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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    The Democrats, Night One: Whiff

    By kyle | August 26, 2008

    I was going to write about the convention last night (instead, I wound up going to a double feature of two upcoming fall films, “Appaloosa” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”) but didn’t. My impression: you get four shots to sock the pinata, Monday through Thursday, and last night was a clear miss.

    The only two things that will remain in anyone’s memory are a) Ted Kennedy carrying on despite terminal illness, which may be brave and uplifting but has nothing to do with whether we should vote for Obama; and b) Sasha Obama ordering off the political menu and cutting up a la Rudy Giuliani’s kid during his 1994 inauguration as the finest leader this city has ever had.

    People like cute kids (if I may indulge in a stereotype I daresay women voters especially like the idea of having small children in the White House). But Sasha’s dad looked tired and dull in his live appearance from Kansas City, and we all saw exactly how Barack responded to his little girl’s rather delightful antics. He was stiff and distant, tried to speak to whatever talking point he was trying to get across about whatever family he was hanging around with. He wasn’t in the moment. He was a robot.

    Here is how a master politician like Bill Clinton would have responded to that unexpected situation: He would have, by sheer instinct, dropped his script and paid attention to his daughter, interacted with her, drawn her out, created a precious little moment.

    This is what Obama should have said when his daughter interrupted him: “Hi Sasha! I miss you! What did you do today? Are you being nice to your sister?” etc. The nation would have melted like pistachio ice cream on the Fourth of July.

    Moreover, as David Brooks pointed out on PBS last night immediately after Michelle Obama’s perfectly okay but non-influential speech: It was a missed opportunity. She could have presented some candid family anecdotes, shared some snapshots, told charming stories about vacations and chores and teaching values to the girls. (I still remember a shot of Hillary and Bill Clinton chummily sharing a hammock together in a film used at the Democratic convention in 1992: Brilliant stuff.) What did she do? She talked about Barack’s lawyering ability, his community-organizing stuff, his alleged fight for equal rights for women, his alleged support of moving people from welfare to work. All of this is abstract political blah-blah, not the kind of thing that makes you fall in love with the next First Family. And Obama’s history of working in a law firm and doing community organizing (whatever that is; I think I’ll put it in quotes next time) is going to look like pretty weak sauce next week, when America hears about John McCain’s life.

    So: Day one, strike one. I’m beginning to think that a comfortable McCain victory in November–four or five points–is quite possible.

    Topics: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Politics, Rudy Giuliani, TV | 3 Comments »

    3 Responses to “The Democrats, Night One: Whiff”

    1. Brandon Says:
      August 26th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

      I hope you’re right Kyle I really, really do. I can barely afford my own healthcare let alone afford to pay for healthcare for the moochers who just sit at home watching People’s Court. Can I safely assume you, like me, were really hoping to have Giuliani as a nominee? It killed me that he screwed up so bad in the primaries.

    2. Mo Says:
      August 26th, 2008 at 2:33 pm


      The problem with healthcare is government regulations. One of the things that McCain was talking about earlier on that I hope he follows through with is lifting the per state healthcare problem. That is, if you live in New York you could buy insurance from a lower cost state, and get the same coverage. That will really open the market up to competition and price lowering.

    3. Brandon Says:
      August 26th, 2008 at 10:54 pm


      Agreed. That will definitely go a long way toward helping and the solution is definitely in the private industry but I think standards will need to be implemented. I’m actually in healthcare now and have been for the last 12 years and everything boils down to one very basic problem; you have two industries that are dependent on each other by design in medicine and health insurance but their goals run counter to each other. What I mean by that is a medical provider’s primary goal is to attract and treat patients and be paid for services, a very reasonable request, while insurance carriers primary goal is to collect premiums and avoid payment of claims at all cost to maintain as large a profit margin as possible. That is where the disconnection truly is. The cost of healthcare has been driven up by a sad combination of unpaid and underpaid insurance claims, stagnant fee schedules (which are set by Medicare), illegal immigration which causes enormous strain on emergency services especially in border states (it’s bankrupted several hospitals), and oddly enough the out of control cost of college which has gotten so far out of control that the number of people moving into the medicine side of the industry is dwindling (aka Brain drain)and that is forcing hospitals to have to pay even more for doctors and nurses and not to mention look outside of the country for doctors. Okay so I probably just wrote the craziest run on sentence in history but believe me I could go on and on about this. Oh if you want a nice touch of irony I actually work for a health insurance company so I witness the corruption firsthand, working for the darkside sucks.