Per my earlier discussion of avoiding the conventions, I didn’t watch Obama give the speech last night, but I did read it (it didn’t take the 40 minutes speaking it required), and I thought it was very good. On the GOP character attacks, it seems like he did a bit of a rope-a-dope strategy, taking hits through most of August so he could unload with effect in this speech, deflecting the various stupidities of the August campaign and correctly noting that when your opponents have nothing else to hit you with, they call you a “celebrity” and try to make the columns on your stage a genuine political issue. It was a nice bit of reframing and I’m glad he did it. The layout of various goals and policies was useful, considering how often Obama’s hammered on regarding these topics (although personally I’m not seeing McCain’s policies laid out in any more detail), although I bet in the live show that’s where things might have sagged a bit. This is why I read.
I think probably the most important thing Obama did was remind people of this: “We are better than these last eight years.” Jesus Christ amen to that. What a horrible political era it has been, nor are we out of it, since in November there may still be voters under the impression that the best way to deal with a political party that boosted a malignant cancer of the Constitution into the White House is to reward it with another four years of executive power. John McCain should lose the White House on his own merits, or lack thereof; he’s the lesser of the two candidates this year. But more than that, the Republican Party deserves punishment because of Bush, and exile until it gets its head straight again. The GOP needs to atone, people.
I understand there are people who mouth the words “but the Democrats would just be worse,” to this and may actually believe it, and the only sane reaction to this is to ask just exactly where they are buying the genuinely primo weed that they are apparently smoking. It’s good for Obama to forcefully remind people that indeed that as a nation we are not better off than we were eight years ago, economically, socially, constitutionally or morally, and more than that, there’s another and hopefully better way of doing things.
I don’t expect miracles from Obama and never have, and in fact have been awfully irritated at the wide-eyed drooliness of some of the Obamites: Dudes, he’s human and a politician. What I’ve wanted from him was a lot of what was in the speech: An idea of what he wants to do and how he wants to do it, the willingness to call the petty bullshittery that passes for GOP election tactics for what it is (and to keep doing so through November), and the reminder that the Bush administration should properly be seen as a low point to be climbed out of and away from rather than a model to be emulated moving forward. It was a good speech and worth the read.