dnc: barack’s historic night

Is anyone else tired of Al Bore’s “I really won the 2000 election” canned jokes?  If we could just find a way to harness the hot air coming from our former Vice President, we would have a endless source of renewable energy.  Give the Democrats credit though.  They have a group of skilled attack dogs who allow Barack Obama to stay above the fray.

As far as the historic nature of Senator Obama’s achievement, I want to join with Senator McCain and others in applauding the Senator for being the first African-American presidential nominee from the Democratic party.  That is worthy of note, and the country is better off for Barack’s candidacy, because it shows that we continue to make progress against racism and discrimination.

Even as a Republican who still remains skeptical of Obama and his grand plans for the country, I have to admit that there would be no way that McCain could fill up a football stadium with people willing to listen to his acceptance speech.  McCain is not and will never be Mr. Excitement,  but that shouldn’t be the determining factor in choosing a president.  The whole spectacle was impressive, and Barack gave an excellent speech.  It had quite a few center-right elements, like when he talked about individual responsibility and the desire for fathers to be there for their children.  There were many things I liked about what he had to say, but there were many more areas where Senator Obama and I sharply disagree. That’s why I cannot vote for him.

We should not underestimate Barack Obama.  He is a threat to win this election, and even though the DNC was divided at the beginning of this week — and distracted by the Clintons’ long (and temporary) goodbye speeches — Barack Obama owned the stage Thursday night and became the lasting memory of the 2008 DNC. If it weren’t for McCain’s shocking announcement Friday morning, Obama’s speech would be the main topic of discussion at the political water coolers today.  Thanks to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, it is not.  She’s quite the distraction.

For must-read hilarious coverage of the DNC, go read Dave Barry’s column.

dnc: shiny tie night

More of the Clinton show on day three — former President Clinton (the elected one) showed Hillary how a convention speech should be delivered.  I was surprised by the massive outpouring of cheers and applause for Bill Clinton, because the whole message of the primaries was that the Democrats had moved on from the Clintons and were ready to take the party in a new direction with Senator Obama.  This could have been designed to give the former president his moment in the sun and have some closure on the Clinton era before the Obama era begins.  Of course, this effort would be a massive failure since Hillary isn’t going away.

President Clinton gave a typical Clinton speech, except that it was relatively short.  The crowd was enthusiastic and cheered just about everything he said. He made a better case for Obama than his wife did, and he made what Democrats would consider to be a reasonable effort to support the current presidential ticket.  It must have annoyed a few folks that he said nice things about John McCain, since he’s the next Bush and all.

Our favorite flip-flopper John F. Kerry also made an appearance and gave a coherent speech.  Now that he’s no longer a threat to be president,  he’s much more likable and not quite as scary as he was in ’04.

I like Joe Biden.  I can’t help liking him and his story, even though I disagree with his views on about 90, 95% of the important issues of the day.  His story is a great made-for-TV narrative.  It is interesting that that personal story of him as a fighter doesn’t always translate into his views on foreign policy.  He knows that the way to deal with bullies in the real world is to hit ’em until they respect you and leave you alone.  The same should be true for rogue nations and terrorists as well, so I’m surprised that he is so willing to surrender his hawkish side to go along with Obama’s policy views.  Of course this is something all VPs do, submerging their own personal views to mirror those of the presidential nominee, so I guess he’s just following the grand tradition of Gore, Lieberman, etc.

Then there was the great Obama surprise, where he attempted to steal the spotlight from Bill Clinton and his VP pick Joe Biden.  Think he might have been tired of watching other people star at his convention?   Looked that way to me.  But it was nice of the great one to stop by and thank the little people who got him where he is today.  It’s the least he could do — to show up in person and mingle with the hoi polloi for a few minutes before his big speech to the masses on Thursday.

My prediction for tonight — Obama’s speech won’t meet expectations.  He may wow the mediots and some of the blind follower sheep he has in his flock, but the rest of us will look at what he said and inevitably find it lacking in useful substantial content.

dnc: night two

Say what you will about Hillary voters eventually falling in line and voting for Barack Obama, the rift between the Hillary campaign and the Obama campaign is not a fabrication of Fox News and the MSM.  The Clintons don’t really believe that the Democrats are about to nominate the right person for president.  That makes the job of convincing Hillary’s delegates to vote for Barack instead rather difficult to do.  She had to make the attempt to keep herself in the conversation for 2012.  Given that calculation, Hillary’s speech did more to help her future political aspirations than it did to help Barack Obama win this election.

Hillary’s speech was a great speech, and it only reinforced the belief of her supporters that she would have been tough against John McCain.  She said what she had to avoid the blame for a possible November loss by Obama, but she didn’t make the case that he’s the slam-dunk choice against McCain.  How could she?  It’s clear she doesn’t believe that.  I think Michelle Obama knew that what she was watching was Hillary going through the motions of supporting Barack.  How else could you explain the resentful look on her face as she watched Hillary’s speech?  It’s all a big charade — this appearance of unity deal between the Clintons and the Obamas.

You really can’t blame the Obamas for any annoyance or resentment they may feel about sharing a significant portion of their convention with the Clintons.  The purpose of the Democratic National Convention should be to sell the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, to the American people as a suitable alternative to John McCain.  I’m not sure the Dems will end up accomplishing this and getting the necessary bounce out of this week.  Attacks on Bush-McCain policies only go so far.  To advance the hope/change message, Barack has to set out his own bold vision, which will be hard because there’s nothing new about his ideas or proposed policies.  The only new element is the person trying to sell those bad ideas.

All of Barack’s surrogates haven’t been able to close the deal for him so far this week.  It’s up to Senator Obama to make the case to the American people, and his speech tomorrow will have a significant impact on what happens to his candidacy going forward.

dnc: the first night

Let the progressive love-in begin.

The Democrats kicked off their national convention Monday, and they decided to demonstrate their commitment to making a break from the old, partisan politics of George W. Bush and John McCain by choosing Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy to speak that night — who are stellar examples of unity and harmony and bringing people together. Good call there.  There’s no better way to demonstrate a new, different approach to the ways of Washington than to showcase the incompetent Speaker of the House and a guy who has been in the Senate forever and ever.  But wait…no tribute to past and present failure can be complete without including Jimmy Carter.  I was annoyed by Pelosi, amused by Kennedy, and I ignored whatever Jimmy Carter had said.

I continue to be impressed by Caroline Kennedy. I think that she would make an excellent candidate for public office, and she didn’t rule it out when she was on MTP with Tom Brokaw. She would be a tough opponent for Republicans, so I hope she stays on the sidelines.

Now to Michelle Obama’s speech…

My initial reaction to it was that I liked it.  If the objective of the speech was to humanize her and to make her less scary, I think she accomplished that — although the appearance of Barack and his interaction with their daughters probably did more to advance that narrative than she did in that speech.  On the other hand, I don’t think this kind of positive speech comes naturally to Michelle Obama.  Maybe it would be easier to buy into Michelle 2.0 if I hadn’t heard some of her previous speeches, but her smiles during this speech looked forced.  Even with this new tone, she still talks about remaking America.  America isn’t totally broken.  There are changes we need to make, and stuff we need to change, but America is still a great country.

What was accomplished?  Nothing much Monday night. I’m not sure that this convention will give Barack the bump he needs to regain momentum, unless the Clintons are willing to shift the focus from themselves to Senator Obama.  There’s no evidence that this will happen, so unless Barack gives the speech of his life Thursday, this convention week will be a wasted opportunity for the Democrats.