Friday, August 29, 2008

Living History

The action is fast and furious as the year comes to a close, no sooner do we dispense with the Beijing Olympics, historic in its own right on many levels, than we have the Democratic National Convention to analyze. And analyze it we will. To wit:

The Leadup: All the speeches leading up to the nomination were excellent in my opinion. From Ted Kennedy's deeply moving words, to the always charming and eloquent Bill Clinton, to Hillary rallying her troops, to Michelle Obama showing her strength, to Joe Biden reminding us of his working class background and his dreams of America, everyone did their job.

The Clintons, much feared and reviled for their supposed ego and power-hunger, gracefully deferred to the chosen nominee and rallied support behind him. You'll be hard pressed to find Republicans exhibiting such decorum.

They, and Obama after him, managed to avoid looking like they were attacking John McCain while at the same time taking him to task for being willing to propagate the policies of the Bush administration, a double-edged sword few Democrats have been able to handle without getting cut.

The Nomination: The acclamation of Obama, led by Hillary, was perfect, as was Obama's "surprise" appearance. Call it political theater, call it, as the "fair and balanced" Britt Hume did, "pure hokum," it delivered an important symbolic message. And it worked.

The Arena: Over the top? A little, perhaps, but not so much to merit the kind of attention and derision it got. One wonders if the other side paid so much attention to the venue because they have so little else critical to say.

The Speech: Some say brilliant, others "workmanlike." This speech was a huge success. But don't take my word for it. Look at this!

Your eyes do not deceive you! Bill Kristol, the 21st century's answer to Bob Novak, liked Obama's speech! He liked it! He really liked it! While it would be a bit too much to expect all of FOX's "fair and balanced" pundits to approve of a Democrat's performance, Sean Hannity predictably dismissed it as "a bunch of liberal cliches," and we know what Hume thought, this is a pretty big endorsement, if not of Obama's policies, at least his words.

What I liked about it is that he said a lot of things that need to be said, cliche or no.

He reminded us that the Republicans will attempt to dismiss the Democrats as the party which will raise your taxes and abandon traditional values (seems like I mentioned this on this blog not too long ago.)

He reminded us that the idea that somehow because Democrats welcome diplomacy as a way to solve problems without bloodshed we are soft on security is ludicrous. This is one of the biggest lies the Republicans have managed to so successfully propagate. Wilson, who led us to victory in World War I, a Democrat. Roosevelt, who led us to victory in WWII, a Democrat. For better or for worse it was Democrats who were not afraid to march on Korea and Vietnam and Republicans who pulled us out before the "job was done," and it was Republicans responsible for these disastrous Gulf Wars. So which party produces Presidents better prepared for war?

He reminded us that the Clinton years brought us an era of undreamt of economic prosperity in contrast to Bush's eight years of economic despair.

He reminded us that Democrats can be compassionate and also strong.

And millions were listening.

The Bump: Despite the Republicans breaching etiquette and launching attack ads while the Democrats should have had the spotlight to themselves, Barack got his bump, if delayed. He went from being two points down as the convention began to being 8 points up. Even McCain's surprise reveal of Vice President Beauty Queen (more on that in a moment), doesn't seem to have stopped the rise. Of course, next week the Republicans get their shot.

And no sooner did the DNConvention end than we learned that John McCain had made his choice. Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. Miss Wasilla, Miss Alaska Runner-up, Sarah Barracuda, The Hockey Mom. Senator McCain, a more transparent and pandering choice you could not have made.

It is beyond offensive that McCain thinks that women are so interchangable that a 44 year old Governor of a state that borders not any U.S. state, but CANADA, will pick up the votes that a respected Senator of New York and former first lady who has dedicated her life to public service while Palin was out hunting moose, brought together.

McCain, this choice will not earn you any Hillary voters and takes a huge chunk out of your credibility as someone who is not out of touch (you think the issues of Alaska represent the heartland? or the coasts?) and someone who puts heavy stock in experience (44?). One wonders who he would have chosen had Hillary won the nomination. I'm guessing this guy:

This choice is going to blow up in McCain's face,and I for one, can't wait to see if during the Vice Presidential debate, Palin gives Biden the opening to paraphrase the great Lloyd Bentsen stinger: "Governor, I served with Hillary Clinton. I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine. Governor, you're no Hillary Clinton."

Next up: The Republican National Convention. Then: The debates. Hang on sports fans, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

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