Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Obama’s speechifying...again

Here, first of all, is the written version of the Dean Barnett’s argument, to which I alluded in a previous post. Barnett makes three points; I agree with two-and-a-half of them. First, Obama is much less impressive without his teleprompter. Yup. Second, his style is to "respect" those with whom he disagrees without moving an inch in their direction. Yup; for Obama, working across the aisle means luring his opponents to his side, not compromising. Third, when he adlibs, Obama reveals the angry, backward-looking partisan beneath the cool, conciliatory exterior. Well, sort of. Barnett is right that his adlibs are more partisan; it was a partisan crowd, after all, not a "big tent" Obama rally. I’d want to see him really pushed and tested in a debate (by McCain) before I came to Barnett’s conclusion.

Daniel Henninger tries to penetrate Obama’s rhetoric and finds John Edwards:

Listen closely to that Tuesday night Wisconsin speech. Unhinge yourself from the mesmerizing voice. What one hears is a message that is largely negative, illustrated with anecdotes of unremitting bleakness. Heavy with class warfare, it is a speech that could have been delivered by a Democrat in 1968, or even 1928.


I am not saying all of this is false. But it is a depressing message to ride all the way to the White House.


Unease about the economy is real, but Sen. Obama is selling more than that. He is selling deep grievance over the structure of American society. That’s the same message as John Edwards, or Dennis Kucinich for that matter.

Henninger draws a contrast with McCain’s classically conservative (in the American sense) belief in the efficacy of initiative. So we have angry hopefulness against hopeful anger. Let’s see how this plays out.

I don’t think Obama can get much better. In the general election campaign, he’ll have to pay attention to his opponent and start managing the policy and vision debates. It would be a mistake not to try very hard to pin him down, or not to show how evasive he is when you try to pin him down. Can McCain do it? I hope so.

Discussions - 7 Comments

So we have angry hopefulness against hopeful anger.

Now THAT is a great line! Quite possibly, it is the best line I’ve ever read on these pages. Doesn’t it beautifully encapsulate the whole contest? Love it.

"Second, his style is to 'respect' those with whom he disagrees without moving an inch in their direction."

Would you disagree that this could easily describe the style embodied by our current president over the last 7 years?

The current president has moved a great distance in the direction of his opponents, on health care (think Medicare prescription drug benefit), immigration (amnesty), education (No Child Left Behind), etc. That's why so many conservatives are fed up with him.

3: Mega-dittoes, John. As for Obama, he would be the first left-wing president in American history. Any idea that, in substantive terms, he represents anything else is wishful thinking. Or liberal spin.

What does this mean? the first left-wing president in American history

Fair point, Steve. In his time, FDR undoubtedly qualified. I stand corrected. No doubt this is what you meant. If it's not, then I can't help you. You'll just have to keep scratching your head.

Not quite like a Fred Thompson rally, is it, Joseph?

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