Excellent speech analysis from our friends over at Power Line:
WAS IT EFFECTIVE DEMAGOGUERY, OR INEFFECTIVE?
Fireworks! The perfect end to an evening of BS slinging of historic proportions. Barack Obama is a demagogue who will stoop to any lie or distortion; the question is how many people he can fool. On that, the jury is out. The answer will emerge between now and November.
It will take some time to dissect all of the foolishness we heard tonight, but here are a few observations:
Obama outlined, in the vaguest terms possible, countless billions or trillions of new federal spending. How would he pay for it? By “closing corporate loopholes”–like what? The idea that Obama’s orgy of spending can be funded by “closing corporate loopholes” is frankly childish. By increasing taxes on the top 5% of taxpayers, i.e., precisely those who are grossly over-taxed already. The top 5% already pay 60% of all federal income taxes. And by “eliminating programs that no longer work.” Really? Which ones? No one seriously imagines that Obama–let alone the Democratic Congress!–has any intention of eliminating any significant government programs.
Obama says he wants to become independent of foreign oil in ten years. How? By tapping natural gas reserves. I wonder whether Obama, unlike Nancy Pelosi, understands that natural gas is a fossil fuel for which we must drill offshore, in ANWR, etc. There was perhaps some news here: Obama also came out for developing nuclear energy, yet another flip-flop. But does anyone imagine that nuclear energy development would go forward in a Democratic Congress and White House? In one of his many cheap shots, Obama said that we import three times as much foreign oil as when John McCain went to Washington. That’s no doubt true, because the Democratic Party has enacted legislation that makes it illegal to develop our domestic resources.
Obama said he is happy to debate John McCain about who has the judgment and temperament to guide foreign policy. Of course, he has had many opportunities to do so, and has ducked them. Does this mean that Obama will now accept McCain’s challenge to a series of town hall appearances? But what about Obama’s foreign policy judgment? He barely mentioned Iraq–once, in the distant past, his signature issue–but never referred at all to the surge. Obama was dead wrong on the most important foreign policy issue that has arisen during his time in the Senate, and he failed even to mention it, let alone try to justify his error.
Rather weirdly, Obama attacked McCain for alleged unwillingness to “follow Osama bin Laden to the cave where he lives.” If this means anything, it means that Obama is still in favor of invading Afghanistan. Again, no one really believes Obama will do this; it’s just another example of how he doesn’t feel any obligation to conform his words to reality.
He says we “don’t deter Iran by talking tough,” so how, then, do we deter Iran? Obama offers no clue. Likewise with Georgia; “talking tough” won’t stop the Russians. True enough; deterring the Russians requires military capability. Yet Obama has pledged to reduce our military capability. So how, exactly, are the Russians to be stopped?
Obama is utterly unreliable every time he recites a statistic. Examples could be multiplied endlessly; to take just one, he said tonight that “the average American family saw its income go down $2,000 under George Bush.” That is untrue. Here are the real median household income figures from the Census Bureau; click to enlarge:
Inflation-adjusted median income during the Bush administration is up, not “down $2,000” since 2001, and it increased again last year.
Of course, Obama has no intention of appealing to the well-informed. Like other Democrats, he feeds on ignorance. Whether a majority of voters are ignorant enough to swallow Obama’s whoppers is, as yet, unknown.
One last thought: was there a single sentence in Obama’s speech that could not have come from Jimmy Carter?
11:04 One more bow for the Obama couple and the Biden couple before they ascend to the heavens.
The Democrats pulled out all the theatrical stops tonight. They filled a football stadium, built part of a Greek temple, and put on a fireworks show worthy of the 4th of July.
Barack Obama, for his part, pulled out all the rhetorical stops. His speech was a patchwork of homey sentimentality, Clintonesque laundry lists, and Obama’s version of Jesse Jackson’s preacher man. If a particular riff that has worked somewhere on the stump didn’t fit into one of these slots, it was given its own.
All of these elements have worked for politicians at times and Obama pulls each off better than most. Thus, this may well prove to have been an effective speech. But by no means do I think this was a great, or even an excellent, one.
I was also surprised that it wasn’t better targeted towards the two groups Obama must have to win the election — Hillary Clinton-supporting women and independent voters. Obama made only the most perfunctory of nods in Hillary’s direction. And what exactly in this speech does Obama think will reel in independents skeptical about his fitness for office and his liberalism? The fact that his mother was from Kansas?
This was an angry speech as these things go. If the McCain campaign wanted to provoke Obama, it succeeded. The political environment may be such that independent voters will have no problem with Obama’s stridency, the kind typically associated with VP nominee. But if they are that upset, Obama need not have given a speech.
Here’s the blow-by-blow account:
10:03 Obama’s intro tape begins. We’re told that his mother wanted young Barack to know what being an American means. We’re not told that she took him to Indonesia to find out.
10:04 His grandparents grew up in Kansas. That’s code for “I’m not a Muslim,” I guess. Otherwise, it’s difficult to understand why Obama keeps pointing this out.
10:05 Michelle Obama recalls wondering “Who names their kid Barack Obama.” Does Michelle Obama realize that parents don’t confer the surname?
10:07 Barack cleans up for Michelle. If your surname is Obama, you should be “Barry.” Now that this is clear, he can count on my vote.
10:08 The tape is covering Obama’s time in the state legislature. No legislative achievements are mentioned, but we learn that when he visited Southern Illinois he recognized the people because they were just like his grandparents. Actually, his grandparents were radicals living in Hawaii, but all ordinary white folk look the same.
10:09 The tape of over. No Indonesia, no Hawaii, no Harvard.
10:10 Obama is on stage now. He’s flashing a great smile, and why not?
10:11 Now he’s applauding the crowd. I thought only European soccer players did this.
10:13 He plugs Hillary as “an inspiration to my daughters and yours.” This brief, hackneyed, insincere reference is all she rates tonight.
10:14 He plugs Joe Biden. Joe Biden is smiling like he just won the lottery, and why not?
10:16 He begins the substantive part of the speech by going negative on the Bush administration. Obama probably understands that the bloom is off his rose and that the key to victory is to “draft” home behind a wind of discontent.
10:18 Nothing special yet. This is just a generic Democratic attack speech.
10:20 This election, Obama says, is about keeping the American dream alive. Still very vanilla.
10:21 “We love this country too much to let the next four years be just like the last eight.” Still pedestrian. “Eight is enough.” That line was used earlier in the convention. Can I get my money back?
10:22 Now the subject is McCain. Obama praises him for “wearing the uniform of our country with bravery.” His praise of McCain is the must perfunctory I’ve heard yet at the convention. Obama has managed to make Bill Clinton seem gracious.
10:23 According to Obama, McCain voted with the Bush administration 90 percent of the time. The Dems have spent the entire convention shifting back and forth between 90 percent and 95 percent on this statistic. It’s meaningless in any case until a baseline is established by reference to, say, the percentage of time Obama voted with the administration. But it sounds good, or would if the Dems could get their story straight.
10:24 Playing off the 10 percent number, Obama says we shouldn’t settle for a 10 percent chance on change. It’s nonsense of course, but it’s also his first semi-good line of the evening.
10:25 Obama is riffing off of Phil Gramm’s lines about a “mental recession” and a “nation of whiners.” I’ll need to check the transcript on this, but it sounded to me like Obama phrased this in a way that invites the impression that McCain, not Gramm, uttered these unfortunate lines.
10:26 According to Obama, it’s not that John McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the country, it’s that he doesn’t know what’s going on. It seems unlikely that a candidate who has been attending town meetings on an almost daily basis for a year and half doesn’t know what’s going on in the country. Obama is setting a low bar for McCain next week.
10:27 Obama follows up by claiming that McCain believes being wealthy means making $5 million per year or more. I’d like to see Obama’s source for this one.
10:29 We’re back to grandpa. He marched with General Patton. Maybe that’s why he wouldn’t give grandma a ride to her job at the bank in Hawaii.
10:30 Grandma, who had the lead role in raising Obama and who he once impugned for racism, is finally getting her due.
10:31 Obama cites ma, grandma, and grandpa to refute McCain’s charge that he’s a celebrity. But McCain didn’t say that ma, grandma, and grandpa were celebrities, he said that Obama was.
10:32 Obama states that, under his vision of the American promise, government “should help us not hurt us.” Can I get my money back?
10:33 Here’s the part of the speech when Obama presents “exactly the change” he’s going to deliver. He’s going to cut taxes for 95 percent of “working families.”
10:35 With respect to energy, it’s all about new sources. He disparages new drilling as a “stop-gap.” Now who is insensitive to what’s going on in the country?
10:36 He’s working his way, Bill Clinton style, through the liberal domestic laundry list.
10:37 Promises about education.
!0:38 Promises about health care.
10:39 He’s going to protect social security. Nothing about how he’s going to accomplish that. Are folks noticing how empty most of this is?
10:40 He’s going to make sure there’s equal pay for equal work. He doesn’t mention that this has been the law of the land for virtually his entire lifetime. (The controversy here is over whether you have to complain about violations in a timely manner, as with every other law; the Dems are crusading to relieve plaintiffs of this obligation).
10:41 Obama is going to pay for all of his domestic promises by, you guessed it, closing tax loopholes and streamlining government. Can I get my money back?
10:43 Here’s the obligatory salute to individual responsibility. This is designed to show that Obama isn’t like other Democrats. Never mind that Democrats have been talking up individual responsibility for decades to show they are not like other Democrats. I guess their insincerity is so apparent that no one remembers.
10:44 After almost half an hour, we finally get to foreign policy and national security.
10:45 “We must take out Osama bin Laden if we have him in our sites.” Who said Obama doesn’t grasp national security issues?
10:46 He accuses McCain of not being willing to follow bin Laden into the cave where he lives. If Obama loses the election, let’s hope he gives McCain the address of that cave.
10:47 Obama is setting a low bar for McCain next week.
10:48 Obama says he’s the one who will deter Iran. You remember Iran – that tiny country we don’t have to worry about.
10:49 Obama is also the one to deter Russia. You remember Russia – the country Obama was slow to denounce after it attacked Georgia.
10:50 Obama looks forward to debating McCain. . .as soon as he’s done turning down opportunities to do so.
10:51 Obama is not going to question McCain’s patriotism. That’s big of him. But he’s just accused McCain of being unwilling to go after bin Laden.
10:52 Obama will stipulate that both he and McCain love America. In fact, “we all put our country first.” Obama is being amazingly defensive here. Then again, McCain spent six years in a Vietnamese prison for his country. Obama spent 20 years being mentored spiritually by the rabid anti-American Jeremiah Wright and is friends with Chicago’s first couple of domestic terrorism. In these circumstances, I’d try for that same stipulation.
10:53 He’s getting even more defensive now, as he raises the issues of abortions and guns. His tactic is to call for “unity” and “common ground” on the issues where he’s weakest. Can we have some common ground on taxes? Like don’t raise mine?
10:54 Obama just knows that the Republicans are going to try to make this “big election be about small issues.” Like his fitness for the presidency.
10:55 Now he’s recalling the people he claims to have met on the campaign trail. This isn’t bad material, but the speech is getting long. Has he kept his audience for the grand finale?
10:59 Here it comes, and naturally it’s going to be tied to the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech in Washington.
11:00 Obama is in full preacher mode now and he sounds great. He speaks admiringly of King who, unlike Obama tonight, spoke without anger. Yet it was Jeremiah Wright, not King, who brought Obama to Christ.
11:02 The speech is over and the Obama and Biden families have gathered on stage. The scene is quite impressive. Good looking families, awesome fireworks, a massive stadium filled with cheering (and in some cases ecstatic) people. Will it be viewed by many as too much? We’ll see.
11:03 The music in this setting has a creepy, epic quality to it. When do the chariot races start?