Democrats were having a very good convention. Michelle Obama made America fall in love, Bill Clinton made voters believe. On the final night Thursday, Senator John Kerry, of all people, delivered a stirring call to arms ("Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off than he was four years ago!"), and the oft-ridiculed Vice President Joe Biden went on only slightly too long, with a soft-spoken seriousness that rose above the political.
And then President Obama got up and just sort of didn't do anything special.
The president, that legendary orator, vaunted crowd-mover, well-known sweeper-away of audiences in general and political conventions in particular, gave a warmed-over rehash of his stump speech, right down to the exit music, Bruce Springsteen's "We Take Care of Our Own," that generally plays him out at campaign events.
The theme -- stop me if you've heard this one -- was hope. Obama began and ended by invoking it, giving the address the neat circularity of a high-schooler's five-paragraph essay. Eight years after his 2004 convention debut, he said, "that hope has been tested -- by the cost of war, by one of the worst economic crises in history, and by political gridlock that's left us wondering whether it's still possible to tackle the challenges of our time."
Was he going for lofty, getting the old hope-and-change band back together again to reawaken supporters' dormant affection? But no, the speech quickly detoured into some pedestrian tropes: the ritual bemoaning of the smallness of the campaign, followed by the Laying Out of the Choice Between Visions and the Gentle Mocking of Republican Insufficiency. ("Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!") Then ensued a laundry list of familiar proposals. There were wind and solar and clean coal; there were gains in math and reading scores. There were roads and bridges, tax reform, and fixing the deficit. There were even improvements to human rights in Burma and Libya and South Sudan.
For most of this, the bulk of the delegates on the floor were sitting down.THE THRILL IS GONE. AND WITH IT... THE DELUSIONS.
EYES HAVE OPENED.
REAL HOPE HAS RETURNED.
THE THRILL IS GONE: