Traverse City Record-Eagle

Columns

September 9, 2012

George Weeks: Granholm draws raves, ridicule

In her warm-up speech shortly before President Barack Obama accepted nomination for a second term, ex-Gov. Jennifer Granholm pumped up delegates at last week's final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Vice-President Joe Biden, the next speaker, raved: "Wasn't she great? I love Jennifer." But her six-minute pitch, well-described by CNN as "wild and woolly," drew ridicule as well as raves from the press.

In a blog, editorial page editor Nolan Finley of The Detroit News called it "one of the more bizzare performances I've ever seen. "¦ She twisted, she shouted, she jumped and she jabbed her hands in the air as her face contorted and grew ever more red. She looked like someone possessed."-- maybe, he suggested, by Biden, " her long time admirer. Or maybe she had a squirrel up her pant leg." Frank Beckman of Detroit radio station WJR blogged that she was "totally unhinged." In Detroit Free Press coverage, political writer Kathleen Gray said Granholm "wildly gestured and winked and pointed fingers and hopped at the podium.

"This, wrote Gray, was "much to the delight of her audience," which gave her a standing ovation at the end. "Thunderous applause" headlined the News.

On Saturday, in reporting on all the coverage on social media, headlined that she was viewed "'round the world." "The stem-winder of the day," said a Wall Street Journal report.

One segment on CNN headlined that Granholm was "firing on all cylinders," and suggested she had "A Howard Dean moment"-- a reference to the former long-ago Democratic presidential contender who had a memorable "Dean scream" at the end of a public appearance.

The CNN anchor also quipped that it might have been the Democratic version of a "Clint Eastwood moment"-- a reference to the actor's weird speech-turned-viral sensation at the Republican National Convention.

Granholm's delivery was indeed unusual for the former two-term governor known as a poised and polished communicator. But Granholm, who now teaches at the University of California-Berkeley and hosts a California-based political show on Al Gore's Current TV network, met the Obama campaign wish that she fire up the troops and trumpet the federal $84 billion auto industry bailout.

She said Obama "made the tough calls and saved the American auto industry." Detroit News writer David Shepardson said there was no mention by convention speakers that the first $25 billion of the bailout was approved by President George W. Bush in the final weeks of his term.

Granholm's high-profile role has sparked renewed speculation that she might join the Obama's administration if there is a second term.

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