[Guest post by DRJ]
I watched most of Barack Obama’s speech at the VFW Convention. I’ve become accustomed to his careful parsing of language when he speaks to groups that are not enthusiastic about his message so I won’t belabor that here. Suffice it to say Obama focused on presenting himself as a patriotic American who supports the military but not its recent mission in Iraq.
What was particularly noticeable was how cold and arguably angry he was compared to other speeches I’ve seen him give. Here’s how the New York Times’ blog The Caucus charitably described Obama’s delivery and his reception by the veterans:
“Mr. Obama appeared before the V.F.W. a day after his presumed Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, criticized him for advocating a policy of defeat in Iraq and suggested Mr. Obama put personal ambition before the interests of the country.
Mr. Obama struck back with tough language, although his delivery was largely without passion. He received a polite but not enthusiastic response from the estimated 3,000 veterans assembled in a cavernous convention hall here. Many seats were empty because a number of veterans left Orlando ahead of the advancing tropical storm Fay.”
If “largely without passion” means scowling throughout the speech, that’s a good description. Obama also delivered his speech quickly, probably because he was rarely interrupted by applause, and his demeanor reminded me of the cold attitude we’ve occasionally seen in his wife Michelle. He was also ‘on the attack’ to a degree I don’t recall seeing before. Here’s the The Caucus’ description:
“[Obama] paid the obligatory homage to Mr. McCain’s military service and sacrifice as a Vietnam prisoner of war, but then raked him for impugning his motives and patriotism.”
“Obligatory homage” to “service and sacrifice.” Got it.
Nevertheless, I doubt we will see much more of this Obama for a while since his Convention speech and appearances in the near future will be before enthusiastic crowds. It will be easy for Obama to stay upbeat in those environments. After all, Americans want their candidates to have hope and good will. I suspect Obama will either remember that from now on or be reminded of it by his campaign staff.