For Obama speech analysis, CBS This Morning on Friday brought on New Yorker editor David Remnick (who also worked for ten years as an "objective" reporter at The Washington Post). Remnick said the speech was not "number one in his hit parade," he disdained the idea of expecting it to be like the NBA slam-dunk contest.
Remnick insisted on trashing the Republicans, and said that overall, the Democrats accomplished that mission: " the convention highlighted and exposed what the Republican party has become, which is a radical conservative party that demographically and ideologically is increasingly out of touch." He also praised John Kerry's speech as "astonishingly good on foreign policy and on the vacuousness of what Republican orthodoxy has become." CBS anchor Charlie Rose just played along:
ROSE: What did you think?
DAVID REMNICK: As a speech, I thought it was not number one in his hit parade. But by now we're connoisseurs we're picky. Not as good as 2004, not as great as after the Iowa caucuses and so on. I thought it did the job. I thought it was solid. I thought overall overall the convention highlighted and exposed what the Republican party has become, which is a radical conservative party that demographically and ideologically is increasingly out of touch. I think they have a big, big problem as a result.
ROSE: Doesn't the country expect the Democrats to be more specific in terms of how they see the future?
REMNICK: Well, I think it's very rare at a convention that you -- roll out a big policy initiative that is not known before. What you're trying to do is activate the base. You're trying to have all your surrogates make the big attacks and arguments on ideological terms and political terms. Then you have your guy --
ROSE: These are difficult times David, as you know.
REMNICK: Unbelievably so. I think it was very important --
ROSE: Help us understand how we're going to get out of this.
REMNICK: I thought it was important that Obama showed him not above the fray and somehow out of touch with the really hard economic realities that are going on in the country. But I think overall, if you're assessing conventions, which was more successful. I think to me, I may be expressing my politics and so what?
NORAH O'DONNELL: Not at all. Not at all. [ Laughter ]
Then it took a comical turn. Remnick boasted there was "no undisciplined moment" or mistakes among the Democrats.....until they reminded him of the God and Jerusalem platform gaffes. Oh, "that was abysmal," he suddenly recalled:
REMNICK: But it was -- there was no Clint Eastwood moment. There was no lax moment. No undisciplined moment and there were some surprisingly inspiring moments too. I thought John Kerry was astonishingly good on foreign policy and on the vacuousness of what Republican orthodoxy has become. John Lewis, who may be the greatest American alive, was great. There was nothing that was a failure. There was no down moment, I thought, in this convention.
KING: There were no mistakes.
REMNICK: Except for the floor fight over --
KING: The party platform.
REMNICK: Over Jerusalem and God and so on. That was abysmal.
Whoops. Remnick wanted to play down any grand and glorious expectations about Obama's rhetoric, and mocked the "coherence" of Republican ardor for tax cuts:
KING: In his speech last night, I was looking at some of his statistics. He used the word promise seven times in his speech compared to 2008 where he used promise 32 times. Do you read anything to that, David?
REMNICK: Not a lot.
REMNICK: Not a lot. I think that -- look, we've become experts in Barack Obamology in terms of his speeches. It's been going on now since 2004. I think all of us when we were watching the speech last night were somehow expecting that -- like I was saying to you before, it's like watching the NBA All Star Dunk Contest. The first four dunks are exciting. Then after a while how many 360 dunks? We know he can deliver a speech. Bill Clinton, we no longer see as often and he was spectacular. But you know, he has his flaws too. We're just now more forgiving of them.
O'DONNELL: We played that clip where the president said you elected me to tell you the truth. Is that really what people elected him for or they elected him to change something?
REMNICK: The argument is very simple. The bumper sticker argument for the election is GM is still alive and Osama Bin Laden is dead. I think that was reflected in the convention a great deal. The notion that somehow anyone, Superman, Batman, much less Barack Obama, was going to come in to this situation, a near catastrophic depression and solve everything and that we'd have an unemployment rate of 4% or 5% and living as if it were 1996 was a fantasy. Always a fantasy.
ROSE: Do you think things will be significantly different?
REMNICK: I don't see the answer on the Republican side. Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts for the wealthy. The coherence of the Republican ideology is nowhere to be found.
ROSE: Do you think the president, if he is re-elected, will be able to make a difference and deal with the Republicans in a way that gets more results than he did in the first four years?
REMNICK: This is the essential problem, governing more than an election. If the Republicans continue to dig in their heels, if the notion is that the most important thing, these singular priority is to defeat, embarrass and stifle a Democratic president, then unfortunately, the answer is no. It's going to be very, very difficult.
Remnick has been a superfan of Obama for a while now. On November 7, 2008, the Friday after Obama's election, he appared on the Charlie Rose show on PBS to rescribe his euphoria, somehow comparing the departure of Bush-Cheney to tanks leaving Moscow:
I have to say that I haven't had an experience like Tuesday night in Grant Park, where I was, since August 21 or so, 1991. It's an experience in euphoria, seeing the tanks leave Moscow, and, in essence, leave the possibility -- leave behind the possibility of a free Russia. That was an experience in euphoria, eventually deeply disappointed by facts to come.
The experience of standing in Grant Park was yet again this enormous sense of promise. Where it will lead, I don't know. But I have to say, it was a certain kind of euphoria, too. It was this very polite, sweet feeling in Grant Park.