Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obama's Acceptance Speech Ends With A Fizzle

It was certainly historic. Obama can speak for 45 minutes and make himself understood (I actually wished it had been longer) and I'm glad someone I know and I watched. It was a nice change from the current occupant of the Oval Office.

But something was missing. And there were some noticeable problems that need fixing, ASAP:

*First, Obama uses "YOU" and "THEY" more readily than "WE" and "US". That's a problem. His separation from people, both visually from high podium, and linguistically in his speeches, indicates a certain distance that needs to be closed for him to make it all the way to the White House. Not only is the USA Barack Obama's country--we are his people. He has to be seen to feel that, and right now, he still looked a bit to me like an outsider, uncomfortable at some level with the ordinary people he needs. If I were his consultants, I'd get a lot more group activities for him--with those "ordinary folks" from North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana who spoke at the convention.

*Second, although the middle of the speech was the best part for me, when Obama took on McCain directly, the conclusion, where he seemed to try to channel Martin Luther King, even quoting scripture (Hebrews 10:23), didn't work quite so well for me. I was surprised he didn't mention Dr. King's name. He isn't King, he's Obama. The confusion of roles seemed to undercut the solid impression from earlier--maybe because Obama is a lawyer, not a minister. He seemed to be verging on the edge of Elmer Gantry-ism. At times, I wondered if the set was really intended to look like Joel O'Steen's TV evangelist's mega-church. At other times, I wondered if it had been based on the set of the West Wing. You don't want such confusion. Better to have it look like a Democratic National Convention. Less pretending, more realism.

*Finally, At the end of the show, an explosion of confetti left the set looking more like a t.p.'d fraternity house after a wild college beer bust (someone I know thought it looked worse, like Gone With The Wind's ruins of Tara after the burning of Atlanta--spot it at 8:12 on this YouTube clip). A bad omen, seeming to display a lack of control, tackiness, even dangerous disorder--did they even rehearse the ending? Everyone seemed surprised and confused wandering around, Joe Biden finally came out and some of his family. But it would have been nicer to have a big crowd join Obama--everybody getting into the act. I think that's what the Clinton's did. It creates a better feeling than the isolation. He may be more comfortable alone in the spotlight, but he needs to learn to share it, now that he's running for president of ALL the people. He's not at Harvard Law School or in the Daley machine anymore. Obama needs to draw outsiders to him--including the elderly and middle-aged. The youth vote can be pocketed, and his campaign must learn to MoveOn to the general population for the general election, IMHO.

He literally needs to get down off his pedestal. Time for a new act, like when Dylan went electric...