Given that Barack Obama is in a fair bit of trouble, you’d think he’d have given a better speech to last night’s Democratic National Convention. Instead, he just trotted out his greatest hits. “Forward, not back,” etc. Like Mitt Romney last week, he gave a workmanlike speech and like Romney was outshone by his wife. He didn’t mention Obamacare, which is odd given that this is the signature achievement of his presidency. In fact, he hardly mentioned any achievements. He avoided the concrete and focused on the abstract which, if you’re an Obama believer, would delight you. If you’re an Obama sceptic, this would confirm why you’re unsure about him. His strategy seems to have been to reawaken his base, rather than win sceptics over.
I’d like to quote his main points at greater length, but there weren’t really any. This was a speech of soundbites – a laundry list of the familiar and the obvious. “I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the president.” Really? “The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future.” His path is also a lot more expensive, but he didn’t make the case for the extra money, as even Blair did. “So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you.” A nice notion, which was in pretty much every one if his 2008 speeches. “If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election.” A decent point which Scarlett Johansson made better, earlier.
He warmed up in the last ten minutes. Perhaps his best line was accusing the Republicans of being unimaginative.
“Now, our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right.