[Ed. – Having an alternate-universe moment here. Meanwhile: “One never got the sense, from him, of Clinton as a friend”? Now, why might that be? Think hard, dear.]
By most political speech standards, Obama was a 9 out of 10. But Obama is a better speaker than most. Unlike most politicians, he’s an actual writer — the author of a best-selling memoir! — and he understands certain basics about speechifying most politicians don’t: Keep it short. Keep it on topic. Don’t be digressive.
And yet, for some reason, Obama delivered a Bill Clinton-esque performance, meandering around his own record, taking random digs at Donald Trump, and hitting applause lines (YES WE CAN) almost at random.
It was especially confusing in light of his wife’s out-of-the-park performance on Monday night, which stuck to his more classic formula of short, well-structured speeches that tell coherent stories. Michelle Obama told an easy-to-remember tale, of sacrifice and reward, of watching her little girls cash in the hard work by women and people of color to make America truly a land of opportunity.
It’s hard to put a thesis statement into Barack Obama’s speech. He roamed around, hat-tipping Black Lives Matter and Clinton’s hard work, but one never got the sense, from him, of Clinton as a friend. Michelle Obama sold Clinton that way, portraying her as an older woman she had grown close to and come to admire. Bill Clinton had done it, portraying his wife as she frankly, as a human, deserves to be seen: As a kind-hearted woman who loves her child and can set human male hearts a-flutter.