We will know in a few days whether Obama got a bounce out of his convention. Gallup shows his best numbers in some time, with his approval rating over 50%. I find it surprising that, apart from the usual cast of cheerleaders, many Obama-friendly venues were underwhelmed. Here is Dana Milbank:
The Democratic National Convention was to have opened here Monday with a festival at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where, convention officials said, some 100,000 people would participate in a Labor Day festival that demonstrated the party's openness and inclusion.
After a couple of nights at the Time Warner Cable Arena, the convention was to have closed with President Obama's acceptance speech at the Bank of America Stadium, where convention officials were planning to squeeze nearly 6,000 seats onto the field to expand the stadium's capacity beyond its usual 74,000.
But the speedway event was canceled — ostensibly because of logistical problems but more likely because convention fundraising was running low. Then the Democrats canceled the stadium event in favor of the smaller arena — ostensibly because of "severe thunderstorm" concerns but more likely because they couldn't be sure enough people would come to fill the stadium.
In fact, the forecast hadn't called for severe weather, and conditions were fine Thursday night. The change caused thousands to be turned away, and the crush of crowds at the arena led authorities at one point to lock down the building for a second straight night – leaving some delegates on the street while lobbyists enjoyed the proceedings inside.
And then there is the sticky business of financing the convention. From Bloomberg:
Democrats ended their convention in Charlotte $5 million short of their budget even after being forced to draw down a $10 million line of credit from Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), according to a Democratic Party fundraiser.
The President's big speech gave a lot of Democrats a downsized feeling. Timothy Noah, writing in The New Republic, detected the odor of Cartesian malaise (that's Jimmy, not René). The Washington Post was disappointed by Mr. Obama's "hazy agenda".
He vowed, "I will never turn Medicare into a voucher," but he gave his audience no indication that his solution — controlling health care costs — might involve sacrifice on the part of seniors. He promised "responsible steps to strengthen" Social Security, which he has neglected throughout his first term. As to which steps those might be, not a word. "My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet," Mr. Obama said. What plan would that be?...
Mr. Obama sketched a tempting array of expensive benefits and changes… But he did not offer a whiff of explanation of how those programs can be paid for and the mounting national debt brought under control…
[T]he attractiveness of [his] vision made all the more frustrating Mr. Obama's refusal to fill in any substance, his once again promising hard truths that he did not deliver. "They want your vote, but they don't want you to know their plan," he said of the Republicans. If Mr. Obama has a plan, Americans who listened Thursday don't know how he would achieve it.
Let's summarize. The Obama Campaign planned on a big venue for Mr. Obama's speech and then cancelled it because they doubted they could fill the stadium. They lied about the reason for cancelling it. Moving to the smaller venue left thousands outside. They went $15 million into the hole. Mr. Obama's speech may not have depressed most Democrats as much as it did Mr. Noah, but the reaction seems to pale in comparison to that which resulted from Clinton's speech (Bill, that is; Hilary wasn't there). The speech was full of vision and talk about the importance of hard truths but it didn't actually include any hard truths and if Obama has any plans, he is keeping them a secret.
It's not fair to say, as the Economist has said, that Obama has given us no idea what he will do with another four years. He has told us exactly what he will do: the same as his first four years. He will acknowledge the need for fiscal responsibility and will appoint commissions and jobs councils. He will ignore the findings of the one and neglect to meet with the other. If you like that, you should vote for Mr. Obama. That is what you will get.