Well, I’m exhausted. Exhausted from holding my breath through the speech that started — and finished — with such promise. In the middle, it let me down several times, such as with that silly litany about "I will do this; Obama will do that." (Yeah, a certain amount of that is called for — a candidate is obliged to tell us why we should vote for him and not the other guy — but that bit was contrived.)
This was … a great speech, delivered by someone who is not a great speaker… with bits and pieces that dragged it back down to mediocrity (and sometimes worse). If he’d cut out about a quarter of it, maybe less (and cut the right parts), it would have been magnificent. In the morning, when I have the full text in front of me, it might be an interesting exercise to see what a little editing can do…
The great parts (or the ones that leap to mind; I’m sure I’m forgetting some; I look forward to reviewing it in the morning):
- He called repeatedly on Americans to come together, to reject the foolishness of partisan estrangement. In those parts he was in touch with his essential Joe-ness, his UnPartisanship.
- He dealt with a heckler by saying the American people want us to come together.
- He spoke unflinchingly of the failings of his own party.
- When he decried the failed policies of the past and taking on the culture of Washington in which he has so often been a misfit, it was clear he was talking about the failures of Republicans AND Democrats.
- He told his story of heroism not in terms of his own achievement, but of how it taught him that radical individualism, his worship of himSELF as opposed to something larger, was a dead end.
Where the speech disappointed was where he extolled the values of that same selfishness, and did it in ways that were downright schizophrenic, from the prattling about tax cuts to that bizarre passage in which he promised private school "choice" in one breath, and promised to fix public schools by encouraging and rewarding good teachers and getting rid of bad ones (two news flashes: America will never pay for both, and education is NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S BUSINESS!).
Those bits made the speech sound like it was written in places by a committee, one engaged in a tug of war between vision and cant.
He inspired when he spoke of foreign affair, and he sometimes sounded dangerously naive when speaking of domestic. That sort of makes him and Obama a complementary pair. Yes, that’s an oversimplification (if Obama really knew what to do domestically, he’d push for single-payer).
So I was often deeply inspired, and at other times saying, DOH! Why’d he say that?
So I’m exhausted. I’m so glad these conventions are over.
What did y’all think?