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. Chi4Obama

    I am a firm Obama supporter.
    However, I think that one this campaign's biggest mistakes, has been allowing the GOP to frame Michelle as Anti-American throughout this campaign process.

    Mainstream America finally got insight into "the Real" Michelle Obama tonight. She is a smart, and articulate woman who was born and raised on the southside of Chicago. She is also the ideal person to serve as our next "first lady"; and will help to keep Barack grounded.

    August 26, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  2. Nayanamana Samarasinghe

    Michelle is an extraordinary women. She really mean of what "American Dream" is and how it could be achived by having Barak as the next president of the United Stated. She would be a perfect first lady.

    August 26, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  3. Columbus

    I watched the DNC this evening and I was very disappointed, Ted Kennedy was the highlight. I was very curious how Michelle Obama would preform and I had high hopes for her speech and wanted to see her do well but I felt the speech was predictable, boring and seemed overworked as though she was practicing in a mirror. The Obama children looked lovely and added a certain freshness but the banter at the end appeared inane and contrived, if not smarmy. Maybe I am alone but I think the Democrats missed an opportunity this evening and with the polls tightening it's time to get the lead out and pickup the pace. I just expected more.

    August 26, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  4. ElizabethD

    Michelle was extraordinary indeed in every respect tonight. During the primary she introduced her husband at a small gathering I attended and she was just the same as she was tonight. Many of us who are wives, mothers, highly educated and accomplished professionals, and whose daughters are now becoming brilliant professional women share Michelle's vision, values and journey. Proud of her and her family.

    August 26, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  5. Amy

    Unfortunately, the Obamas have used too much of their personal stories, their daughters, their so-called struggles to win voters. It is no longer working. I personally think it is very boring, and it starts to border the line of self-pity.

    August 26, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  6. Tanya

    I always appreciate your analysis, David. I think Michelle did a great job of painting the true portrait of who she is – putting it in stark contrast to the smear job that the Republicans are trying to put forward about her. She did a great job for the campaign and I hope many people were turning in to see how real, down to earth and inspiring she is...

    August 26, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  7. Amy

    Being a normal family doesn't qualify for a presidency - Obamas don't get this.

    August 26, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  8. Donny from California

    Michelle was on FIRE! She was beautiful , eloquent, and inspiring. I don't care if your Republican or a Democrat, you know she is proud of her country. A woman as great as she would only marry a man of substance.

    August 26, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  9. Ids

    I usually agree with most of David Gergens analyses, but have to disagree on this subject.
    Neither the tribute to Ted Kennedy or the stirring speech by Michelle Obama would have had the effect they did, if it was preceded by Bush bashing or McCain bashing or what ever it was the pundits were looking for.
    The whole tenor of those speeches would have been lost. Instead of the same old blah, blah, blah..., we got inspiration and uplifment. That's what we want. we are tired of the mud slinging and partisanship that has been the trademark of Washington politics. Let's try a different approach.
    Why do Dems have to follow the low standards set by the Republicans? Anyone who thinks you need to trash the opposition to show strength, really does not understand the difference between real strength and bluster.
    It is appropriate to take the high road, even though it looks like a lot of people on TV like the low road.

    August 26, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  10. John MacDaniel, Huntsville AL

    C-Span was where the action was tonight! No commercial interruptions, no inane commentaries by people who were showing off how 'knowledgeable' they are, just an honest presentation of who, what, and where for the entire evening. Beautiful, like an uninterrupted movie, that swept you up in the progression of people and subjects that lead up to the double finale of Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama.

    August 26, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  11. Mike

    Michelle nailed it. She should be the president, not her husband.

    August 26, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  12. Shawn Manley

    Michelle was awesome, I cried. I cried after Ted Kennedy. After eight years of the Bush economic policies, I desperately need a change! I can't afford the gas nor have I been able to show a profit in my business.
    I am feeding my children peanut butter and jelly for dinner while trying to attain certifications I now need after the Bush regime came into power and turned the health care industry upside down. My children travel an hour away from home for school to get quality education as the no child left behind act simply meant you'd have to leave your neighborhoods if you're going to have them educated. To hear John McCain and the republican pundits speak and act as if the economy is strong and that our plight is our fault as if the policies of this administration have not contributed to more and more families falling into poverty is simply more than I can bare.
    This November, I a life long republican will be casting my vote for Barack Obama.
    When I look at the people standing behind Barack, I see people from all walks of life. All races, creeds, colors of people.

    McCain's supporters are white washed with a sprinkling of Hispanics and Blacks. There are no gays, or Asians.

    McCain's straight talk express bus has regulated Blacks to the back of the bus and pretty much deny any Rockefeller republicans access. God himself would be deny because he touts in his word Choice, "Choose you this day" God advocates. "Choice", A simple God given right denied.

    95% of the time McCain agreed with this Bush administration. Could he really be any thing but a Bushie clone?

    America needs Barack for such a time as this!!!!

    August 26, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  13. Norman from Seattle

    I agree with you Mr. Gergen. Michelle Obama gave an excellent speech.

    August 26, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  14. Julia

    I agree with Dave. No wonder the "Best Political Team on Television" felt the night lacked substance. They talked to each other throughout the majority of the speakers. I'm lucky I heard some of Pelosi's speech on NPR as I drove home tonight. I didn't bother to sit in my car and listen to the conclusion, since I had set my tivo to record CNN's convention coverage. Unfortunately most of the speakers were just too boring to keep CNN's attention, and I was treated to hours of speculation about whether Ted Kennedy would speak, or even whether or not he had entered the building. I guess I have to take David Gergen's word for it that the evening lacked luster since CNN's coverage didn't let me decide for myself.

    August 26, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  15. Peter of Oregon

    It was one of the best speeches I've heard this campaign season.

    August 26, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  16. Meg Siddheshwari Sullivan

    David Gergen's article says of the positive future of this country in which "women... are not only devoted mothers and wives but also highly educated, caring people... and, yes, African-Americans, Hispanics, and people of many different backgrounds. One day the country will be there. Is it prepared to be there now? I'm frankly not sure." If not now, when? As he says, "We are living through one of the most important chapters in the American story." It's up to us to write the chapter to make that positive future be here and now!

    August 26, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |

    the obamas are loving and lovely.we need to give them time to change our lives

    August 26, 2008 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  18. shay

    Yes she did and yes we can and yes we will. She had me crying. She was awesome and a beautiful woman. Michelle gave it her all and spoke up for her husband and America. Michelle made me very proud to speak up for people who do not have a voice.

    Thank You

    August 26, 2008 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  19. Don

    Here's some news for you.....Michelle Obama is not original. Clinton was in the White House not to long ago and I believe she would qualify for you description. So yes, as you said it, she different because she is African American. That's it. She may be a great woman; yes or no, either way, but your new future kills your article. Have a little perspective please. And if Obama loses, it will be because of garage perspectives like this. Let him lose or win on merit, not race. He might surprise you.

    August 26, 2008 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  20. rep4 dem 08

    she was awesome.
    i was going to support mcbush but i decided im going with change!!!!!!!

    August 26, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  21. Judy

    actually, i'd just like to say how much i appreciate you, the writer, David Gergen. I'm a liberal who pays attention to substance – and you are always someone i read... that you say – "We are living through one of the most important chapters in the American story" – well, I thank you for your intellectual and emotional engagement in the things that are important at this moment... now. sign me, a fan...

    August 26, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  22. brenda mcinnis

    Michelle Obama was wonderful tonight. she is a beautiful person and will make a great first lady. i was very proud of her and her family.
    Can't waite till january.

    August 26, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  23. S. Burns

    Michelle's speech was superb. With her rhetorical skills she
    will make a wonderful first lady and should be an outstanding representative of what's right with our country. Yes, I would much prefer a first lady with her professional background and level of education to a 'homebody". To me she represents all of the best in today's American women.

    August 26, 2008 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  24. Sylvia Johnsen

    Political theater is ugly. This backroom manipulation is not deserving a political party who totally lost its way.

    August 26, 2008 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  25. Nick

    Wow, I think Michelle just won the election. Heartfelt and true.

    August 26, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
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