The Speech You Missed That Captures the Ruthless Efficiency of the DNC

What it looks like when even the bean counter is a brand builder



The Republicans have caught a fair amount of flak for devoting 12 precious minutes of prime-time television to a riveting (in the moment) but ultimately distracting conversation between Clint Eastwood and a chair.


So far, the Democrats, by contrast, have demonstrated a message control so ruthless it's almost scary. When, hours before prime time, while the delegates are still just milling around and finding their seats, you use the potentially merely dutiful, dry-as-dust report of your party treasurer to deliver a speech like the one above, it is hard to argue that you are missing a moment to, as they say these days, reinforce your brand.

Note the radical pivot at the 2:10 mark, which, if you've never heard of Andrew Tobias, seems to come from nowhere. The "surprises" of this speech are all under very tight control, and all in devoted service to the party's presidential candidate -- something that cannot be said even of some of the highest-profile speeches in Tampa. Tobias's speech is meant to fire up the delegates, not to persuade a national audience -- but its first half nevertheless makes a very strong pocketbook appeal to the middle class (and to the 1 percent, for that matter), and, as its second half extols transformative social progress, it does so while being careful to assert that this progress has come "at no cost to anyone." 

By the way, when it comes to the overall potency of this three-and-a-half-minute performance, you might have expected what was coming if you knew Tobias had written for Clay Felker at New York and Esquire.
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James Bennet is the editor in chief and a co-president of The Atlantic. Prior to joining the magazine in 2006, he was the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. More

"I wanted a profound and extreme talent who led quietly, was generous to others, and comported himself with collegial respect," remarked Atlantic Media chairman David Bradley when announcing his selection of James Bennet as the magazine's fourteenth editor in chief in early 2006. "On all scores, but surely these, I have conviction on James' appointment." Before joining the Atlantic staff, Bennet was the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times. During his three years in Israel, his coverage of the Middle East conflict was widely acclaimed for its balance and sensitivity. His much-lauded long-form writing for The New York Times Magazine was responsible for catching the eye of David Bradley during his year-long search for a new editor. Upon accepting the position, Bennet told a Times reporter that he saw the Atlantic job as "a chance to help, encourage and preserve the practice of serious, long-form journalism." Bennet is a graduate of Yale University who began his journalism career at The Washington Monthly. Prior to his work in Jerusalem, he served as the Times' White House correspondent and was preparing to join its Beijing bureau when he was offered the Atlantic editorship.

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