In what was initially billed as a major economic speech, President Obama took to the podium in Cleveland this afternoon and gave a highly political speech that invoked the language of his presidential campaign at every opportunity.
From the very start, Obama recalled a late campaign stop he made in Cleveland in the fall of 2008 and said that election was about the failed economic policies of Republicans. He then moved on to attacking House Minority Leader John Boehner — essentially a stand-in for Bush. Yet this is an odd choice politically given that a new poll shows most Americans don’t even know who Boehner is, let alone have an opinion.
Even rhetorically, Obama recycled from his campaign — talking about overcoming cynicism and framing a choice between hope and fear.
In 2008, Bush was in power and his policies were highly unpopular, so Obama had a receptive audience. This time around, however, Democrats have total control of Washington, and have pursued policies overwhelmingly opposed by the American people, and those policies have failed to solve the problems Obama was elected to fix. So what seemed fresh in 2008, just two years later, has become a stale routine that is unlikely to resonate with voters.
It comes as no surprise that the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
With less than an hour before President Obama’s scheduled speech, 75 seats remained empty in the recreation center at Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus.
So organizers went around campus and recruited more students to fill the seats.
From what I could tell watching on television, the reaction of the crowd seemed rather tepid.