As with all things Obama it seems like people saw what they wanted to see in his acceptance speech.
Was it his best speech? Hardly. But it was the right speech. Political, attacking and yet still laying out a vision.
I’m predicting a 12% convention bounce. Bold, I know, but after Taylor’s prescient 5 month Biden prediction, I’m feeling the pressure to deliver something big.
Regardless of the bounce, I worry about how the Democratic Party seems to slowly be sinking its teeth into the Obama machine. Over the past few months I sense a slight drift towards a more “traditional” liberalism and less championing of a new progressivism. He’s started to play it safe – a challenge that arose during the primary and that, once he grasped, shook him up, loosened him up, and had being himself again.
Obama’s unique – and thus perceived risky – perspective is what made him popular. Put out that flame and you kill his passion. Fortunately, this speech showed his original political instincts and leanings are still very much alive. The policy prescriptions -bound together by a narrative of encouraging both individual and collective responsibility – were sensible and pragmatic. His instinct to reach out and make space for others, while holding firm to some core principles, also shone through.
I don’t think it is possible, but I do fear the party will do to Obama what it did to Gore and Kerry – try to force him to make compromise after compromise, slowly sucking the life and passion out of him as it transforms him into block-vote seeking automaton. It ain’t a pretty picture but look at the speeches Kerry and Gore gave, it would be a different world if they’d spoken like that 4 or 8 years ago.
Fortunately, the New York Times thinks Obama has insulated himself against this outcome in large measure because he’s already managed to remold the party in his image. I hope they are right. Looking at the people in the stadium – the mix of race, class and age – suggests this is the case. It certainly was a picture of America as we’d all like to see it.
I just hope that the make-over has filtered higher up as well. I can’t bear to watch the democrats lose another election – especially with such talent leading them.