President Obama's DNC speech: Are we grading the president on a curve?


Let me open by admitting we can be tough on the President.

We’ve sometimes set the bar high enough where great work is seemingly only good. What may be a stroke of political genius seems only mildly impressive. And what may be a powerful work of oratory seems rather ordinary. This is the biggest of the sometimes unfair comparisons, since for more than four years now, we’ve been spoiled by the silver-tongue of a man with uncanny speaking abilities and skills of persuasion.

And maybe that’s the cause for the letdown. Maybe that’s why when I asked around immediately after Thursday night’s acceptance speech in Charlotte I heard these grades:

D, C minus and the ole’ average C. As a matter of fact, one tapped-in political junkie told me my assessment of B- was way too generous.

I do admit, I was grading on a curve.

It was hard *not* to be a tad underwhelmed. After all, President Clinton was so riveting (and even for Clinton haters, it must still have been highly entertaining…remember that ad-libbed line about a ‘boy from Arkansas’ and math?) that the President had a yeoman’s work cut out for him. Heck, even his wife may have overshadowed Mr. Obama. Her speech, too, was described by people all across this city as a home run—as she reminisced of the rusted out car they’d drive in on the way to dates as a young couple.

Dare I say, even Joe Biden with his consistently over-tapped and sometimes incorrect use of the word ‘literal’ or Jennifer Granholm’s red faced rant about the auto industry, which at times bordered on the verge of turning in to another regretful Howard Dean implosion.

Each of these seemed more captivating.

There were moments of levity, emotion and genuine care in the President’s speech and he *did* issue some specific benefits of his plan:

-halving our oil imports by 2020

-halving the growth of college tuition increases over the next ten years

-protecting Medicare from any plans for a voucher program

However, ultimately, I just don’t believe the President who had cornered the market on ‘hope’ presented a strong enough case that his plan would indeed pull us out of this financial mess. And frankly, that’s what everyone wanted. The speech, while I still believe was closer to a B than a D, was unmoving barring moments like this:

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But for a more appropriate sports analogy, befitting of our NASCAR-esque location, there were just too many laps spent in the middle of the pack and a nagging feeling that the race car just wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

If the harshest of critics are correct and the speech was as a letdown…then the President may want to write the NFL a quick thank you card because as President Clinton was driving the analogous pace car Wednesday night with his moving speech, the Cowboys kicked off the 2012 football season against the Giants. That audience couldn’t get caught up in Clinton’s impassioned performance and then calmed down by the President’s.