[Photo by the LAT]
I bought rabbit ears for my cable-less television just so I could watch Michelle’s speech last night, but I fell asleep at 9:30. Before I watched it this morning on teh Youtubes, I checked out what the blogging masses had to say.
Baseball metaphors: Andrew Sullivan thought it was a “home run,” while Ezra Klein says she “knocked it out of the park.” Emily Bazelon thought Michelle did a good job of painting the Obamas as a (black) American family, but she failed to stand up for Hillary. Dana Stevens disagreed, as Michelle’s speech wasn’t aimed at feminists, but the people who find her scary. Stevens:
She’s Jackie Kennedy with a working-class back story! What else do you want from the woman? Emily’s remark about the speech’s race subtext can’t help but ring sadly true: If you don’t like Michelle Obama after this speech, do you like any flavor of ice cream besides vanilla?
Michelle stan Afrobella was enamoured of the fly jade-green dress Michelle wore, and of course thought she “nailed it.” Jill Tubman at JJP thought Obama seemed nervous, but did a great job (she also posts the text of the speech). Ding posts at Bitch Ph.D:
I was saying to a friend today that people of color are the last idealists in this country. Fundamentally, we believe – despite the slights and the snubs and the daily presence of racism – that the Great American Story of fairness, hard work and reward for that hard work still has the possibility to exist. Oh, we can be disappointed; daily, we are disappointed. But we still believe in it and we believe in the application of fairness. This is our creed: If the world works one way for some people, we want the world to work the same way for the rest of us.
What could be more American than that?
And that’s what her speech has done – it has subtly re-established Black Americans as citizens of this country, the Mark Penns of this country be damned.
And since you asked, here’s what I thought. Her speech was a perfect example of an Obama doing what the Obamas do so well: they don’t ignore the issues other people have with them, they address them. Last night, Michelle did the same thing Barack did in his speech on race. She answered every question, every criticism of her, with “This is who I am. This is where I come from.” Some of it was hokey, some of it was really good, and when she teared up a little bit toward the end, you could see just how much she believed in her husband.
Will it make a difference? I’m not too sure. The people who love Michelle will continue to do so. The people who hate Michelle (check out “journalist” Michelle Malkin’s blog for a laugh if you’re easygoing, but avoid it if you’re an Obama supporter who’s prone to high blood pressure) aren’t going to change their opinions of her. This one was for the undecided voters, the people who don’t start following the election until the convention, the people who still don’t know what this Obama guy is all about. I think if there’s anyone left in this country who doesn’t have an opinion about Michelle, her speech may have helped. But most people have an opinion on her, and it’s usually pretty strong one way or the other (they like and dislike her more than Cindy McCain). I’ve heard some anecdotal suggestions that her speech has pushed some people off the fence, but it’s likely those are left-leaning independents who were headed toward Obama anyway.
Overall, I think it was a good speech, well-delivered with passion and poise, but I think it’s more effective as a rallying cry for the Dems than anything else.