Denver – Amidst the fireworks and the confetti, Senator Barack Obama, the new Democratic presidential nominee, looked confident as he walked off stage. The speech he gave last night was not typical for him – soaring rhetoric was not the focus and it was heavier than usual on policy – but the crowd was roaring.
And judging from the responses from some of our Patchwork Nation communities the night was a hit.
In the end, Obama chose not to give a big thematic speech, but rather a speech with a lot pieces.
There was some ode to the middle class, a bit of biography, a good slice of agenda, and some shots at McCain. It threw out lines and ideas that were clearly aimed at the party faithful – education, corporate responsibility, health care for all. But it was also a disarming speech, one that directly hit on some of the areas McCain has been trumpeting – cutting programs, eliminating bureaucracy, supporting nuclear power.
And if indeed the speech was more “workman like” – the phrase that Obama’s team had pounded into the heads of the press over the last few days – it may have been because the campaign believed the “soaring” part of the evening would be handle by the visual.
On TV and in person, it was. The images of thousands of American flags and signs set off by the constant twinkling flash of cameras and set to the sound of a roaring crowd made a powerful backdrop. And in stadium-rock fashion Sheryl Crow and Stevie Wonder warmed up the crowd or more than 80,000.
For the Obama campaign, it wasn’t all about the TV moments though. There were all sorts of ways for them to gather information about the supporters at Invesco Field.
They invited the crowd to text message the campaign with their reasons for supporting Obama. They asked he assembled to text message to make stars on a map on the stadium's big screen light up and grow. And anyone buying a button or hat or t-shirt from the “Official Obama Store” had to fill out a contribution form that gathered data like street and email addresses and phone numbers.
Can the uber-organized Obama camp find ways to further their organization and gather more donations? Yes, they can!
Outside of the stadium though and in the living rooms our Patchwork Nation communities the speech seems to have been seen as a success overall.
Despite the attacks of Senator John McCain to discredit Obama as a mere “celebrity,” none of the people from our communities, even Obama’s critics, were taken aback by the stadium setting – or even mentioned it.
“Seeing Obama's speech tonight, I was reminded that a national leader can have the ability to inspire people, to motivate them to do their best,” wrote James Rickman, a Patchwork Nation blogger in Los Alamos, New Mexico (our “Monied Burbs” community). “Obama may get criticized for being a "personality," but what's wrong with that? It's about time this nation had a "personality" at the helm to help us get back on track.”
In Nixa, Missouri, (our “Evangelical Epicenters” community), people who gathered to watch the speech responded to its policy aspects. “I think that it was a wise choice for Obama to talk about policy, rather than just the soaring rhetoric of the past.
It went over well among Christian County Democrats,” said John Schmalzbauer, one of our Nixa bloggers.
Michael O’Brien, a recent graduate from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (our “Campus and Careers” community) wrote in an email that he thought the speech was “a little long” and thought it “glossed over” Iraq. Overall, though, he wrote, “the guy can clearly speak.”
“Obama did a lot to emphasize humility, which was incredibly smart,” O’Brien wrote. “Two great lines on this front: "The promise is the only reason I am standing here tonight;" "This election has never been about me. It's about you."
Down in Clermont, Florida, however, (the community that represents “Emptying Nests” locales) Ann Dupee, one of our Patchwork Nation bloggers there, was worried about the costs of Obama’s proposals. “I am surprised that Barrack praised his grandparents who knew what hard work was [but] did not push that theme, rather [it was] everything for everyone except the fat cats,” she wrote.
What this means when viewed through all our Patchwork Nation communities, remains to be seen, of course. And instant snapshots are just that, quick captures of a moment.
Over time those thoughts and opinions can change. That’s something we’ll be watching in the coming days and weeks.
But despite the lack of a big thematic discussion Thursday, Obama’s focus on policy will likely help him with voters who told us they didn’t know what exactly Obama wanted to do or who exactly he was. And in a larger sense, the last four days in Denver probably helped introduce the Illinois senator in the places he needed it.