The Blog

A Defensive and Evasive Speech

12:39 AM, Aug 29, 2008 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Barack Obama's speech was a historic event. From where I was sitting, the stadium shook. But Obama was clearly playing defense. People have said he isn't specific enough, so he filled the speech with specifics. He found it necessary to respond to McCain's jokey (and effective) "celebrity" ad. He spent paragraphs proclaiming his patriotism - though McCain has never questioned it. He responded to John McCain's convention theme, "putting country first," by saying, "We all put our country first." Really? Everyone? To those who say the election is a referendum on his ability to lead in a dangerous world, Obama said, "This election has never been about me. It's been about you." No it hasn't. It really is all about him.

Yuval Levin highlights a few of Obama's evasions, issues he did not mention in the text. There is also this section:

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.
The -- the reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.
I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.
You know, passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.

In a gesture to compromise, Obama skirts taking a stand on critical divides. We all know where he stands on those issues, of course. He's a liberal. But he seeks to mask his liberalism in a gauze of sentiment and straw men. It worked at Invesco Field. It may no longer work by November 4.