Critiquing The Speeches

So the Democratic primary race is over (at least so it seems), resulting in history being made. For the first time in our nation’s history, an African-American stands as a nominee for president for one of the two major political parties. What happened yesterday was historic, and I hope it’s just the first of many “firsts” for Barack Obama.

Last night, Senators Clinton, Obama, and McCain had their chance to speak on Obama winning the Democratic nomination, and here are my thoughts on the speeches by each of the candidates last night:

Senator Hillary Clinton:

I thought her speech was all about maximizing her leverage, in hopes she can force Barack Obama’s hand to ensure she ends up as the Vice Presidential nominee. Clinton’s constant emphasis on how much of the popular vote she won, as well as her call for her supporters to go to her website and tell her how they want her to proceed, smacks of someone who doesn’t really want to give up, but who realizes her campaign’s over, whether she likes it or not. Overall, I thought she did a good job of speaking to her crowd, but there was an obvious lack of energy, with the exception of a few key moments in her remarks. In all, the speech seemed to be more about Hillary Clinton than it was about the Democratic Party or Barack Obama, and it smacked of the kind of narcissism that has become a hallmark of the Clintons. Hillary seems to think she was owed this nomination, and even now, when faced with the reality that she’s not the nominee, she seems to be unwilling to concede with grace, class, and humility.

Senator John McCain:

Now sure, it’s no secret John McCain isn’t the most gifted orator around, but his delivery was flat and seemed uninspired and perhaps a bit forced. I’ve had a chance to read the text of the speech, and while it’s not a terrible speech, it most definitely suffered from McCain’s poor delivery. I also found his attempts at humor to be somewhat sophomoric and maybe just a bit creepy. As noted by my good friend Sam over at Brazen Maverick, McCain’s laugh sounds a lot like Peter Griffin’s from the Family Guy. I was wholly unimpressed with McCain’s speech, and he’s certainly not going to win this election if he continues to give uninspired, unimpressive performances like the one he gave last night.

Senator Barack Obama:

I think Obama did a tremendous job of being both conciliatory towards Hillary Clinton while on the flip side going on the offensive against John McCain. Obama’s a gifted orator, and that fact was amplified when his performance was compared with John McCain’s. What I liked most about Obama’s speech were the subtle – and not so subtle – jabs at John McCain. I’m glad Obama’s showing some fire and “returning fire” when he’s come under attack, because that’s one concern that a lot of folks – including myself – had regarding Obama.

And my line of the night belongs to Senator Obama, who referenced John McCain’s attacks on Obama’s relative lack of experience:

“I honor, we honor the service of John McCain, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.”


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