Obama’s DNC 2012: Kneecapped by nostalgia

posted at 4:41 pm on September 7, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

CHARLOTTE, N.C.— A couple hours before President Obama took the stage Thursday night, The Foo Fighters’ lead singer seemed to presage his speech with a rendition of “My Hero.” “There goes my hero. Watch him as he goes,” Dave Grohl wailed. “There goes my hero. He’s ordinary.”

The moody pop anthem could have been the soundtrack to the night’s punditry, as person after person declared Obama’s speech “pedestrian,” “not the best speech of the convention, “ C work from an A student. It was nearly universally acknowledged that President Bill Clinton was better, and even suggested—gasp!—that Obama was outperformed by the normally bumbling Vice President Joe Biden. Politico headlined its recap, “Downsizing the dream.” Ouch.

If the speech felt like falling to earth from a dream, Obama himself is partly to blame, and not just for one lackluster speech. He crafted the dreamscape himself. He made big promises, he set high expectations, he embraced those promises and expectations, and ultimately he failed to fulfill them. This week was just a microcosm of Obama’s difficulties pitching a presidency built on big promises in the harsh economic realities of 2012.

In a pleasant three-day romp designed to assiduously avoid dealing with the problems of 2012, Democratic delegates were steered dreamily through the accomplishments of any year but the past three (with the notable exception of the auto bailout). The stimulus didn’t make an appearance. The Affordable Care Act, not in Obama’s speech. Instead, even unpleasant party memories made the cut for reminiscing— Jimmy Carter spoke via video outside of primetime. A highlight of Geraldine Ferraro addressing the convention in historically disastrous 1984 revealed just how purposefully the party was cribbing talking points from itself.

“The promise of our country is that the rules are fair. If you work hard and play by the rules, you can earn your share of America’s blessings,” Ferraro’s voice boomed in the arena, echoing the words of dozens of speakers, who had been echoing her all week.

The most prominent nod to nostalgia was the presentation of President Clinton, who luxuriated in the lime light, giving an entertaining 48-minute speech that landed punches on Mitt Romney and did the requisite Obama boosting. But what it did most effectively was transport the room to the 90s, Clinton’s genial g-dropping evoking the warm-and-fuzzies of the boom before the tech bubble burst, peace dividends pre-9/11, Kelly, Brenda, Brandon, and Dylan. Even Grohl’s hair played its part, lying in an angsty Nirvana-esque fringe across his face.

The question was always whether the warm-and-fuzzies would transfer without outshining. Camp Romney faced the same question when adding Paul Ryan to the ticket, when Ann Romney spoke, and when Sen. Marco Rubio gave a rousing lead-in to Mitt’s convention speech. But unlike Mitt Romney, Barack Obama is not accustomed to the possibility of being deemed the second-most capable speaker in a room (or the “5th or 6th most interesting” person).

Obama’s ability to capture imaginations and rouse spirits with his words is central to his brand in a way it’s not to Mitt Romney’s, who’s rightly criticized for not rousing, or even Clinton’s. Clinton wears his charm as a powerful accessory to a presidency in a healthy economy and a list of bipartisan bills made possible by a mid-term tack to the center.

Clinton wasn’t just a gifted speaker but preternatural pivoter. His appearance showcased a man who has always been adept (sometimes maddeningly so) at suiting himself to the political moment, this one included. Then, he was joined on stage by a man who has proven incapable of doing the same.

Accordingly, the convention attempted to change the moment to suit Obama. Michelle Obama’s speech could easily have been given, nearly word for word, in 2008. A moving tribute to the woman who originated “Fired up! Ready to go!” was vintage Hope and Change. Obama, too, was trying to play ’08 Obama, crescendoing to soaring rhetoric at the prescribed moment. But the reality of 2012 is tough to make take flight, and it had to be addressed— “I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now…Yes, our path is harder but it leads to a better place.” The crowd inside the hall played an ’08 crowd convincingly, with weeping and worship hands. They were part of the dream and they want to keep it alive and experience it again, just as they did then.

Treating Obama’s presidency as if the intervening four years never happened is preferable to grappling with another disappointing jobs report and stubborn 8-percent unemployment, not to mention the broken promises they evoke. But outside the convention, those realities intruded, unimpeded by any speech, and waking up from a dream is never pleasant.


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…JugEars was kneecapped by weeknee!

KOOLAID2 on September 7, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Clinton-Gore 1996: A bridge to the 21st Century

Obama-Biden 2012: A bridge to the 19th Century

aunursa on September 7, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Treating Obama’s presidency as if the intervening four years never happened is preferable to grappling with another disappointing jobs report and stubborn 8-percent unemployment, not to mention the broken promises they evoke. But outside the convention, those realities intruded, unimpeded by any speech, and waking up from a dream is never pleasant.

…and his poll numbers are UP?

KOOLAID2 on September 7, 2012 at 4:48 PM

without putting words in MKH’s mouth, I take the “thesis” from the post to be that the DNC and the O campaign in is about everything EXCEPT the last 4 years. This is an excellent point.

Jackalope on September 7, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Barry, 2012: Kneecapped by Reality and Math.

bayview on September 7, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Hope sank.

faraway on September 7, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Kneecapped by reality.

kingsjester on September 7, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Obama kneecapped himself. That takes some doing.

Bitter Clinger on September 7, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Thanks Mary Katherine for some sanity. The previous post was so doom and gloomy I almost thought I had witnessed an entirely different Convention…

sandee on September 7, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Oprah’s crying.

bazil9 on September 7, 2012 at 4:55 PM

A couple hours before President Obama took the stage Thursday night, The Foo Fighters’ lead singer seemed to presage his speech with a rendition of “My Hero.” “There goes my hero. Watch him as he goes,” Dave Grohl wailed. “There goes my hero. He’s ordinary.”

America should’ve heard The Trees – by Rush:

“The Trees”

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream ‘Oppression!’
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 7, 2012 at 4:57 PM

P.S. Rush’s 2112 is based on Ayn Rand’s Anthem.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 7, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Valerie Jarrett’s pool boy is having a pretty sh!tty week. Couldn’t happen to a nicer fella.

antipc on September 7, 2012 at 5:02 PM

The crowd inside the hall played an ’08 crowd convincingly, with weeping and worship hands. They were part of the dream and they want to keep it alive and experience it again, just as they did then.

The first high on a new drug is always the best. Then its just like any other. You know that life will still be just as crappy as it was before the high….this puts a harsh on it.

Liberals are drug addicts, always looking for the high that will cure it all.

BobMbx on September 7, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Clint Eastwood: “President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. Romney and Ryan would do a much better job running the country, and that’s what everybody needs to know. I may have irritated a lot of the lefties, but I was aiming for people in the middle. I had three points I wanted to make. That not everybody in Hollywood is on the left, that Obama has broken a lot of the promises he made when he took office, and that the people should feel free to get rid of any politician who’s not doing a good job. But I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it.”

http://www.pineconearchive.com/120907-1.html

VorDaj on September 7, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Thanks Mary Katherine for some sanity. The previous post was so doom and gloomy I almost thought I had witnessed an entirely different Convention…

sandee on September 7, 2012 at 4:53 PM

And it was one for the ages…

Forever, it will be known as “the one where the democrats booed God”

BobMbx on September 7, 2012 at 5:04 PM

The Clintons will vote for Romney.

They hate Obama’s innards.

Schadenfreude on September 7, 2012 at 5:04 PM

OhEssYouCowboys on September 7, 2012 at 4:57 PM

One of my all time favorites!!

+1000

HoustonRight on September 7, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Obama-Biden 2012: An Expressway To The Third World

VorDaj on September 7, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Expecting so little from the first half black president is the ultimate form of racism.

Schadenfreude on September 7, 2012 at 5:05 PM

OhEssYouCowboys on September 7, 2012 at 4:58 PM

OK.. I think I may have one of those man crush thingies

HoustonRight on September 7, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Fooled me once, shame on you.
Fooled me twice, shame on me.

albill on September 7, 2012 at 5:10 PM

The first high on a new drug is always the best. Then its just like any other. You know that life will still be just as crappy as it was before the high….this puts a harsh on it.

Liberals are drug addicts, always looking for the high that will cure it all.

BobMbx on September 7, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Good one.

bazil9 on September 7, 2012 at 5:11 PM

The most prominent nod to nostalgia was the presentation of President Clinton…

I was on an e-mail and had this to say:

as a stunningly regular person who gets impressioned by symbolism all I could think whenever I saw him wag one of his index fingers was “I. Did. Not. Have. Sexual. Relations. With. that woman…Miss Lewinsky” and then the dress. and the testimony. and the impeachment. and the admission of guilt. and the loss of his law license. and the $90,000 fine. and the $850,000 settlement to Paula Jones.

And he’s still the leader of the democratical party by a mile.

I heard Rush say today he was hearing that finger pointing reminded many people of that same thing.

DanMan on September 7, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Obama’s DNC 2012: Kneecapped by nostalgia

For a moment there, I thought the headline read, “Kneepad nostalgia.”

Must have been the photo of Clinton that triggered the mental image of Monica under his desk with kneepads on.

UltimateBob on September 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM

One of my all time favorites!!

+1000

HoustonRight on September 7, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Rush was my fav band, when I was in college – ’76 to ’80. I got to see them in ’77, on their A Farewell To Kings tour, along with UFO.

Simply, a fantastic concert.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 7, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Barry, 2012: Kneecapped by Reality, Math…

bayview on September 7, 2012 at 4:50 PM

And, Clinton. Clinton’s droning on and on was meant to poke fun at Obama. Bill’s gleeful accomplishments begged the question, why couldn’t you do it, Barry?

I’m not and never was mad at Sen. Obama,” Bill (I am not a racist) Clinton told the reporter. “You know he hit her hard a couple of times and they hit us a few times a week before she ever responded in kind. The only thing I ever got mad about was people in your line of work pretending that she somehow started the negative stuff. It’s a contact sport.”

Uh huh.

Fallon on September 7, 2012 at 5:17 PM

The Foo Fighters should have followed “My Hero” with “Wide Awake” in honor of all the disappointed Obamaites.

Gravity hurts, you made it so sweet, till I woke up on the concrete…Falling from Cloud 9, crashing from the high. I’m letting go tonight….

LASue on September 7, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Didn’t Dave Grohl b*tch about McCain using the song, saying that the song was supposed to be about someone “ordinary”? Guess it was just a political complaint after all. So much for high-minded art, eh?

The Mega Independent on September 7, 2012 at 5:25 PM

So are the Democrats trying to tell us that the last 4 years have all been a dream?

There’s no Yellow Brick Road?
Bobby Ewing is still alive?

TeresainFortWorth on September 7, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Bill and Hillary Clinton should be in prison for crimes against humanity
for what they did to their fellow citizens at Waco, TX, on April 19,
1993. The Waco Massacre and church burning (it was not a “compound,” it
was their church),was the most brutal, heinous violation of civil, human
and Constitutional rights in this nation’s history. Innocent men, women
and children were attacked with tanks, poison gas (CS gas turns to
cyanide when heated) and burned alive. Those who ran from the church
were machine-gunned as documented in the movie “Waco, The Rules of
Engagement.” If you doubt how bad this was consider that you never hear
the left stream media talk about it. They want it erased from history
but this memorial site will remain forever:
http://www.wizardsofaz.com/waco/waco2.html
And if that weren’t bad enough, Clinton’s thugs then stuck a machine gun
in the face of a 5 year old boy and sent him to the communist gulag
known as Cuba: http://www.therealcuba.com/elian_gonzalez.htm
Let’s hope Clinton isn’t teaching President Prompter too many of his old tricks!

devan95 on September 7, 2012 at 5:48 PM

But outside the convention, those realities intruded, unimpeded by any speech, and waking up from a dream is never pleasant.

Especially with a hangover.

RFA on September 7, 2012 at 6:03 PM

The crowd inside the hall played an ’08 crowd convincingly, with weeping and worship hands. They were part of the dream and they want to keep it alive and experience it again, just as they did then.

Seriously though, outside the euphoria in getting Obama elected, has anybody actually lived that dream? Is that stupid woman still paying for her gas and mortgage? Did that slobbering guy ever get a job? Things certainly are not better for the African-American community despite their hopes and dreams for what would happen under an Obama administration. The left got their holy grail- healthcare reform- but it is so toxic that Obama doesn’t count it among his accomplishments. The jobless were snubbed by Obama in his speech alltogher as if they do not exist. In short outside Obama cronies and friends who have been handed millions of taxpayer dollars, who has benefited from having this nation run by a rat-eared socialist and his band of like minded American-hating Godless criminals?

Happy Nomad on September 7, 2012 at 6:04 PM

MKH – Spot on with this post.

Going to be interesting to see how Romney/Ryan can react to the DNC and then come up with the appropriate messaging. The DNC seemed like a very “target rich petri dish” from which to choose messaging targets…… Going to be interesting……

bubbafromkc on September 7, 2012 at 6:12 PM

He crafted the dreamscape himself. He made big promises, he set high expectations, he embraced those promises and expectations, and ultimately he failed to fulfill them.

It’s all Bush’s fault!

GarandFan on September 7, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Clinton: “I was a great President — Obama, not so much.”

Obama: “Clinton was a great President — Me, not so much.”

Concerned_American on September 8, 2012 at 12:17 AM