Deconstructing the DNC
However, a closer look at this Olympic political event, which ended last night with Senator Barack Obama’s speech at the Invesco Field Stadium in Denver, Colorado, is warranted. For among the speeches and speculation, some answers to relevant questions and important insights were gleaned.
The DNC had an A-list line up of speakers for the week with both Clintons, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, former president Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Bill Richardson, and a host of others garnering a speaking spot. There were a number of phenomenal speeches, but out of the soaring rhetoric, some important conclusions were drawn.
The Obama-Clinton rift seems to have healed. Heightening the media buzz at the convention was obsession over the question of whether or not the Clinton and Obama camps would finally get it together and, in the words of the convention night geared toward this effect, “unify.” At the very least, any outward appearances of lingering resentment from a divisive primary battle could not be found. Hillary Clinton gave a good speech in which she asked her “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits” (one of the better lines of the convention) to join her in supporting Barack Obama.
However, some critics felt that there was something missing from her speech. The most ready critique was that Sen. Clinton did not say Obama was ready or prepared to lead as president of the United States. This seems like a valid critique, considering the “inexperience” argument that propelled Clinton’s primary campaign. However, this deficiency was corrected in former president Clinton’s speech. He emphatically said, “Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world. Ready to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States.”
Obama himself appeared to be trying to patch things up with the Clintons as well, complimenting Hillary on her speech and noting of former president Clinton in his speech Thursday night, “We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.”
Obama told his story. Until this week, Obama suffered one of the worst campaign problems a politician can have: people didn’t really know his background or his story. In an electorate where people oftentimes make a decision about which candidate to vote for based on heuristics, this was a serious deficiency. Last night, 38 million people reportedly watched Obama’s speech, in which he discussed his background, and presumably the biographical video that preceded the speech, which was produced by the DNC.
Obama laid out the specifics. Another favored criticism of Obama, that his speeches are merely “pretty words” that lack any real policy oomph, was addressed in the speech last night as well. Obama went into (greater) detail on his energy, education, and tax plans, to name a few, saying explicitly, “let me spell out exactly what change would mean if I am President.”
The Democrats went after McCain. From Hillary Clinton’s “No Way. No How. No McCain” to Obama’s call to leave behind cheap attacks on each other’s patriotism, the week was filled with efforts to highlight the stark contrast between John McCain’s vision for America and the Democratic Party’s vision for America.
All in all, a political event of this Olympic magnitude deserves its own awards. Thus, I have awarded a few below:
Best line from a speech: “People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.” –From Bill Clinton’s speech Wednesday night
Funniest line from a speech: “To my supporters, my champions – my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits – from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.” –From Hillary Clinton’s speech Tuesday night
Best zinger from a speech: “It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.” – From Barack Obama’s speech Thursday night
With McCain’s selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his vice presidential nominee, a move not many in the political world saw coming, next week’s Republican National Convention promises just as big of a media blitz and answers to many of the arguments made this week by the Democrats. Shawn Healy will cover the RNC next week from the Twin Cities.