Homeward Bound

Six Last Thoughts from Charlotte

More on what Obama's speech was missing, plus Kerry, Palin, jobs &c.

1. When I react to Obama’s speech as I did, most people who defend the speech jump to the conclusion that I wanted aught-eight-style rhetorical loft. Not so. That would have been inappropriate. True, I wanted some thematic clarity, but that’s different; that doesn’t have to be lofty. For example: Middle-class economics vs. trickle-down economics. Those of you who’ve been reading me for a while know that I think this is a winner. I was excited when Obama started to develop this theme back in that Kansas speech in 2011 but wrote many times that he needed to keep at it, and I expressed frustration that the theme seemed to drift in and out of his speeches.

You know how many times he mentioned the middle class last night? Twice. Twice! What was that about? So that’s number one. Number two, and to me the far bigger disappointment: Quite to the contrary of loft, I wanted facts facts facts facts. As I wrote last night, you beat liars with facts. The speech was just vague.

2. The Democrats own foreign policy for now. Who’d have thought that? And John Kerry gave a terrific speech! If the delegates were at all uncomfortable with the bin Laden jingoism, they sure didn’t show it.

3. Apropos nothing, yesterday afternoon, I watched Richard Nixon’s and George McGovern’s 1972 acceptance speeches. Go to YouTube and have a look at those or others. They were lousy by today’s standards. The style of speechmaking has changed dramatically from something stentorian and slightly remote to something that now needs to be much more humanizing and emotional. For better and worse, I guess. And imagine this: The conventions that year were six weeks apart!

4. What did Sarah Palin mean by saying that Kerry “diminished himself by even mentioning my name”?

5. Romney ad blitz starts today, but not in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and, da-dum, Wisconsin. I wouldn’t necessarily conclude from this, as Chuck Todd did on the twitters, that they’ve thrown in the towel on those states. I’d reckon there are contingency plans such that if they look gettable, they’ll start spending there. But it probably does reflect their sense of reality about now. How many of you were trying to tell me that Ryan’s presence meant they’d win Wisconsin?

6. The jobs report is lousy. It has something for both sides politically—Romney can use the 96,000 jobs number, but Obama can use the fact that unemployment dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent (but that’s chiefly because the labor force participation rate shrank). But the June and July payrolls were also revised downward. Overall it’s a crappy report. And Obama knew the numbers last night. Maybe the speech wasn’t very good because they had to do a lot of rewriting after they heard these numbers.

And with that, I’m driving home. Will try to post once more toward the end of the day.