Obama and McCain both take big risks

| Give 'em credit — they've got nerve! I wouldn't like to play poker against either Barack Obama or John McCain.

Obama

Barack Obama acceptance speech
Barack Obama acceptance speech

By moving his acceptance speech to a football stadium with a capacity of 80,000, Barack Obama gambled that he could fill the seats of an epic venue (not such a big challenge for him, really) and still connect with the millions who would watch the spectacle from the intimacy of their living room (38,000,000 according to Nielson, more than the opening ceremony of the Beijin Olympics).

Then, as prime time neared they staged a parade of "ordinary" people to testify as to why they were supporting Obama. It's one thing for professionals to face an audience of millions, it's quite another for Barney Smith to do so. When I realized what they were going to do, I held my breath. But, they were such obviously amateur and genuine speakers that it worked, brilliantly.

As it turned out, Barney got in the best one-liner of the night: "We need a president who will put Barney Smith ahead of Smith Barney." Touché!

By the time Barack took the microphone, the crowd had been worked to fever pitch, but a hush fell over the stadium as he began to speak. He hit all the right notes, from honoring Hillary's accomplishment to subtle allusions to the serendipitous synchrony of his acceptance and the anniversary of The Preacher's I Have A Dream speech.

Far from reinforcing the "celebrity" stereotype McCain has tried to tag Obama with, the event was a fitting conclusion to the convention and observance of a stunning accomplishment, laden with symbolism.

Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson

McCain

Sarah Palin and John McCain
Sarah Palin and John McCain

This morning John McCain announced his choice of a running mate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. Sarah Who? Palin's political pedigree consists of two years as Governor and a stint as mayor of Wasilla, a town of about 6,700 people.

On the plus side, she is a strong opponent of abortion (right-wing base: check!); has opposed her own party on pork-barrel spending (fiscal conservatives: check!); favors drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) (energy crisis: check!); and is a woman and mother of five (disaffected Hillaryites and housewives of America: check!).

The choice is vintage McCain, sure to shake up the campaign. But it also complicates McCain's campaign considerably.

The choice of Palin is a risky bet. They say McCain loves to gamble. I can believe it. It's going to be very interesting!

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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