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The pundits are having a field day debating President Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech.
But on Thursday night, the commentators were mixed on the effectiveness of Obama’s message and the way he delivered it.
“For now, he did exactly what he and his advisers wanted to do, which was set the stage for the division on domestic policy and national security between him and Romney,” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, adding that the speech was “clearly an effort to respond to all of the criticism” from the Republicans at their convention last week.
Added Blitzer: “The folks in this building and his supporters around the country were thrilled with what he had to say.”
CNN’s Anderson Cooper also weighed in.
“Certainly, this wasn’t a speech that was full of rhetoric like four years ago,” he said. “It was comparable to a State of the Union address in a sense that it was like a checklist.”
Former Democratic political strategist James Carville, who also appeared on CNN, praised the president but said it wasn’t the highlight of the DNC.
“The Democrats have had a very, very good convention,” he said. “[Obama’s] was probably not the best speech at the convention, but I was struck by the muscular tone and attitude of the president and vice president tonight. This was not a mommy party tonight; this was a daddy party. They really wanted to get that across. Obama gave a very good speech, but some of the speeches here have been the best I’ve ever heard anyway.”
CNN’s John King said it wasn’t Obama’s “greatest speech” but said that might have been intentional.
“It was more workmanlike speech. He was smart to acknowledge his mistakes, using the word ‘failings,'” he said, adding that it wasn’t “terribly specific.”
“Some might say, ‘ I want more,'” King added. “However, [Mitt] Romney wasn’t that specific either. I think he had a smart speech. Overall, Democrats have to leave this town happy. It’s still a close election, but they had a very good night. It was a homerun speech.”
His network colleague Piers Morgan compared Obama’s speech to Clinton’s the night before.
“It was nowhere near as rousing, emotional, passionate as Clinton’s last night, but very few speeches in history can match that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Fox News’ Chris Wallace was critical of the president’s remarks, saying they were too vague about his plans for the next four years.
“He gave no specific plans about how he was going to grow the economy, about how he was going to put 23 million American back to work, about how he would deal with the entitlement and a lot of the things he talked about were [taken] from what he said four years ago, like cutting oil exports,” Wallace said. “He never said how the next four years would be different than the last four have been.”
Fox News commentator Carl Cameron agreed.
“The president didn’t hit it out of the park as much as some might have expected,” he said, adding: “I was stunned. This is a man who gave one of the best speeches in 2008, and [on Thursday night] he gave one of the emptiest speeches I’ve ever heard on a national stage.”
Conservative columnist/author Jonah Goldberg, also appearing on Fox News, said: “People talk about Obama fatigue. I’m at the point of Obama narcolepsy. … He felt so fresh and new in 2008; this felt like several State of the Unions we’ve heard before. There were so many throwaway lines. … There was a lot of the same promises he didn’t fulfill in 2008. This felt so familiar and uninspiring. Unless you’re capable of being inspired by this guy, I don’t think it did what he needed it to do.”
Syndicated columnist/commentator Charles Krauthammer also was not impressed.
“There was nothing to it,” he told Fox News. “This is a man that believes government can and should do a lot. But nothing in it tells how he will go from today to tomorrow. … At least Romney had a five-point plan. What we heard from Obama was vision. He pulled numbers out of a hat. … But he didn’t say how we would get from A to B. It’s a vision. I have a vision of America where there is no disease and everybody has a private airplane.
“I’m simply amazed. This is like an A student turning in a paper that is clearly a C. …. It had no content in it. Otherwise, I loved it really,” he quipped.
Former Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, also on Fox News, spoke about the night overall.
“I thought it was a great night for Democrats,” he said. “I thought Joe Biden’s speech was better than the president’s. … I don’t believe there is a lot of indecision out there. This is about firing up the base. They did that tonight.”
Over at MSNBC, Rachel Maddow said she was “moved” but Obama’s speech.
“I find it moving, and I am happy to be moved,” she said. “It was sort of a cynicism eraser. That if you buy into the cynicism that change isn’t possible, then change will not happen. If you buy the idea that your voice won’t make a difference, then other voices will fill the void.”
Her colleague Lawrence O’Donnell said the president has set high standards for himself to top and probably didn’t manage to do that Thursday night.
“How do you top President Obama?” he said. “He has really built up expectations.”
Several pundits expressed their views on Twitter. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz praised the president’s focus on his supporters, tweeting: “New Obama phrase: “You did that!” #msnbc2012 #loveit.”
But conservative commentator Michelle Malkin found Obama’s humility disingenuous: “Biggest laugh line of the night: ‘This isn’t about me.’ Amid O posters, O pins, O idolatry & “I love you Barack” catcalls.”
Conservative CNN contributor Erick Erickson focused on what Obama left out of his speech, tweeting: Obama’s two major initiatives in his first term: the stimulus and Obamacare. Didn’t mention either. #admissionagainstinterest.”
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough opined: “Game. Set. Match. Democrats crush Republicans in convention wars,” though he added: “The President said nothing in his speech tonight. But he said it so much better than Mitt Romney when he said nothing in Tampa.”
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