Political Animal


September 07, 2012 9:43 AM Table Set

By Ed Kilgore

I don’t have a great deal to add to the impressions I posted last night about Obama’s acceptance speech and the overall Democratic Convention. As a lot of people have noted this morning, Democrats didn’t do the classic incumbent’s convention full of unending praise for the status quo, for the two obvious reasons that (1) the status quo isn’t very positive, but also (2) Mitt Romney and the GOP better represents the economic status quo, and more importantly the status quo ante.

You can judge for yourself how well Obama and other Democrats did in making the president the patriotic embodiment of a country struggling through a plague of bad fortune and against legions of bad people to achieve the kind of enlightened and prosperous 21th century so many anticipated during Bill Clinton’s last days in office. Kevin Drum thought Obama kind of phoned it in. Steve Benen, by contrast, considered the speech appropriately “presidential,” strategically adept in presenting a stark “choice” between candidates, and thematically powerful in calling on Americans to exhibit a sense of “citizenship.”

The only thing I’m really confident about is that the “enthusiasm gap” we’ve been told about the entire cycle may have largely dissipated. The Democratic Convention did about as good a job as anyone could reasonably expect in highlighting both positive and negative reasons for Democrats turning out to vote. And the Democrats in the hall responded powerfully. The hatefulness they (or at least those living in battleground states) are about to see pouring from every television screen once the 504(c)(4) and Super-PAC ads let the pursestrings rip will likely reinforce that enthusiasm, regardless of their effect on the tiny band of swing voters they are aimed at.

So aside from the debates and the ever-exciting possibility of actual real-life events, the bottom line now for Team Obama may come down to the power of its allegedly vast and superior GOTV operation. After Charlotte it appears Democratic “base” voters are going to be “fired up and ready to go.” They need a skillful organization to give their enthusiasm its maximum electoral clout.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on September 07, 2012 9:59 AM:

    I get the feeling we Democrats are going to need a strong GOTV effort.

    We have to work at ours.

    The GOP can sit on it's ample haunches, and let their church's do their GOTGV - Get Out The God Voters.

    Btw - it would be nice to see the DOJ (I think) join the IRS in finding churches (left AND right - but mostly right) that proselytize for one party or candidate, and take away their tax exemptions.

    Let them spread the words of their God, and not be the propagandists, paid or not, spreading words for their politicians.

  • schtick on September 07, 2012 10:29 AM:

    I'm with you, gulag. If only to see less preachers running for pres. I'm tired of getting other people's religion shoved up my nose. Course, I think they should be taxed anyway.

  • boatboy_srq on September 07, 2012 11:23 AM:

    (1) [T]he status quo isnít very positive, but also (2) Mitt Romney and the GOP better represents the economic status quo, and more importantly the status quo ante.

    Romney and the GOP of 2012 don't represent the status quo ante. They represent the status quo ante on steroids. The status quo is far too ante for my peace of mind, and the GOTea in Congress seems compelled to simultaneously prevent the US escaping that and whinge incessantly that we're not getting away from the consequences fast enough. It's a tug-of-war, with the GOP pulling as hard as they can while complaining that the Dems aren't winning.

  • BroD on September 07, 2012 11:51 AM:

    It seems to me the deluge of money "Red" PACs are unleashing on "battleground" states will act as a not insignificant stimulus exactly were it will do the most good for our side.

  • 4jkb4ia on September 07, 2012 12:23 PM:

    I think that's right. I stayed too long paying a shiva call so I only caught the last 15 minutes, but I said to my husband that this speech was aimed at trying to remind people that there is something they can believe in in this president. It was a perfectly good speech and built in the concrete proposals on the things the Obama Admin has already been trying to do. It didn't spend too much time dwelling on things like housing that they have done indifferently well.

  • smartalek on September 07, 2012 2:18 PM:

    'Scuse me please, but can I get a bit of help here?
    Is that supposed to be pronounced "twenty-firth?"
    Or "twenty-oneth?"
    Or something else entirely?
    I'm so confused...

  • ajrichar on September 07, 2012 2:26 PM:

    On the enthusiasm gap, I and thousands of others waited outside four OFA field offices in Palm Beach County to get tickets for an Obama rally here on Sunday. I was in line for a little less than three hours; I saw only a few people leave because of the wait. People tend to think that Palm Beach County is blue, but it's become purple over the last decade or so. Looks pretty enthusiastic to me.