Celebrities, Stars and Sore Throats

It was Barack Obama’s night and morning-after in blog land — and the reviews were (predictably) breathless. Josh Marshall set the scene before the Senate candidate from Illinois took the podium. “It’s hard to overestimate how much expectation looms around this guy,” wrote Marshall. “The Democratic Party yearns for this man’s political future like Dick Cheney lusts after the oil and gas fields of the Caspian sea.”

Kos harked back to March, 2003, when he heard Howard Dean deliver a stem-winder. “It was, at the moment, the most spectacular political speech I had ever seen,” writes Kos. That was then, last night was now: “Obama’s [speech] was uplifting, hopeful, and full of liberal ideals I hope will come to fruition in a Kerry administration. … [I]t was the right speech for the moment.”

Mathew Gross held his breath as Obama began. By the end of the speech, Gross and the packed convention hall realized they had witnessed something special. Predicts Gross of Obama: “He’ll make a great senator, yes. But thoughts are beyond this cycle; they are on future elections, and future conventions in other cities. He’ll be back, we know it; we haven’t seen the last of him. Magic is within his grasp.”

Dave Pell at Electablog had the same reaction. “Let’s put it this way,” writes Pell. “I almost expected the guy to complete his speech by saying ‘And I accept your nomination …’”

That same thought must have crossed political humorist and blogger Tom Burka’s mind. “Just moments after Barack Obama delivered what some, even Republicans, are calling ‘one of the best convention speeches of the past twenty-five years,’ [John] Kerry developed ‘a bad case of laryngitis,’” spoofed Burka.

Obama wasn’t the only unknown commodity to take the podium last night. Teresa Heinz Kerry also got her chance to address the conventioneers. Jesse Taylor at Pandagon writes that while Obama may have offered a vision for the party’s future, Heinz Kerry added “that spine that’s been missing from even the toughest speeches.” He wants a one-on-one match-up between Teresa and Laura Bush.

And finally, Amy Sullivan, who also was blown away by the Obama speech, is guest-blogging from Boston for The Washington Monthly. She reports from the FleetCenter: “Michael Moore groupies are still everywhere, blocking every escalator, hallway, or entrance the man approaches and moving with him, sort of like the cloud of dust that surrounds Pigpen at all times. He’s ‘edgy’ and that qualifies as cool here.” Also possessing “cool” status, according to Sullivan, is the small group of conservative commentators in attendance. “They seem to travel in packs,” she writes. Decidedly without a pack, however, was former California Gov. Gray Davis, who moved through the crowds “without any noticeable entourage and without being stopped by gawkers.”

Observes Sullivan: “Oh cruel, cruel world of fickle political celebrity.”

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.