I’m not saying it was underwhelming…

  1. That’s weak man, very weak.

    Obama just gave what even the most grizzled political commentators was the best acceptance speech since Kennedy, and the most you can muster is to compare him to Martin and Brown?


  2. Dithers and the Broon? Ok, I’ll buy it. But, Boisclair? Man that’s harsh.

  3. But if the speech was overwhelming, then Obama would surely have been in trouble.

  4. Yes, it did remind me of Paul Martin Jr.

  5. Aw, come on. I admit it wasn’t absolutely perfect, 4 stars out of 5, but I think (a) both you and I are more critical about these things than the average voter, and (b) it was a hell of a job to not disappoint. In fact, considering the MLK and JFK expectations being thrown around, I’m tempted to say merely by not massively disappointing, he succeeded.

    I also think that McCain’s speech, and the leadup to that, will pale in comparison. If I’m wrong about that, then sure, we’ve got a fight down to the last vote, but he looks very presidential to me and I don’t see McCain magically becoming an oratorical genius between now and his own acceptance. Obama (and his introductory video) made the everyman pitch very effectively, in my judgment; he was on the attack, he made his case, he outlined his plan. He did what he was supposed to do.

    And I have to say, entirely subjectively, that I do honestly think he would be the sort of president that would try his damnedest to keep all of the promises he’s making, even though that sounds practically impossible to follow through on.

    And I think that’s what the whole deal is, isn’t it? Obama’s team is saying, hey, he really is an outsider, he really is one of us/you, he really will get things done, this is the real deal (as opposed to McCain, who, they emphatically claim is not.)

    I think, with the amount of attention the Obama campaign is generating, they are basically able to set the discourse of the campaign – it is about change – Hillary realized that too late, and now we have to see what McCain can offer as a demonstration that effective change happens only with him and the Republicans. It’s that, or argue against change. Hillary demonstrated how good that sounds.

    Also, Gordon Brown and Paul Martin were generally considered competent bureaucrats who would be “pretty good” PMs. No one was looking for them to be the next Trudeau or Churchill. I never paid enough attention to Boisclair to really how to critique that choice of picture, but I don’t think Obama is big into cocaine…

    Big hopes, sure, but I think it might work! It’s a gamble… and we’ll see where everyone stands a week from today.

  6. Oh. That was long wasn’t it.

  7. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, eh PW?

  8. Okay, no one was looking for Martin to be the next Trudeau except for the fanatical party faithfu– oh.

    Well there are a lot more of them this time! Haha… sigh.

  9. Boisclair? Your feeling nasty tonight, eh, Wells?

  10. I’ve actually always enjoyed my very occasional conversations with Boisclair, Sophie. And I’ve enjoyed watching the PQ do at least as badly under his successor as under him. It proves that what happened wasn’t particularly his fault…he just couldn’t do anything about it.

  11. Fair enough, but you have to admit he certainly didn’t help.

  12. Careful. That’s a rickety thin limb you’re wandering out onto, Paul. Sure, Obama’s rhetoric has been an empty shell of nothingness for months, but you have to admit his chances of political success at the moment look rosier than the experience of those in your rogues’ gallery above…

  13. Um, hold on, was any one of these guys running in the USA? No?

  14. Twenty bucks says this post was composed yesterday.

  15. Comparing Trudeau to Churchill would be an insult to Churchill. Try to convince me otherwise.

  16. On second thought, don’t waste your time. But my first statement stands.

    I Can’t remember the time Churchill endorsed, “Screw the West, we’ll take the rest.”

  17. This post is absolutely brilliant. It cuts like a hot knife through butter!

    Annointed saviors be warned!

  18. I was surprised by the content of the speech. For a guy who is supposed to be running as a transformational candidate, his policy proposals sounded like those of every other Democratic Presidential candidate in recent memory not named Bill Clinton. He had an opportunity last night to stake out the centre, but instead stayed on safe, traditional Democrat ground.

    Paul’s zinger is reflective of the reckless decision to hold the speech at Invesco Field. As many predicted, it ramped up expectations to a place no candidate could possibly reach. It’s not that it was a terrible speech, but the whole event left some asking, “Is that all?”

    Finally, if I am running the McCain campaign, I am taking up Obama on his dare to have a debate on national security. Challenge Obama to an additional debate, focused solely on that topic. Obama, of course, doesn’t want anything to do with events that don’t feature a teleprompter, and will decline.

  19. The Paul Martin comparison is the best.

  20. Yes, hilarious. This should make Paul Wells a hero to the SDA fan club.

  21. Funny, I thought it was terrific.

  22. Cheap but funny, with the benefit of true. What an underwhelming writ-by-committee speech.

    The so-called lofty parts were pure Kang and Kodos, “Forward not backwars, upwards not downwards, and always twirling, twirling, twirling.”

    Also, WAY too much of the Bill Clinton “a woman in Idaho who spilled her milk, and now has to walk back to the kitchen, and get another glass of milk, plus paper towels to clean up the mess.”

  23. Uh oh:
    “I’m still a socialist without a home,” Hargrove said. “But the Liberals are as socialist as the NDP now.”

    That ain’t gonna help anybody. Oh wait, it will help somebody.

  24. Ouch! Seriously? Is this one of those instances where online sarcasm isn’t translating? I’m serious. Is this like Coyne writing a post about how the government’s aren’t spending enough?

    Obama was walking a tightrope. He had to be specific about what he wants to do while still using inspirational language. He had to show he could be tough against McCain without being too negative.

    I’ll admit this was far from his best speech, but this was STILL so far beyond anything anyone in Canada seems capable of that I’m somewhat shocked you would deign to throw up pics of those 3 laughingstocks.

  25. I love the comparison to Brown, both marxists at heart but trying to conceal it.

    I think McCain campaign boxed Obama into a corner by focusing on his messiah complex for the past month. You don’t book a football stadium, 70,000 people, in order to give a ‘workmanlike’ speech and without the usual soaring rhetoric. And what expectations does McCain have to live up to next week? None. All he has to do is outline what he will do as president. He has lots of support and no ‘cult’ following to disappoint like Obama did.

    The absolute best coverage last night was Matthews and Olbermann on MSNBC. Those two have man-crushes on Obama something fierce. The best part was their interview with Jesse Jackson on how to unite the country.

  26. Why I am a Harpermaniac:

    Stephen Harper takes all sex out of politics.

    We know we are approaching Star Trekkian peace on earth when our politicians become boring and governance becomes boring. Boring is the key to peace.

    Obama is creepy as currently constructed. I hope, however, he loses with enough credibility left to re-launch himself 4 to 8 years from now. 4 to 8 years from now, he can ditch all the union-lefty talk about trade and shipping jobs overseas and making nicey, nice with Germany and win the presidency.

  27. chuckercanuck:

    George W. takes all the sex out of politics too, and I don’t think he brought “Star Trekkian peace on earth”… and no, I’m not comparing Harper to Bush. I like Harper myself. But your comment is silly. Besides, isn’t Captain Picard one of the greatest orators in television history? Boring is the key to nothing. True leaders inspire us to better things.

  28. Hah, man, what a bunch of sourpusses. I think it was Gwen Ifill who pointed out that the main opposition to Obama is basically old guys (McCain, Clinton, Jackson) who are above all *jealous* – of his youth, his success, his oratory, his ability to mobilize millions of new voters, his perceived lack of having “paid his dues” before he got his turn.

    This convention was the stuff of McCain’s nightmares – he was an underdog under the best of circumstances, but against a reunited Democratic party, and a rival 25 years his junior with a vastly larger sum of money at his disposal, and a disastrous legacy of 8 years of governing by his best buddy W, he must be wishing he’d passed on running and left the embarrassment to Giuliani.

  29. Dude: ouch.

  30. Why was that necessary? Can’t let people enjoy for a bit?

    There’s enough negativity………..sigh

  31. Emmett,

    I don’t agree. I think W spoke of huge projects, big dreams, rallied people to his cause and rallied people to causes set against him. He’s no incrementalist.

    So, my comment is not silly. I like to deliver things in a silly – half-assed fun – manner.

    PS. Picard is not a politician.

  32. I expect weeping and wailing from every corner of the globe if the Democrats manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against all odds.

    I can’t wait.

  33. Brown a marxist? More like a small town mayor fretting over graffiti on the bus stops. Obama has more in common with Bush: he wants to make the presidency the cure-all for the ills of the world. They are different sides of the same coin – an over-weening desire to order us all to their values.

  34. Jean-Luc Picard is not a leader. And he’s just not worth the risk.

    I’ll have to give some context for everyone in a separate post. Short version: I expect Obama to win the election, although so far he has worked hard to blow it. I’d rather he won, although for weeks now that’s had a lot more to do with McCain than Obama. And no, the photo-montage wasn’t pre-cooked. I was really looking forward to last night’s speech, but when I started dozing off it was Boisclair, specifically, that I kept seeing.

  35. Ah the cynicism…

  36. Geez Paul, there you go winking and smirking again. Just like your buddy Jian.

  37. seriously now… Boisclair?!?

  38. Westminster politics and American politics are fundamentally different in that the president is expected to provide a visionary definition of society on a regular basis. When PM’s and/or would-be ex-cokehead premiers do that too much, they look flabby and undignified. But the US president’s job is to do that several times a year. “The vision thing” is real. It’s a deeply religious nation, after all, that literally sees itself as God’s promised land.

    Obama, in other words, was not auditioning for the role of governor, he was auditioning for the role of Pope. This election is entirely and only about values and personalities. However strange the system may seem to us outsiders, Obama is trying to win.

  39. I agree that the speech was disappointing if you were looking at it within the context of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech 40 years earlier. Blame the Dems for ramping up the symbolism too much.

    Clearly, with a national audience watching and most everyone back from vacation, Obama had to speak to specifics to show he’s not all soaring rhetoric and empty promises.

    If Obama wins the election, I expect that the inaugural address will be something to behold, but he’ll only be able to do that once he has won the Presidency.

    The Martin comparison is interesting but flawed in my opinion. Martin’s leadership convention speech made him Prime Minister – there was no doubt about it. He didn’t have to run for anything anymore. So he went for high and empty rhetoric and it was totally awful (to this day, I have no idea what “The Politics of Achievement” is).

    Obama is a better speaker than all three of the blokes you mentioned, but he seems best when he talks in that aspirational, Kennedyesque tone. Last night seemed very workmanlike, and I think that’s what they were going for.

    I also thought the fireworks at the end were a nice touch. Very Beijing Olympics.

  40. I have to ask…

    Those of you who claim that his speech was a disappointment, what is it that you feel was missing exactly?

  41. I think Paul hit the nail on the head with his analysis.

    it was a safe, solid speech that sold well to the converted. It didn’t appeal to anyone outside his base. There was not one solid, memorable ‘moment’ in the speech. Obama will lose this election if he cannot appeal to those voters who have concerns with his experience.

    If McCain does end up picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate it will seriously undercut Obama’s message of change and a break from the insiders in Washington. The U.S. has never elected a ticket with two sitting Senators on it. If Obama keeps running things the way he is that trend is likely

  42. Sorry, Kennedy-Johnson was the only ticket ever elected with two sitting U.S. Senators. Is Obama up to that legacy?

  43. “There was not one solid, memorable ‘moment’ in the speech.”

    You can’t possibly be serious…

  44. Paul, you really need to invest in an HD TV. This low resolution stuff is messing with your perception

  45. “There was not one solid, memorable ‘moment’ in the speech.”

    There was the part where he said that everybody, including the special interests he rails against, put the country first.

  46. You have to hand it to Obama the guy is like magic when he gets on a roll. I love his ability to pin the tail on the camera as he holds his jaw just up and thrust out ever so slightly then spends the exactly right amount of time as he scans and plays the crowd. The pauses are perfect and the cadence of his voice makes me want to run out and vote for him. The guy is brilliant I have not seen such comand of a crowd since Trudeau – I remember when I was in grade 4 and Kennedy passed away and we got the day off of school and can clearly remember being entranced by his ability to get a crowd going and will never forget the debate with Nixon with Nixon looking worse by the moment – my point is I have a strange feeling that when Obama debates McCain all Obama will have to do is show up and stand there to win much like Kennedy.

  47. oops I forgot to add that I am a right wing nut who if I were american would be out rallying the troops and voting for the guy – how does he do that?

  48. Actually I think you missed one. His penchant for looking for the best photo-op reminds me of Stockwell Day. Come to think of it there is more than that–the change thing–the outsider thing: Stockwell used those too.

    I think people’s memories are short when it comes to Paul Martin. Remember jaugernaut, 200 potential seats-a failure unless he gets some in Alberta…

  49. Well if the speech was really that disappointing then I wonder what you think of the probably the worst VP choice in modern US political history. McCain’s experience attacks on Obama are stone dead now.

  50. “oops I forgot to add that I am a right wing nut who if I were american would be out rallying the troops and voting for the guy – how does he do that?”

    And according to you, you are the same right wing nut who used to work for the LPC led by Chretien. So what’s your point?

  51. You forgot Hillary.

    I actually think that Obama’s inferred “rope-a-dope” strategy is his resistance of the Martin/Hillary “inevitable” curse. He learned from Hillary’s loss and didn’t want the convention to be a coronation.

    A close race is his best bet for keeping the grass roots from losing interest.

  52. I for one enjoyed Obamas speach and thought it was one of the best I ever heard from anyone, He has buckets of chrisma, intellegence and forsight beyond anything i”ve ever seen includng Trudeau. I’d vote for him without a dought. Our Harper is a dough head without chrisma, wooden and dictatorial. No vote for him from me.

  53. Hey B: to clarify the point I am impressed and dazzled by Obama like a lot of others and even though you would think I would vote for McCain as I am a right wing nut I think I’d love to see Obama win – he’s that good at working the crowd – after every speech he gives I have the strangest need to have a cigarette after – just Like I was impressed with Trudeau, Mulroney (at first then he became like syrup a little goes a long way) Chretien and now Harper – to quote an old canadian (I think) axiom ” There are 2 types of leaders boneheads and b*stards – and I will take the B*stard that knows how to get people motivated either for or against them as this is the mark of a powerful leader. The worst type of politicians are those that do not bring out strong emotions in people as politics is all emotion.

  54. Wayne, uh huh…

    And what about their policies? Or is that even relevant for you? I mean… I have to ask because I can’t figure out how you can reconcile working for Harper yet say you would vote for Obama.

    What do you base your vote on? Their looks?

  55. “America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.”

    My “memorable moment” in Obama’s speech.

  56. Americans are losing their jobs and homes in increasing numbers. The Republicans lied to the American people to engage in a futile occupation of Iraq. The social security account has gone from surplus to deficit….

    Despite all these negatives the race with the Republicans is still unusually close while McCain is offering more of the same.

    If Americans are not getting the message now what would a JFK style speech achieve?

  57. “If Americans are not getting the message now what would a JFK style speech achieve?”

    Give them more credit than that, but they are not exactly embarrassed for choice, and we are in no position to condescend with our political leaders.

    Obama has not yet actually proposed anything concrete that will impact on these problems. Of course neither has McCain, but he clearly appeals on other levels. They have to vote for someone (or sit on their hands as at least 40% will) and I for one do not envy their decision.

  58. You totally photoshopped those pictures to make Obama look less black.

  59. The first half of the speech almost put me to sleep and I thought he was going to blow it completely, but I actually think he improved in the second half.

    It soounded like a State of the Union address, which is probably what he needed to do.

  60. “Well if the speech was really that disappointing then I wonder what you think of the probably the worst VP choice in modern US political history. McCain’s experience attacks on Obama are stone dead now.”

    The worst VP choice in modern US political history? Really? Is Dan Quayle really that far removed from people’s memories?

  61. Boudica : as I have said several times now the mark of a great leader is the ability to motivate people either for or against them in both events a democracy is only as effective as the involved citizenry and if a leader of a political party is ineffective, incompetent and or disabled when it comes to motivating those around them then they actually are damaging to a democracy. As for policy and political philosophy I leave that for wiser minds than mine I concern myself with 3 questions to determine who I want as a political leader (1) if there is a serious and most likely unpopular situation who do I trust to make the hard decisions to get the job done (2) who can motivate and lead people to get involved and support a common purpose (3) does the leader have the ability to earn praises and curses at the same time because if he or she doesn’t well then they are not worth paying attention to because they will not be around for long!

  62. Sorry PW, but that was a great speech…I wish we had that here.

    Perhaps you’re a little to close to politics to have a less cynical opinion?

    First you missed the David Onley = Paralympics, now this?

    Take a vacation before the election starts. Your head may explode otherwise.

  63. McCain makes a speech like he’s delivering a eulogy…..ZZZZZZ

    Noun – did you know I was a POW?
    Verb – did you know I was a POW?
    Adjective – did you know I was a POW?

  64. Great post, Mark. Will Paul be taking this blog over again sometime soon? Loved “America Alone” by the way, riveting stuff.

  65. Did Barack not answer your requests to head a commission too?

  66. I see Inky has disturbed the Chris Matthews/Jim Travers school of Obama/Liberals word fellation.

    Obama’s speech was his chance. He blew it.

    As long as McCain doesn’t make a major gaffe this election is over.

  67. Hahaha Wow. For all you who claim Aaron Wherry is hyper-cynical, Mr. Wells has just become a contender for that crown.

  68. Burt writes:

    Is Dan Quayle really that far removed from people’s memories?

    If my political discussions with my fellow citizens over the last twenty years or so is any indication, when it comes to politics the average person appears to have the attention span and memory of an electronic flash.

    Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. ;-)

  69. You are seriously out to lunch. I wonder what you would have said if you had been around at the time of Kennedy’s speeches or King’s “i have a dream.” You would probably have dissed them just to be different. It’s hard to take you seriously anymore. Your blog is becomingly irrelevant. Even though I often disagree with Andrew Coyne I respect his views and his often fresh perspective. I can’t say the same for you. Too much wine in Paris must have softened your brain.

  70. Well… if Wells won’t say it was undewhelming, David Broder has no such compunctions:

    There was no theme music to the speech and really no phrase or sentence that is likely to linger in the memory of any listener. The thing I never expected did in fact occur: Al Gore, the famously wooden former vice president, gave a more lively and convincing speech than Obama did.


  71. America—-Look out!!!!!!

    Obama is all rhetoric-no substance! A fox in sheeps clothing-don’t be fooled-it’s impossible to do all he says- will happen-he’s not an intellect.

  72. I also think that Wells must be out to lunch or thought this up before watching the speech. You can try to argue that Obama might not live up to expectations, but you really can’t argue that based on this speech. It was compelling and clearly spelled out his important policy plans.

  73. Which is why Zogby this morning has it 47-45 McCain. Convention bounce, while fleeting, is not usually negative. But I’m glad you liked the speech, Neil.

  74. In fairness, a smidge of that bump could be the result of the Chick Veep Gambit, which pretty much devoured the ensuing news cycle that otherwise would’ve been devoted to reactions to The Speech. (Full disclosure: I didn’t actually *see* The Speech, since I was stuck on a plane, although I’ve watched most of it since, albeit not in one sitting.)

  75. Neil

    For those Americans who are undecided, Obama’s speech was anything but what you claim.

    Obama is a mass of contradictions because he knows he’s far-left and that has no appeal to most voters, so he’s trying to sell himself as a typical democrat. So his speech called for individualism/collectivism, free markets/state control and independence/dependence. The guy can’t make up his mind.

    The only people who think that speech clearly laid out anything are his supporters and I will be amazed if he convinced many undecideds to support him.

  76. Kady, I’m entirely willing to believe that McCain neutralized the effect of Obama’s entire four-day convention, including a speech before 80,000 people in a stadium, simply by naming the least impressive vice-presidential candidate in my lifetime, Dan Quayle very much included. In which case, it cannot have been much of a speech, can it?

  77. Totally fair point, Colleague Wells. Which makes me wonder – is there any kind of tradition, formal or otherwise (and most likely otherwise), of letting the other party hog most of the spotlight during its convention? I’m just wondering if the Democrats are now plotting and scheming over how to upstage McCain on *his* big day.

  78. I greatly fear there’s a Category 4 hurricane that will distract from the Republicans better than the Dems could hope to, ITQ.

  79. Kady,

    I this Gustav will take care of that.

  80. I think it was a very good speech. It would have been especially good if it had been delivered by someone else. Given BHO’s relatively brief history of public oratory we had a right to expect better. Of course,I don’t know how he could have met the high bar of the pre-speech hype.
    We don’t remember them but I’m sure MLK delivered a number of duds in his day.

  81. You think that’s good, dB?

    Consider: McCain is endorsed by pastor John Hagee, and has said “I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee’s support.”

    Pastor John Hagee, it should be remembered, is a pastor who claimed: “I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.”

    So.. does this mean that Gustav is the judgement of God against the Republican party?

  82. As for the polls, check out fivethirtyeight.com, which seems to be a US version of nodice.ca

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