Barack Obama’s Big Speech
Posted by sanityinjection on August 29, 2008
Let me start off by acknowledging that I missed the beginning of the big speech. With that out of the way, I agree with the majority of the pundits who feel that Senator Obama delivered an excellent speech last night. His decision to go for a serious, determined and even indignant note, as opposed to cheerleading, I thought was a good one, and it resonated with the crowd. He took on pretty much every criticism that has been leveled at him and offered rebuttal. He lambasted his opponent’s policies without seeming to descend into nasty personal attacks (although the crack about McCain believing “middle class” means making under $5 million a year was an unfair distortion.) He came across as sincere in his desire to improve the lives of Americans and confident in his ability to do so. He is without question one of the finest orators in American politics today.
As a fine orator, though, it is hardly a surprise that he gave a great speech. He’s certainly proven his ability to do that. Whether he has proven his ability to do all the other things he promised in his speech is another story. I like to believe I am as intelligent as Barack Obama is – and I have a fair amount of experience with budgeting – but it’s hard for me to understand how Barack Obama plans to expand government programs, including universal healthcare while *reducing* premiums, and reducing taxes for 95% of “working families”. Even raising taxes on corporations and the rich won’t generate that much money. I don’t think he’s foolish enough to jack up import duties, so the most likely answer is that he’s planning to decimate the military budget, consistent with his insistence on withdrawing from Iraq ASAP. In doing so, he is counting on America not having to fight on two fronts at once, yet I think that possibility remains even when you take Iraq out of the equation.
Obama’s speech addressed the question of whether he has the character to be President. But no speech can substitute for the experience necessary to be President. My concern is that Obama’s rise to power has been so meteoric that he may never have had to deal with political adversity – may not know how to regroup if he fails, as being human he will surely fail in something during his Presidency. (I’m thinking here of Hillary Clinton, whose reaction when her 1993 universal health care plan bombed was to lash out against an evil right-wing conspiracy rather than acknowledge her own mistakes.)
At any rate, he will be a hard act to follow for McCain, who tends to perform best in informal settings where his humor and sincerity come across. McCain’s best shot may be to focus on substance rather than rhetoric – by laying out the specifics of his plans for the Presidency and not trying to match Obama’s inspirational turns of phrase.