DNC Review I: Platforms, peanuts, keynotes and one kick-ass mama

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you know that over the weekend, I got caught up on the little party the RNC held down in Tampa. You can read my after-live blogging of some of the main speeches in parts I, II and III of my RNC Review posts last week. Well, guess what? The Democrats do this convention thing too! And, so accordingly, over the next few days I’ll be blogging my reactions to the party in

To kick it off, Corey Booker, Mayor, I am told. of Newark (and Platform Committee co-chair to boot) warming up the crowd early in the evening Tuesday by introducing the platform:

Wow, “moving America and our economy forward” in like the first line. That’s message discipline! Nice- grow together versus savage disparities. He has a speaking problem democrats often fall victim to- volume as an indicator of passion. Whereas it sounds more to me like shouting. I think maybe it comes from a history of union barnstormers versus business confabs. Significant cuts in federal spending, but making sure everyone pays their fair share as patriotism, not class warfare. Also very nice- ha, even got them chanting USA! Who do they think they are, proud Americans? And a good argument for investment, with a plug for small business. I wonder if Republicans feel the same way listening to this that I did to RNC speeches? I.e., it sounds good, but I don’t believe they mean it. I think so, that’s where we’re at as a nation after the culture wars of the 90s, Clinton impeachment circus, polarizing Bush years and anti-Obama flip-out- increasingly polarized away from any common ground. Nice tie-in of education as the most fundamental investment in economic success. And opportunity for all to go wherever they can imagine, which after all is what the RNC kept pushing too. Well, I don’t disagree with anything he’s saying, even if I wish he hadn’t shouted it at me. And I love him for ending with liberty and justice for all.    

And now, having watched the Bush mini-documentary at the RNC, on the principle of one (or two) Ex-Presidents deserve another, let’s move on to the video address from Jimmy Carter. He won’t shout at me:

36 years ago. Wow. That election is actually my first public affairs memory. And there isn’t a word about his legacy, it’s all about Obama’s integrity and him being on the side of the middle class. Remember when the Democrats used to be totally undisciplined? Well done, DNC, well done. And yet Jimmy still keeps his interest in global development and justice subtly in the mix in this speech. I remember the economic and international chaos of 1979, and I was as excited as anyone, in my 10 year old way, by Reagan coming in. But looking at Carter now always warms my heart. Not a great President, but a big-hearted genuine man.  

And now for the speech that I’ve heard a lot about, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro‘s keynote:

See, we’ve got Texans too! And now he’s stealing the RNC’s make the 21st Century a new American Century line. Single mothers believing in the American Dream, prayer and menudo cook-offs. Sounds like they love America to me, and believe in opportunity plenty. A human dream calling across oceans and borders, which America makes possible. See RNC, it is possible to be globally open and love your country too. 21st century boys, get on board. Things we can’t do alone, which is why we have to come together and invest for opportunity. You can’t be pro-business unless you’re pro-education. Damn. Say it! Invest today to be competitive tomorrow. Nicely skewering Romney on borrowing money from your parents to start a business not being the reality for most people. Geez, though, how many times have they fit middle class in their speeches so far, though. Nice bit he’s on now with the “Mitt Romney says ‘No’.” When we invest in people, we invest in our shared prosperity. Man, they’ve really figured out their messaging. And now stealing Ryan’s “Get it done”, but applying it to health care. A choice between the middle class pays more so millionaires can pay less, or everybody paying their fair share. That’s about as succinct as it gets. The American dream as a relay, instead of a sprint, very nice. A responsibility to come together to assure opportunity for all going forward.        

If you read last week, you may recall my saying I don’t put a lot of stock in spousal speeches. I don’t! But Michelle Obama‘s speech met with such rave reviews, and since I listened to Ann Romney’s, I feel like what’s good for the red goose is good for the blue gander. Or something like that:

Aww look-there’s Joe, clapping and smiling for her! Damn, that woman knows how to sparkle when she speaks. It’s funny, because in many ways, this reminds me of Ann Romney’s speech. It’s structurally almost identical so far. Except she does the young couple struggling thing more naturally, because they did actually struggle. And putting the “glass ceiling” in a personal context. Even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids. That’s it. She’s doing a great job of testifying to his character, and tying that in to his devotion to get the economy going again. Our kids should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick, and nobody should ever go broke because of an accident or an illness. Increasing student aid and keeping interest rates down. And this being personal, not political. She doesn’t quite know how to not talk over an applause line, but it makes her seem more genuine in a way. And damned if they aren’t backing up their marriage equality plank- every speaker I’ve listened to has mentioned it so far. And listen to her go, stealing back and redefining “success” from the RNC who tried to convince us Democrats hate it. And when you succeed  you help others who come after you to do it too. Together. We’re all in this together. Doesn’t sound like the polarizing divider they love to conjure up. She’s also doing a Bush thing for him (in a good way), reminding everyone he stands up for what he thinks is right even if it’s unpopular. And now she’s tying it all in to the American Dream as being part and parcel of women’s rights, the Civil Rights movement, marriage equality. And her daughters as the future she knows we need to keep fighting for, oh geez now I’m tearing up.            
Well, there we are! In the interests of fair play, I have to report that they fudged some facts, as politicians are wont to do. You can and should read up on it here. In terms of general review, I have to say, I have my leanings, so I can’t give a truly unbiased comparison, but I think their first night was better than the RNC’s. Everyone felt really united, whereas you could almost feel the “me next” jockeying from Santorum and Christie at RNC night one. Looking forward to seeing night two!

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