President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention is a proof that one campaigns with poetry but governs in prose.
The speech talked about policy and took some shots at the Republican ticket, but it did not soar. It did not exactly disappoint Obama’s followers in Charlotte, but its emphasis on the president’s policy agenda over the past four years was prosaic by comparison with his potential as a speaker.
Nor did the president leave much time for more details about what he hopes to achieve in a second term.
It thus was a speech that defined the Obama presidency for what it is against as much as what it is for. No to the GOP plan, which has been endorsed by some Democrats, to change Medicare into something of a private-insurance system. No to tax cuts for the best-off households, but not a specific plan to get enough revenue to balance the budget.
And another “no” to Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s bellicose language about Russia, China, Iran — well, almost everybody. We share Obama’s concerns that this election-year rhetoric isn’t helpful to Americas chances of leading in a world of dramatic changes, where we need to work with Russia and China even as we tussle with them.
On a more parochial note, what did the president’s prose have to say to our Louisiana concerns?
Obama’s emphasis on world trade is good for our state, home to the great outlets of America’s heartland. We also are heartened by his emphasis on domestic oil and gas production, which is a big part of Louisiana’s economy but also a vital element of greater national prosperity.
So if his speech was more prose than poetry, some parts of it deserve a bit of applause.