Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Point Of View

This post should go over like a lead balloon, but given all the lofty praise, another perspective seems entirely appropriate. I remember listening to Barack Obama's victory speech in Iowa, entirely impressed with the verbal virtuoso, thinking a new era had taken flight. While I still believe Obama would make a good president, and he's this foreigners personal choice, I find my enthusiasm waning in one sense.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to listen to Obama's speech firsthand today, because the subsequent commentary shows no relationship to my perceptions. I should amend the above, I only listened to a few minutes of the speech, because to be frank, the lofty rhetoric left me cold, bored even. Soaring over the mountain tops, the linguistic gymnastics dazzling the masses, and yet it all seemed entirely dramatic, dare I say cheesy.

This isn't the 1960's, Kennedy's dead, and I really don't want to relive outdated romantic language that sounded Shakespearian, but really hardly illustrated any relationship to reality. I tend to be inspired by straight ahead, no bull, clear language, that is rooted in ordinary circumstance. This Moses on the mount routine tends to get old over time, so optimistic to be practically useless, so inspiring, doomed for failure. I'm not looking for someone to follow, and much of the time these speechs are almost intellectually pandering in their sermon style delivery.

Obama is great in low key interviews, Obama is excellent in articulating coherent answers to complex questions. Obama, on the mass stage, speaking before the rapt audience, delivering the biblical phrasing, over the top idealist jargon that touches the stratosphere, not so much anymore. I had a dream, but then I woke up and had a cold shower. Refreshing actually.


Anonymous said...

His speeches are mindless, saccharine, drivel.

Worse yet a man with no qualifications may get elected President with this tripe.

I think McCain is going to win. Kerry was ahead by more than Obama is at this point 4 years ago and he didn't have all the liabilities.

The stuff gets really tedious after a while and his ego gets more and more offensive. Americans will be tired of it by Nov.

Steve V said...

I'd rather not make this about bitter Clinton supporters ;)

Anonymous said...

I do understand what you are saying, Steve. And I actually tend to feel that same way. Then again, I was one of the few who thought Bush was full of it when he was giving snarling speeches about "goin and gettin the evil doers" (not a precise quote but pretty darn-tootin close ;) as he prepared to launch a war based upon lies, deceipt, and marketing more than facts (a republican aide had even once commented the Bush push for an "urgent" war in Iraq would begin in September because August was a bad time to start a new campaign - remarks later lost by the media as they "immersed themselves" onto the bandwagon and danced to the beat.

Yet through all of it, huge chunks of the US citizenry (strangely hidden now) were practically apoplectic as they wrapped the flag around themselves in rapture.

So I wouldn't underestimate the desire of US citizens to have a President who can tap into the idealism about themselves, a self-image that has suffered greatly that in recent years. When less than 15% of the population think the nation is moving in the right direction, that cries out for a bit of torch-carrying from leaders.

So if Obama can balance detailed plans and consistency with the ability to display soaring Americana rhetoric on occasion, he may well find a receptive audience. Debates will give him an ability to voice concrete responses and detailed plans to a mass audience, much as a speech like today accomplishes the broad strokes.

McCain has not shown the basic ability to deliver an inspirational speeches to date. And I think the contrast will be jarring if he doesn't somehow step it up a bit. Even Clinton found her voice in her campaign, which kept her in the race for a very long time.

McCain's gripe-a-day campaign is plodding compared to hers, at this point.

Bottom line, I think speeches such as todays are a plus for Obama, as long as he doesn't overplay it. It doesn't hurt him to display the ability - Americans still hunger for that from their leaders.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that Obama continues his steady move to the right - the only way to win in the States. Bush's presidency created Obama as much as the media frenzy. The world sees Obama as the anti-Bush, not a bad thing. But instead of lofty words about willing away entrenched divisions, he would have been better served by humble words about how the U.S. needs to be a law-abiding citizen of the world again.
But, then, this wouldn't have gone over too well in the States. And, as with Reagan, no reporter is going to bring up the crass political calculus with this candidate. If you heard echos of Reagan in today's speech, it's because he, more than Kennedy, is the real comparison.

JimmE said...

While I see your point, & can see how one might feel this way, I don't agree. Here in Colorado, Obama's positive message has done four concrete things:
1. Dems I know, are energized (the largest contingent in the Aspen Independence Day Parade - larger than the Veterans - was the the local Democrats.
2. Independents are voting Democrat.
3. Two of the non-voters I know are voting for the first time since Regan - & voting for Obama (this will help the TICKET)
4. Republicans I know have said stuff like "well Obama may win, but we'll get someone better in 4 years.
Watching a bit of him today over a G&T with friends (a Clintonesta & a Republican & 2 none-of-the-above) folks are speaking about him as a president.
Don't count your chickens, but McCain needs some good, good luck - & soon or it is over.

knb said...

Interesting observations Steve and I don't entirely disagree, but I think the audience has to be taken into account.

This was not the venue to be definitve.

In Canada, we've seen many of these speeches by Obama before, but that is not as true on a global level. That said, the Americans were his audience as well and they had to measure how he'd play on a world stage. Considering how Bush makes people rise up in protest where ever he goes, Obama had to illustrate how he'd be different yet protect American interests.

Further, I do think that many Americans have been beaten down for so long, the desire to feel pride again is likely pretty strong.

I hear you, but I'm not sure this speech was the time to be a straight talking, rooted in real circumstance kinda guy.

Steve V said...

Like I said, I support Obama, and I do appreciate what he is tapping into. It's just an opinion, that the more I hear it, the less it "moves", in this type of forum at least.

Anonymous said...

Oh Steve, it will be about Clinton supporters and independents. Obama isn't polling well among Democrats, whether you want that or not, it remains the case.

Polls also show Clinton would be doing better against McCain see Rasmussen and obama is slipping in Swing States see WAPO.

Kerry was ahead by 5%, when Obama was ahead by 2%, Rasmussen. Carter by the way, whom Mr Obama resembles the most policy wise was ahead by a whopping 33% in July and won by 2% losing 31% support between now and the election.

The Carter election was the only other one where democrats were actively organizing against their own candidate. You have heard of PUMA etc etc. There's 2 million members in PUMA alone Steve.

The Democrats have nominated the weaker candidate. The attacks and 527's haven't even begun. Obama doesn't do well when he isn't being adored for spewing vacuous platitudes. We have seen this time and time again.

Clinton supporters, other Democrats who want a qualified President and independents will decide this election.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the 31% percent drop in support for Carter between July and Nov is a Gallup Poll statistic.

By the way, Kerry got 95% of the Black vote. Dukakis got 93% of the "non-white" vote, probably higher for just Black. (Gallup)

The fact that Obama gets 95% of the Black vote is normal for any Democrat. It doesn't help him.

Bill Clinton on the other hand, got 95% of the Jewish vote, Obama is at around 60%. At 2% of the voting electorate (higher than their % of pop), that does hurt him, enough to lose an election. Just a thought.

Steve V said...


You clearly have an axe to grind, and your bitterness oozes through the words.

"The fact that Obama gets 95% of the Black vote is normal for any Democrat. It doesn't help him. "

One word- TURNOUT. Africian Americans generally vote Dem, but the turnout is hardly impressive. Obama will bring this demographic out in droves, and it could tip the balance in some key states. Anyone who disputes this dynamic is just being intellectually dishonest.

Also, to say that Dems don't support Obama is less and less a factor with each day, and if you want to play that game, then you can say that is easily counterbalanced by Rep hesitation with their candidate, the grassroots are hardly energized.

I haven't really done any poll posts, but I'm watching, and at the moment Obama is farther ahead electorally than the national numbers would suggest. There are many states in play for the Dems that normally go red, Obama is well positioned and he is clearly no Kerry.

Time to get over it, and stop letting your anti-Obama bias taint your perspective.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I confused two Carter elections. The first one, which he won against Ford by 2%, he dropped 31%between July and Nov. only winning because Ford pardoned Nixon. The second election, when he was challenged by Ted Kennedy and Democrats actively campaigned against him, he lost to Reagan, an old guy who was losing his faculties even then. I know people talk about Reagan this Reagan that. Whatever, I grew up there, the man couldn't remember his own name and was an actor.

Anyways Carter lost to him and you get my point. It's all about Clinton supporters Steve.

Anonymous said...

Steve the turnout arguement hinges on the fact that obama's stong positive rating is greater thanhis stong negative rating, which it isn't. See Rasmussen.

I do believe more people will turnout to vote for Obama, you are correct. I do however also believe that more people will turnout to vote against Obama. this is what the math says about the very stong oppinions people have about him.

Did the Liberals lose the last election because people voted for the Tories or against the Liberals?

There will be strong turnout for and against mr Obama, making it a non factor.

Anonymous said...

By the way Steve, I don't think Obama is qualifed to be president. I didn't think he was qualified in january, and i don't think he isnow because he has taken a trip oversees to spew empty rhetoric from other people's speeches.

I haven't changed this very important and determining factor for the Presidency just because Mr obama is the Democratic nominee. Many Americans feel the same way.

This is not bitter. It is a sound political opinion in grave times for the US and the world, a time when we need competent qualified leaders who don't need on the job training and have actually done some real substantive political work, executively or in the house.

Obama is only getting about 73% of the Democratic vote. That's what, approximately 20 million voting Democrats who agree with me.

The empty new age platitudes and mindless rhetoric of Mr obama are getting very stale and its only July.

Steve V said...

"Obama is only getting about 73% of the Democratic vote. That's what, approximately 20 million voting Democrats who agree with me. "

And McCain was getting those totals in the last primaries, WEEKS after everyone had dropped out. You're focusing on half of the equation, and you are over stating to make a weak point. I don't see it, and if Hillary campaigns hard for Obama, it will be a trivial point.

Hey look, I'm not buying into all the hype, which is self evident in the post. That said, it doesn't translate to doom and gloom for Obama, he is clearly tapping into some latent desire with many people.

Here is a good breakdown of the latest polling, for what it's worth at this point.

BTW, you're the same anon who used to come on here regularly during the primaries saying Obama was about to lose this primary, Obama was losing this demographic, Obama was waning. It wasn't true then, and again I say, don't let your personal bias cloud what is happening. You WANT him to fail, and every opinion stems from this origin.


Anonymous said...

By the way if Biden, Dodd or Richardson had won the nomination, I would be backing him. Any of them were qualified candidates. Obama simply is not. You are welcome to have a different opinion but a significant number of Americans share mine, even many who will vote for him.

Anonymous said...

Edwards is not qualified by the way.

Anonymous said...

Obama did lose. Clinton won Michigan and Florida and the most votes. The DNC decided to give the nomination to Obama.

Anonymous said...

Actually McCain is getting about 87% of the Republican vote and climbing. Obama's share of the Democratic vote and independents is falling, see Rasmussen.

Anonymous said...

You can say many things about Reagan (and I probably have at some point ; ), but during his presidency he was not some feeble lunatic barely able to remember his own name. He was quite astute at connecting with his audience.

I actually saw him speak in person during his second term when speculation was beginning to float about whether his age was showing. And he absolutely owned the audience! Being considerably younger I was much more willing to give benefit of the doubt to his rhetoric then than I would be now, but I was also far from a raving supporter. And I left genuinely impressed, leaving the speech thinking that the pundits were crazy at suggesting he was "losing" it in any measurable way.

As far as 73% of democrats support, the fact that his support among independents is consistent, and the fact that he does maintain a small but persistent appeal to a segment of republicans balance some of that out.

If anything, it shows that even if a marginal amount of those democrats move his way when the reality of selecting a direction for the next 4 years is realized in stark terms as November nears, the "slightly ahead" numbers now are more likely to blossom than recede.

And speaking of intellectual dishonesty, you are really smoking some weed if you think the "attacks haven't started" yet. I'd say the opposite is actually the case. Most of the ammo is already sopping wet from exposing it to the elements for the past several months.

At this point, I have to reiterate, Obama would not have been my first choice - that would have been Clinton.

But some of the anonymous "arguments" far exceed the concept of wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

Obama is tall, charismatic, has gorgeous smile and is really a lefty , but has to appease the right. McCain has none of this.

Anonymous said...

Obama may win by shear money, but that's his only hope and that's only if he or Michelle don't mess up, which is likely. He doesn't debate well and doesn't do well under pressure aka lack of experience.

There is also very likely a great treasure chest full of 527 attacks coming down the pipe, which I doubt he can withstand.

I believe he is unqualified and unelectable, but money helps. When all is added up they are about equal right now with the GOP slightly ahead in money.

McCain will also get the 85 million injection from public funding that Obama won't, while Republican donors are still free to donate to the Party and the 527's.

So that actually puts Mccain ahead by about 100 million right now. Obama has a lot of coin to raise. He might do it, but the history of the polls and a consistent shift in support away from Democratic nominees in an election cycle, doesn't bode well.

BTW as much as the 50 million raised in June by was hyped by the Obama campaign, they had predicted and planned for 100 million. Didn't happen. The DNC also has NO MONEY, like 2.5 million dollars no money.

Democrats are not happy with the DNC.

Steve V said...

"He doesn't debate well "

Neither does McCain, again the tunnel vision warps your points.

To actually argue the money angle reeks of desperation, Obama is a money juggernaut. The RNC will be fine, but PLEASE...

Anonymous said...

Also, the Rasmussen numbers have shown a slim but consistent lead by Obama for weeks now. They showed a notable bump after achieving the nomination - finally - then receding to the position they were just prior to him receiving the nomination tally recently. Even as those numbers have balanced back out to a slim lead, they have shown the race tighten in many states, though again with Obama having a slim lead in most of the battleground states, large leads in traditionally blue states, and new battles in a host of traditionally pinkish red states (NM, CO, VA, NV for example). So the new battleground appears to be in the red states. Even McCains supposed lead in Florida appears to have evaporated in their latest polls there.

But the kicker is that Rasmussen shows the race closer than any other traditional polling outfit.

So if that is the example you are highlighting, that says plenty in itself.

There is a lot of campaigning left before November and it is far from over. But this is NOT 1976 or 1980 or even 1992 or 2000. The US population has been engaged in this race for a very long time, in part because of the horrid support numbers for Bush and their anxiousness to move ahead. It is silly to think opinions of McCain or Obama are so ill-formed that massive shifts are to be expected.

I would bet on McCain having a spectacular senior moment over Obama suddenly acting like an ill-equipped college undergrad in the next 4 months.

The bar for Obama is made much lower by the light-weight intellect flitting around the Oval office this afternoon.

Steve V said...


The selective polling references reminds me of the Cons, who kept clinging to Ipsos all those months, to maintain their majority delusions.

If you look at the polls in totality, Obama is well positioned. Like I said earlier, I haven't really done much polling posts, because it's still pretty early, and ultimately I believe it will tighten, the Dem always faces a challenge, no matter the person or circumstance. However, if I was in the Obama campaign right now, I would be cautiously pleased with the lay of the land. McCain might have to blow a lot of money and time in states he shouldn't have to, which could prove key.

Labor Day is when it gets interesting.

peter said...

Well, from my American point of view, I must strongly disagree with you. I appreciate someone able to deliver a speech after 7 years of Bush. This was not the venue to deliver a wonkish speech. Americans are craving some inspiration in this horrible era and his speeches energize the Democratic base. Go on over to Daily Kos or Talking Points Memo and you'll see the reaction and the great analysis. Obama projects a vision and a confidence that is sorely needed in the US. If you see his many policy speeches on youtube, you can see that he is quite grounded in reality and doesn't "preach" as you put it. The only thing is that these speeches tend to be ignored by the media.

Also, the Clinton holdouts need to get over it. She would have lost even if she had gotten all the delegates she wanted from Michigan and Florida. Kerry was never ahead by as large a margin as Obama is currently and ignores the fact that Obama is conducting a massive voter registration drive and building the best ground game in American political history. This election is without precedent and Obama is going to win it.

knb said...

peter, thanks for an American point of view.

I'm not sure I agree on the Clinton thing, but I for one am always interested to hear an American view.

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate your discussions, Steve. And I do think you are wise to ignore the polls for now.

I'm watching them but not putting a lot of stock in them. But I couldn't help but comment when someone starts trying to read into them how they spell doom for Obama when the argument just doesn't hold water.

JimmE said...

All you Canucks living in mummies celler need to know that the here & the now even among Red Meat Republicans is that Obama is a winner.
God Bless America & John McCain - but he's an old dude & a looser. Sorry, Lurkers Obama is going to lift the ticket in all of these United States. Get used to it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I pressed send too quickly. I just thought it was funny to add that earlier this evening, after my first comment I went to the local grocer. It just so happened that the two women behind me are here in Vancouver from Denver for a cruise leaving tomorrow.

They were discussing the election - and the upcoming convention. It was very clear that they typically vote Republican but were discussing that they are going to vote for Obama though they know mutual friends who would never do that.

I just thought it was funny. Certainly not telling but you could tell they had made up their minds, knowing it was against the normal grain for their group of friends. They first admitted it to each other like they were planning to ditch sixth period or something ;).

Anyway, I just thought it was cute. We struck up a brief conversation. The first thing they said about Obama to me was that he was well-spoken, intelligent, and they felt it was time for a clear new direction.

If that is the argument that people come down on, Obama just needs to keep doing what he is doing.

Situations can change - and events could change - but it just does not seem like this is shaping up to be a "normal" election. It hasn't been thus far.

Dame said...

In spite of his shortcomings Obama WILL win ...there is no other option for America.....But but but then what??? I am already thinking about the reality as Obama as pres. .... and do Not expect anything what should make a good progress ... wild ride ... trying all Things... But a Complete non-unity in all things..

It is not a bias... I just see what 's coming.
Just as I saw His "spirited " speaches will ware off fast.. and even irritating..

/I loved the way you said his Moses appearence and giving sermons.... /


Anonymous said...

Do not criticize Obama. HE is above petty politics and petty people. Petty people with petty posts like yours.


Steve V said...


Is that for real, or sarcasm??

Anonymous said...