The Morning After: Some Thoughts

Barack Obama delivered last night what has been hailed by most of the press as an extraordinary speech, which is not surprising considering The Hills blog is reporting that dozens of members of the media were seen standing and cheering during the speech. And I say most praised the speech because a writer for the AP had a more negative reaction to the speech, which drew the ire of none other than Keith Olbermann.

All in all, the speech, with the exception of the rhetoric of the last five to ten minutes, was nothing that we haven’t already heard. Obama said he was going to lay out his proposals, but specifics were few and far between. The main theme of the speech, it seemed, was the entire theme of the night – John McCain would be a “third term” for George W. Bush. Like was noted in the live blog, Obama went after McCain’s judgement, just as Sen. Joe Biden did the night before. I think this is going to be their theme over the next couple of months, and it will be up to the Republicans to refute these claims if they want to win the election.

Now, of course, Obama couldn’t have spelled out exactly how each of these proposals would work in a 40 minute speech. It comes down to the simple fact that it is the same stuff that we have been hearing in the primaries – broad proposals that sound appealing on the surface but ignore the specifics. For example, Obama said that he would work to raise the salaries of teachers and increase funding for our schools. But he never mentioned where this money would come from or how he would get it.

Perhaps that’s what will be spelled out in the next couple of months. Even so, the speech would have been more powerful, in my opinion, with hard numbers and not just the same rhetoric we have been hearing throughout the past four days.

I think most people were looking for a speech up to par, if not better, than the one he gave at the 2004 DNC. As Nash said last night, this one falls short. It certainly didn’t strike me as extraordinary, but it did put the ball in the Republicans’ court. And it will be their task to rebuke the claims in Minnesota next week.

Now, back to what I was saying earlier about most journalists thoroughly enjoying the speech. Charles Babington of the AP was not one of them. The article, in my eyes, is a fair assessment of the speech. Olbermann, of course, did not think so. After most likely pulling this piece of information off Daily Kos, Olbermann read a few paragraphs of Babington’s article, ridiculing him for not watching the same speech and getting the length wrong by a few mere minutes. Olbermann, horrified that this could be reprinted in thousands of newspapers across the country, was sincerely worried for his man Obama. He concluded his rant – which would have made you think you were watching “Countdown” and he was listing off the World’s Worse – by telling Babington to “find new work.” Keep in mind that this is a former sports reporter turned self-proclaimed politcal expert telling a veteran journalist that his work is factually wrong.

In the end, last night capped of a week of the same for the Democrats. Their message is clear – McCain is Bush #3. As we have mentioned, it is up to the Republicans to develop a well-supported response to this.

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