Most on the right were disappointed while many on the left were elated. Ezra Klein:
This has been the most aggressive speech of the week. And the most substantive I've seen Obama give. It's not a thematic address: It's not about hope or values or the universality of the American experience of the illusory obstacles that divide us. It's concrete. It's about the failure of the Republican Party, and the promises of the Democratic Party.
I thought Obama's speech was better than Biden's though not as good as either of the Clintons' speeches. It was a decent text, and a reasonably good performance, though Obama has done a whole lot better on both fronts in the past. Given his considerable talent, he could have done much better. But it wasn't bad. It was a more traditional liberal Democratic speech than he normally gives, and that certainly must have turned off Republicans (it turned off this one, let me tell you) and might have left some independents cold, but being perceived as a generic Democrat is not such a bad thing in this particular election year, alas. What it didn't do, though, was answer the basic question the McCain campaign has worked to plant in voters' minds: what makes this guy think he's qualified and ready to be president?
Barack Obama mentions John McCain more than 20 times in his prepared remarks. Compare this to George H. W. Bush’s 1988 acceptance speech in Houston; he did not mention his opponent Michael Dukakis by name even once. George W. Bush mentioned Al Gore only once at the 2000 convention in Philadelphia.
One of the biggest problems the Dems have is that the world is always seen through a glass darkly. Obama’s greatest acheivement in his 2004 speech was to make the country feel good about itself. But this speech is all about the pain. And it’s very short on specifics on how he’ll cure it.
Negative. Shrill. Lacking in vision. This is not the Obama that inspires. This speech is flopping, and I can’t see independents going for this. What was the Obama team thinking?
Obama’s speech was predictable, it was implausible, and it was strikingly, inexplicably, angry.
I've said myself that Obama's campaign needs to be more aggressive. They need to hold the initiative, and attack, attack, attack. But attacking doesn't mean bludgeoning -- at least not necessarily. It means making the case and defining the argument. Not running a campaign by reacting -- well or not -- to your opponent's attacks. As Paul Begala said in our interview with him a couple days ago, it's not about rapid response but rapid attack. Personally I might prefer an even more aggressive tack from Obama's surrogates. But I think here Obama himself had the balance just right.
That's the speech I imagined when Obama announced his candidacy over a year and a half ago. It was the kind of speech that can make even the most cynical among us let their guard down and believe, even if just for a moment, that politics can be so much more than what we're used to, what we've come to expect. If there were any Democrats out there who were suffering from buyer's remorse, I think that probably cured it.
The striking shift over time, not surprisingly, is that energy has replaced education as a top-tier issue. Education and schools were mentioned 27 times in 1996 and 20 times in 2000, but only eight times in 2004 and 10 times tonight. At the same time, the words "energy," "oil," and "gas" were not mentioned at all in the 1990s and only once in 2000, but they were used six times in 2004 and nine times tonight.
...you know what makes people cynical about government? When politicians promise things like ending dependence on foreign oil within 10 years, and don't deliver because they can't deliver. This is all about packaging. Obama's an attractive package. But again, where are the new ideas? Where are the "new politics for a new time"? Call me cynical, but this is bosh... Given what he's capable of, and what he needed to do tonight, I think this speech was a slight disappointment. A B-minus. He said earlier today that it would be "workmanlike," I believe. Well, he was right. Hillary's speech was better, I'm astonished to say.
I was disappointed by the speech. Your mileage may vary, of course. But it was basically standard Democratic Convention Boilerplate: nothing we haven't seen before from Obama, or for that matter, every Democratic presidential candidate in living memory. Maybe the problem is that Obama has given too many good speeches. All Kerry or Bush had to do was show up on the podium and not vomit on their shoes, and we were impressed...