Friday, July 13, 2012

The Two Speeches to the NAACP Convention

I listened with interest to the two speeches at the NAACP Convention.   While I thought the coverage of Romney's was a bit off (explained below), both speakers accomplished their objective.  

Let's start with Biden.   Biden is prone to malaprops and this one was remarkably free of them.  He only mispronounced one word.  He gave a good partisan speech (albeit with some distortions of record) to a liberal group.   Biden has a long history with the organization and he clearly was speaking to friends.   In the last election, the normal role of Vice President as attack dog, was muted because the GOP candidate and the media did a lot of the attacks themselves.  This time it is clear he will be the attack dog in chief.   I believe that a lot of the Obama campaign will be negative because besides Osama and Obamacare (which is still pretty unpopular) there is not much to run on.   Obama's economic record has been dismal.   So the BS that surrogates like the DNC Chair have handed out (with the willing assistance of some members of the media) like the "felony" claim will be the major focus of the campaign.   What I especially liked about Biden's speech was its genuine sound.   Many politicians, including the President, adopt a colloquial sound (dropping gs is one example) when they speak to an African American audience but Biden did not.  

Romney had a slightly different task.   The chances that he will win even a strong plurality of the convention attendees is zero.   So in one sense he was speaking not to the convention attendees, most of who were respectful, but to a larger audience.  And his speech, in my opinion, conveyed several positive things.   First, he showed up.  More importantly he gave a substantive speech.  While the NAACP is not what it once was, most Americans recognize that it is an important group, presidential candidates have an obligation to present their views to a variety of audiences.   Romney came and gave a speech that was respectful in tone.  It did not pander.   In spite of the news coverage, I think most Americans will respect that.   At the same time, in at least one instance, he showed a willingness to present not just his canned speech but the depth of his thought.   When he was booed for suggesting the repeal of Obamacare, he went off text and argued (I believe correctly) that the effects of this new program will depress employment prospects.    Perhaps the most important audience to the speech was the independents, who will hold the balance in this election.  The substance of the speech can be easily parsed into substantive sound bites that hit themes that most polling suggests are concerns for independents.  

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