Obama’s speech: what did you think?

by Stephen Tall on August 29, 2008

I’ve just finished listening to Senator Barack Obama accept the Democratic party’s nomination for the presidency. The bar for him was high – not simply the expectations that come from being an acknowledged orator, but also following the high-octane speeches of the Clintons – and he well and truly cleared it.

I’d describe myself as an optimistic sceptic when it comes to Senator Obama – I’d love to believe in him, but I’m fully prepared for the come-down of disappointment if and when he’s president. Yet this speech is simply scintillating, a superlative lesson in crafting a message which manages to be both punchily partisan and wooingly consensual; deeply personal and intellectually sound; stirring and serious. There is absolutely no question who is the better candidate for president this November.

But of course speeches don’t win elections, and no matter how positive today’s coverage the presidential debates – in which the two candidates will be much more evenly matched – will have much more influence on the outcome.

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Quite simply – it needed to be the best political speech in a decade, and it was.

A couple of the comments I’ve read express it better than I can:

From Daily Kos:

“Gay marriage, guns, abortion, social security, and more. When you touch the third, fourth, fifth and six rails of American politics in your acceptance speech, that’s gutsy. And brilliant.”

From Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish:

“What he didn’t do was give an airy, abstract, dreamy confection of rhetoric. 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.”

by Joe Taylor on August 29, 2008 at 11:22 am. Reply #

I’ve just caught the speech on BBC Parliament (having only just realised that they’ve been showing the convention all week).

It was very good. His speech was well written and he is a good speaker. The audience loved it (of course).

The positive impact of the speech will probably be balanced by the wall-to-wall coverage of the republican convention next week, especially with the announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s VP candidate.

by Jon on August 29, 2008 at 8:32 pm. Reply #

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