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US media assesses Obama speech

US Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has closed his party's convention in Denver with a speech that has awed his admirers and annoyed his opponents. Here are some excerpts from what bloggers and the traditional media have been saying.


Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic

It was a liberal speech, more unabashedly, unashamedly liberal than any Democratic acceptance speech since the great era of American liberalism. But it made the case for that liberalism - in the context of the decline of the American dream, and the rise of cynicism and the collapse of cultural unity.

His ability to portray that liberalism as a patriotic, unifying, ennobling tradition makes him the most lethal and remarkable Democratic figure since John F Kennedy.


Jim Geraghty of National Review

Obama's speech was predictable, it was implausible, and it was strikingly, inexplicably, angry... If you've seen any of Obama's previous speeches, you've heard a lot of this stuff before.

I've wondered if Obama has the patience and the discipline to put together a really complicated, controversial, major piece of legislation. I still have those doubts; apparently his solution to the doubts is to make the promises even bigger and grander.

Of all the aspects of this speech, the anger was the part that surprised me the most.


Ben Smith of Politico

The expectations were high for Obama's rhetorical talent, and he met them, and the crowd at Mile High - now full almost to the brim, at a reported 84,000 - is standing and cheering, waving the American flags they've been handed.

The fireworks were a last showbiz touch from the production designers, and a breeze seems to have taken the confetti back onto the set.

The evening, though, takes a convention that had felt, at times, a bit flat to one that Democrats will hope gives them a real head of steam, and one in which Obama seems to have focused his case again as clearly as he did last fall in Iowa.


Wesley Pruden of The Washington Times

Barack Obama never looked more like the American Idol (US reality TV show) than last night, standing before the Athenian columns of his Golden Temple of Obama the Anointed. Television viewers were no doubt puzzled that there were no telephone numbers crawling across the bottom of the screen, urging them to cast their votes now at a dollar a pop.


Richard Starr of The Weekly Standard

Well, that was certainly a spectacular show. And the speech was beautifully delivered, wonderful to listen to - if you could refrain from thinking about what he was saying.

If you couldn't turn off your brain, alas, the speech was full of baloney, not that a lot of people don't like a good baloney sandwich.

I was reading the text as he delivered it, wondering if he would ad lib at all. He departed very little from the text. I was especially curious to see if he might change his rhetoric about the war on terror and promise, just this once, to "win" that war. He didn't. The only thing he promised to "win" was the election.


Ezra Klein of The American Prospect

This has been the most aggressive speech of the week. And the most substantive I've seen Obama give. It's not a thematic address: It's not about hope or values or the universality of the American experience of the illusory obstacles that divide us. It's concrete. It's about the failure of the Republican Party, and the promises of the Democratic Party.


Patrick Healy of the New York Times

It is almost a cliche of this election that many Americans, despite a 20-month-old campaign, still lack a strong notion of who Mr Obama is. In the most personal sense, his speech was not particularly illuminating on this score. He spent far more time talking about struggling Americans whose hopes he related to than wearing his emotions on his sleeve or reaching across history's divide to talk about race.


Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo

I thought this was a very strong speech. About exactly what was needed. It was a strong speech. He made the case for himself; he laid out clear policy goals; and he aggressively set forth the stakes of the campaign. He made the case against John McCain while not attacking his character - which makes a clear contrast with McCain's aggressively personal, denigrating campaign strategy.


Lynn Sweet of Chicago Sun Times

Obama was specific regarding his agenda, pre-empting - or trying to - the Republican criticism that his rhetoric is lofty but empty. He was slashing in attacking the "Bush-McCain" ticket. He seemed to deliberately tone it down some - maybe two notches - as he tried to defuse the hot button issues of abortion, guns, gay marriage, immigration and even his own celebrity.


Noam Scheiber of The New Republic

To the extent the speech will be criticised, I'd guess the naysaying will focus on Obama's new harshness. But, for my money, the remarkable thing about Obama's performance is that he managed to stay so optimistic while throwing elbows...


Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post

For all the historic significance, Obama's speech was less lofty than his earlier rhetorical forays, more specific on the policies he would pursue as president and more scathing toward McCain...

...Still, Thursday's festivities were extraordinary. Not since John F. Kennedy accepted his party's nomination at Los Angeles's Memorial Coliseum in 1960 has a presidential contender thrown such a party.



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