early and often

Michelle Obama Not Scary in the Least Last Night

Photo: Getty Images

That satirical caricature of Michelle Obama on the cover of The New Yorker — Afro, ammo, machine gun, camo pants — was what the First Lady hopeful was up against last night when she delivered a speech about her family, herself, and her vision of America during the first night of the convention (the spectacle of which Peter Keating runs down here). And by most accounts, she knocked it out of the park — especially in the wake of some of the emotionless or downright boring speeches that preceded her (Nancy Pelosi, for one, was almost unwatchable). And damn it, those Obama children are cute.

• Andrew Sullivan calls it “[o]ne of the best, most moving, intimate, rousing, humble, and beautiful speeches I’ve heard from a convention platform.” [Atlantic]

• Rich Lowry thinks the speech was “quite effective,” partly because it emphasized the working class and elevated “work as a supreme value.” [Corner/National Review]

• Jonathan Chait says she seemed “on the verge of tears the whole time, yet still pretty genuine.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Ezra Klein writes it was a “beautifully delivered, and smartly crafted, speech,” and Michelle came off “as wholesome and, frankly, familiar.” [American Prospect]

• Jason Zengerle “got the sense there was so much more she could have said.” Couldn’t she have done “more than just say nice things about her husband”? [Plank/New Republic]

• David Corn contends the “Hallmark” nature of the night, and of Michelle’s speech, was especially heavy “due to their race, his unusual pedigree, and her comment about having not been proud of America (and the trashing she has received on right-wing talk radio).” There’s “something demeaning about the whole exercise,” though, considering that Cindy McCain will not have to prove she loves her country at the Republican National Convention. [MojoBlog/Mother Jones]

• Clive Crook says Michelle “came over as strong and assured, yet approachable and not at all threatening or angry — those last two were the notes, of course, that the campaign was most anxious to avoid.” But there’s also something “dispiriting” about seeing kids, and perhaps spouses, “used as political props.” [Atlantic]

• Byron York claims Michelle was a completely different person than he’s seen earlier — painting the world as optimistic and hopeful instead of “dark and ugly.” The point, of course, “was to rehabilitate herself, to take the edge of anger and resentment from her public pronouncements and embrace a wholesome, country-loving, American-Dream-living image.” [National Review]

• Ben Smith thinks Michelle gave “the impression of being a little realer than the seasoned pols,” and “it’s hard to imagine her having done better.” [Politico]

• Craig Crawford wonders if most people changed channels before they had a chance to see Michelle’s “masterful speech.” [CQ Politics]

• John Dickerson would like to vote for Michelle’s dad, or if not for him, then for Michelle herself. She came in pretty much unknown or even disliked, but “[t]hose who watched now know she is a mother and a wife. She also showed how alive her husband’s message is in her own heart” and was even “more passionate about her husband’s message than he sometimes is.” Which could actually be a criticism of the speech: there wasn’t much in there about the actual candidate, Barack Obama. [Slate]

• Jonah Goldberg writes Michelle “did exactly what she needed to do” and gave “a nice speech, well delivered and not so over-the-top with her love of country refrains that it felt forced.” Whether it actually helps is unclear. [Corner/National Review]

• Steve Bennen thinks Michelle “flourished” and “couldn’t have been any better,” going beyond the original goal of “humanizing her husband.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Chuck Todd and friends say Michelle’s speech “was as pitch perfect as she can be in presenting her story, but if there’s one critique of her speech is that it was more about her than Barack, but maybe that was the point.” [First Read/MSNBC]

• Linda Chavez says Michelle “came across as likeable, approachable, and someone whose experience was not very different from millions of middle class Americans,” and certainly “helped herself and her husband.” [Contentions/Commentary]

Related: Barack Obama Weak Link in DNC TV Coverage

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Michelle Obama Not Scary in the Least Last Night