Joe Biden is capable of delivering a moving, inspiring speech. This was not his best.
Biden tried to establish an emotional connection with his audience by starting the talk as many of the speakers at these conventions have, by describing his love for his family. His declaration of love for his wife, whom he called “Kitten,” seemed oddly out-of-place for a formal speech, and went on for far too long. You can watch it here:
On delivery, he stumbled over some of the power moments of the speech, tripping over zingers like, “I’ve got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan: Never, ever—it never makes sense—it’s never been a good bet to bet against the American people.” He choked up during the closing moments of the speech, but a little too much, so that it was difficult to understand what he was saying.
He made some good arguments in favor of his candidate, adding heft to the President’s case, but not as clearly or strongly as Bill Clinton did. He drew a strange parallel between this generation and the Greatest Generation—the generation that fought and won World War II—saying that we had proved that we were equal to them because of how we came through the economic crisis. His tale of two stories (saving General Motors and defeating bin Laden) served as important reminders to the undecided, many of whom do not know these stories well. But the telling should have been crisper. His description of his close teamwork relationship with the President was designed to inspire in their leadership and to deflate perceptions that the President is a smug loner, and that was one section where the delivery succeeded. No one can project identification with everyday workers better than Biden.
In sum, Biden hit the right themes, but the writing and delivery were not what they could have been. To see Biden hit his stride, watch this speech given to families of fallen soldiers:
The fallen soldiers speech earns an A. The convention speech is a B.