Even MSNBC Analysts Pan Obama Economy Speech as 'Unbelievably Diffuse' and 'Ineffective'

Minutes after President Barack Obama finished speaking about the economy on Thursday afternoon, two analysts for the “forward-leaning” MSNBC cable news channel criticized the 54-minute speech by saying that it “didn't work” and he “lost his audience by the end.”

MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall began the segment by asking liberal columnist Jonathan Alter what he thought of the president's address. Unfortunately for Hall, her usually reliably Democratic guests began panning the speech. Video and commentary below the fold.

“I thought this, honestly, was one of the least successful speeches I've seen Barack Obama give in several years,” he stated, in part because it was “long-winded.”

He had a good argument to make, and at the beginning of the speech, he seemed to be making it in a fairly compelling way, but then he lost his thread, and this speech was way too long, and I think he lost his audience by the end.

Hall defended the 54-minute speech, which was delivered in the Democratic stronghold of Cleveland, as the first time Obama “clumped” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with the GOP members of Congress.

Daily Beast columnist and economist Zachary Karabell said the address was very effective “in describing a position that his opponents hold that he and many of the Democrats believe will manifestly not work.”

But after praising part of the president's speech, Karabell noted that Obama “went sort of away from offense onto defense.” At that point, the address “became unbelievably diffuse” as he characterized his opponents as promoting ideas that will not work, but he “didn't really give you the sense of what will.”

Hall again defended the president because he had criticized the policies “that resulted in the disaster that we saw with this economy, and his point was that's exactly what the person who wants to take my job now will do. That's what you can bet on.”

Alter noted that while the host had raised a good point, he stated that “it didn't work in 2010, but it can work, properly framed, in 2012, for the president.”

Obama needs to take the section of the speech that dealt with “how you create jobs, how you move the country forward,” Alter stated. “He has to turn this into the 'how' election, but he didn't quite nail that point.”

The MSNBC host then indicated that Obama “said how we move forward, at least in his estimation, is by not going back to the same policies of the previous administration, and he laid the burden on the voter by saying if you want this deal, you can have the deal with Mister Romney and his allies .”

“And that part was fairly convincing,” Alter responded, “but what didn't work was when he said you the voter can break the stalemate.”

Everybody knows that if Obama wins and there's still a Republican Congress, we'll have more stalemate. But this competing vision idea, that these are two starkly different ideas about how we create jobs and how we move forward as a country. This is the “how” election, and if anything comes of this, it should be that. I don't think he quite nailed that point.

Of course, there is no “Republican Congress” since the GOP only controls the House of Representatives while the Democrats are in charge of the Senate.

Hall noted that the president “issued up the challenge to the press and others in asking Mitt Romney, Governor Romney, how he would do it, how he would reduce the deficit, how he would pay for tax cuts that are all but sure.”

Karabell replied that as a result of the speech, Democrats should tell people:

Look, if you are worried about the deficit, and you are worried about the spending, and you are worried about the future of our country, what Mitt Romney is proposing, what Eric Cantor is proposing, what the Republicans are proposing will actually make that concern much worse.

The economist said that Democrats should come together on the issues most party members agree on. “That's a much more effective tack than what's been taken to date.”

He concluded that the Democratic message “simply has to come together in a much more tight, much more forceful fashion.”

It's interesting to note that no one in the segment even mentioned the speech on the economy delivered at about the same time by Romney in heavily Republican Cincinnati, as well as the fact that both addresses were made in the battleground state of Ohio.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall