A word of caution for the small and elite group of GOP and Democratic convention speakers: If you’re feeling good because CNN host Wolf Blitzer called your speech “powerful,” feel again. He says that about everyone.
*After Joe Biden spoke last night, Blitzer said, “Powerful speech from the vice president. Anderson [Cooper], over to you.”
*After Bill Clinton spoke Tuesday night, Blitzer stuck with the verbless formulation: “A very powerful speech by the former president of the United States.”
*Before Meryl Streep came onstage on Tuesday night, Blitzer said: “Meryl Streep is going to be introducing this moment, a very powerful moment that’s coming up.” How did he know?
*Michelle Obama’s Monday night speech? You guessed it: “There’s no doubt that the Bernie Sanders speech was politically very, very significant in trying to bring in that base, that Bernie Sanders base. But the most powerful speech of the night by far was the speech by the first lady, Michelle Obama,” analyzed Blitzer.
*None of which is to say that Sanders’s own speech wasn’t, you know: “What a difference this morning’s speech and tonight’s speech by Bernie Sanders makes because this morning he was going after Donald Trump, barely saying nice words about Hillary Clinton,” noted Blitzer. “Tonight it was a mixture of both. Very powerful speech.”
*Of Tim Kaine’s words last Saturday at the vice-presidential announcement: “Now we all know why Hillary Clinton picked Tim Kaine to be her vice presidential running mate,” said Blitzer. “He just delivered a very, very powerful presentation.”
*Only an analyst as prescient as Blitzer could predict that President Obama would kill it on Wednesday night: “If anyone can deliver a powerful speech, it is, of course, the president of the United States.” This is CNN.
Never, ever ever let it be said that Blitzer, who works at the neutral CNN, finds power exclusively in Democratic speeches. To wit:
*On the second day of the GOP convention, Blitzer stated: “Family, clearly, a very important theme in this Trump convention. Last night, it was Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, that had the prime speaking spot. But her message, which was a powerful, strong message, may have gotten lost in the aftermath because of similarities to the speech that Michelle Obama gave at the Democratic Convention back in 2008.” Which is to say, Obama’s 2008 speech was very powerful.
*On the third night of the Republican National Convention, Blitzer said this of Donald Trump Jr.’s work: “He had a very powerful speech.”
All this “powerful” stuff surely has overwhelmed Blitzer’s colleagues this week. Again to wit, CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday night said, “Ahead, the heavily anticipated appearance of Bill Clinton that is the keynote tonight — many are expecting an especially powerful appeal on behalf of his wife tonight.” (She was right, at least according to Blitzer). CNN’s Dana Bash on Monday: “And, you know, the beginning of the afternoon really, when they were gaveling in, and there was so much vocal animosity by many of the Bernie Sanders supporters, you didn’t hear any of that in the hall when Michelle Obama made that statement, which I think is incredibly powerful.” Bash, again, on Monday night: “Elizabeth Warren obviously, as you said, gave a very powerful populist message, what you’d expect from her.” CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night: “The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown — they were on stage tonight. It was certainly a powerful moment for many in this hall and no doubt at home.” More Cooper: “First lady Michelle Obama brought the crowd to its feet with an emotional and powerful speech rejecting what many Democrats view as Trump’s dark view of America.”
Of course, we hyperbolized things a bit up top; Blitzer doesn’t compliment every speech in the same way. Gazing back at conventions past, he said this week, “Bill Clinton’s speech in 1988 — it was very long. It was criticized.” Not powerful at all.