While perhaps lacking the drama and dynamism of the first two nights, there was still a great deal of substance on night #3 of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Bill Clinton gracefully and eloquently accepted the anticlimactic aspect of his address to the convention (his wife, NY Senator and former Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton had pretty much made the speech of the week the previous night, and in prime time, while the former President was relegated to an earlier, pre-prime time slot --about 8:00 pm eastern time, 7:00 pm central time), and forcefully avowed his support for the candidacy of Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
Clinton took it to the Republicans hard and inside, hitting them on what has been, for the last two deacdes, their signature issue, but in the context of the harsh realities of life in 21st century America under GOP rule:
I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other serious conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn't afford health care and couldn't qualify their children for Medicaid unless they quit work and starved or got a divorce.
Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of?
Clinton isssued an indictment of GOP incompetence, and likewise indicted McCain for endorsing and proposing continued neo-conservative policies:
The choice is clear. The Republicans in a few days will nominate a good man who has served our country heroically and who suffered terribly in a Vietnamese prison camp. He loves his country every bit as much as we do. As a senator, he has shown his independence of right-wing orthodoxy on some very important issues.
But on the two great questions of this election -- how to rebuild the American dream and how to restore America's leadership in the world -- he still embraces the extreme philosophy that has defined his party for more than 25 years.
And it is, to be fair to all the Americans who aren't as hard-core Democrats as we, it's a philosophy the American people never actually had a chance to see in action fully until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and the Congress.
Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades actually were implemented. And look what happened.
They took us from record surpluses to an exploding debt; from over 22 million new jobs to just 5 million; from increasing working families' incomes to nearly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year; from almost 8 million Americans lifted out of poverty to more than 5.5 million driven into poverty; and millions more losing their health insurance.
Now, in spite of all this evidence, their candidate is actually promising more of the same.
Think about it: more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality, and weaken the economy; more Band-Aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families, and increase the number of uninsured; more going it alone in the world, instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence.
They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more.
Kind of sounds like the last four years of this blog, doesn't it?
Joe Biden was off his rhythm tonight, it must be said. I've seen him speak, and know him to be a much more effective orator than he was tonight.
But still, he landed some punches and made some important points. He made them , to be sure, with respect:
You know, John McCain is my friend. And I know you hear that phrase used all the time in politics. I mean it. John McCain is my friend. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by John still amazes me.
But I profoundly -- I profoundly disagree with the direction John wants to take this
country, from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Amtrak to veterans.
And he didn't leave it at that:
You know, John thinks -- John thinks that, during the Bush years, quote, "We've made great economic progress." I think it's been abysmal. And in the Senate, John has voted with President Bush 95 percent. And that is very hard to believe.
And when John McCain proposes $200 million in new taxes for corporate America, $1 billion alone for the largest companies in the nation -- but no, none, no relief for 100 million American families, that's not change. That's more of the same.
Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history, nearly $500 billion in the last five years, John wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. That's not change. That's the same.
And during the same time, John voted again and again against renewable energy, solar, wind, biofuels. That's not change. That's more of the same. Millions of Americans have seen their jobs go off-shore, yet John continues to support tax breaks for corporations that send them there. That's not change. That's more of the same.
He voted 19 times against the minimum wage for people who are struggling just to make it to the next day. That's not change. That's more of the same.
And when he says he'll continue to spend $10 billion a month, when the Iraqis have a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that's not change. That's more of the same.
The choice in the election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader. A leader who can change, change -- the change that everybody knows we need.
Like I said, tonight lacked the drama that the previous two nights had. Bill Clinton's speech, while persuasive and professional, was anti-climactic coming, as it did, on the heels of his wife's speech last night. And Joe Biden, perhaps because he is the newest addition to the Obama team, was not fully on his game.
But this convention so far bodes no good for the GOP (it is safe to say that much of the last eight years bodes very little good for the GOP).
God bless America.