Obama Who?

Oh, and about that other event (strange how quickly Obama’s acceptance speech has been forgotten, which is only partly attributible to McCain’s VP pick)… This is the best analysis I’ve seen:

If you listened closely to the 46-minute address, however, you heard two speeches crushed somewhat jarringly together.

The first half, one suspects, was the speech that Obama felt he had to give: a traditional partisan appeal that, for all his sonorous cadences, read like it could have been stitched together randomly from speeches delivered on any given day from rank-and-file Democrats on the floor of the House of Representatives.

There were denuciations of outsourced manufacturing jobs and promises to save Security Security and frequent baiting of John McCain for being the candidate of the rich and a weakling against Osama bin Laden.

The second half sounded like the speech Obama wanted to give: a plea for a new brand of politics, one in which politicians don’t attack each other’s motives or character and Washington calls a ceasefire in such drearily familiar fights as abortion and gun control.

Obama did not acknowledge the two halves of his address — the partisan top and the post-partisan close — much less try to reconcile them. Blurring inconsistencies under clouds of polished language is the right of any politician. What’s more, a convention acceptance speech is not the time for a seminar.

Even so, it was notable that Obama’s speech offered countless rhetorical stanzas but not much in the way of a  sustained argument aimed at convincing people who are not already enthusiasts, or for whom the charge that McCain would represent four more years of George W. Bush does not by itself close the deal.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.