The Slatest

Conservatives Find Selves Shocked to Realize They Liked Obama’s Speech

President Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, President Obama made a case for national optimism. In quintessential Obama fashion, the speech was realistic about the problems (economic, racial, political) that the United States faces but gung-ho about the country’s capacity to make collective progress in spite of them. It was a reassurance, in troubled times, that most of our fellow citizens actually do share our beliefs on things like honesty, tolerance, not taking shortcuts, and not being ill-informed and insane. It was uplifting, and not particularly partisan. And a lot of conservative pundits who have not exactly been happy with the past eight years found, especially when compared to the kind of things the ostensibly conservative candidate in this election has been saying, that they liked it.

Blogger Erick Erickson:

Former Reagan and H.W. Bush speechwriter John Podhoretz:

Former Jeb Bush spokesman Tim Miller:

Republican operative Rory Cooper:

National Review editor Rich Lowry:

Times columnist Ross Douthat:

Commentary’s Noah Rothman:

A number of the conservatives who praised Obama qualified their praise with caveats: That they still felt Obama had governed in a divisive way; that voters still have good reasons to be unhappy with the direction the country is heading. Their comments were not sudden change-of-heart endorsements of the current presidency. Which is understandable, given that they are conservative and Obama’s policies are generally progressive. And yet. Could you have imagined any of the things above being said a year ago, or maybe even a day ago? Sometimes, the world surprises us.