Obama at the DNC: That’s it? It would have been better had he not spoken. Seriously. Like an aging rock star, President Obama, in a downsized venue, with downsized proposal and spewing downsized rhetoric only reminded us how far he has fallen from the heady days of 2008. The man, the agenda and the aura are faint imitations of their 2008 incarnations.
- Jennifer Rubin
I was stunned. This is a man who gave one of the great speeches of our time in 2004. And he gave one of the emptiest speeches I’ve ever heard on a national stage… There was nothing in it…
- Charles Krauthammer
The president’s aides understood they could never re-create the power of the past but hoped to convince voters that more has been done than commonly recognized. The “promises kept” theme was intended to address the same swing voters Mr. Romney sought last week to win over. Mr. Obama directly acknowledged the disappointments.... The president appeared to become emotional toward the end of his speech as he spoke of wounded veterans who somehow managed to walk and run and bike on prosthetic legs. He said he did not know if they would vote for him, but added that they nonetheless gave him hope that difficulties could be overcome.
- The New York Times
the president often felt flat, rote, and unconvincing — almost as though he wasn’t quite convinced by his own arguments and promises, and felt a little awkward selling them to us.... I think that while this convention helped the Democrats overall, the president himself delivered one of the weakest major performances of his career.
- Ross Douthat, The New York Times
Rubin, Krauthammer, and Douthat could be dismissed as Republicans simply looking to criticize the rival presidential candidate were it not for the New York Times article saying essentially the same things between the lines. The striking thing about the NYT's summary of Obama's speech is the complete lack of superlatives that characterizes their normal coverage of Obama. If they could have found something, anything, to inflate and praise in his speech, they would have done so. But they didn't, because Obama gave them nothing.
Obama is disengaged and he is too much of a narcissist to throw himself into a campaign that he doesn't even want to win. All he wants at this point is to avoid an embarrassing landslide in the presidential vote; one potentially informative metric might be to compare how many Democratic candidates for other offices appear on stage with him during the last three months compared to past presidential campaigns. I'll bet Obama doesn't appear with half as many candidates this fall as he did in 2008 or George W. Bush did in 2004.