I didn’t watch or hear Obama’s speech yesterday, but I did read it at that link. All I have to say is, it will be a tragedy for the country, comparable to the failure to have elected Adlai Stevenson president or to having elected Reagan, if Obama isn’t elected, after that.
On second thought, that’s not all I have to say. The point is towards the end of the speech — do we want the campaign to be about serious problems, or about distractions? That’s at the heart of the problem with American democracy.
Of course it’s impossible to know what someone else’s motivations are (hard enough to know what mine are) but my impression is that most politicians have positions on issues because they need to figure out what to say to get elected, because their basic motivation is to get elected. That was possibly the most the case with Romney while he was in the running, but I think that applies to Hillary also. That is, “what can I say about X that will appeal to people and isn’t too far from what I believe?” I really think that Obama comes at it from the opposite direction, “What does the country need to do, and then how can I say it to convince people of it?” I think the latter approach is much more likely to lead to solutions.
Will the public care about the real questions, or prefer to continue to be distracted? Political commentators who ask, or respond to, questions like “What does the candidate have to do now to defuse this situation?” are part of the problem, and candidates who run their campaigns according to questions like that are another big part. The answer I’d like to hear, in general, is “what the candidate has to do is remind the public of what the real issues are.” In the end, it’s the public’s decision, and I don’t have much confidence in the outcome.