obama, who has basically been running even on approval in tracking and other major national polls, if not a little underwater.

    “This uptick in these two indicators stands in contrast to tracking during the Republican Convention, during which there was no discernible bounce on the ballot tracking. Gallup does not track other measures on Romney that would be comparable to the job approval figure for Obama,” Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport wrote about the bounce. “The current data are quite preliminary and for the most part don’t reflect the influence of Obama’s late Thursday night speech, if any.”

    http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/gallup-obama-approval-jumps-after-dnc

  62. Jr says:

    @michael reynolds: Yeah, Clinton is the best the speaker of our time…..not orator, that is likely Obama and Kennedy. But as a speaker, Clinton can talk to anyone about anything and mange to convince him.

  63. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    If that holds up it would make me feel pretty good about my version of this election which is that 45% of people despise Obama. They’ll vote against him no matter what.

    But more than half of people basically like Obama and like the idea of Obama. Some of them are disappointed, but they want to be convinced. Call it the Obama Narrative Pull.

    No one likes Romney. Maybe his kids and wife. But no one else. His 45% support is almost entirely about hating Obama. This means Romney almost literally can’t be heard by undecideds. And he can only be heard by his own party when he attacks Obama. Call this the Romney Narrative Disconnect.

    The slender middle is up for grabs, but the Obama Narrative Pull, combined with the Romney Narrative Disconnect, means advantage Obama.

    After that it comes down to base turn-out, but the turn-out battle is very narrow geographically for Obama. All he really needs is Ohio and Romney’s done for. Give Ohio to Obama and Romney has to run the table. So Romney’s fighting a broad ground game in a dozen states, while Obama only needs a couple of up-for-grabs states.

  64. JEBurke says:

    I guess doing OK is better than bombing but to say that tired cliche, he did what he needed to do, is to ignore 1) that Obama will never again in this campaign have an unfiltered and unrebutted opportunity to say what he wants to an audience of tens of millions; and 2) expectations do count, and Obama’s rep as a great orator preceded him, doubtless leading to disappointment or even boredom.

    Frankly, Obama has way, way overexposed himself since 2009 and even more through his obsessive campaigning since the start of 2011. He’s made himself stale.

  65. David M says:

    It’s kind of amusing Obama’s speech is being compared to Clinton’s instead of Romney’s. If you think Clinton was more persuasive than Obama, how does that help Romney?

    A more successful convention combined with the GOP apparently giving up on WI, PA and MI, leaves the Obama campaign looking stronger.

  66. Me Me Me says:

    @JEBurke:

    his obsessive campaigning since the start of 2011

    WTF? First Peggy Noonan complains this morning that the President giving a speech at his own convention in an election year is “overexposure”, and now this bizarre comment. Is someone trying to start a new rightwing meme?

  67. Me Me Me says:

    @David M:

    A more successful convention combined with the GOP apparently giving up on WI, PA and MI, leaves the Obama campaign looking stronger.

    I have absolutely no idea where the Romney campaign thinks they are going to find the 96 EC votes they need to peel off from Obama’s 2008 tally – do you? The one advantage Romney has is plutocratic friends with unlimited funds to spend – and yet he can’t make it work, and therefore they are going dark in PA and MI after publicly proclaiming for months that they could win there.

  68. anjin-san says:

    Frankly, Obama has way, way overexposed himself since 2009

    nicely done. do you want a cracker?

  69. Eric Florack says:

    the speech struck me as 1 given by someone who understands his is base is crumbling.
    he had nothing to offer. he cannot run on his record, and nobody, not even his base, believe he’s going to follow through on any of the promises he makes given the record the last 4 years.

    so, red meat to his erstwhile base was all he had.

  70. Me Me Me says:

    @Eric Florack: Wow, Eric, why not just admit that you didn’t watch it or read it or even read the reporting of people who did?

  71. David M says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Hmmm, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, going after al-Qaeda, killing Bin Laden, rescuing the auto industry, passing health care and financial reforms. And many months of job growth.

    Seems to me that’s a decent record of accomplishments and promises kept.

  72. michael reynolds says:

    @David M:

    I don’t think you understand Florack’s position: Obama is black.

  73. anjin-san says:

    I think most of Obama’s base feels about the same as I do, they will give him somewhere between a C+ and a B+. I am thinking B-

    When you compare that to Bush’s F, and Romney’s desire to recreate Bush policy and double down on a lot of the worst of it, well, you get a base that is actually pretty motivated. I will send Obama more money this time than I did last.

  74. anjin-san says:

    Obama is black.

    So many non-white faces in Charlotte. What’s a Florack to do?

  75. David M says:

    @anjin-san:
    Do people that plan to vote for Romney understand they are willingly voting for George W Bush again? I can’t imagine doing that after his two terms. Sure Romney might differ a little from McCain or Bush, but those differences don’t matter as they are Republicans. The fact they are from the same party makes any differences too miniscule to matter.

    Can anyone remember any significant issues from 2000 to 2008 where Romney didn’t support the GOP and Bush?

  76. jukeboxgrad says:

    jkb:

    bread and circuses cost money and the money is running out. Even if they rob the “rich” not only of income but of assets, the show can only run another year before it goes broke.

    People like you often make claims like this, but the claim is false. Let’s look at some numbers (from CBO/IRS, via the Tax Policy Center). Do you understand the concept of arithmetic? It’s something Clinton mentioned.

    The top 1% includes households where income is at least $352,900. Aggregate income for this group is $2.2T. Let’s take a look at what happens if we tax income over $353K, at a marginal rate of 75%.

    Households in the top 1% have average after-tax income of $1,319,700. $1319700-353000=$966700 (average after-tax income in excess of $353K). 75% of $966700 is $725025 (average new tax revenue per household). There are 1.2 million households in this group. $725025*1.2 million=$870 billion (total new tax revenue).

    So let’s be clear about what’s happening under this scenario. A new tax is applied to the top 1% of households. This means households with income over $352,900. This group would continue to pay all existing taxes, but they would also pay an additional tax of 75% on their current after-tax income which exceeds $352,900.

    This new tax would raise $870 billion per year. That amount is more than enough to completely eliminate the deficits projected for 2013 and beyond. This tax would allow us to start paying down our debt almost immediately, instead of decades from now, as planned by the Ryan budget.

    Under this scenario, the top 1% would still have an average after-tax income of $594,575 (which is about what they had in 1995, before income for this group took off like a rocket). I think this means that none of them would be homeless or starved.

    And I am not suggesting that this specific scenario is the correct solution. I’m simply responding to this claim, that is made so frequently: that taxing the rich can’t solve our deficit/debt problem, because they simply don’t have enough money. The people who make this claim are hoping that you don’t really look at the numbers. The numbers demonstrate that the rich do have enough to fix this problem. But they own the government, so their riches are safe.

    And people who think a top rate of 75% sounds outrageous should recall that under Ike the top rate got as high as 92%.

    The above analysis is regarding income and the deficit. Now let’s take a look at wealth and the debt. The concentration of wealth is even more extreme than the concentration of income. The aggregate household wealth of the top 1% is about $20T. That’s over $6 million held by every man, woman and child in that group (on average). If their wealth was taxed at 75% (a one-time tax), that would be enough to immediately pay off the entire national debt, and each person in that group would still have $1.7 million.

    So the claim you made (“even if they rob the ‘rich’ not only of income but of assets, the show can only run another year before it goes broke”) is quite false, like most things you say. But no one should be surprised to hear yet another false claim from you, since your track record here is to deposit the same fraudulent nonsense in multiple threads and then promptly disappear when your nonsense is shown to be nonsense (example).

  77. Eric Florack says:

    @Me Me Me: actually, I didn’t watch it.
    I listened to it.
    twice.
    once live and once recorded.

    he has nothing to offer anymore. doctor Krauthammer has this 1 exactly right. Empty rhetoric nothing more.

  78. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Given how wildly wrong you were about everything in 2008, that is pretty much music to my ears.

  79. jukeboxgrad says:

    florack/bithead/buzz buzz, let us know when you’re ready to take responsibility for this lie you told.

    Like JKB, you’re someone else who likes to post falsehoods and then disappear when caught.

  80. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I need to disagree with you. bithead’s problem with Obama is that Obama is to the left of Attila the Hun. He is against anyone in the leftmost 99+% of the political spectrum, regardless of race or color.

  81. anjin-san says:

    once recorded.

    That’s right you are a tech guy! I remember when you told us how you are the only person we know who has a dedicated music server 🙂

  82. michael reynolds says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I think in this case – and I’m not generalizing to all Republicans – it’s also very much about skin color. Eric has a bit of a record on this.

  83. anjin-san says:

    Eric has a bit of a record on this

    Watching the highly intelligent, rich & successful, telegenic black Obama family must surely confirms Florack’s feelings that the world is unjust, and he somehow got screwed…

  84. JEBurke says:

    @Me Me Me: Hardly a “right wing meme.” Observers of all types have noted this about the Obama Presidency (not just his campaign) since it began. It is Communications 101. The President, whoever holds the office, has a special aura which is a huge advantage over any opponent, but it has to be used smartly and not squandered.

    It is tough for pols who gain the Presidency to adjust to this. If you’re a Senator, you can (and often do) run from pillar to post every day looking for media exposure that will help you, because it is damn hard to get. The President cannot help but be prominent in the news every day, even when on vacation. That phenomenon has to be managed carefully. A President wants to be liked and to appear accessible. But there is a thin line between that and becoming too familiar, too ordinary, just another politician on TV whose words, however flowery, you’ve heard before and can tune out.

  85. Eric Florack says:

    Jukebox…. Better get some more quarters. Your tunes have run out.
    Try looking up the facts yourself, instead of relying on the lefty press to do it for you;

    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

    And when are you idiots going to stop playing the race card?
    Jimmy Carter was just as bad, and in the end, just as hated for his massive failures. I don’t recall anyone suggesting he was black, as they did Bubba Clinton. And you may recall I was very much a supporter of Herman Cain…. and am a fan of Doctor Tom Sowell.
    Oops… Guess they’re not “real blacks” huh?

  86. Eric Florack says:

    Let’s unpack this, shall we?

    Hmmm, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,

    Really? You mean, we won?

    going after al-Qaeda, killing Bin Laden,

    Neither of which he’d have been able to do, without the Bush interrogation policies he ended.

    rescuing the auto industry,

    Um, no…he simply turned GM and Chrysler over to the Unions…. the ones that caused half the problems in the first place… the government being the other half. How many Volts have been sold? Outside what the GSA buys at WH direction I mean? Not enough to keep the lines going. But boy Obama sure kept the unions happy, huh? Amazing what one has to do to buy votes anymore.

    passing health care

    Yes, which is wildly unpopular. Way to go, Barry.

    and financial reforms.

    Equally unpopular.

    You’re not very good at this, are you?

    And many months of job growth.

    Wrong again. Since Obama got immaculated, , the U.S. economy has created a net 415,000 private-sector jobs—ummm ii case you’re away from your calculator, that is less than 0.2 percent of the 155 million-member American workforce.

    It gets worse. But even that statistic does not tell the full story, since it uses U3 numbers. U6 suggests unexmployment is around 20%. And under-employment, is skyrocketing under Obama as well.
    Labor force participation is at 63.5 percent, which constitutes it’s lowest level since 1981.

    Wow… Impressive.

    Seems to me that’s a decent record of accomplishments and promises kept.

    You’ll forgive me if I discount anything you say going forward. You clearly don’t allow any facts to color your cheerleading.

  87. jukeboxgrad says:

    florack/bithead/buzz buzz:

    Try looking up the facts yourself, instead of relying on the lefty press to do it for you;

    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

    As usual, your dishonesty is brazen and shameless. “Looking up the facts” myself is exactly what I did. Let’s review. You said this:

    Obama has added more debt than all the other presidents COMBINED

    The correct date for Obama taking over the debt is not 1/20/09 (link), but for the moment let’s pretend that it is.

    Using the site you referenced, we find that the debt on that date was $10.6T. The debt today is $16.0T. The difference between those two numbers is $5.4T.

    Your claim (“Obama has added more debt than all the other presidents COMBINED”) is true only on a planet where 5.4 is greater than 10.6. Are you aware of any such planet?

    And $5.4T is not the correct amount, because 1/20/09 is not the correct date. See the link I referenced. The correct amount is closer to $4.1T.

    The lie you told is not just a lie. It’s a big lie, and an important lie. It has been told many times, in many ways, by many people. Mitt himself has told a version of that lie.

    And now you’re doubling down on your lie, which means your lying is deliberate and intentional. Thanks for making this so clear. You are vividly demonstrating that the GOP is the party of fiction.

    You’ll forgive me if I discount anything you say going forward. You clearly don’t allow any facts to color your cheerleading.

    Wow. That just about pegs the irony meter.

  88. An Interested Party says:

    …he cannot run on his record, and nobody, not even his base, believe he’s going to follow through on any of the promises he makes…

    Wow, you just described Mitt “Let’s not talk about my time as governor of Massachusetts” Romney…although, in your defense, I do understand why you would project this drivel onto the President…it must really tick you off that the 2012 GOP presidential nominee is even more moderate than the 2008 GOP presidential nominee…you poor thing…looks like you’ll never be able to vote for the conservative of your dreams…

  89. David M says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You mean, we won [the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan]?

    Doesn’t matter if we shouldn’t have been there in the first place and stayed much longer than was worth it.

    [going after al-Qaeda, Bin Laden]. Neither of which he’d have been able to do, without the Bush interrogation policies he ended.

    Not even close to the truth, but I’ll agree with you the torture under Bush is a stain on our country.

    [saving the auto industry] Um, no…he simply turned GM and Chrysler over to the Unions…. the ones that caused half the problems in the first place… the government being the other half…

    That’s a lot of typing to still agree with my point.

    [passing health care] Yes, which is wildly unpopular.

    More people support keeping the law and making it stronger than repealing it, so I think you meant to say it was popular.

    [and financial reforms] Equally unpopular.

    At this point I have to laugh and ask if you really think only “popular” financial reform laws should be passed? You’re still that willing to suck up to the banking and financial industries after 2008?

    [And many months of job growth.] Wrong again

    You keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means. Here’s a chart so everyone else can see how wrong you were.

  90. Eric Florack says:

    It’s amazing how much you’ll lie to avoid getting trapped in your own nonsense. Like I said, you steadfastly refuse to allow fact to color your perception.

  91. jukeboxgrad says:

    It’s amazing how much you’ll lie to avoid getting trapped in your own nonsense. Like I said, you steadfastly refuse to allow fact to color your perception.

    In other news, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. The liar is you. And I’ll repeat the key part, since you are playing deaf:

    Your claim (“Obama has added more debt than all the other presidents COMBINED”) is true only on a planet where 5.4 is greater than 10.6. Are you aware of any such planet?

    And I understated the problem, because the correct base is actually greater than 10.6.