Friday, September 7, 2012


By Charles Cullen

Andrea Mitchell and all the other dingbat talking-heads whining about Obama's speech clearly suffer from the same brain injury the main character in Memento suffers from. When I first watched the film I thought it was just a neat piece about a guy who can't remember new things for more than a few seconds (or minutes, depending on the time in the film), I didn't realize it was a documentary. We have to help these people.

First we have Andrea Mitchell's wrong-headed criticism that there wasn't enough cold, hard, substance in the President's speech. Seasoned reporters, heck, casual observers, know that every speaker at a convention has a relatively specific job to do. Whether it's firing up the base (Michelle Obama), appealing to undecided voters (Lincoln Chaffee) or attacking voter suppression laws (John Lewis), they didn't just amble on stage accidentally. They went there with a plan, and a speech geared to advance it.

It's so migraine-inducingly obvious that Bill Clinton, among other things, intended to be very policy-oriented and to give voters an idea of what Obama would do in a second term. You know, specifics.

In it's purest form, Clinton's speech was designed to specifically highlight the President's accomplishments and give voters an idea of what to expect if they re-elected him. Obama, Clinton intimated, would continue the long work of healing the United States after Bush/Romney economics nearly destroyed it. Clinton did this so that Obama wouldn't be weighed down by the necessity of a wonkish speech, and could accept his nomination properly.

As it happens there was plenty of substance to sift through in Obama's speech, unlike Romney's, and there was plenty of oratory. That was the other (and in a so sad it's funny kind of way) criticism leveled at Obama's acceptance. "It wasn't as good as his keynote speech" in 2004, whined many a moron. Guess what: when you are a keynote speaker, you get to deliver speeches like the one Obama is famous for. When you are a sitting President, you are expected to behave rather more Presidentially.

I honestly don't know how a large portion of the television news media dresses themselves in the morning if they don't realize what's going on here, or that their criticisms are contradictory.

This fury crystallized a notion that had been growing for me throughout my coverage of the campaign: Obama is the most put-upon President since World War II. Say what you will about Nixon, Johnson or Clinton, they've got nothing on President Obama. As he tries desperately to clean up a Republican-made disaster, his life has become like a baseball player who is expected to hit a home run every time he steps to the plate and is eviscerated if he does not. Know what, kids? Even the best hitters in the game will tell you that you can't hit 'em all out of the park. Do we criticize Ted Williams because every ball he hit didn't go 450 feet into the stands? No. But we do criticize Obama for not doing the political equivalent every time he opens his mouth to speak.

It's irresponsible, reckless, and, for lack of a better word, just plain stupid.

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