Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Talking About Michelle Obama

I only got to see some of the event last night, but one thing did really creep me out: those silhouettes along the railing above the stage and in front of the big screen look really weird.

Anyway ...

I think Michelle Obama did something fairly amazing in her speech last night at the Democratic Convention - she made a mostly critique-proof speech. It wasn't a rant on the failures of Republicans, or a huge promotion of policies and platforms. It was a kind of fluffy talk about how her family made her strong, how her marriage and her children made her strong, and that those kinds of strength are the best of American Life.

Mom, Dad, Home, Kids and Apple Pie. As both the Tennessee and the national Republican PR-geeks have worked to create the image of Michelle Obama as a deranged and bitter and angry woman, she effortlessly deflected such claims, gave huge emotional and symbolic salutes to the role of women in American Life - as sisters, mothers, and daughters - and still gave salutes to her man, too, in a way that is hard to smack down with criticism, like this bit:

He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail's pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands .."

Every parent who heard that probably got a bit misty on that line. Making her a target at that moment would be a major error. It also made me think perhaps she had wished he would move a little faster, too.

Likewise, a salute (emotional and symbolic) to Sen. Kennedy, whose health is failing, was tough to knock apart too. Kicking a man when he's down, when his family shows a bittersweet hopefulness for the future, would be political suicide.

So critics were left with little to actually say about last night other than it was "a wasted night", as Bill Kristol said on FOX. Yeah, see, he wants to attack and be attacked. A solid image of families whose lives are measured in small and large moments, sometimes historic, sometimes mundane, leaves critics with nothing to fight about.

UPDATE: Be sure to read R. Neal's observations on Monday night, part of his continuing coverage.


  1. I was extremely impressed. Michelle Obama is an amazing speaker. She was so natural, one would have thought she was speaking before a crowd of 20 people, not millions.

    I'm sure it also helps that Nancy Pelosi did such a miserable job. Good grief, I had no idea she was that bad. Maybe she was just bad last night but heavens to mergatroid, how on earth did she get elected with public speaking skills as bad as John McCain's?

  2. i noticed even her kids seemed at ease on that huge stage. i imagine the last year has been an astonishing experience for them, too.

    you said "heavens to mergatroid", LOL