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. Carol

    Michelle Obama was extraordinary. Michelle for president

    August 25, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  2. Cheri

    Michelle Obama was terrific.Their little girls were just to cute for words.

    August 25, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  3. Lacey

    I am REALLY (REALLY) proud to be an American.

    Thanks to the Obama's for taking on the ardrous task of fighting for the common man (and woman) and for the effort to finally put a working family in the White House. It's refreshing to see people who have worked their way up that care about how other people can grow out of their circumstances.

    August 25, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  4. Kathy

    Michelle was wonderful! I am so proud to be an American Woman and belong to a party who is going to elect Obama to the presidency and to a party that has diversity in its members!! the children are just beautiful and I think won over many hearts tonight like their mom!

    August 25, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  5. Arkansas Undertaker

    Michelle really did save the night. I would like to see a big step up in the attacks on John" Elmer Fudd" McCain!

    August 25, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  6. endithinks

    I think that the first night went very well. The main "problem" Senator Obama has is to convince the country he is just like them. He has to combat the "other" feeling created and propagated by his historic candidacy. I think the first night of "here we are we are just like you," is exactly what the campaign needed to do.

    Thank for the eloquent words as usual Mr. Gergen. I must say you are my favorite contributor on CNN. Always fair and able to see multiple sides.

    August 25, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  7. Barbara - GA

    "Yes She Did"


    August 25, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  8. annie

    Once again GERGEN underestimates the intelligence of Americans.

    Although he has been biased towards Obama from the beginning the rest of us did not buy the ACTING job by Michelle.

    All of a sudden we are supposed to believe that she cares about America....NOW...when they're at the convention and it's financially and politically convenient to pretend to care about America.

    Sorry....we will remember Michelle for her past statements.....when she told the TRUTH......that she was never proud of America until now when her husband is running for office.

    We also will not forget that Michelle and her husband spent the last 20 years of their lives attending and subjecting their children to a very divisive, racist and American hating church.

    August 25, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  9. texas DEM

    mccain 2008
    clinton 2012 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  10. Bridg

    I disagree that the night needed "rescuing," but I am in total agreement that Michelle was magnificent. I am truly impressed with this woman. Now I understand why the Republicans have gone after her so hard– she's so good she would make a better President then George W. Bush.

    August 26, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  11. April Garlow

    No person or persons can give one speech and erase an imagine of themselves from the minds of others.We the American people have been watching these Obamas for all these many months, the impressions are well formed. Who in their right mind judges the character of a person by listening to them glorify themselves?It's as if the media believes, because it came out of the Obamas' mouths it must be true.

    August 26, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  12. Voter

    This was Damage Control Night.

    Trot out Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy to look all moral and good.
    (Too bad Ted left a woman to die of drowning- how moral of him!)

    Trot out Michele so she can rehab her not proud of her country feelings that were inadvertently revealed early on before they told her to shut up.

    Bring in Leach to be a Republican who likes them.

    It's Show Time!!!

    August 26, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  13. The Surly Scholar

    Two unbelievably moving speeches? THAT constitutes an almost-wasted night? Geez. You're either jaded, cynical, or wielding an agenda. Get it together, Gergen.

    But I will agree that Kennedy was rousing and courageous, and Michelle was extraordinary.

    August 26, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  14. ANO


    August 26, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  15. steve

    When did it become such common place to tell our sad stories in an effort to prove our worthiness. We all have struggles and, for the most part, we all work hard to overcome them, move on, make a difference while leaving our job, our family, and our communities better than when we arrived. Life happens to all of us, we all have made choices along the way, some good and some bad. My brother died of AIDS, I have HIV and my father is dying of cancer... does that provide me more credibility? I don't think it does. Even rich folks have struggles. The Obamas children are not going to be able to tell the stoires their parents tell, will that make them less qualified to serve? I don't think it does. I found Michelle's speech to be rather self serving.

    Bottom line, Obama and his crownies have played thier own type of dirty pool. Take away the Michigan and Florida votes until you get what you need and then give them back? As far as I am concerend, the last three candidates that I have voted for have been cheated in the end. Who knew we could get it all so wrong. No Hillary? Go McCain! At least that way we can give Hillary another shot in '12.

    August 26, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  16. Sammy

    I only saw a part of the speech. But I did see the subtle question of how far back tradition should go and how much. Go back 50 years and there are many that are dead and buried... for good reason. Few people like to mess with the traditions they grew up with. But how many women want to go back to the 'Suzy Homemaker" tradition days? Things change. I dont know how things will change now but its usually people between 40-50 who do it.

    August 26, 2008 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  17. Helen

    If you found Michelle "inspiring" it was precisely because you believe "She represents such a departure from the traditional order of things in America." Why do you believe that? Because she's black? How is she different from Laura Bush? A truly colorblind eye would see her and her story as entirely conventional, but the racist white people find everything she and Barack say and do as miraculous, because they never knew a black person could actually be, you know, articulate. That is the dark and disturbing underside of this whole story.

    August 26, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  18. Zeke

    Face it. Michele nailed it harder than any political spouse has ever nailed it. Probably none of them could. She was incredible! Some of the Fox people who were not moved lack anything resembling a soul.

    August 26, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  19. Sean

    Am I the only person who thought that the most annoying thing about the Convention coverage was the CNN commentary? (Carville was just the exemplar of the chatter.) There was so much blather from Wolf and the gang, that I became frustrated and changed to C-Span. I think the CNN needs to cut the chit chat and let the audience hear the convention. (Hey! What a novel concept!)

    August 26, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  20. Edwin G

    Michelle is OK, but the Obama Campaign are doing a poor job. I'm a democrat and I sense another defeat with this tandem. Why did you not let Carter, the most popular and caring all over the world did not speak on the first night. The media defined the DNC looks united on TV but something brewing up among their delegates, not happy with Obama, not happy with Biden and not happy with this Republican running this country. Poor, poor choice good for novice democrats.

    August 26, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  21. JC

    Rescued the night? Just wait until the body language experts analyze her. He lip licking, blinking, and eye movement told a completely different story. She was fake.

    August 26, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  22. Barbara R. Harper

    We have heard the comment from Political Analysts so many times that they have heard people say "what qualifications does Barack have to become our leader & Commander in Chief"......Don't remember anyone making this comment or asking this question about our present President.........What are, or were, his qualifications??? Can't see that he's done the greatest job in the world making friends or influencing people of the world.....Also, what qualifications does McCain have other than being a great Hero for spending so many years as a prisoner of war???? My generation lived through the WWII and there were many Heros there too....Seems to me, the news media shows their "party affiliations" more than they think they do........
    Barbara R. Harper 318 Marie St #B Medford, OR 97504

    August 26, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |

    GO OBAMA!!!!!!!

    August 26, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  24. Pier Giacalone

    I have become increasingly grateful for David Gergen's presence on CNN as the voice of reason and intelligent analysis among a lot of over-primped, empty-headed hot air – not to mention paid representatives of the various campaigns.

    It's interesting however that Gergen sees M. Obama as "rescuing" the evening as opposed to a well orchestrated crescendo to her speech. Does it not make sense that she was purposefully left the with the most valuable role of the evening?

    My only criticism of her speech is that I think she would've been better served by referring to "MY country" instead of "THIS country". With the anti-patriotic attacks against her (and I mean that as a double-entendre) she would've made a stronger statement by taking possession of her 1/300,000,000th share of stock in America and proudly expressing her ownership of her own American experience.

    But it was still an excellent speech and overall achieved its goal.

    August 26, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  25. Mary Esther Salinas

    I thought the speech was going to blow me away, but it was one of the most uninspiring and boring speech. We all know this election was rigged by the big boys in Washington.we all know how harshly Obama treated hillary even though she did say he would be electable and biden stood by his remark and said he was too unexpeience. The line she uses about 18 million cracks was a throway line. We will not forget that Obama is a phony with the rest of the government of Illinois.

    August 26, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
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