Politics

09.05.12

Michelle Obama’s Speech: Successful, But Not Great

While the first lady humanized Obama and reminded people why they liked him, it wasn’t exactly a home run, writes Mark McKinnon. He critiques the Democratic convention’s first night.

The Democratic Convention wrapped up its first night with a couple of speeches that blew the roof off the joint.

In terms of sheer oratorical skills, Julián Castro and Michelle Obama are as good as anyone in politics today. While much of the country probably asked, "Julián who?" and "Why him?" when they heard he was to deliver the keynote speech, they are wondering no more.

For someone so young and relatively inexperienced, Castro demonstrated an extraordinarily poised and polished ability to speak in front of a national audience. He was in total command of the stage. He was natural, confident, optimistic, inspirational, and charming. If Texas has a Democratic governor in the near future, it is Castro. Then it would likely be fast track to presidential candidate.

And watching the cameras catch his daughter, Carina, flipping her hair was adorable. She too became an instant celebrity.

Michelle Obama could not have been more natural, authentic, and convincing. She has a tick where she often double pumps at the beginning of a sentence. "I ... I want to tell you ..."  And whether it is rehearsed or not, it has the effect of coming off as entirely passionate and real.

I may be in a minority, but I don't think the speech itself was a home run. I thought it was solid. I think it clearly accomplished the goal of humanizing Obama and reminding people why they like the first husband and the first family. But in the annals of convention speeches, I don't think it will be remembered much for the content, the theme, the vision or any lines except perhaps for "being president doesn't change who you are. It reveals who you are." 

But it was Michelle’s and Julián's primary jobs to get Democrats all fired up and ready to go as the kicked things off in Charlotte. Mission accomplished.