John Kerry last night gave a pretty good speech – but he raced through it as if to get it behind him and relieve the pressure of the “expectations.”
Hell, who knows if that’s a correct interpretation. We had quite a few last night. On public TV, New York Times columnist David Brooks said it was “almost a Republican speech,” but then agreed with Mark Shields that it sounded party neutral and was Kerry’s “speech of his life,” as in best of his life, although he could have been referring to his six-plus minute recounting of his life.
Jeff Greenberg pointed out that only two and half sentences were about how to fight the war in Iraq differently.
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said it “almost matched Bill Clinton’s.”
Even Pat Buchanan, who seems to increasingly find ways of jabbing Republicans, was “moved by that speech” and that Kerry “did more than I thought he could.”
On MSNBC we know that Andrea Mitchell said the “rhetoric was wonderful,” but Joe Scarborough thought it was rushed. What the rest of the Hardball crew thought was impossible to decipher because they kept shouting over one another. Couldn’t happen to a better guy than CHRIS MATTHEWS. (You make me wanna shout. Throw my head back and shout. Throw my hands up and shout. Kick my heels up and shout. Come on now.)
But the best analysis of the speech was by Lawrence O’Donnell, former staffer to the late Sen. Pat Moynihan and writer of West Wing episodes. On Charlie Rose, O’Donnell said the speech was not written for the conventioneers or the people at home last night watching on TV. The speech was targeted, O’Donnell said, to the 8 percent of the electorate who are undecided in the swing states. They wouldn’t have watched last night’s speech because they wouldn’t sit through 50 minutes of a political speech. Rather it was written – and delivered — for the sound bites that could be extracted for tomorrow’s Today Show and Good Morning America, where many more people will see it.
Tom Shales, who panned Edwards’s speech the night before, seems to agree.
His speech was well-written and did more than perfunctorily cover such issues as national security, health care and education, but Kerry stepped on some of his best lines by racing furiously to the next remark. It was his own version of a TV game show from the ’50s called “Beat the Clock.”
Many of his catchier statements will look better in sound bites than they did in the context of the speech because they will be trimmed into tight, neat little packages and viewers won’t hear Kerry zooming ahead to the next topic: “The future doesn’t belong to fear, it belongs to freedom!” And, “It’s time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families!” And so on.
Shales also refers to, but I swear cleans up, the night’s technical snafu. Somebody inadvertently opened the mic of the TV producer-director of the convention for the Democrats, Don Mischer, right after Kerry’s speech. Mischer was not happy with the rate of balloons falling. “Go balloons. More confetti,” he yelled. “Let’s move it.” And then clearly exasperated that many balloons were resting snuggly in their nests in the ceilings, he screamed, “What the fuck are you guys doing up there?”
Oh, I guess wishing they were dead – or at least had the night off.