Posted by James @ 8:56 pm on August 28th 2008

Obama-rama LIVE!

Keep your hands and feet within the vehicle at all times.


  1. It struck me he peaked around 80% of the way into the speech. It seemed stretched out and muddled near the closing.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 10:57 pm

  2. It was still heavy on problem identification and very weak on viable solutions.

    Comment by James — 8/28/2008 @ 10:57 pm

  3. Country/western closing music is…a poor choice. I understand why they tried for it, but there was nothing “country” about that speech and it’s an error to try to play to that demographic afterwards.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 10:58 pm

  4. And Biden appears.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 10:59 pm

  5. Those fireworks just don’t AT ALL match the feel of the speech, simply because of the lack of noise.

    The single thing I’m most certain of about this speech is that Invesco was a bad choice. The lack of ambient noise really, really made Obama’s intense moments jarring, and tonight his best points were made with great intensity.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 10:59 pm

  6. Are those stars on the blue podium platform? It looks like the EU flag.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 11:00 pm

  7. Pathetic confetti release. It looks horrible draped everywhere.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 11:00 pm

  8. Mingle with the crowd! Mingle with the crowd! Don’t STAND ON THE ELEVATED PLATFORM, you fool!

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 11:00 pm

  9. Okay the C-SPAN star filter looks like crap with the fireworks.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 11:01 pm

  10. Go be a regular guy! Don’t wander off into the procenium arch! Shake some hands!

    A huge blue dais seperates the ticket and their families from the people. That’s just a bad choice by whoever’s stage managing this.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 11:01 pm

  11. Upside: no ceiling=no balloon drop.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 11:02 pm

  12. MSNBC is writing a new Gospel: The Book of Olberman

    Comment by James — 8/28/2008 @ 11:02 pm

  13. And Matthews I

    Comment by James — 8/28/2008 @ 11:03 pm

  14. There is absolutely no objectivity at MSNBC. It is a chapter of the DNC, period.

    Comment by James — 8/28/2008 @ 11:04 pm

  15. CNN is eating it up.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 11:05 pm

  16. Chris Matthew is re-reading the speech!

    Comment by James — 8/28/2008 @ 11:05 pm

  17. Free speech has only a few months to go, then it is a memory.

    Comment by James — 8/28/2008 @ 11:06 pm

  18. This is a very weird benediction.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 11:08 pm


    This was VERY poorly staged where TV is concerned. The people running the convention have made nothing but bad decisions and should not be placed in a position of responsibility again anytime soon.

    Other than that, the downside is that there were big chunks of the speech that accomplished pretty much nothing, including most of the domestic policy agenda. Too many issues and too many bases to cover meant too much muddling. And there was really nothing to stick in your mind or repeat around the office. There also wasn’t anything new in terms of policy specifics AT ALL. Nobody who doubts his substance will have their minds changed by this.

    The upside is that the section running through civility to foreign policy to MLK was VERY powerful; in some respects the best stuff he’s produced on the campaign trail. Even though it was somewhat undermined by the staging, the delivery was fabulous and the framing was persuasive. I think a lot of centrists raised their eyebrows on that stuff. I think he also closed off a lot of angles of attack for McCain. Indeed, in many ways, this was a better defensive speech than offensive. Some of what he produced there is going to stick in voters’ minds well enough that when McCain raises arguments, the centrists will be arguing back internally. That is no mean feat.

    I don’t think it can be said that this speech met expectations, but the second half lifted it comfortably out of dead fish territory. Favreau and the convention organizers were losers tonight, but the candidate himself was something of a winner, and he made McCain a loser.

    Expect a smaller-than expected convention bump for the Dems, but expect the Republicans to be on their back foot during their own convention. All-in-all, not a bad attempt to re-seize the momentum. It could have been (and almost was) much worse.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 11:10 pm

  20. I’m not in any way interested in the analysts’ commentary on this, by the way. Every single convention speech of the last four cycles has been syncophantically devoured by these hacks. They are utterly unable to say anything critical about the people they cover.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 11:13 pm

  21. On a side note, we’re not even close to 300 comments.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 11:14 pm

  22. Blame Brad, who was apparently actually listening to the speech instead of babbling during it. That fool. How does he expect to understand the voters’ perspective if he actually pays attention?

    And where are Liz and Laura? Consarn it.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 11:16 pm

  23. At least daveg isn’t here.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/28/2008 @ 11:17 pm

  24. C+

    Great theater, little or no substance; the legacy of the Obama movement. I think the venue and the gathering were far more impressive than the man both intended to support.

    Comment by James — 8/28/2008 @ 11:18 pm

  25. You liked the venue, James? Even from the perspective of a TV viewer?

    Boy, I really couldn’t disagree more about that.

    I think a lot of the network hyperbole on this is coming from people who experienced it on TV and have no idea how it played from a remote perspective.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 11:20 pm

  26. Did you not see the audience pan shots? Rogas, people at home saw the sea of people. They understand sports, crowds, etc.

    The venue was great, the show and the crowd made it a Jimmy Swaggart show. Spew bullshit and be believed and adored by a crowd that no longer cares what is true.

    Comment by James — 8/28/2008 @ 11:29 pm

  27. I pretty much agree with Rojas, who I think nailed this one dead on. The first half of the speech was pretty clearly geared towards first time viewers, of which there are certainly a lot, but for whom I’m a bad judge. Most of it was pretty dry and muddled, and though he frames things like economic insecurity about as well as it can possibly be framed, I didn’t particularly jolt me one way or the other.

    Where the speech was very, very good was shutting down a lot of memes that have the for the last month been getting some oxygen. The blindside on the celebrity attack was brilliant, and damn hard to argue with—keeping up that line of attack from this point on isn’t going to convince anyone new, and may well start backfiring. Framing McCain as out of touch on the economy (without explicitly mentioning the house thing, which was smart) was also very well done, and will have him on his heels. And the “Change doesn’t come from Washington, it comes TO Washington” line is so obvious that I can’t believe we hadn’t thought of it—paint attacks on his inexperience as notches on his “outsider” bedpost. DUH. Beautifully done. Every time he went after McCain in that way, it was Ali-esque, and I think he shut down a lot of inroads McCain had been making. It was like watching a strong man flipping cars one after the other. And I liked very much how he pivoted from that to the best instantiation of his 2004 keynote I’ve seen yet, and then finally into MLK, which was lofty but worked, although the speech ended on a flat note.

    All in all, it won’t win him an election, or a 10 point bounce, and there was a real dearth of water cooler moments or slogan-making, but he made some definite headway. I’ve seen him better, for sure, but again, the speech wasn’t really geared for conservative policy wonks who have been following the race daily for 18 months.

    Where I disagree with Rojas: I think the stagecraft worked great. It led to a bit of trouble in the beginning and in the end, but that was outweighed by the sheer force of the visuals, seeing 70,000 friggin’ people. It came off exactly as it should have—an opening up of the process and the floodgates more than a cult of personality worshiping at the altar. And it was clear that a significant chunk of the speech was written to re-frame that…the “this election isn’t about me, it’s about you” trope which can seem generic and cliched, but takes on quite a different meaning when you’ve got a giant friggin’ sea of people around you. I kind of liked that it seemed like Obama was just barely on top of the crowd, just barely their master. It was subtle—unplanned even for the most part—but as powerful as anything in the speech. James is right.

    Final grade: B

    Comment by Brad — 8/28/2008 @ 11:30 pm

  28. I don’t know that the crowd shots compensate for the many, many images of a back-windowed Obama shouting at people who weren’t shouting back.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/28/2008 @ 11:37 pm

  29. First of all, thanks everyone for the commentary.

    James is it better to offer solutions to the wrong problems, or to identify the right problems?

    I don’t know how many people he really had to convince. He did do a decent job of taking away a lot of the edge on McCain’s attacks, and that really may be enough to regain the momentum.

    Comment by Mike — 8/28/2008 @ 11:51 pm

  30. Sorry guys. I was listening to the speech, trying to get a list together for my trip to Minneapolis on Saturday, and watching what you were saying. In between trying to figure out whether there was some nice island we could move to since this guy is going to tax the bejeebers out of us when he gets into office. I don’t know how you can possibly do all the things that he says he’s going to do without taxing a LOT of people.

    Comment by Laura — 8/28/2008 @ 11:58 pm


    Comment by Rojas — 8/29/2008 @ 12:10 am

  32. I was READING all along. Just not participating :)

    Comment by Laura — 8/29/2008 @ 12:20 am

  33. Not you! This one’s a boy!

    Comment by Rojas — 8/29/2008 @ 12:21 am

  34. Oh Laura, fyi the link in your name to redstate electic is missing a period between typepad and com

    Comment by Cameron — 8/29/2008 @ 12:39 am

  35. I’m just loving the way the media is potraying this.

    Barack Obama has advocated a wide variety of very specific policies for some time now. The media has long chosen to ignore those policies, because the prevailing meme was, “Obama lacks substance.”

    Tonight, Obama said nothing new; he merely repeated his old policy proposals.

    And all of the sudden, the meme is “Obama finally gets specific! Policy proposals galore!”

    I was never an old media/new media guy, but I’m getting there in a hurry these days.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/29/2008 @ 12:43 am

  36. I didn’t think the venue was a negative, not that anyone cares for my ignorant, non political swing voter opinion.

    Comment by Mortexai — 8/29/2008 @ 1:03 am

  37. I realized I didn’t weigh in with my judgment which I am sure you all have been on the edge of your seats awaiting.

    As a speech I give it a B+. It hit the right notes and ended fairly well, though I think it peaked in power a bit too early. It served as a very effective response to recent McCain critiques of character and leadership ability. The attacks against Bush and McCain representing a continuation of failed policies didn’t quite have the resonance of some of the defenses that Obama offered of himself.

    I think it served as a fairly effective introduction of the man while also cutting off several attack avenues that McCain has exploited in the preceding weeks. It did its job in that respect. However, despite Obama’s attempt to focus the speech’s conclusion to serve as a rallying cry for change, the latter portion of the speech struck me as muddled in message. There was clearly a theme of setting the last eight years aside, but it just wasn’t as effectively executed.

    The other component of this is how the speech affected my opinions of the man with regards to policy positions.

    I heard some refreshing and not entirely bad ideas from Obama. Positive ideas were expressed in the (nebulous) realm of parental responsibility, teacher accountability and a few other realms. Obama far from being a statist nutjob. He clearly believes government has a considerable role to play in the economy of our country, but also tempers that with a respect for individual responsibility. As Rojas once said a long time ago, I guess it is better to go about the wrong thing the right way. That still holds to some extent in my judgment of Obama.

    He recognizes the benefits and costs to globalization. His tempering of the costs is more than I personally yearn for, but at least he is not trying to seal the United States up and dive headlong into protectionist fever. Obama is definitely not out of the running for earning my vote.

    Even though it is more probable that I will be voting for McCain this fall, I would not be all together crestfallen with an Obama win. He is by no means as bad as they come and could be outright good in several respects. If I had to put numbers to it, I would guess that going in to the speech I my fall probabilities for voting were 75% I’d pick McCain and 25% Obama. After watching it and considering Obama a bit more deeply, the percentages are closer to 65% McCain 30% Obama with 5% not committed.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/29/2008 @ 1:10 am

  38. 10 Readers!

    Comment by Cameron — 8/29/2008 @ 1:11 am

  39. You guys are starting to remind me of the political commentary equivalent of Joan Rivers. Look, I get it. I understand the importance of stagecraft and presentation in general, but wow after taking a little hiatus from here and then returning…I’m starting to wonder if it’s always been this way? :P

    To be fair, I’m not speaking of the regular commentary, just the liveblogging stuff. It’s probably just a side effect of writing ephemeral impressions in the moment.

    Comment by tessellated — 8/29/2008 @ 3:06 am

  40. Shit, -1.

    Comment by Brad — 8/29/2008 @ 3:17 am

  41. I’m leaving too!

    Comment by Mortexai — 8/29/2008 @ 3:19 am

  42. Double shit, -2

    How sad, all the progress we made today just evaporated.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/29/2008 @ 3:37 am

  43. I didn’t know I was counted as one of this blogs official readers. That’s too much damn responsibility!

    Comment by tessellated — 8/29/2008 @ 4:03 am

  44. Don’t feel bad; there are usually only seven readers.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/29/2008 @ 4:47 am

  45. Your criticism is a legitimate one, tess.

    I don’t think any of these liveblogs are meant to be definitive truth, and yes, they do overemphasize the elements of the moment where the overall electoral picture is concerned.

    More than anything else, they’re just speculation and analysis for the pure fun of it. Grant us at least that we have a more nuanced and interesting view than the every-speech-is-a-home-run blather that the networks offer.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/29/2008 @ 9:01 am

  46. I’ve done the liveblog thing with you all in the past. No doubt I’m just as guilty. :P

    Comment by tessellated — 8/29/2008 @ 9:12 am

  47. I, for one, think that you are more guilty, but that’s just me.

    Comment by James — 8/29/2008 @ 12:18 pm

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