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. seattle indie

    I was a great speech no doubt. But this is what is suppose to happen at these conventions. Mr. Gergen do you really think she would have said anything else? At these events it's the land of make-belief. A crafted landscape that has a purpose and message.

    Does anyone believe giving a good or even great speech will change the facts? It will certainly not. In a time of great challenge the choice is between an inexperience far liberal senator and an experience war hero.

    In the end, facts will bubble to the top.

    August 26, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  2. Jan, Toledo, OH

    The coverage so far is pathetic. When will we get real news coverage and not just gossip. This country is in trouble. We are going further in debt everyday, the housing market is disasterous, medicare and social security are in trouble, and the health care system is in trouble. Get real. Discuss what is meaningful to people so that we don't elect someone again that everyone would like to have a beer with and that we have a chance to elect someone for their ideas – whether it be republican or democrat.

    August 26, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  3. siobhanoc

    This is the thoughtful insight that makes David Gergen one of the few voices on CNN worth listening to anymore.

    August 26, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  4. Karol

    Like B.O. Michelle is a wonderful speaker, but that does not mean he can be an effective President? No, does anyone remember Jimmy Carter's 4 year term???

    Go McCain

    August 26, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  5. Chuck

    Problem is that folks in the Eastern and Central Time Zones were getting ready for work and school tomorrow. They should have scheduled her speech for an earlier time slot.

    Another pitch swung at and missed.

    August 26, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  6. kathy

    I'm a democrat (was) and even ater Michelle Obama speach
    still not on the Obama train. Every one has a story to tell !!!!!

    August 26, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Proud of you!

    August 26, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  8. m

    I heard the speeches by Leach, McCaskel, and Michelle Obama & found them all excellent, historcally interesting, and to the point. Later, I read Kennedy's tribute and speech, and judge it to be the same. Gergen, and especially Carville, don't know what they are talking about. Journalists have been missing the boat this whole year, and seem determined to prove how out of touch they are with the rest of the world.

    August 26, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  9. Dan

    I do not see how this could be considered "rescuing" or "winning" or "wasting" the first night of the DNC!!?! Pundits have gone too far.
    I am a perfectly rational person, and I see it as a grand opening for something trully extraordinary in the days to come. It will take a set up, like this evening perfectly displayed, to roll out the carpet for Barack in the end.

    August 26, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |

    she was great very proud of her. A true struggling family just like the normal people i know that grew up poor

    August 26, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  11. Rick K

    I know you were all hand-wringing regarding the direction of the night, and I greatly appreciate your perspective, but I don't see how Michelle's message, and frankly the "Obama's are just like us" message could have been mixed into a night with aggressive Bush/McCain contrast.

    The risk of those messages getting twisted and providing an opportunity to play Michelle as angry, or the Obama's as railing on Americanism or an American hero was just too great.

    Even if it was done perfectly, my mom could have walked away while someone was aggressively going after McCain and come back to see a "black woman" who she'd only seen on a magazine cover dressed in fatigues.

    I'm listening and reading people's reactions, and hearing a TON of middle Americans saying, "everyone said she was angry, but she sounded nice" and "they're kind of like us."

    If that is in any way representative, then this night was aimed and executed to perfection, and muddling that message, while it may have been OK for you and me, would have clogged lots of brains.

    August 26, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  12. Sally, Corvallis Oregon

    Tonight we saw another step towards Hope.

    August 26, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  13. CTP

    She is an extraordinary woman who is married to an extraordinary man. Together, they have extraordinary children, ideas, and plans for this extraordinary country.

    YES WE WILL. Obama/Biden '08!

    August 26, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  14. OBAMA 08

    And we will stay focused, on message and not allow the distractions of life to keep us off message. Thats what the republicans are trying to do.

    Love you Michelle, PROUD TO BE A DEMOCRAT

    August 26, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  15. Fred C Dobbs

    David Gergen – whatever CNN is paying him for this dribble is way too much!

    August 26, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  16. BJ

    Admittedly, it was a very good speech.

    BUT, we've had quite a few good speeches from Barack himself, and they are still relying on their message of "hope". Michele spun a good story about hers and Barack's lives, but there are thousands, if not millions of people out there who worked just as hard. Good hard working people, that have not realized the American dream. And it's slipping further and further away. Like a lottery, they're the lucky ones who have managed to realize their dream... not too many will.

    What we are experiencing economically right now is a confluence of negative factors that has never happened before, and I'm not willing to take a chance on someone who has "dreams", but no experience or qualifications for the presidency. He may be a good man, and he may mean well, but it's just too much of a gamble for the economy, and for our national security.

    August 26, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  17. Kay

    Well Folks, there you have it. The Obamas are ordinary people trying to do what they can to help all Americans. Why not pay attention to what is being said by these people and let it sink in that the Democrats are FOR the people.The Dems are not monsters.
    It is time we got back on track and work as hard as we can to elect Senaators Barack Obama and Joseph Biden so they can get on with job of doing what is best for America and not the lobbyists and big oil companies.
    Congratulations, Mrs. Obama on a excellent speech.

    August 26, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  18. Carol Bounds

    I was very honor to here Michelle Obama speech tonight. Her speech was moving and heartwarming and just let me know, that her family is just like any other family. I belive that Senator Obama has made a wise choice in choosing Senator Biden for his Vice President. I belive that Biden can and will give Barack insight and experience on issue he may lack. I would have like to have seen Senator Hilliary Clinton has his Vice President, but that was something that was not meant to be. Senator Obama has made a wise choice. And has far has the Democratic Covention is concerned. I think it went well. Why come out fighting the first night. We need to know about the man, and Michelle talk about her husband well, almost ninteen years of marriage two children they both love. And for you Mr. Carville, the reason why Republican come out negative, is because they are the ones doing all the negative stuff. and getting caught.

    August 26, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  19. Tia

    Who cares what Michelle Obama had to say? She isn't the one runing for president, her husband is. How about reporting on what the candidate himself said - or didn't say?

    It should tell you a lot about Barak when his WIFE has to save the night. Yes, it's a proud moment for the democratic party indeed.

    McCain 2008!

    August 26, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  20. Derek Charlton

    Michelle Obama was amazing! She made the night!

    James Carville's criticism is somewhat justified, however the pundits are right. Had deep criticism gone at Bush and McCain tonight, it would have been reflected onto Michelle. She needed her night to let us know who she really was, and she was amazing!

    I look forward for the punches to be thrown towards the Republicans because lord knows, they will do everything they can to paint Barrack as a liberal, America hating, Muslim extremist... they will do everything to put fear into people...

    God help us all if it comes to another four years of Republicans in the White House!

    August 26, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  21. Axl

    A night full of attacks against the GOP capped by a speech by Michelle Obama would have reinforced an angry image of her. That's exactly what the Republicans would have wanted.

    August 26, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  22. lil

    Go Michelle Go and may God bless you and your family

    August 26, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  23. Independent99999

    What a great speech ...

    I wish Obamas are in Republican Party with Right Ideas to implement. Unfortunately, they are in the wrong Party with Socialist and Liberal views and Taxing up everyone

    August 26, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  24. Ken

    Well put, and personally I DO NOT have the confidence in the American public to make the right decision on a vote anymore. Too much polarization, too little education, too little reality, too much religion, too many bitter Americans trying to get back at other bitter Americans.

    Thinking people are villified by shallo, black-and-white-type thinkers. When half the country votes for Bush in 2004, and I hate to bring him into this, but when half the country votes for him after hisprevious four year folly and total lack of anything resembling a qualification to be president like, say, dims the hope for this country in the near future. Even today, after probably one of the worst presidential administrations in our history and perhaps arguably the worst, people just keeping lining up for more. And by doing this, you grant every future politican the license to lie, cheat and steal all over again.

    Shame on us.

    August 26, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  25. Dave Agee

    As a conservative republican, Michelle Obama's speech was not a home run, it was a grand slam. She did a geat job! What I want is a real debate!!

    August 26, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
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