The dean of the Washington print press corps David Broder describes Barack Obama’s Denver acceptance speech in much the same terms many conservative commentators did. Broder observes that, in contrast to Obama’s 2004 Convention speech, this was not one for the ages:
No one is likely to argue that the speech here “changed politics in America.” His jibes at John McCain and George Bush were standard-issue Democratic fare, and his recital of a long list of domestic promises could have been delivered by any Democratic nominee from Walter Mondale to John Kerry.
And the New Politics? Broder, unlike his smitten colleagues in the cable news world, is honest enough to acknowledge that this is the same gruel served up by liberals for forty years. He writes:
One of the major questions about Obama, of whom so little is known, is whether he is really serious about challenging the partisan gridlock in Washington or whether his election would simply bring on the regular wish list of liberal policies. His Boston speech — and many others early in this campaign — suggested that he was sincere in wanting to tamp down partisanship and would be creative enough to see the need for enlisting bright people from both parties in confronting the nation’s problems. But the Denver speech, like many others he has given recently, subordinated any talk of fundamental systemic change to a checklist of traditional Democratic programs.
So it may have been an unexpected gift for the public to be diverted so quickly by the Sarah Palin nomination. Given more time to fully ponder Obama’s speech they might reach the same conclusion as Broder. Instead, the dazzle of fireworks and the music of the rock stars remains as a pleasing memory of the night.
The emotional “oomph” of an Obama speech should not be discounted. He may have succeeded in reinvigorating his base of younger, ultra-liberal supporters who were disillusioned by The One’s moves earlier in the summer to scoot to the center and renounce his promise on campaign financing. But if older, independent voters were left with the same impressions as Broder, Obama may not have moved the ball as far down the field as he needed to do.