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As anyone could tell you, this speech carried tremendous expectations for George Bush, and not just because of its national exposure. For one thing, the external expectations of surviving the convention put the onus on the Bush adminstration to ensure security and to eliminate the possibility of having visited another tragedy on New York City. Also, since Bush has a reputation as both a dunderhead and an atrocious public speaker, he needed a flawless delivery and a tone-perfect speech.
I think he succeeded admirably on all counts.
Not that he's free from all criticism, of course. Most noticeable was the running time of the speech. We had been led to believe that it would be about 45 minutes, about the same run time as his appearance two weeks ago in Saint Paul. Instead, he spoke for almost an hour and a half, and at a couple of points during the speech, the long run time showed. Especially when speaking about the economy, Bush seemed to drop into a laundry-list style that Cheney used on Wednesday in his acceptance speech.
Fortunately, Bush mostly came across as warm, friendly, and determined, and his speech with a couple of exceptions felt as though it was a personal communication. Bush has tremendous personal charm that allows him to rise above his rhetorical problems, especially with prepared speeches, and tonight he displayed those skills admirably. He never got flustered, even when unexpected things happened during the speeches, which I'll address in a later post. He maintained his composure and projected confidence without arrogance, humor without unseriousness, and warmth without the sticky-gooey "I feel your pain" nonsense that we've heard before. Feeling it isn't good enough; you have to do something about it.
In the main, his speech covered the same basic themes as his recent stump speeches, but he punched it up with some more specifics on economics, health care, and other social issues. He also announced his new agenda on georgewbush.com (while signs out in the audience said agendaforamerica.com). And of course Bush continued to hammer on security issues, declaring that he will continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend America.
If it wasn't a home run, and I don't think I'd go that far, it's at least a bases-clearing double off the fence. For those who watched, Bush reminded people again that he is constantly underestimated. Hell, he showed up without horns on his head, which makes liars out of half of his opposition these days.Sphere It View blog reactions
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