Liberal Networks Struggle to Spin Obama's 'Different,' 'Small' Speech: Not 'the Best'

Even the journalists on the liberal NBC, CBS and ABC morning shows had a hard time spinning Barack Obama's acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention. On Friday's Today show, Chuck Todd glumly conceded, "Look, aides acknowledge this wasn't his most poetic speech, not on par with his previous convention speeches and maybe not even the best convention speech of the week." [MP3 audio here.]

Todd offered that "because of the hard economic realities, the President decided that had to trump soaring rhetoric." Over on Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos actually refrained from his normally effusive praise of the President.

The host acknowledged, "A different kind of convention speech from President Obama last night. More sober, a little more humble." How anxious were the hosts of GMA to get off the subject of the President's speech? The two hour program gave Obama a mere five minutes and 45 seconds.

On CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes delicately explained, "[Obama] acknowledged that his vision of hope and change had been battered a bit by the vagaries of politics."

She added, "But he didn't necessarily lay out a roadmap for how he planned to achieve [energy or education] goals or how he would work with Congress more effectively in a second term."

In an interview with Robert Gibbs, co-host Norah O'Donnell seemed underwhelmed, wondering, "Was it small, though, for a convention speech, which is usually kind of about bigger, more visionary things to sort of level such an attack [against Romney] like that?"

After Gibbs talked about the difficulty of being president and that America has a long way to go, host Charlie Rose pushed, "But he seemed to be suggesting, Robert, that he knows he's disappointed?"

On Good Morning America, Jake Tapper asserted that "the man known for his soaring oratory saved the poetry for the end of the speech." 

Stephanopoulos interviewed Matt Dowd, a political strategist who has advised both Democrats and Republicans. Dowd snidely mocked the Republican candidate, contrasting, "The interesting thing after two conventions, you get a sense that people love Barack Obama, but that Republicans are in an arranged marriage with Mitt Romney."

He continued, "And I think that is a difference that came out. Much more enthusiasm at this convention."

A partial transcript of the September 7 Today segment can be found below:

7:03am EDT

GUTHRIE: We want to begin with the presidential race and President Obama's acceptance speech to close out the Democratic National Convention. NBC's Chuck Todd, our political director and chief White House correspondent, is in Charlotte this morning. Chuck, good morning to you.

CHUCK TODD: Well, good morning, Savannah. Look, aides acknowledge this wasn't his most poetic speech, not on par with his previous convention speeches and maybe not even the best convention speech of the week, a distinction Bill Clinton or Michelle Obama can claim. But because of the hard economic realities, the President decided that had to trump soaring rhetoric.

BARACK OBAMA: Madam chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.

TODD: Facing the political fight of his life, the 44th President of the United States made the case for his reelection, asking Americans to stick with him for another four years, despite tough economic times.

OBAMA: Our problems can be solved, our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place, and I'm asking you to choose that future.

TODD: Four years later, the President felt he had to appeal to voters exhausted by the tone of American politics.

OBAMA: I know campaigns can seem small, even silly sometimes. Trivial things become big distractions. And if you're sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me, so am I.

TODD: But Mr. Obama pulled no punches when it came to his Republican rival. Though he rarely mentioned Mitt Romney by name, his references to his, quote, "opponent," were dismissive, turning Romney into a punch line.

OBAMA: My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy. You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. If you can't afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent's advice and borrow money from your parents.

TODD: Lacking the soaring rhetoric of his two more famous convention speeches of 2004 and 2008, Mr. Obama used this workman-like speech to frame the contest as a choice, using the words "choice" or "choose" more than 20 times.

OBAMA: The choice you face won't just be between two candidates or two parties, it will be a choice between two different paths for America, a choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.

TODD: For the disillusioned, the President tried to redefine hope and change, hoping to re-energize his base, particularly young voters.

-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.