Conventional Crap: Moebama Underwhelmed By Barack's Beautiful, Moving Speech

Illustration for article titled Conventional Crap: Moebama Underwhelmed By Barack's Beautiful, Moving Speech

Although I am basically a walking, red-colored zombie — or, I would be if my feet didn't hurt so much that I'm not really walking as much as limping — someone's got to wrap up the week of speechifying, pandering, branding and making the kind of history that causes grown people to cry before the speech even starts and hard-bitten members of the press corps surreptitiously whip out their personal cameras to take pictures while they're working. And on this day which is crap by virtue of the fact that it won't even be 8 am in Denver when we finish writing this, there's really only one person who I could — or would want to — talk about this with. Ever wondered what Moe Tkacik would say when Barack Obama was made official? Then join us after the jump.MEGAN: I am so happy to have you back! (When you're back from getting coffee, that is). MOE: Okay, here I am, having showered and resigned myself to brewing coffee because I can't leave the house twice in the same morning that is blasphemous, and watching Fox News. Wow, has John McCain cast a wide net for running mate! They are talking about Meg Whitman! Alaska Governor Sarah Palin! Mitt Fucking Romney! (God I would love it to be Romney!) But I suppose we should talk about last night's speech, even if I kind of think it's not worth talking about. MEGAN: Well, the VP speculation was all the rage in the press box last night when no one was speaking. MSNBC was reporting it was Pawlenty, rumors were flying it would be Kay Bailey Hutchison, someone who doesn't have to be non-partisan was begging for it to be Romney, it was pretty amazing. And how is it not worth talking about?! It was amazing. People were crying. Like, hearing the way African-American people talk about this and the symbolism of seeing him be the standard bearer for the party, has been really interesting actually. One woman I interviewed for Glamocracy was like, black folks don't get invited to conventions very often, but we finally feel not just allowed but welcomed. MOE: Yes, that is beautiful and moving and amazing and shit, but I gotta agree with what Noonan warned me about with that venue which is to say:

My own added thought is that speeches are delicate; they're words in the air, and when you've got a ceiling the words can sort of go up to that ceiling and come back down again. But words said into an open air stadium…can just get lost in echoes, and misheard phrases.


Or cliches and tiresome pandering, which is, I believe, what that venue did for the speech. I love this guy, but if he is going to knock China within his first few minutes, if he has to take it to the illegal immigrants undermining our wages…well Jesus Christ, Barack Obama, this is your chance to point out, And I Say All This Not Because Illegal Guatemalan Meatpackers And Migrant Chinese Factory Workers At Heart Deserve America Any More Than We Do…but because we have to do right by the rights and values and ideals upon which this country was founded and improved before it is too late. And the "before it is too late" is where you get into the Iraq War, as opposed to — and here is what really sat badly with me — pointing out the Iraqi government's unspent surplus. MEGAN: I'll be frank, by the time he got around to discussing policy issues, I was sort of bemoaning being the only woman (besides my friend Emily) anywhere near my section because if there had been more women, there would've been Diet Coke and I was ready to usurp ownership. MOE: Which seemed tacky. But then! I switched to Fox News and Frank Luntz was yammering on about how it reminded him of Ross Perot circa 1992. Which I think means it was a success. MEGAN: But I do recall without the benefit of the text, that he pointed out that he wanted to get out of Iraq, and used the surplus issue to make the point that they don't even really need us that much. MOE: Those Perot voters are exactly who Barack Obama needs to vote for him! Unless he'd like to run himself. MEGAN: Oh, God, Frank Luntz is so annoying! I'm glad I missed most of the punditry this week. I don't know that we need Ross Perot when we have Bob Barr. MOE: Right! They don't really need us that much…WELL OKAY AGAIN YOU ARE RIGHT WHEN YOU SAY BARACK OBAMA THAT WHAT THEY REALLY NEED IS A TIME MACHINE. But yeah, no, they have some urgent needs in Iraq, and to dismiss them so glibly annoyed me. But speaking of Fox News, you know, it's what I watch when I have to watch TV news which is why I don't watch a lot of TV news. Are the other channels running those "I'm John McCain and here's looking at you kid" commercials? MEGAN: Well, it all had to be done by the end of prime time without going so long that people tuned out. Plus, I actually thought that there was maybe too much policy in the speech, though I realize he was trying to counter inter-Democratic charges (all flash and no substance, etc.) with it. But a policy speech is a different thing. So I didn't get particularly exercised about it, though I'm pretty sure I lost 90% of my capacity for excitement on my second day of the convention. MOE: See but, the genius of Barack Obama is that he has made substance his style, and that he has proven himself capable, in a speech, of teaching America little lessons, reaching the corners of the minds of average swing state Americans that seems to almost scramble their ideological codes, restoring in them intellectual honesty for a few seconds. I truly felt that when he "threw his grandmother under the bus" in that race speech. That race speech bowled people over and, more importantly, reminded them there's a trajectory here, that we don't give up hope on America precisely because we've encountered these little obstacles before…and this speech did not have this. Most offensively — and I do not get offended — this speech had "save our farms." Save our farms? Are you fucking kidding me? Oh, but, loved Michelle's dress. What was that? MEGAN: Well, you knew that was coming. He's from Illinois. I have no idea who made the dress, but Michelle has looked every single kind of awesome this week. So have Malia and Sasha, actually. MOE: Now on Fox they're saying it's Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. (Maybe) Oh man Malia, Malia…she's just so very elegant! It is almost intimidating. MEGAN: I mean, she's looked both pretty, elegant and age-appropriate, which I personally loved. As for Palin, I don't know why she'd give up the governorship of the state of Alaska to be a running mate for John McCain. She'd be an inspired choice if he could get her, but I don't know why she'd do it, really. MOE: Here's the other thing: I found the little documentary about Obama they showed in the lead up to the speeches — this was on PBS — I found it very inspiring because Obama talked about how his mother had impressed upon him the importance of putting himself in others people's shoes. And I think that's not an easy thing for a politician to pull off without making the other side cynical, what with so many of them being such profound narcissists, because all the conventional wisdom says "No, you don't understand, you have to put yourself in the shoes of a cliche." Put yourself in the caricature of his shoes! Oh that is reminding me how Mitt Romney skipped the Timberland factory or something. That was Mitt Romney, right? MEGAN: Nope, he went, he just didn't take their shoes. Actually, I hated all of those videos this week, I found them super-annoying and disruptive to the energetic vibe I thought they were trying to create. I got on board with Michelle's, but then they just kept on coming. Sort of like the free bars but not the free food, which I'm sure has a lot to do with my current utter exhaustion. MOE: I suppose that is enough until next time! Hey commenters, if anyone understands anything about the water supply, feel free to email me bc I need some help on a post. KTKSBAI Oh fuck! Hold on. You can't leave without the funny David Brooks line. MEGAN: Sure, what is it? MOE:

For this election isn't about the past or the present, or even the pluperfect conditional. It's about the future, and Barack Obama loves the future because that's where all his accomplishments are.

That is why it needed to be a better speech I think. But I'll hold out hope.



I never expect much out of convention speeches: conventions are just big kid pep rallies. They annoy the shit out of me and, to a lesser degree, scare me, because they remind me of church or a Nazi rally. Anyway, for what they were, HRC's speech was way better, but Obama's was fine. I think where one gets the "deepest" peek into a candidate is during debates: where they prep, but still need to think on their feet, and give more support for their policies other than just saying "I love kitties and unicorns, just like you. My opponent voted AGAINST unicorns."