Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some Quick Democratic Convention Thoughts

Yes, the conventions can be accurately described as a week long infomercial for a political party. Yes, its short on policy and long on red-meat one liners hoping to inspire an electorate around a candidate and throw as many flaming arrows at the other side.

But its quite good fun. For a short while I was worried that the Democratic party this week had gone soft, unwilling to play tough and throw some mud at McCain. I was worried because I knew McCain and company would have no trouble doing the same when it was there turn.

I hate politics like this of course, but a part of me loves it as long as its done above the belt and in good fun. I think last night's convention fit that description quite well.

Last night it was all about Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and of course Joe Biden. Bill's speech was incredible in a word. It was interesting to listen to him through the eyes of a Democrat after a decade of despising him in the 1990's. He has an ego of epic proportions, of course, even at presidential standards. But he has such wonderful charisma, a way at communication that makes you feel connected to him, something Obama doesn't quite have.

And he answered one of the main criticisms McCain has been using against him when he said "Together, we prevailed in a campaign in which the Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be Commander-in-Chief. Sound familiar? It didn't work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it won't work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history."

In a word, Bill Clinton was ready to lead, and so is Obama today.

Kerry's speech was surpisingly seering, and Biden's speech was good as well.

The main themes coming out of this convention:

1) The Democratic party will do more to address the increased disparity between the rich and the poor, will do more for the lower and middle class. This is often said, but for the first time, its credible. Bush's tax cuts have been increasingly been shown to be ineffective at best, damaging at worst. Obama proposes to cut taxes deeper and more broadly for those on the lower end of the economic scale and increase taxes for the uber-rich (>$250k/year). Makes sense since those folks have enjoyed an unbelievably large share of the spoils of our economic growth and increase productivity over the last 10 to 20 years (Bill Clinton laid out the stats here quite well).

2) The Democratic party will do more to repair our reputation and standing abroad with more emphasis on cooperation and tough diplomacy, and more care with our military resources. This again is a common sense message, one the Republican party used to be all about and one Bush has started to finally realize after seven years of craziness.

3) They are going to do all they can to line McCain up with Bush's record. For a while, early on I felt this was an unfair attack on McCain because of McCain's independent credentials, but the way McCain has chosen to redefine himself with Rove's staff with Bush's below the belt tactics, and with an emphasis on cowboy talk foreign policy (the exact opposite of Teddy Roosevelt's talk of speak softly but carry a big stick - indeed under Bush our stick has been weakened - look how helpless we are on dealing with Russia and Iran both).

Finally, Obama's speech tonight will be exciting. There's been talk that he's making a mistake holding it at the football stadium that it will play right into McCain's celebrity attacks. But Obama made a surprise appearance yesterday saying that his campaign was all about uniting and inspiring Americans so that change can come from the grassroots bottom up.

Its hard to imagine that actually happening in practice, but its exactly how Obama has raised his money, its how he beat Hillary, and its Democracy at its best. So, I'm all for it and I'm excited.


Anonymous said...

According to this Boston magazine story, this is the first speech Kerry has cared about in ages.

I love this passage,"Kerry on a bad day is something to behold. The senator can, famously, radiate a sort of anti-charisma that doesn't repel so much as baffle. When he showed up in Lowell, the crowd instinctively pushed toward him, propelled by the electric charge people feel when they see someone famous. But then came the inevitable disappointment. Kerry was uncomfortable, not entirely engaged. His back-slapping was unconvincing. To denote exuberance, he clapped his hands—but just once. It looked as if he was trying to kill a fly."

H said...

When and where do I find Obama speech tonight?!

tempe turley said...

Helena, I'm not sure exactly when the speech will be tonight. I usually just tune in around 6pm (really earlier from work and just stream it), and just wait.

I'm guessing around 7pm?

Anonymous, that was an interesting article, and it made a lot of sense. I was really surprised how good Kerry's speech was. He's a talented guy, I guess it helps to care...