September 6, 2012
A verdict to be rendered, votes to be gathered, victory to be won
There is a two part movie analogy to what took place at the Democratic National Convention, in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week. One is the the trial drama, where the parade of witnesses for the defense - and the incumbent is always on the defense - testify to the jury of voters, and validate allegiance to the candidate and his policies. At the end of the trial, all the voters are charged to deliberate and render a verdict: re-elect or not to re-elect.
The other kind of movie scene the convention spectacle brings to mind, is the Braveheart moment, where the general rides up and down the line, motivating the troops for battle, letting them know how important their sacrifice of time and their commitment to the outcome are the keys to victory, for the candidate, and everything for which the president stands. The faithful then charge ahead, into the phalanx of skeptics and naysayers, and their barbed memes, relying on the party lieutenants to keep them from being outflanked.
Cooperation and the Clinton effect
September 5, 2012
Jerusalem, God amendments to Democratic platform added on close voteIn what can easily be described as an uncomfortable three minutes for the Democratic National Convention, its chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was forced to take three, apparently close, voice votes from the delegates in Charlotte, to amend the party's platform, Wednesday, to include mentioning God and affirming the party's belief in Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Reproductive rights not Sandra Fluke’s only passionSandra Fluke's accidental celebrity, this year, may have come about over a Capitol Hill clash on women's reproductive rights, and an unworthy epithet hurled at her from a right wing radio blowhard, but when she takes the podium, Wednesday night, at the Democratic National Convention, in Charlotte, she is going to reveal to the country that her interests in women's issues goes, she says, "beyond the contraception conversation."
September 4, 2012
Democrats say value in American Dream is in who you areOne of the earliest speeches to the delegates of the Democratic National Convention, Tuesday evening, came from a man in a white cowboy hat - Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. It kind of set the theme for the night."Barack Obama has lived the American Dream," he said. "He has walked in our shoes."
Democrat platform – familiar themes and contrasts, plus the wonky bits
As a policy document, one could get lost in the weeds about NATO, North Korea and loose nukes, but the wonky bits in the 2012 Democratic National Platform don't start until halfway through the forty page document. The first twenty pages of the platform, which the party will approve at their convention in Charlotte, Tuesday night, is all about one thing - growing the middle class.
September 3, 2012
Yes, the Democrats have a Southern Strategy, of sorts
"We are thrilled to have the Democratic National Convention here, thrilled to have our party fighting for the South." - Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Anthony Foxx, in a statement welcoming the media to his hometown, September 3, 2012Mayor Foxx called the Democrats' mobilizing in North Carolina, "a ripple effect," because, "we border Virginia, and some of the other states around us, that could be competitive in this race."
"It gives us just as much of a boost in Virginia, the neighboring state, as it does in North Carolina," agreed Obama campaign press secretary, Ben Labolt.
Open, accessible and diverse, versus secret, exclusive and whiteFlip the coin over. The Democrats in Charlotte are planning what they consider a kind of antithesis of what the Republicans just did in Tampa, and, they believe, it's as much about population and platform as it is about publicizing policy.
History as caricature - Republicans selling malaise like it's 1979
"[O]n issue after issue, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan want to go backwards."The Republicans want you to be morose, sad and resigned.
-President Obama, Boulder, Colorado, September 2, 2012
One of the themes that emerged from the Republican National Convention, in Tampa, last week, was how sad are the times, how disappointing is the economy, how grey the outlook for hope. You could see it in the drooping, puppy dog eyelids of vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), when he spoke of the Janesville, Wisconsin, shuttered GM plant. "It is locked up and empty to this day," he lamented, the corners of his wide, disappearing lips, drawing downward, feeling your pain, out there in the unemployed, closed factory towns around the country, "And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight."
Hopeless. So hopeless. If you are resigned to the hopelessness of the "fading Obama posters" on your bedroom ceiling, for attacks on success and for government assistance to help you get your slice of the American pie, they said, then vote for Obama. "If you're looking for free stuff, that you don't have to pay for," like health care and food and the ability to afford a college education, the Republican nominee told a heckler during the heat of the campaign, "then vote for the other guy. That's what he's all about."
Gov. Romney continued the RNC's theme of Obama destroying American drive, the night after Ryan's appeal to despair, in (not surprisingly) a less nuanced, more direct approach:
"Every family in America wanted this to be a time when they could get ahead a little more... Every small business wanted these to be their best years ever, when they could hire more... Every new college graduate thought they'd have a good job by now, a place of their own...Oh, it's so sad, too sad, that this president has turned your lives into a brother-can-you-spare-a-dime, ponderous time of high gas prices and low self esteem, he insists.
"This was the hope and change America voted for...
"I wish President Obama had succeeded... [b]ut his promises gave way to disappointment and division."
Despite Romney's claim that "every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: 'you are better off today than you were four years ago,'" it is only Reagan who thought that question relevant, and because he won on it, every Republican challenger to an incumbent has felt it necessary to ask the same.
And since Romney-Ryan want to be the Ronald Reagan of the early 21st century, Romney had to ask the country, Thursday, what other one-term, Democratic presidents have failed to lift the spirit of the American people? Oh, yes. Jimmy Carter, and now, "this president."
The problem with Mr. Romney's argument is, the politics of the seventies were bogged down by more than just inflation and high gas prices. Entire government institutions, ones that had been celebrated only a generation before, had broken the trust of the people. There was no trusting the president because of Watergate, no trusting the Congress or the military because of the quagmire of Vietnam, and finally, the Iran hostage crisis that went on for over a year, shook our gullible, Madison Avenue, post-World War II belief in the nation's ability to lead in the world, and didn't end until the day President Carter left office.
Times are hard, to be sure, but these are not those times, and Romney is not the mythical Reagan. Reagan wasn't even the mythical Reagan. He was a tax raising union-buster who made the first baby boomers to work on Wall Street a lot of money, believed that the poor were happy living on the dole, and prosecuted a secret war on Nicaragua with money from Iran. But he was the Gipper, and he did all that with a wink, a laugh and a nod, and a patronly smile that made most of America feel really good about their country.
Now, the Republicans want America's thinking voters to park their analytical brains, and equate the political difficulties of Jimmy Carter and the seventies with President Obama fighting a Congress that has made it a point to frustrate his policy and mute possible successes for fear any compromise or acquiescence would mitigate their desire and promise to make him "a one term president." What does that mean for the Republicans? An excuse to call the president ineffectual.
What does that mean for the president? It means a reason to show that he is willing to cross the aisle to work with even the most extreme Republicans, that he is above all this partisan posturing, even if they aren't.
This week, in Charlotte, President Obama should play up his successes with Congress, as minimal as they were, to show undecided and independent voters that he is not only willing, but capable of running our country, even under the pall of extreme push-back from the opposition party. That's what we will be looking for, as we continue our election coverage from inside the Democratic National Convention.