John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Obama’s Big Speech

Posted on August 28, 2008

Obama’s Big Speech


            As I rushed through Denver’s Airport, trying to find a bar with a television that would show the Senator Barack Obama’s speech before the Democratic National Convention, I found what I thought would be the perfect place.


            The bar had beer, it had food, and it had empty seats easily available.  But on its two television screens, it had only football.  No Obama, despite the fact that his speech was in a football stadium.  Rats!


            I hurried through security and found a bar with four television screens, two dedicated to football, two dedicated to Obama in a football stadium.  Candidly, most eyes were on the Obama speech, and he got a little cheer from the assorted drinkers who were waiting for the their flights.  Many of the cheerers were happy that he finished the speech before their flights took off.


            The speech didn’t fit the stadium.  He had too much of his stump speech in there.  I felt that he said the same words that his Vice President said the night before.


            The medium became the message as well.  The Chinese screens, or the shogi bathhouse screens, as my wife and our friends Meg Hauck and Gayle Osterberg called them, confounded me.  My mind strayed from whatever Obama was saying to wondering why he picked shogi bathhouse screens. 


            Barack Obama is no Jack Kennedy and whoever wrote this speech is no Ted Sorenson.  Even an avid Obama supporter, who was having a couple of drinks a couple of stools away from me, admitted that the speech was too long.


            Obama would have been better off not mentioning John McCain even once in the speech, but he didn’t do that.  This election is not about John McCain.  It is about Barack Obama.  He had to prove he was up to the task of being President. 


            Many Democrats will conclude that he met that test.  I, of course, will reach the opposite conclusion.  The question is what does middle America think?


            I doubt they will be persuaded by this speech.


            Obama’s promises were not balanced by any hard choices.  Most Americans are smart enough that you can’t get something for nothing.


            He said that just about every body will get a tax cut.  He said that he will spend $150 billion of clean energy.  He said he will spend untold billions of education, on health care, on this and on that.  He said that we can’t touch Social Security.  And he said that we can’t put all of these costs on our children. 


            And then he said that he would pay for it all by ending the Iraq war and cutting out waste fraud and abuse.


            The Iraq war might be over before this campaign is, and I got bad news for the freshman Senator.  There is not a couple of trillion dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in the budget. 


            His speech was long, and it was a fraud.


            In fact, Obama’s most powerful concept was the idea that Washington can’t change America, but America can change Washington.


            Well, that may be true, but it won’t fundamentally change direction with bigger government and higher taxes on the so-called wealthy.  Not gonna happen.


            Obama will get a media generated bounce from his convention, but I still think McCain’s the front-runner going into September.


Subscribe to the Feehery Theory Newsletter, exclusively on Substack.
Learn More