August 25th, 2008
11:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Gergen: Michelle Obama rescued the night

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Michelle Obama rescued the night, Gergen says. "]The Democrats should be enormously grateful to Michelle Obama: after a very slow start to the convention, punctuated by a moving tribute to Teddy Kennedy and his own rousing speech, the first evening was in danger of becoming an entirely lost opportunity. But Michelle rescued it.

She was extraordinary, talking in ways that were both conversational - always welcome in people's living room - but also inspiring. She spoke in ways that reached out to people of all backgrounds. Democrats should be both proud and grateful.

It is impossible to know whether how many people will accept her message. To a significant degree, that is of course because she represents such a departure from the traditional order of things in America. She represents a new future - of women who are not only devoted mothers and wives but also highly educated, caring people ... and, yes, African-Americans, Hispanics, and people of many diferent backgrounds. One day the country will be there. Is it prepared to be there now? I'm frankly not sure. We are living through one of the most important chapters in the American story

soundoff (483 Responses)
  1. Patriot

    The mainstream media is not about properly informing America.

    The mainstream media has become a GOSSIP BUSINESS for the most part!

    The danger of the gossip media is that Americans are more easily mislead into a bush war in Iraq, and another bush war in the Caucus.

    With the Internet and the many alternative sources of information relevant to America lives, the American people will in time wisely cease to feel dependent on mainstream media for useful, relevant and effective information.

    August 26, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  2. Mike

    That is why I watched the convention on PBS. THE ONLY FAIR AND BALANCED NEWS!

    August 26, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  3. tim

    She spoke of virtually nothing about the future of the Country.
    She did not speak of Obama's record in having a job or actually
    never having a job, she did not speak of health care or the Hospital
    that she scamed for $200,000 a year after Obama got his
    Senate seat.
    She did not speak of her attendance in the crazy church that preaches
    absolute nonsense and stupidity.
    She did not speak of Rezko and Obama leaving the brothers freezing
    with no heat when he worked with the slum lord.
    She did not speak of the phony mortgage and lot deal.
    I am fed up with CNN flaking for Obama. CNN used to be my
    favorite news show but it's just become fluff and crap,

    August 26, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  4. ginger

    Well, I accept her message because it's for real.

    Michelle O is not some angry black woman. She is highly education, intelligent, accomplished,and well-rounded beautiful woman. She comes from a good home with loving parents. She was raised to believe in herself, family, and community.


    Let the hater's keep on hatin.

    Obama/Biden 08

    August 26, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  5. Brenda Lynette

    While Mr. Gergen makes an extremely good point and I don't disagree, I am most disappointed with the coverage by Larry King/CNN tonight. I can't believe that this is the best "Republican Response" panel you could come up with!!! Larry was combative with Mr. Reagan, clearly exposing the "unbiased" coverage you profess you report–give me a break!! Larry is an obvious Dem and did not report the facts and present an unbiased perspective. I am not making these comments because I am a contraie..but it was a ridiculous panel and you should strive for higher journalism standards. If Mr. King is the "go to guy" after the respective conventions-you need to get a new host. Let's revisit Anderson Cooper handling the "tough" questions.

    August 26, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  6. Michael

    CNN is trying to be way too negative. Who cares what CNN thinks.

    August 26, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  7. PoliticoMike

    You guys are just looking for things aren't you. If not a fight, shoot them down with something else. Give it a rest already, we get your agenda, we are not as stupid as your polls suggest.

    August 26, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  8. Soldier for OBAMA


    CNN is not the place to watch the conventions. C-SPAN, NPR is the place to watch uninterrupted coveraged. I turned off CNN and watch C-SPAN because they cut out the entire program and just a bunch of talking heads and paid lobbyist creating Fear and this fake Hillary Obama Drama. It is and always was the media. Hillary was forced to stay in because of the media. It quited down for the Month of June and July, then the media start to give John McCain unfettered coverage and all negative coverage to O. Then the media start this O-Clinton Drama again. I have a feeling that Americans be dam and cooperate MSM and JonnyBush are covering up this election. The FCC needs to disband the media comglomerate and create more NPR/C-SPAN type news outlet. BOY CUT CNN, I know I will! They are a distructive force and are making a mokery of our news media. OBAMA will win and the talking heads will say the polls said something else. No, the polls are been manipulated right in the offices of CNN, FOX NEWs and all the other medium. It is rigged, OBAMA is waay ahead of McCain, but when you poll people in the same states and the same house of course you create what you want. NOT THIS TIME OBIDEN, and C-SPAN is the way too go! This is OBAMA's convention as Hillary said and O-BIDEN will win in November. O is not a muslim and the 17% who believe he is are racist, looking for a cop out to not support a black guy!

    August 26, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  9. R.I.F.

    I was just about to write everything that Dave said. There was a lot of red meat, but CNN decided that they wanted America to hear Wolf, AC, Borger, Gergen, and Carville do all of the talking. It was really unfair because the dems did talk about issues.

    August 26, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  10. janet ottomeyer

    I was extremely disappointed with CNN coverage. I was watching convention coverage because I wanted to hear it, not people talking about their interpretation of what they wouldn't let me hear. I quickly went to CSpan also. I will just stay there for the rest of the convention and get commentaries after the event – not instead of the event.

    August 26, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  11. Ugo

    How Obama or McCain can beat the other

    I know exactly how Obama can beat McCain, and how McCain can beat Obama. In each case, decisively.
    Send this message to both team, and any of the team that get in touch with me, shall benefit my from my GOD GIVEN TALENT.
    A small sample:
    To win an election, a candidate has to apply the basic principle of human behavior.
    1. Each point that is made must be broken down to the basic understanding of an average voter. 2. Use a language that the ordinary person can understand.
    3. Cite experiences and examples that the average voter can easily relate to without depending on information from the media or a third party in order to reach a decision. This strategy if properly designed and effectively applied would always normally totally neutralize impression(s) created by a partial, total false, or even true message/information.
    The team that gets in touch with me shall benefit, for I shall take each talking point and dissect it and reconcile it with the point in the previous paragraph.
    During the last election, I sent out a similar message, which was not responded to. Since President Bush won, I shall just state what I thought to have been the most effective way that Senator Kerry could have won that election. Any good Analyst knows that the main reason why Kerry lost was due to his shocking failure to address the famous Flip-Flop allegation.
    I predicted that if Senator Kerry failed to address that allegation, he would loose the election, and he did. I was so sure of that that I sent a message through the office of Congressman Elijah Cummings, having met and had unrelated discussions with the Congressman, who I believe is a decent man. I must say that I do not believe that Congressman Cummings or Senator Kerry received the said message. I believe that the message may not have been delivered because the lady that received it underestimated my knowledge for reasons that may range from the fact that it was free advice, stereotypes of human origin, presumed social status to over confidence of an expected Kerry victory.
    But the fact is that Senator Kerry failed to:
    1. Denial the Flip-Flop allegation effectively, and insisting that each time that he changed his mind he had the interest of the American citizen in mind. Arguing that there is nothing wrong with a COMMITTED Leader putting the interest of the American citizen above his ego, Special interest influence, and expectation of his colleges. He should have argued that the issue should be that he changed his mind for the ultimate benefit of the citizens, and not how many times he changed his mind. He should have emphasized the importance of a Leader to change his/her mind, once he/she realizes that the intended directed would not be in the real interest of the citizens.
    2. Most importantly, allow voters to subject the changing of his mind to examples that they can personally relate to, thereby to a large degree shut off influence from the media or third parties. A good example that he could have used is a loving father/mother that wants to ensure safety location for his son changing his/her minds a number of times about sending him to location that he/she thought would benefit him based on conflicting information (initial information, rumor, and evidential facts that finally leads to another change of mind. With this example, he could have argued that it did not matter how many times the father/mother changed the mind, the focus should be that the changes were done because he/she loves the son and wanted to ensure that he safe. How would this parent have felt had he/she refused to change the mind, and thereby help the son avoid dead, just to avoid being called a Flip-Flop.
    The reality is that if for instance, you are repeatedly called a theft, and you repeated inadequately respond or fail to respond to the accusation, people would most likely interpret your failure to respond (in part or whole) as an acknowledgment that you may be in some way be guilty of the accusation. This was a problem that Senator John Kerry had.

    The most effective way to get to or convince voters is to user example or talking-point that they can independently relate to.

    A successful Strategist must have a very good knowledge of Human Behavior; there are no two ways about this fact. After all, Election are designed to win peoples' vote, but you must understand and communicate effectively to the people you wish to win over. Till this day it still baffles me that the very highly paid strategists failed to address or effectively address the famous Flip-Flop allegation.

    I am more baffled that despite the obvious state of the economy, the apparent embrace of the Change message, the very successful foreign trips that Senator Obama had, Obama is not leading McCain in the polls with double digits.


    410 984-5202
    August 25, 2008.

    August 26, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  12. Jude C

    After hearing her story and a large part of her husband's story tonight, can anyone still claim that they are "elitist"?

    August 26, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  13. judy

    Michelle Obama is one of very few "first ladies" with initial depth. A few first ladies acquired it along the way, but Michelle has it now!

    I can't imagine Laura or Cindy giving a speech with such grace and substance.

    This woman is truly a "loving" mother. The way she gave those kids that "big mama bear hug" when they came on the stage was very "telling".

    Michelle is a Christian woman. I know one when I hear one and see one.

    God Bless and keep her, Barak and their lovely girls.

    August 26, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  14. erica

    all about the ratings, would have loved to seen Pelosi

    August 26, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |

    I also believe that the Democratic Party is trying to bring all people together as one People, One Nation and one destiny.Long live America,long live Barack and Democractic Party and God Bless America.

    August 26, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  16. Wayne

    David Gergen, I have had enormous respect for your opinions in the past but, in my opinion, you missed the boat on this one. I know you and the CNN Analyticals wanted something to spend all night "analyzing" and we all know that the more negative things are, the more you can spend time "analyzing" how the other side is going to react to it. I, live Dave, saw plenty of substance in the the speeches that I saw on CSPAN that weren't given by Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama. Leach's speech was quite interesting to me as was Nancy Pelosi's.

    August 26, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  17. Scott

    I have to agree with the first comment; Luckily I logged into CNN's webstream so I could hear the speeches we were missingon cable TV. I was appalled at CNN's television coverage! At several points I was literally listening to a discussion by CNN commentator's on how wasted and uneventful the evening had been while listening to moving speeches that firmly held my attention. At one point Carville was droaning on about how the Democrats had failed to attack the republicans at the exact moment that untelevised speakers were attacking Republicans.

    I don't want to accuse you of making the news, but the inneptitude of your commentators reporting "facts" while the live (but untelevised) speakers were contradicting them at the exact same moment boggles the mind. If this continues I will simply go elsewhere for TV news (although thanks for the excellent web presence!).

    CNN should be ashamed.

    August 26, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  18. Patricia

    Michelle Obama rocked!!! She was herself! We will be gifted Americans to have her grace our country as the First Lady.

    August 26, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  19. Bobbi, Pasadena

    One would expect Michelle Obama to stress her love of her country considering the many times she has spoken and written otherwise. It's lovely to get swept up in the emotion of the moment, but many of us realize she HAD to emphasize her patriotism and devotion to the nation in order for her husband to have even a chance of ascending to the highest office in the world. During the primaries, she played the race card mercilessly, particularly in southern states and it went unreported. Many of us consider her a loose cannon and have deep reservations about her and her husband.

    August 26, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  20. god bless america!!!!

    love u michelle obama

    August 26, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  21. Wendy

    I was also wondering why CNN failed to show any of Pelosi's remarks. seemed odd.

    August 26, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  22. Ryan

    Agreed Dave, I actually switched off of CNN's coverage tonight because of the incessant negativity of Gergen, Carville etc... It was ridiculous, they weren't even giving them a chance, they cut off Leech to go back to the "commentary" almost before he'd even started.

    August 26, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  23. Vivacious Dee

    It was a great speech. Michelle did a wonderful job introducing her family to america.

    August 26, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  24. John from LA

    MO-boring-she and BO are pimping the girls-oops-can one say that without getting bots fired up???? Send these Chicago politicians packing back to the South side of Chicago-with their friends the Daley's-the cesspool of American Politics!!! The Daleys coined the phrase in 1960-"Vote early and vote often."

    Will MSNBC call this pimping?-or is that slander just for the Clintons? Come on bots attack!!!

    August 26, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  25. DeGee

    I've read alot of criticism here about CNN's coverage. Doesn't sound like it went too well. Especially the Carville comments.

    Luckily I watched MSNBC. I thought their coverage was terrific. My advice.....change the channel. It's also being covered very well on C-SPAN.

    August 26, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
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