Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle Obama's Performance

On Monday night Michelle Obama took center stage in Denver, Colorado and tried to present a different and softer image from what voters had gotten use to. Furthermore, she tried to convey some specific messages to persuade voters going into November that Obama is their man. The reviews as to whether she achieved such objectives, thus far, have been mixed at best.

Democrat strategist James Carville had little good to say about the convention, saying “Well, if this party has a message it has done a hell of a job of hiding it tonight I promise you that,” Carville said on CNN Monday night. “Right now like I say we are playing hide the message pretty good.”

Michelle Obama has described the US as "mean" and, until her husband enjoyed national electoral success, she wasn't very proud of it. One of her main objectives was to placate the concerns of many over what type of First Lady would be in the White House. Historically, one of the prerequisites for being in the White House was being a fan of this country. Because of the statements above, people have had their doubts. She attempted to wipe out those concerns by announcing that she "loves this country." The jury seems to be out as to whether this statement alone will reverse concerns.

She jumped in with an effort to show that she and her family was like so many others around the country. A person who was concerned about her daughters and who wants to provide hope for all Americans who have been "left out." Her husband didn't take a fancy Wall Street job (typical of a fresh Ivy League graduate), but worked in the inner city and represented those who were largely without hope.

Although she loves this country, she also said there is the "America that is" and the "America that should be." The latter one seems markedly different than the ones we all know and makes many wonder what she loves about this country? That remained unanswered in her speech.

She spent part of her time doing an inventory of the many great things done by others. Joe Biden, who "represents" the working class and is a voice for so many Americans who have "no hope" and Hillary Clinton (whose delegates are still less than happy) was praised for the contributions the Senator has made for the advancement of women in politics.

In the end, the presentation was largely a family friendly infomercial. Michelle was articulate and passionate, but she expended energy in a speech that most will find of little lasting value. James Carville has said that the Republicans should be a party on the run and in total defensive mode. Neither Edward Kennedy nor Michelle Obama acted as people who saw the Democrats as a party on the move. Instead, Michelle Obama behaved as a woman who has a party and a husband that needs to be defended. That has Obama and the Democrats operating from a position of weakness instead of strength. That is not the way to begin a convention.
The truth may be in the numbers. Typically such speeches by potential First Ladies lead to a polling bump. Obama's Gallop Poll numbers are down two percent since the speech. Again, not the way to begin a convention.
Kevin Price's articles are found daily in national publications such as USA Today, Chicago Sun Times, and Reuters.

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