DNC Review II: I Want To Believe

Well, this weekend has quite gotten away from me, though through the best means possible (helping a friend celebrate an important anniversary Friday night, and going to the Boston Arts Festival with my dearly beloved and our cousin yesterday. So I will have to try to catch up with the remainder of the Democratic National Convention speeches today. You can find Part I of my DNC review here, and can also peruse parts I, II and III of my RNC reviews, should you be so inclined.

Since I listened to Rick Santorum’s defense of the rights of the unborn at the RNC, it seems only fair to give some time the woman Rush Limbaugh made famous by mocking for not wanting to get unintentionally pregnant, Sandra Fluke:

Moral of this story- don’t be the nominee of a party that tries to hold a hearing on contraception without inviting a single woman, and then when one of the most prominent figures of your party mocks  a woman who did testify about contraception earlier by calling her a slut, not say anything in her defense. Because if you decide to be that guy, you deserve to get this speech thrown your way, and she gave it very well.  

Now on to John Kerry, the heartbreak of 2004, speaking about Romney’s foreign policy proposals:
Using “Respect” as the intro is an interesting choice. Weird to think that if he had won in 2004 and then won re-election, this could have been making his speech as incumbent tonight. Ah, alternate history… Oh, good one about his outsourcing the job of Commander in Chief to Neocons. And finally somebody addressing American exceptionalism as being something produced by doing exceptional things. Like standing up for freedom and fighting global warming. This is really a nice succinct argument for Obama’s foreign policy. Eliminating more of Al Qaeda in the last three years than in the previous eight? I like this “he promised” “he did” motif he’s got going here. And now name-checking Netanyahu against Romney. Refused to accept the false choice between diplomacy without force and force without diplomacy. You go, John! Really gratifying, this is like anti swift-boating. And now he’s throwing “for it before you were against it” back at them too. It really is amazing that the party of defense and strength abroad turned out Romney as a nominee. Kind of a testimony to how well Obama’s been doing, that things seems stable enough that it isn’t even a major issue.
And now to the woman who would be my Senator, Elizabeth Warren, who gave  a speech I’ve already heard plenty about, busy as my work-week was. Let’s see if it was as rabble-rousing as I’ve been led to believe:

Awww, it’s her first convention! And darned if they aren’t chanting for her now. Uh-oh, now she’s talking about hard-working people. Too radical! “The game is rigged against them” is the line I kept hearing, but nobody quoted the second half- it wasn’t always this way. As she’s arguing now, America did invest in it’s middle class, and it’s that policy that’s been reversed now. And the people who have been rolled over by that  are the people she’s fighting for. It’s a funny America where talking about the interests of working people over those of billionaires is radical. Uh-oh, Cayman Islands. We celebrate success, we just don’t want the game to be rigged. And now she’s talking about Progressivism in the Teddy Roosevelt sense. Well done, Liz, well done. Level the playing field, fair share, fair shot, build the country from the bottom up. Her little huff exasperation sound is almost as distracting as Ryan’s weird little laugh-sigh sound. Oh good one- sure they believe in government. They believe in government to help themselves and their friends. And now very powerful on corporations not being people, and people being who we represent. Now presenting Obama versus the lobbyists on the Consumer Protection Agency, on the side of the people. While of course reminding us the agency was her idea. Is this a winning strategy for her? I don’t know, but it’s winning my vote. Now linking stealing your purse on the street with stealing your pension on Wall Street. And now closing with Matthew 25:40 and the ghost of Ted Kennedy. Go Liz go!

Who was she introducing by the way? Oh yes, that’s right, one former President William Jefferson Clinton:

Ah, that’s right, he was formally placing Obama’s name in nomination in his speech. Aww, look at Rahm Emmanuel smiling up at him all starry-eyed. Like me, he wants to believe, and Bill Clinton always reminds him of when he did. Hence my use of another icon from the 90s icon to introduce this posting. We’re all in this together- the centerpiece of the Progressive ethos. Ah, now breaking down job creation since 1961 by administration. Investing in people is both morally right and good economics. Oh, Billy, we do miss you. Now he’s talking up Eisenhower and Reagan and pointing out how he’s never hated Republicans anything like the way the right now hates Obama. Because we focus on solving problems and seizing opportunities rather than fighting all the time. Cooperation over conflict, nobody’s right all the time, but the current Republicans don’t see it that way. And now holding up Obama as someone committed to cooperation, pointing out that he brought Republicans into his cabinet and his 2008 rivals. Including, yes indeed, Hillary Clinton. And, you know, while you can point to times when Obama’s been too inflexible, the other side has pretty much made the argument for him by being TOTALLY inflexible. Now skewering the Tampa convention, conceding they’re honorable people who will keep their commitments, then reminding us what those commitments are. And now selling the case for Obama- he put a floor under the crash, and has built the foundation for a future that works. And comparing it to his experience in ’94/’95, reminding us that Obama started with an economy in far worse shape. If you renew the President’s contract, you will feel the recovery. That’s it, that’s the argument. Love the job scores: job growth following the stimulus plan plus the auto restructuring versus Congress killing the jobs bill and Romney opposing saving the auto industry. Education so people can fill the already open jobs in the new economy, and what Obama is doing to support that. Man, this is a masterpiece-logical, thorough and impassioned. I understand now why folks were raving. For the last two years, health care cost growth under 4% per year for the first time in 50 years! Oh good, now he’s going after the “robbing Medicare” line. Did Ryan really think nobody would notice that the rationale, and even the amount, is exactly what he himself proposed? He’s a master of describing the other sides positions accurately, and making them seem absurd. The Republicans try that too, but outright lie to represent the other side’s argument along the way. Now shredding the Obama attacked the Welfare work requirement lie. And ending by talking about debt reduction, aka taking the bull by the horns. They quadrupled the debt the twelve years before he took office and doubled it the eight after he left. Ain’t no arguing that. The Obama plan as passing the arithmetic test and the values test. Plus a little voting rights on the way out. Fantastic speech and one that, by the way, unlike Romney or Ryan’s, passed fact checking with flying colors. There’s only one problem with a speech like this…

Somebody has to follow it. And the somebody who’s speech would most strongly compared to it, for good or ill, of course, would be President Obama‘s. I’ve heard that it was more restrained than many were expecting, but I wonder if some of that was the comparison effect. Let us see:
Did they really move inside because of the rain? Maybe yes, probably no. But it is a nicely filled-out room. Okay, I’m already doing the compare to Romney game. I have to think the guy who seems more optimistic and relaxed is going to take it. Look at Bush/Gore. Look at Bush/Kerry. And it’s already clear who’s on what side of that between these two speeches. Although he does keep slipping in to this slightly pugnacious look. I guess this race has him riled up! Beats Romeny’s exaggerated-eyed aloof nod, to be sure. A choice between two paths, good. I’m liking this, we’ve been there and tried that, and we are moving forward. And, however it plays, I have to admire the, “I’m here to tell you the truth- it won’t be easy, it won’t be quick.” Didn’t work so well for Carter or Mondale, but it’s still the higher road. Interesting to observe to the side, as I’m watching this on YouTube- 1.165 million views, 11,702 likes versus 3,388 dislikes. (Update- the most viewed one I could find had 356K views, with 2,804 likes versus 3,558 dislikes.) Even given that the net audience skews younger and better educated, therefore more likely Progressive, that’s pretty good. Remind me to check Romney’s stats after… Asking us to choose a path that leads to more manufacturing jobs and less imported oil dependence. Reminding us that climate change is not a hoax, and the dangers it poses to our children’s future is not a joke. And now education as the key to future competitiveness, which government has a role in, but everyone has to work on together. Now reminding us of his foreign policy promises, and how they’ve been delivered on, sounding almost Bushian with the new tower rising and Osama Bin Laden is dead line. And remembering to mention the troops in harm’s way (boy do I bet Romney regrets that one) but tying it back in to policies to take care of the troops when they come back home. You know, I think what this really sounds like is the more sober, responsible speech of a sitting President. It’s appropriate, I think, and the way you put down a challenger by contrast. Definitely some chutzpah on the foreign policy inexperience of Romney and Ryan given he came in with none himself, but hey, he’s delivered. I’m liking this “I refuse” line, listing the things that benefit the middle class that he’s not willing to give up on so that an upper income tax-cut can happen. Pivoting from that to, “this is the choice we now face.” And packaging the Republican policy prescription as being something that’s not who we are. Believing in the next little girl who might become President! Government can’t solve all of our problems, but it isn’t the source either. “We” like a thousand times. Nice- “you were the change”, “you did that” to counter the “you built that.” The party certainly knows how to not roll over and play dead by ceding all language of citizenship and patriotism to the Republicans. Interesting end- owning up to his failings and limitations, but how we give him hope. Like 2008 inverted. And if we share that hope, then he asks us for our vote. Wow, that was an end!    
Do I have any closing remarks that compare the two? Why yes, yes I do. In the boring realm of facts, the Democrats did much better. Witness, for eample, Factcheck.org’s rundown of Biden and Obama’s speeches (By the way Joe- I apologize for dropping you from this review. You know I dearly love you, but my time was too limited, and you know how Bill likes to go over…), and contrast the exaggerations there (and surely there were some) to the outright lies documented there for Romney and Ryan. As far as tone goes, I agree with Sean Trende’s column from RealClearPolitics that the Democrats actually seemed like the riled-up and enthusiastic challengers this year. As for Obama’s speech, I’m not sure I agree with those who found it comparatively lackluster. As I said above, I found it to be more appropriately sober and honest about the road ahead without ceding a single policy or rhetorical point. That being said, I can understand Joe Klein’s take on it, and I think he’s on to something: An ideal Democratic candidate might be accomplished by a mind-meld between Obama and Clinton. Maybe I’ll run on that…      
And there you have it. Our conventions are done, less than 60 days to go. Ding! for round two!                                          

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