For our weekend political readers:
OBAMA DOWNSIZES THE DREAM
Politico’s Glenn Thrush covers the President’s Thursday night speech, an address he says will be summed up by “downsized expectations.”
Obama’s speech was a reality check for Americans, says Thrush, and he circles around to a number Democratic and Republican sources for comment on the Thursday night prime-time delivery.
Many Democrats, from Nancy Pelosi to James Carville, had urged Obama to rise above the negativity of his street fight with Romney and articulate an affirmative rationale for reelection rooted in a roster of audacious policy proposals. He didn’t. Instead, he offered a hybrid of gritted-teeth optimism, hammer-blow attacks on Romney’s foreign policy inexperience and relatively modest policy goals — including a vow to create 1 million new manufacturing jobs.
Though Obama didn’t talk about 2008 during the speech, his opponents did.
“The last time Barack Obama spoke before the Democratic National Convention, he told us of hope and change that we could believe in. What a difference four years makes,” said South Carolina’s Republican Gov. Nikki Haley after the speech.
The Politico article also explores the theory of whether or not Democrats will or should expect to get a bounce in the polls from what was generally perceived as a unifying and positive convention.
Read more here.
BILL CLINTON PLAYING ‘REFEREE’
The Washington Post’s Plum Line reporter Greg Sargent offers his assessment of Bill Clinton’s role at the Democratic National Convention and the next 60 days of the campaign.
Here’s the key to understanding the barn burner of a speech Bill Clinton just delivered. Senior Dems believe Clinton has taken on a unique role in American politics: They think he is seen by genuine undecided and swing voters as a kind of “referee” figure — someone they can trust to tell them what to think about politics and the economy. These voters, Dems believe, think he understands better than any other major figure exactly the kind of economy they want.
Clinton played that role with great gusto tonight, delivering a strong pitch for a second Obama term, combined with a sharp, point by point response to virtually every major GOP argument against him.
Sargent makes 3 key points that he said will shape Clinton’s role going forward and how he may play with voters. Read more at this link.
Also, Time’s Mark Hallperin lists his 8 “Smart Things Bill Clinton Did,” which you can read here.
FIRST LADY GETS A GOOD RECEPTION AND OFFERS ‘FRESH FEEDBACK’
First Lady Michelle Obama’s Tuesday night speech was hailed by Democrats and many pundits for striking the right tone for the Democrats’ convention.
She energized delegates and reminded voters why the Obama’s are personally a likable couple. A lot of it stems from their parenting skills. Michelle Obama explains her concerns for her daughters being raised in the White House and her role as the President’s chief critic in this ABC News interview.
“One of the things I don’t like to do is read or hear his speech beforehand, because I like to hear it fresh,” the First Lady said. “I always like to give him a fresh critique like, ‘That really moved me,’ or, ‘This part, I wasn’t clear on it.’ So I try to give him really fresh and honest feedback.”
Watch and read the full interview at this link.
NOONAN: THE DEMOCRATS’ SOFT EXTREMISM
Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and opinion columnist for the Wall Street Journal, offers her perspective of the Democratic National Convention from her admittedly partisan lens.
Earlier in the week, she was quick to compliment the Democrats for imagery and good performances (particularly Day One). By week’s end, her compliments were harder to come by for Dems. Still, she managed to offer a few.
As for Joe Biden, I love him and will hear nothing against him. He’s like Democrats the way they used to be, and by that I do not mean idiotic, I mean normal—manipulative only to a normal degree, roughly aware of the facts of normal life, alert to and even respecting of such normal things as religious faith. I wish he did not insist on referring to his wife as “Dr. Jill Biden.” I’m sure she has many doctorates, but so do half the unemployed in Manhattan.
John Kerry was on fire. It was the best speech of his career. He drew blood on foreign policy: “Talk about being before it before you were against it!” Obama will take that message, on Afghanistan, into debate.
Noonan offers less flattering assessments on Obama, Clinton, and other speakers. Read her take at this link.