The reviews of the Obama speech are getting more negative from both the right and the left. The president is all defensive, the claim is, in the Carter mode, and he was darn close to playing the hope-being-replaced-by-malaise card. And the whining! Nothing Obama faces is anything like the bloody mess that brought Lincoln to his knees. So the MSNBC Democrats are stuck with praising the convention AS A WHOLE.

The WHOLE has two parts: The FDR-Kennedy-Clinton-Biden Democrats and the Carter-Obama Democrats?? Certainly Obama can’t claim either to be a PROSPERITY DEMOCRAT (like Kennedy or Clinton [a kind of Democrat who’s also roguish and light on the moralism]) or a WORKER AND WARRIOR DEMOCRAT like Biden has become. Has he become too much a CULTURAL [preachy, condescending] DEMOCRAT like Carter? Is that why everyone now agrees that Obama’s speech—a speech by a very gifted orator—was easily the worst of the major convention speeches?

This division depends on a selective reading of the president’s speech, which did have its confident parts. And it sounded more mediocre than mediocre-to-bad to me. So maybe the interpretations of the speech are being influenced by the facts on the ground.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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