By BYRON YORK, September 7, 2012 –
CHARLOTTE — After attending a fundraiser with several NBA stars last month, Barack Obama noted, “It’s very rare that I come to an event where I’m like the fifth- or sixth-most interesting person.” It would be even more unusual for the president to attend a political convention and be the fifth- or sixth-most interesting attraction. But that’s exactly what happened to Obama at the Democratic convention here in Charlotte.
The president’s speech Thursday night was workmanlike and delivered with his usual polish. But in content and impact, it ranked behind Bill Clinton’s speech Wednesday night, Michelle Obama’s Tuesday night, and even Joe Biden’s address immediately preceding the president. And as a moment, Obama’s speech certainly took a backseat to the touching appearance of former Rep. Gabriel Giffords to lead the Pledge of Allegiance on the convention’s final night. So yes, the president’s appearance was perhaps the fifth-most interesting event of the convention.
As he laid out his case for re-election, Obama struggled with a basic underlying question: What happened to all that hope from his 2008 campaign? Obama knows that his actual record as president leaves many voters uninspired, and certainly not filled with hope. So early in the speech, he sought to redefine hope — to define it down — into something that fits his purposes now.