Breaking Down Obama’s Speech


by Shariq
29th August, 2008 at 10:15 am    

Introduction

Interestingly, they have Joe Biden introduce some ordinary workers, giving them their fifteen minutes of fame. This seems a lot like daytime tv. I’m sure this has all been focus-group tested though. It may have made me cringe at times but it probably went down well with that mythical entity also known as ‘middle-america’. Just to reiterate that, Barney Smith gives a line about putting Barney Smith before Smith Barney. One thing to note is the that out of the speakers there were more women than men.

I think it was a great touch to have the last two people as life-long republicans who were saying that they just couldn’t afford to vote for Republicans anymore.

Was this the first time that Born in the USA was used appropriately in a public setting? Maybe it was done intentionally so that people who know the lyrics got the irony, while others thought it was part of the standard convention playlist.

Anyone else notice that during the convention, there has been very little explicit mention of abortion and protecting a women’s right to choose. I’m guessing that they don’t want to get pro-lifers worked up and will get the message across to pro-choicers through more direct means. Interesting to see if McCain also does this next week or whether he explicity sets out his pro-life credentials.

Excellent speech by the senior Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, although I’m not sure the reference to Abraham Lincoln works so well. Great President but he was hardly a uniter was he?

Ok, I thought this was the introductory speech, but it appears as if this video is going to do the introduction. Not surprisingly the video is very well put together. Some biography, some accomplishments, a lot of photos of him talking to ordinary folk.

The Speech

Excellent beginning. Accepts the nomination firmly, but without dwelling on it. Straight to praising Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. The Obama people must really be worried about the Hillary supporters voting for McCain. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

The American Dream - Judging by what Bill Clinton said as well, it seems like this is going to be theme number 1 for the campaign from now on in. Essentially, they’ve subsumed ‘the Economy’ into the broader vision and hope associated with the Dream. I like that – makes the message seem hopeful rather whiny.

Katrina reference. ENOUGH! Obama goes on the attack. No mention of McCain, instead saying that the Republicans are the party which gave us George W Bush and Dick Cheney. I think thats the first Cheney reference all week. About time too.

John McCain – ‘we owe him our gratitude and respect’. Also like Bill Clinton, recognising that McCain has shown independence on some issues.

McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time. Bingo. Obama’s winning line of attack against McCain becomes clear. Normally the Republicans would come up with some metric about how Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate. This year that would just emphasise the break with Bush-Cheney.

Did McCain really say that the middle class was people making under $5 million? John McCain cares about America but just doesn’t get it. McCain’s campaign person said that he thinks America has become a nation of whiners. The great thing about Obama is that this won’t stick. The self-confidence and calmness he projects is on a completely different plane to Al Gore (lecturing) and John Kerry (over-whelmed).

Obama has a sister?? I didn’t know that. Surprised neither she nor their grandmother is at the speech.

He just demolished the ‘Obama as Paris Hilton’ celebrity meme by putting it in the context of his own ordinary family. Made the whole idea seem pretty silly really.

Tax-Cutting for 95% of families. Very important he put this across in this speech. People forget that in 2000, Al Gore was also backing a $800 billion tax cut. Yet the Republicans made it seem like Bush was cutting taxes (only for the wealthy of course) and Gore would raise taxes. They will try this with Obama as well – lets see if they succeed.

Energy Independence within 10 years. Clever that he linked this with security and creating jobs rather than catastrophe caused by global warming. No mention of nuclear power but then this isn’t really the time for that is it :)

Education – Invest in teachers, give people who want to the chance to get a college education.

Health Care – Really moving smoothly through the issues now. Again, reassuring people who already have health insurance that their premiums will actually be lowered under his plan.

Equal pay for Equal days work for Women -

The Money Issue – Closing tax loopholes. Removing waste. Can’t meet 21st century challenges with a 20th century bureaucracy. Taking away one of McCain’s big ‘economic’ arguments.

With Money also comes Responsibility. I think Cameron’s been tapping into this feeling as well. That no matter how much money you spend, you also need to encourage civic and family responsibility.

The War

Big theme number 2. Hopefully he mentions the surge.

John McCain won’t even follow Osama Bin Laden to the cave in which he lives. Really attacking this with gusto. ‘You don’t defeat a terrorist entity in 80 countries by occupying Iraq’. ‘You don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country’!

Confirmed his commitment (also shared by Bush Administration now) to end the war in Iraq and defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. Importantly, he won’t start wars unless necessary and making sure that the troops are properly equipped.

Attacked the whole patriotism thing front on. No one should be challenging anyone’s patriotism.

The Whole Post-Partisan Thing

Disagree about abortion, but agree on reducing unwanted pregnancies.

Gun ownership rules different for people in rural Ohio to tackling gang violence in Clevealand, but agree on keeping AK-47′s out of hands of criminals.

Disagree about same sex marriage, but agree that they should have rights to visit partners in hospital.

All good stuff, the type that independents and new voters should eat up. The thing which keeps me optimistic about the election is knowing that because of the primaries Obama has an effective 50 state ground campaign and simply the greater number of people voting in the Democrat primaries compared to the Republican primaries.

‘This election has never been about me. Its about you’. Interesting.

Finally, the Martin Luther King reference. Tastefully done and another good sign of the promise of America in becoming better and to ‘always march ahead and never turn back’.

The thing which stood about this speech for me was the fact that Obama really became passionate and angry about what has happened in the past without losing the message of hope for the future. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t a big post-convention bump out of this even though McCain is going to try and divert media attention by naming his veep choice today or tomorrow.


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  1. MaidMarian — on 29th August, 2008 at 11:08 am  

    ‘Importantly, he won’t start wars unless necessary and making sure that the troops are properly equipped.’

    Hostage to fortune.

  2. Ravi Naik — on 29th August, 2008 at 2:51 pm  

    Isn’t there a Hurricane attending the GOP convention? :)

  3. halima — on 29th August, 2008 at 3:02 pm  

    Think this post should read … Obama’s ground-breaking speech ….

    I thought he was great – the choice of the next US president isn’t about him, it’s about the future of the US, and turning the tide of recent history. A promise for a better future, a decent and dignified future.

    Superb. And every time I see his wife i can’t help thinking WHAT A ROLE MODEL for WOMEN ACROSS THE WORLD.

    The speech was actually quite gender friendly , he kept referring to daughters, women’s right to choose, and gay, lesbian people’s right to live and marry.He talked about immigration in terms of mother-infant seperation – the human cost of seperation. Not the politics of diversity. I thought he had the diversity thing PERFECT.

  4. Sofia — on 29th August, 2008 at 3:06 pm  

    All I thought was same old same old…political clap trap..and that stuff about his mother..omg..boohoo…I know I sound like a cynic but if he does get through to be the first “mixed race” (not just black) president, then I’m really hoping he is sincere.

  5. Ravi Naik — on 29th August, 2008 at 4:39 pm  

    McCain just picked Sarah Palin as his running-mate: a creationist, rabidly anti-choice candidate, who asked a month ago what is a VP supposed to do.

    Republicans do not cease to amaze me.

  6. BenSix — on 29th August, 2008 at 4:42 pm  

    It’s a pretty clever choice, nonetheless.

    Ben

  7. Ravi Naik — on 29th August, 2008 at 5:06 pm  

    Smart is making ballsy moves while minimising risk. This seems like a very very risky move that has the potential to backfire.

    It feels like it is a move out of desperation.

  8. BenSix — on 29th August, 2008 at 5:07 pm  

    Well, I hope that she could, but how?

  9. shariq — on 29th August, 2008 at 5:36 pm  

    I’m slightly worried by this. McCain has really gambled with this pick. Makes me think that he doesn’t think he can win as things currently stand.

    Sarah Palin is pro-life, NRA and fiscally conservative and will be popular with the base. The media will also love it and will use it to try and repair McCain’s reputation as a maverick, independent.

  10. halima — on 29th August, 2008 at 5:37 pm  

    I think the Democrats are all celebrating at this latest news. Hurray!

  11. shariq — on 29th August, 2008 at 5:55 pm  
  12. Rayyan — on 29th August, 2008 at 10:41 pm  

    Obama’s speech was magnificent. Watching it at 5am in the morning on the MSNBC website, I was drained of emotion from the rollercoaster ride of the primaries and then the build-up to the general election. He demolished any credible argument any American had left for voting for McCain over him, and aligned the entire Democratic party not just on the progressive sphere of politics but with the overwhelming majority of Americans’ sensibilities, values and hopes.

    Now, the only reasons people won’t vote for Obama are purely due to race, or any trepidation relating to his race. You can’t win ‘em all.

    I loved the bits about why we needed collective action, and why good government doesn’t undermine the individual but instead allows individuals to thrive in a community that gives opportunity to all. It’s not just the American promise; it’s the promise of progressives everywhere that we can convince a majority of the people to work together and recognise our collective responsibility to each other.

    One can only imagine the possibilities an Obama presidency will unlock for future generations of Americans and young progressives everywhere. Please read and comment on my own Obama breakdown: http://rayyanmirza.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/yes-we-can-barack-obama-and-lessons-for-progressives-everywhere/

  13. chairwoman — on 30th August, 2008 at 10:31 am  

    Ok, Ok, now will you all please settle down?

    I know he’s young(ish), charismatic and black, but for goodness sake, he’s never run anything, and you all appear to want to make him leader of the free world!

    Any small businessman is better equipped for this job than he is. They will have employed staff, balanced their accounts, been creative when business isn’t good, and negotiated with customers and suppliers, and at the end of the day that is what governments do, but on a much bigger scale.

    He hasn’t been in business, he hasn’t headed a major institution, he hasn’t been a state governor. He has made speeches. No wonder he’s so good at it.

    Whoever is President of the United States of America is ultimately our President too, although we have no say in it, and neither parties have given us a candidate who is up to the mark.

  14. Rumbold — on 30th August, 2008 at 10:35 am  

    But he’s the Obamessiah.

  15. Ravi Naik — on 30th August, 2008 at 11:55 am  

    He hasn’t been in business, he hasn’t headed a major institution, he hasn’t been a state governor. He has made speeches. No wonder he’s so good at it.

    I disagree, Chairwoman. For the past year, he has made a political campaign that moved millions of people and hundreds of millions of dollars over the whole US, that trumped the Clintons and the Democrat establishment. That was a monstrous achievement, that I only realised after he won the primaries. I don’t agree that a small businessman would be able to achieve something at that scale. He has been working for 11 years in the legislative branch, and more than speeches, in his interviews, he seems to know a lot of detail about every issue, and how each issue relates to another.

    I understand it is very funny to call him Obamessiah and the “One” (har har), but these are just shallow caricatures.

    He might not be the best candidate out there, but he certainly has the qualities to be a good President: he inspires people to participate in the political process rather than repel them, he is not intellectual incurious, he seems to like to be surrounded by competent people who tell things as they are, and he seems to control his temper even when things get really stressful.

    If your main concern is how many years you have been a governor, then George W Bush would come on top of the list, no?

  16. Shamit — on 30th August, 2008 at 12:43 pm  

    Bill clinton would actually

    He ran Arkansas far longer than Bush ran TX.

  17. Leon — on 30th August, 2008 at 4:27 pm  

    But he’s the Obamessiah.

    Glad we can all finally agree that Jesus was black. :)

  18. Leon — on 30th August, 2008 at 4:29 pm  

    Bill clinton would actually

    He ran Arkansas far longer than Bush ran TX.

    Interestingly Clinton killed less people as Gov and President compared the Bush.

  19. JC — on 31st August, 2008 at 10:01 pm  

    Obama cannot get my vote. He has no executive experience. He is a great motivational speaker who dodges details and calls for change. Well, guess what, that is exactly what Bush did. Bush ran on change. Obama paints this beautiful picture of change and some Americans fall for it like a well designed commercial.

    Have you ever heard him speak when he didn’t have time to prepare? Saddleback gave him a run for his money and he failed terribly stumbling all over the place and not saying a single thing in an attempt to answer a question.

    Those of you who praise him for his great speeches have a good point. He is a good speaker. But take a look at his record. Take a look at what he has voted for and against. What he has pushed to go through and what he has stopped.

    America is in trouble if he is elected. But some people have been watching good commercials for such a long time they love a good one. Those who support Obama are an easy sell. Not me.

  20. stella — on 2nd September, 2008 at 9:33 am  

    Please JC give us the best candidate for President. Please don’t say Clinton or Kucinich or Barr. Pick between the viable candidates.

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