By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

What will we think tomorrow?

Tonight, at least, it seems clear that Barack Obama delivered a terrific speech. How good? Not to be a weasel, but I think it’s too soon to say. His decision to be his own attack dog was an interesting one. Was it smart?

There was lots of soaring rhetoric, of course, as well as more specifics than we’re accustomed to hearing from him. He almost certainly got what he needed this week, despite the pundits’ obsession with the Clintons.

I’ll be scanning media reaction early tomorrow morning for the Guardian. Also tomorrow, I’ll be on “Beat the Press” on WGBH-TV (Channel 2) at 7 p.m. for its convention wrap-up.

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Go-go Gore


“The media” cheer Obama


  1. mike_b1

    But did he convince you to vote for him?

  2. mike_b1

    Seriously, I thought it clever that he co-opted many of the GOP’s usual lines (echoes of Bill Clinton there) while also preempting what will surely be McCain’s attacks.Somewhere around 10:40 pm EST, Old Man McCain was no doubt reaching for the remote, figuring he’d still be able to catch the last 20 minutes of Golden Girls, when it hit him that he couldn’t remember where he’d left the remote.Not that he’d know how to use it if he did, of course.

  3. O-FISH-L

    Again, like Biden, an almost Republican speech. If immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’m flattered. Fewer abortions, support for the second amendment, apparent retroactive support for the surge since Obama now wants us to bring our military home with “honor” and increase troop levels in Afghanistan, and on and on and on.Like I said to the Herald upon canceling my 20 year subscription after they endorsed Nikki Tsongas. If I wanted Globe-Lite, I’d just subscribe to the Globe. Nor do I want McCain-Lite, I’ll just vote McCain.Lastly, non-veteran and terrorist (Bill Ayers) sympathizer Obama walks a fine line in heavily criticizing US military hero John McCain. In as much as Biden scares me because he might appeal to my parents generation, who are scared to death of Obama, I think Obama himself runs a huge risk in attacking McCain as though he were his equal. Although dying off, the Vietnam and older vets believed children should be “seen and not heard”. Obama runs the risk of furthering his already pompous image by going one on one with McCain. Leave it to Biden and the surrogates Barack, for you to say it sounds juvenile.

  4. electric carrot

    nope o-fish it sounded exactly right for Obama to talk directly at McCain because he blew up some of the straw men that McCain was making of Obama that were actually gaining cultural traction. The celebrity thing, the experience problem, the lack of gravitas, the lack of judgment. He exploded them in a way that humanized and at the same time created a more complex portrait of himself and made the attacks seems childish and immature.

  5. Brian Flaherty

    It seemed like a lot of style over substance although I confess I didn’t watch the whole thing.McCain cannot compete with the speech and the backdrop but I think his story is powerful. Plus, Obama never mentioned (I believe) September 11 and the role that played in the poor economy and war.

  6. O-FISH-L

    Electric, by now Obama is pretty much universally accepted as a lightweight, albeit a good orator. I don’t think that’s in dispute. As a Republican, I hope he continues to personally bash McCain. As Mitt Romney once said, it’s unbecoming.If I were being paid to advise Obama (if there’s any money left for advisors after building the Temple) I would urge him to leave the McCain bashing to Biden, who although he had “asthma” and ducked military service, has enough Senate time to at least appear something other than impertinent.Dr. Krauthammer again got it right tonight. By the time he reached Germany, Obama’s lofty rhetoric was so tired that it had become a parody. Whether Obama realized it himself or if it was the virtual tie in the polls despite unbelievably one-side media coverage that awakened his handlers, he changed course tonight and almost sounded Republican. The Republican mantra has been a winning one in 7 out of the last 10 elections. Obama is no fool and has quickly become Republican Jr. My advice is to continue that, just leave the McCain bashing to someone with the stature to bash a hero.

  7. Doug Shugarts

    I say that growing up poor, black and fatherless in America and rising to be the nominee of the Democratic party signifies at least as much character as McCain’s conduct while imprisoned in Vietnam.And I define impertinence as a D student who rode his father’s coattails into the Academy fancying himself intellectually competent to be president.Choose your own heroes.Doug Shugarts

  8. Gerard

    You’re watching the new apotheosis of PT Barnum, Shugarts, and as that past master said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”Tonight we saw that Obama not only knows it, he depends on it.

  9. O'Rion

    Watching last evenings speech was a little like viewing Barry Lyndon, its perfection was almost painful. Word is that McCain’s congratulatory spot was to make an expected attack line of ‘McCain’s to old’, seem mean. For the record I don’t think Obama’s speech was particularly tough. He does have to watch his step in ways that others wouldn’t have to. Something that should be taken into consideration.

  10. Dot Lane

    Wait…Mitt Romney said Obama criticizing McCain is unbecoming? Oh, that’s right, Mitt was *completely* qualified to criticize McCain. Let’s cut to the chase and replace “impertinent” with “uppity”, because that’s what we’re talking about. As to the idea of someone having the “stature” to “bash a hero”, well, McCain is kind of depending on the fact that there isn’t anyone running for office who served as a P.O.W. longer than he did. Color me unimpressed. There were hundreds of P.O.W.s who returned from Vietnam. Do you think when they went to work, and the boss asked them why a report was late, they responded “I was a P.O.W.–what gives you the authority to question me!” Surviving as a P.O.W. is commendable, but the idea that it releases you from accountability is ludicrous. Were McCain’s actual missions in Vietnam heroic? Was Operation Rolling Thunder heroic? Is bombing civilians heroic? No, it is not. It may have been necessary, and I’m giving this the very broad benefit of doubt, but it sure as hell wasn’t heroic. And I don’t quite understand how conservatives can justify the attacks on John Kerry if they’re going to claim John McCain is off limits. My guess is that the adulation and fetishization of McCain’s military service is the middle aged white male equivalent of the jock sniffers who call up sports radio stations where “heroes” are idolized as well.

  11. Steve

    Fish gives a good overview of the Republican campaign strategy, a marketing trick known as “FUD” – sowing Fear Uncertainty and Doubt is about all they’ve got. We’ll see how that works out for them – it’s been known to succeed at times. They certainly can’t run on the Republican record of the past 8 years.I got the feeling Obama was trying to address the laundry list of Republican talking points, and at the same time deliver his message of hope and optimism that’s been the staple of his stump speeches throughout the primaries. It was very good, but it didn’t soar. I was looking for a more powerful conclusion that didn’t quite happen.Of course, Obama was not only weighted with the impossibly high expectations for the speech, but by history. And not only the history of Obama’s nomination, but by the constant references to the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech.All in all, though, I think he did pretty well. It’ll all be measured by “the bounce”.Here’s how I try to quantify what I expect to be a “good” bounce:Democratic Party identification is about 40%. Democratic “leaners” among those whom identify as independents bring that up to about 50%. Obama’s support among Democrats has been lower than previous nominees – around 80%, as opposed to 90% for Kerry and Gore.This means Obama gets 40% (80% of 50%) from Dems and Dem-leaning independents. I would hope to see that go up 5% overall in the after-glow of the convention, if the 80% Dem support goes to the more traditional 90%.Obama’s already been polling around 45%. That means he’s been getting 5% from voters who don’t identify as Democrats. This 5% number might increase by another point or two.So I’d expect a 6-7% bump.

  12. mike_b1

    fish, as usual, misses the point. Those 24 or so generals sitting on the stage last night in support of Obama were all Vietnam vets. No general seeks a war. They go to war because the nation needs them to. Colin Powell gets that. Old Man McCain has been hit in the head too many times to understand anything.

  13. Steve

    Fish says: “Obama himself runs a huge risk in attacking McCain as though he were his equal.“As though he were his equal? And you guys call Obama presumptuous? What a crock!

  14. Bill Baar

    The real test is will Obama make good on his challenge to debate.Obama refused McCain’s offer for ten debates over the summer and I think that was a big mistake born out by the polling numbers.McCain almost certainly will pick up on the offer here and everyone of those programs on Obama’s list should be debated including what did Obama mean by chasing Bin Laden to the door of his cave presumedly in Pakistan?Enough ads…it’s time to put these candidates in a room together.

  15. Steve

    Obama refused McCain’s offer for ten debates over the summer and I think that was a big mistake born out by the polling numbers.“I couldn’t agree more. If Obama loses in November, this should be seen as a crucial error. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  16. DMack

    The Republican Party performance over the past eight years has made being president a “no lose” situation for Senator Obama. Our country is in a deplorable state and Senator McCain is promising to continue in the current path. The necessities of life have gone up over 300% over the past eight years and the ability to purchase these goods and services has diminished. Senator McCain hypes about the energy crises and the need for “Off Shore Drilling”. The Republican Party controlled Congress through 2004 and made no effort to remove the moratorium during that time. By the way, President Bush indicated he warned the nation in 2000 when he took office of the pending energy crises but did nothing. It reminds you of Katrina and New Orleans, another last response.Obama has my vote; I know he can’t deliver on everything he discussed on last evening; however it appears he is willing to try something different “Change”. I believe Senator McCain is an out of touch, stubborn old gentleman, who believes everything is okay. Experience is not always what it is made out to be, look at our nation’s current condition. I believe Senator McCain should go home, get in his rocking chair and become an arm chair quarterback.Last but not least, why debate someone who answers every question with his POW experience? While I respect and honor his sacrifice, it does not make you a leader nor qualify you to become President.

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