I assume there was a receptive audience for Obama's speech and I understand that I was not predisposed to be impressed. To the extent that I could set that aside, I thought he was good but not great - I am sure Dems will be satisifed, but I don't think they will have thrills running up their legs.
For myself, there were a number of moments when I marveled at Obama's ability to deliver his lines with a straight face. This is from the prepared text:
But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.
The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain.
Oh, please - he won't question McCain's patriotism and therefore McCain shouldn't question his. I think Obama ought to feel free to question McCain's patriotism and he can let us know how that works out. And McCain is surely free to ask about Obama's education reform sidekick Bill Ayers (are we allowed to question his patriotism?).
I experienced more pain here in the March of the Strawmen:
We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.
Stop. Who stands in opposition to reducing unwanted pregnancies? There are heated disputes about means (free condoms handed out in schools?) but not about ends.
Who favors allowing criminals access to AK-47s? No one. Part of the the dispute is whether the assault weapons ban favored by the Democrats, which keeps AK-47s out of everyone's hands, is Constitutional and effective.
Who favors denying gay partners the right to hospital visitation? That is not the dispute - gay rights advocates want marriage (both the rights and the word), not civil unions or visitation rights. In 2004 states were amending their constitutions to prevent "marriage", not visitation rights. George Bush was (sort of) pushing a Constitutional amendment to ban marriage, not visitation rights.
And where in the immigration debate is the lobby demanding mothers and children be separated? As to the other part of Obama's immigration insight - "I don't know anyone who benefits when... an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers" - of course he does. The employer benefits from paying lower wages and the illegal workers benefit by holding a job at near-US wages for which they are not legally qualified (and on which they may not be paying taxes.) Is he saying that everyone should be able to get behind stricter workplace enforcement of current laws? That will cause an Hispanic panic among his supporters.
This came from the "We know what you are but what is McCain?" file and was shockingly honest, albeit unintentionally:
If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
The first words from the ABC commentator I heard assessing the speech were that Obama had been surprisingly aggressive, tying McCain to Bush and insisting that McCain was running for Bush's third term. We understand that Obama has no record to run on but we did not expect him to be so candid.
I thought his Inspirational Big Finish was comical:
America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future.
Back to the future! Call me hidebound but I think the future is coming whether we pledge to march into it or not. The choice is not Forward or Back, it is left or right. Or maybe right or wrong.
Oh, well. I am sure a bitter dispute is still raging at MSNBC as to whether this was the greatest oration of all time in this or any galaxy, or merely the greatest oration in the history of earth.
REWRITE! Someone should have changed this (my emphasis):
That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours...
My eleven year old son piped up with "What about me?". Should have been "children", not "daughters". One child left behind - there's a lost vote in seven years.