If I were to respond at length to Obama’s speech, I would probably reply to a whole list of things- from Obama’s claims about supply-side economics to his old, failed education policies- but so much that I would say would merely be conservative calisthenics. Obama accused McCain of using the same old tactics because he lacks new ideas and can’t point to a record of success (hm?!?), but I would say that his positions reveal that indictment to be true of Obama himself. Thus, most of the arguments used to rebut, say, Jimmy Carter or George McGovern, could be repeated to rebut Obama. Even so, we will likely post an in-depth commentary tomorrow.
For now, all I have to say is that after watching most (though, admittedly, not all) of the speeches this week, Obama’s was at least above average. But, it wasn’t terribly groundbreaking, and I don’t think any of the lines will go down in history- or at least they don’t deserve to. I would rank it far below the memorable 2004 address. It wasn’t quite as policy-driven as I had expected (though I was surprised to hear about his proposal to cut the capital gains tax for small businesses, which I hadn’t heard about until now, is a good idea, and, naturally, somewhat contrary to the rest of his ideology). Yes, he mentioned a good number of his positions, but there were very few facts and figures (which is understandable, because the facts and figures- such as the report that revised our second quarter GDP growth to a fairly strong 3.3%- do not fully support his narrative). Essentially, the Obama campaign is asking us to be short-term pessimists, but long-term optimists. I think he would have to have heftier proposals to justify such a leap, but I do think the speech will give him something of a convention bounce. The attack the Republicans must deal with most effectively is that McCain= Bush’s third term. If they do not repudiate that argument, McCain will lose.