Obama’s Speech

Barack Obama’s speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination was . . . long. Too long.

The last fifteen or twenty minutes of it, when he went into preacher mode and talked of unity and reconciliation and change and such, were uplifting and solid political theater. Whether it’ll meet the ridiculously high expectations that he had coming in — and which he amplified by moving it to a sporting arena rather than staying in the convention hall — we’ll see.

The irony of the speech, though, is that the talk of a new politics followed forty minutes or more of a speech that, with some minor biographical edits and obligatory references to current events, could have been delivered by any Democratic presidential nominee in my memory. I’ve watched all of them since Jimmy Carter’s 1980 convention and they’ve all, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996, had the same theme: the country’s going to hell in a handbasket but, don’t worry, I’ll fix everything that ails you — even if it’s not remotely within the scope of federal authority — and pay for it by taxes on the top 5 percent, greedy corporations, and ending trade with foreign countries. Oh, and the magic energy pony will end our dependence on foreign oil, too!

Not the time for small plans, indeed.

UPDATE: Those were my quick thoughts before going off to bed.  For my more detailed morning-after analysis, see Obama’s Acceptance Speech: The More Things CHANGE, The More They Remain the Same

Photo credit: Stephen Crowley/New York Times

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    Spin it any way you want, he hit that one out of the park, and everybody knows it.

  2. Simmons says:

    I didn’t think it was too long…

  3. Brett says:

    That doesn’t make it anything less than an excellent speech, in my opinion. Especially the last few lines.

  4. JBJB says:

    James

    Couldn’t agree more. I think the McCain folks must be pretty happy. You could have taken Obama off that stage and substituted any token liberal democrat over the past 20 years. I think it will be easy to point out that this is the same boring, failed liberal nonsense from the 1970’s, albeit with new shiny wrapping paper and a brand new blue bow. I had hoped he would be different, perhaps take on the unions, or the miscreants in his party but alas, he has succumbed to the same interest group politics and class warfare arguments that have turned right thinking people away form the democrats for years.

  5. Billy says:

    The previous commenters are all correct. Sour grapes Dr. Joyner?

  6. Billy says:

    Wait 5 seconds too long…

    I can’t imagine the McCain folks are anything close to happy, except in public.

  7. Hal says:

    Yea, McCain is dancing in the streets! I mean, the contrast between Obama’s message and McCain’s is going to destroy the democrats. Heck, we’ll see a Republican majority in the Congress because of Obama’s reverse coat tails.

    roflmao.

    Going to have to lower expectations for McCain’s acceptance speech somewhere around the level of the Marianas Trench, James. Maybe lower. Better break out the deep water dredging gear.

  8. Fence says:

    I’ve seen all of the acceptance speeches since ’84. I didn’t think it was as good as Bush’s 1988 speech, and I wouldn’t rank it as clearly better than Reagan or Clinton. But it was solid and solid is all he needs. You seem to be discounting one difference between it and other Dem speeches. The Dems usually lose because people think they are pussies. Obama countered that pretty well tonight. And not in the pussy way Kerry tried to do with his fake salute.

    The McCain campaign is mocking the stadium and the columns and fireworks, but it comes off as kind of desperate because you know they’d take that crowd for themselves in a heartbeat.

    Will be interesting to see how this plays, or not, in the polls over the next few weeks. I don’t think you’ll see the same kind of bounces, after either convention, than in prior years, because there are fewer undecided voters these days and people have been paying more attention this year than prior years. Sometimes the bounces of the past reflected that people going in didn’t even know much about the nominees.

  9. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Obama could have walked out, taken a dump on stage and walked off and you all would have thought it was wonderful. Obama is a goon who stifles those who oppose him, he fights free speech and is closely related to those who would deprive you of liberty. William Ayers should be pushing up daises not teaching in college. Dohrn should have stretched a rope. Obama’s for America like Wright is main stream and Rezko is not a crook. The DNP grew 3.5% this quarter. Some recession.

  10. Mike P says:

    OMG…a conservative commentator didn’t like Obama’s speech. I am shocked.

  11. Hal says:

    you all would have thought it was wonderful.

    Maybe it’s just me, but when McCain can’t fire up his own base and stands an excellent chance of either putting people to sleep or freaking them out with that freaky forced smile of his…. Yea, that’s the kind of real excitement that McCain will instill – the kind that wins elections.

    Again, roflmao.

  12. Now granted, I was writing a post while listening, but I must confess, it didn’t strike me as long, and was actually somewhat surprised it was as long as it was.

    Having said that, all speeches tend to be too long.

  13. Boyd says:

    Substance free speech. Well, except for the lies. Plenty of substance there.

  14. Hal says:

    Wow Boyd. Keep saying it. Maybe someone other than a republican might believe it when y’all repeat it enough.

    Hey, here’s an idea. How about having a campaign where you actually propose something of your own rather than just taking a dump on what the other guy said?

  15. Hal says:

    Hey, here’s an idea. How about having a campaign where you actually propose something of your own rather than just taking a dump on what the other guy said?

  16. anjin-san says:

    It’s pretty clear now what has been going on recently, when it has seemed that the Obama campaign had lost its way.

    Look, Obama was white hot for a long time. Sooner or later you have to cool off. I think the Obama campaign did a controlled shutdown after nailing down the nomination. He has been rope-a-doping McCain. Tonight they lit the jets again.

    Does it really seem likely that a political operation the dismantled the Clinton machine, which went in with every advantage, suddenly does not have a clue?

    During the primary season, Obama simply played a different game than everyone else was, and it was a winning one. Could well be time for round 2.

  17. Hal says:

    I’m just going to love people like Boyd just pull out the old Clinton hate and retool it for the next 8 years. I mean, it’s like watching a dead frog get jolted with a battery. There isn’t any thought, it’s just pure reflex at the cellular level.

    Going to be a breath of fresh air to hear their non-stop bitching and moaning again. Not to mention the wailing and gnashing of teeth. That’s going to be the music of spheres.

  18. JKB says:

    I was just surprised that Obama came out in support of gun ownership and against gun control targeted at non-felon citizens.

    “The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”

    I parse this as he acknowledges that hunters in rural Ohio might own guns best for taking game while those in gang-violence plagued areas of Cleveland would prefer self-defense weapons such as handguns. He then challenges those against gun ownership to prove that law-abiding non-felon citizens can’t “keep and bear arms” at the same time we enforce current laws that prohibit felons from possessing machineguns and other more available firearms.

    I don’t think he meant it that way but then much of what Obama says doesn’t reflect what he means.

  19. Boyd says:

    Puh-leeze, Hal. All the positives Obama presented were “Government will take care of you. You don’t have to lift a finger, you deserve to take the money from people who have actually earned it.”

    And then the despicable lie about not pursuing bin Laden. Do you really believe that anyone, *anyone*, involved in the military operation to pursue bin Laden, even if they were a politician, and including Bush, Rove, Cheney, McCain, and anyone else you care to name, said, “No, let’s not go after bin Laden. We could catch him today, but instead, we’re going to mess with Saddam Hussein.”

    Are you really that delusional? You can’t recognize the lie?

    I chuckle at the folks who call themselves the “reality-based community.” It’s only reality if you’re on hallucinogenic drugs. Or in need of them. Take your pick.

  20. Boyd says:

    And Hal, leave off with the Clinton crap. You haven’t heard me dis Bill Clinton, and you won’t. Stick to what I actually say, rather than putting words in my mouth.

  21. Boyd says:

    And while I’m at it, you’re saying I don’t think about my opinions? While we obviously disagree vehemently on the issues and the people that support them, I’d have thought that the years of our discussions would prove that thought is a necessary element of our disagreements.

    Ad hominem is teh suck.

  22. anjin-san says:

    Boyd,

    Let’s see what GW himself had to say about Bin Laden:

    So I don’t know where he is. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him,

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/03/20020313-8.html

    So much for justice for the thousands of Americans murdered on American soil on Bush’s watch.

    If you want to see who is lying, grab a mirror.

  23. Eric says:

    Boyd, can you and your knee-jerk authoritarian conservative buddies try to come up with better, more current slogans? I mean, come on, that whole “government will take care of you” fearmongering is so 1950s. If you are so scared, maybe you should just grab your Howdy Doody doll and secret Cracker Jack decoder ring and go hide in your bomb shelter before the USSR bombs us.

  24. Hal says:

    Wow, struck a nerve, eh?

    Dude, Ad hominem isn’t a fallacy when you’re – you know – talking about the person. So, while it may be tech suck when you’re the hominem in question, it’s perfectly acceptable.

    I’d have thought that the years of our discussions would prove that thought is a necessary element of our disagreements.

    Yes, that’s why you just came out with a 2 sentence comment – without any, as you say, substance to it.

    “No, let’s not go after bin Laden. We could catch him today, but instead, we’re going to mess with Saddam Hussein.”

    Um, yes. In fact, it’s a matter of historical record. But whatever…. Start pulling out the military as a shield against any critisism. It’s worked like a dream over the past 8 years, so why not?

    Are you really that delusional? You can’t recognize the lie?

    Really, Boyd, you’re starting to sound like a cranky old man. And I guess I don’t blame you because – well – a cranky old man is your only hope against living through the next 8 years with the hated one as your president.

    It’s only reality if you’re on hallucinogenic drugs. Or in need of them. Take your pick.

    You know, for someone who whines about ad hominem, you’re sure throwing out a bunch of them yourself, don’t you think? I mean, where’s the substance Boyd?

    I’d have thought that the years of our discussions would prove that thought is a necessary element of our disagreements.

    Well, where would that thought be demonstrated? Would it be the litany of insults you just filled your 3 comments with? Would it be the substance free reliance on hurt honor to shield your opinion on Obama’s criticism of how Bush handled the still at large Osama?

    Keep this up and I’m going to have to get a web monkey script to replace your gravitare with you in a pink bathrobe shaking a golf club and yelling at me to get off your lawn.

  25. Brett says:

    I like how Joyner says that it fits into a cookie-cutter of all Democratic presidential speeches. Right.

    I mean, it’s totally NOT as if McCain is going to go up at his own convention and drag out all the tired, 20-year-old Republican culture war and strong-on-defense tropes as if they were brand new – right? Yeah, right.

  26. Gypsy Man says:

    Excellent points. This one was worthy of Jimmy Carter. Gateway Pundit took the speech apart also, and Not WRIGHT for America said the speech was nothing but platitudes (e.g. get bin Laden and energy independence) and attacks, but nothing really of substance.

    I finally saw the McCain response–not inspiring, but not as bad as Obama’s comrades on MSNBC said.

  27. Steve Verdon says:

    Wow and I thought I was cynical. I like the magic energy pony comment. That one was right on the mark. There is no magic energy pony, if we have to subsidize these new energy sources, then they will cost as much or more than oil.

  28. Eric says:

    Gateway Pundit took the speech apart also, and Not WRIGHT for America…

    Right. When I want informed commentary, I look to the Gateway Pundit and some obscure pseudo-blogger to enlighten me.

    I finally saw the McCain response–not inspiring, but not as bad as Obama’s comrades on MSNBC said.

    Oh, yeah, Obama’s speech totally sucked. Nothing redeeming about it at all. But McCain’s response? Only “not inspiring”–but apparently so much better than Obama.

    Seriously, guys, go back to your bomb shelters. Life is so much simpler for you there.

  29. Eric says:

    There is no magic energy pony, if we have to subsidize these new energy sources, then they will cost as much or more than oil.

    No one said there was a magic energy pony, Steve. But get this: even if those sources cost as much as oil, they will be OUR sources, not Saudi Arabia’s. That alone is worth the effort, don’t you think?

    No, of course you don’t, because drilling everywhere is your own magic pony.

  30. Susan Estrich (of Dukakis fame) described Obama’s speech as “a Mondale-like laundry list of typical Democratic initiatives” with no indication of how to pay for them or whether they can be done at all.

  31. Steve Verdon says:

    No one said there was a magic energy pony, Steve. But get this: even if those sources cost as much as oil, they will be OUR sources, not Saudi Arabia’s. That alone is worth the effort, don’t you think?

    No I don’t because since the costs is just the same, if not more, we aren’t gaining anything and quite possibly losing out.

    No, of course you don’t, because drilling everywhere is your own magic pony.

    Of course not, I’ve already said there is no magic energy pony. That applies everywhere, not just for the Democrats.

    Engage brain next time.

  32. markm says:

    “The last fifteen or twenty minutes of it, when he went into preacher mode”

    That’s when he lost me. I couldn’t take that.

    And where are all these people that are single waitress income houses with umpteen sick kids at home?. I’m not being a smart ass but I live in Michigan, things are fugly here…the worst i’ve ever seen economically. I’m sure these people exist because I know they exist with a booming economy…but the speech makes it sound like they are the majority…and I don’t think that’s the case.

  33. sam says:

    Rightwing folks, I hate to break this to you, but from here on out the Democratic rhetorical sword is gonna be stuck up the Republican ass and broken off at the hilt. Fasten your seatbelts, y’all are in for a bumpy ride.

  34. markm says:

    “but from here on out the…..”

    Better late than never I suppose.

  35. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that Sen. Obama did what he needed to do in this speech, that Democrats are understandably pleased with their candidate, and that they should be allowed their moment of euphoria.

  36. […] wrote a quick post before bed last night giving my off-the-cuff reaction to Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech, arguing that, despite all the talk of “change,” it was basically a speech that Jimmy […]

  37. Eric says:

    No I don’t because since the costs is just the same, if not more, we aren’t gaining anything and quite possibly losing out.

    Really? We aren’t gaining anything by applying good old-fashioned American ingenuity to the problem? Do you have that little faith in Americans? I mean, aren’t you conservatives always blathering on and on about how great we are, and how when we put our minds to something there’s nothing we can’t solve? Is your conservatism so deep that you can’t even see beyond today?

    Seriously, how is this going to be any worse than what’s going to happen as oil reserves dry up all over the world? I believe if we get a head start now really concentrating our efforts on developing alternative sources of energy, we will be way ahead in the end. I’m not saying that we won’t need oil for some things (rockets, airplanes, etc), but for domestic purposes most us would probably be just fine with, say, an electric car (or whatever). No one said it was going to be easy, but are you saying now we shouldn’t even try?

    Engage brain next time

    Are you serious, Steve? You’re accusing *me* of not using my brain? LOL! I read your posts. You are the least thoughtful yet most reactionary of the crew here at OTB. Most of your posts simply are of the “I hate liberals” variety. I await the day you actually bring a thought-provoking argument to the table, and not a typical I-hate-liberals-and-everything-they-have-to-say rant.

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