Let the Gushing Begin

Tom Lifson's excellent analysis in today's AT of Barack Obama's "showmanship"reveals a stunning truth about the candidate and more importantly, his supporters; a kind of madness has infected the press, pundits, and even Obama himself. These are, for the most part, college educated, sober minded adults who have fallen head over heels for a politician who says nothing, has done nothing, and allows them to feed on their own grandeliquent self image of liberal saviors of the republic.

The candidate himself half believes his own hype. And what these pundits and reporters are saying about his speech last night would make one think that William Jennings Bryan, FDR, and JFK had all been reborn in this Machine pol from Chicago blessed with a mellifluous voice and soothing manner. Here's some "professional" reaction via the
Opinionator Blog at the NY Times:

  • Kevin Drum, blogging at his new home at Mother Jones: “Obama has put a serious dent in McCain’s ability to continue campaigning with dumb soundbites and too-cute-by-half innuendo. This isn’t a teenager’s campaign for junior high student council, he was saying, it’s a campaign for president of the United States and you’re old enough to know that you should damn well treat it that way.” He concludes, “John McCain looks very, very small right about now.”
  • Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says the exact same thing (“John McCain looks very, very small”) and adds, “I also think he made the right decision to directly (and, in the case of the ‘celeb’ meme, explicitly) confront the smears, particularly the attacks on Obama’s Americanness and patriotism. The tone didn’t strike me as defensive or outraged (which is a different side of defensiveness) but more one of what I might call assertive contempt.”
  • Marc Cooper, a contributing editor for The Nation, at his personal blog: “The most impressive campaign speech from an American presidential candidate I can recall in my lifetime.”
  • Andrew Sullivan: “It was a liberal speech, more unabashedly, unashamedly liberal than any Democratic acceptance speech since the great era of American liberalism. But it made the case for that liberalism — in the context of the decline of the American dream, and the rise of cynicism and the collapse of cultural unity. His ability to portray that liberalism as a patriotic, unifying, ennobling tradition makes him the most lethal and remarkable Democratic figure since John F Kennedy.”

  • These people get paid big bucks to give the rest of us the benefit of their experience as analysts and commentators. Instead, we get this gushing, effusive, totally unrealistic assessment of Obama's speech.

    The speech was good but hardly the show stopper claimed by those and many more media commentators above. It was more specific than past Obama speeches but still fell far short of offering anything like a blueprint for change that any decent corporate manager would lay out after taking over a company or even a business plan for a small business.

    It was, for the most part, boilerplate liberal pablum. Every major idea proposed by liberal presidential candidates over the last 40 years is in there. If you didn't know it was Obama delivering it, you could have put George McGovern's name at the top and it would have played just as well with the left.

    There were some bones thrown to others about "personal responsibility" and the like. But specifics? Here's
    one example:


    As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

    I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts, but I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.

    I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.


    We have tried "tough, direct, diplomacy" on Iran - we and the European countries of Britain, France, and Germany. We have done a remarkable job in the UN of getting the world behind us on trying to prevent Iran from building the bomb. We have done everything that Obama has said he would do and Iran is still as recalcitrant as before.

    And perhaps he might want to define what "tough" diplomacy might be. I'm sure Mr. Putin is quaking in his boots at the thought of Mr. Obama's "tough" negotiations. Negotiate what? How? The reason Obama fails to be specific because if he was, we would see how weak he really is.

    But getting "specific" about his desire for "change" was never really a problem with his supporters. It was a line of attack by his opponents which is the only reason he even tried to put a little meat on the bones of his policy proposals. But he still can't tell us how he will bring these miracles about nor can he; he really doesn't know.

    Taken altogether, I give the speech a B minus. It accomplished what it set out to do for the most part and didn't radcically disappoint anyone. But from a policy perspective, it was still as empty as the inside of a balloon.

    I have my own take on the
    speech here.

    Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

    Tom Lifson's excellent analysis in today's AT of Barack Obama's "showmanship"reveals a stunning truth about the candidate and more importantly, his supporters; a kind of madness has infected the press, pundits, and even Obama himself. These are, for the most part, college educated, sober minded adults who have fallen head over heels for a politician who says nothing, has done nothing, and allows them to feed on their own grandeliquent self image of liberal saviors of the republic.

    The candidate himself half believes his own hype. And what these pundits and reporters are saying about his speech last night would make one think that William Jennings Bryan, FDR, and JFK had all been reborn in this Machine pol from Chicago blessed with a mellifluous voice and soothing manner. Here's some "professional" reaction via the
    Opinionator Blog at the NY Times:

  • Kevin Drum, blogging at his new home at Mother Jones: “Obama has put a serious dent in McCain’s ability to continue campaigning with dumb soundbites and too-cute-by-half innuendo. This isn’t a teenager’s campaign for junior high student council, he was saying, it’s a campaign for president of the United States and you’re old enough to know that you should damn well treat it that way.” He concludes, “John McCain looks very, very small right about now.”
  • Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says the exact same thing (“John McCain looks very, very small”) and adds, “I also think he made the right decision to directly (and, in the case of the ‘celeb’ meme, explicitly) confront the smears, particularly the attacks on Obama’s Americanness and patriotism. The tone didn’t strike me as defensive or outraged (which is a different side of defensiveness) but more one of what I might call assertive contempt.”
  • Marc Cooper, a contributing editor for The Nation, at his personal blog: “The most impressive campaign speech from an American presidential candidate I can recall in my lifetime.”
  • Andrew Sullivan: “It was a liberal speech, more unabashedly, unashamedly liberal than any Democratic acceptance speech since the great era of American liberalism. But it made the case for that liberalism — in the context of the decline of the American dream, and the rise of cynicism and the collapse of cultural unity. His ability to portray that liberalism as a patriotic, unifying, ennobling tradition makes him the most lethal and remarkable Democratic figure since John F Kennedy.”

  • These people get paid big bucks to give the rest of us the benefit of their experience as analysts and commentators. Instead, we get this gushing, effusive, totally unrealistic assessment of Obama's speech.

    The speech was good but hardly the show stopper claimed by those and many more media commentators above. It was more specific than past Obama speeches but still fell far short of offering anything like a blueprint for change that any decent corporate manager would lay out after taking over a company or even a business plan for a small business.

    It was, for the most part, boilerplate liberal pablum. Every major idea proposed by liberal presidential candidates over the last 40 years is in there. If you didn't know it was Obama delivering it, you could have put George McGovern's name at the top and it would have played just as well with the left.

    There were some bones thrown to others about "personal responsibility" and the like. But specifics? Here's
    one example:


    As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

    I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts, but I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.

    I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.


    We have tried "tough, direct, diplomacy" on Iran - we and the European countries of Britain, France, and Germany. We have done a remarkable job in the UN of getting the world behind us on trying to prevent Iran from building the bomb. We have done everything that Obama has said he would do and Iran is still as recalcitrant as before.

    And perhaps he might want to define what "tough" diplomacy might be. I'm sure Mr. Putin is quaking in his boots at the thought of Mr. Obama's "tough" negotiations. Negotiate what? How? The reason Obama fails to be specific because if he was, we would see how weak he really is.

    But getting "specific" about his desire for "change" was never really a problem with his supporters. It was a line of attack by his opponents which is the only reason he even tried to put a little meat on the bones of his policy proposals. But he still can't tell us how he will bring these miracles about nor can he; he really doesn't know.

    Taken altogether, I give the speech a B minus. It accomplished what it set out to do for the most part and didn't radcically disappoint anyone. But from a policy perspective, it was still as empty as the inside of a balloon.

    I have my own take on the
    speech here.

    Hat Tip: Ed Lasky