After the party

Michelle and Bill were a great help,but now the hard slog begins for Obama

Written by The Indian Express | Published: September 8, 2012 1:01:01 am

The Democratic and Republican National Conventions are less news events,more marketing campaigns. Yet,it is unusual for a candidate,and a White House incumbent at that,to be overshadowed,overwhelmingly,by a predecessor. What George W. Bush didn’t do for Mitt Romney,Bill Clinton did for Barack Obama. It’s debatable if Bush Jr would have been an asset. But Clinton had both his own credentials and Obama’s tangible record — not an untested hopeful’s vaguely uttered agenda — to his advantage. He used the former brilliantly to defend the latter,delivering a point-by-point rebuttal of Republican arguments and spelling out the case for Obama’s re-election — because of the economy,not despite it. Coming from one of America’s most successful presidents with the economy,this was the defence Democrats were dreaming of.

The president’s own speech,perhaps in response to four-year-long GOP swipes at his rhetorical flourish,was professional and somewhat pedestrian,missing the passion and failing to peak at what,in 2008,would have been opportune moments. He avoided risks and came rather late to the specifics of Romney’s vulnerabilities,as in foreign policy,skirting,in the process,his own healthcare headache. But the DNC’s “You did it” acknowledgment of the “ordinary American” was precision-made for the RNC’s “We built it” message earlier.

Obama’s circumstances have changed. As president,he couldn’t ask the electorate to ride the audacious hope of 2008. That’s why,as advertisements for Obama,this DNC would be remembered for Michelle Obama’s warm and intelligently sculpted speech and Joe Biden’s uncharacteristically fiery rousing of the audience,to say nothing of Clinton. What lies ahead is a hard campaign,minus the party in Tampa or Charlotte. Then there will be the economy to fix again.

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