Thursday, August 28, 2008

Democratic National Convention, Night Four

I am on record in this blog for the high regard in which I hold former Vice President Al Gore. Even so, I will not dwell on his address this afternoon at he DNC in Mile High Stadium, Denver. The fact is that, as brilliant and principled as this man is, he is not an inspiring speaker. Nor is his writing (if his speeches are self-written) particularly literary. He should have been President the last eight years. He wasn't. And I'm moving on, although I will give you the option of listening to his speech and making your own judgments.

The story of the day, of course, is Barack Obama's acceptance speech. Suffice it to say that it was one of the best examples -- probably THE best example -- of political oratory of my lifetime -- that's 54 years for anyone who is curious.

Before I go any further, let me say that I love my right-wing friend Howie. I love him with everything in me. He is my oldest friend, and my most steadfast friend. When a great deal of poop hit the fan in my life and other people who I had known for twenty or thirty or forty years walked away or simply disappeared, Howie was there. And there were no questions, there was no need for explanations. Howie was there.

I need to say this because I am about to beat up and bloody Howie (in a political, philosophical way) in much the same way that Barack Obama beat up and bloodied John McCain tonight.

First, some predictions: the following right-wing memes are now obsolete, totally politically useless, and will not be heard any further, from this day forward, from the official GOP or McCain campaigns (which is not to say that Howie and his ilk will not keep harping on these adolescent themes) -- Obama doesn't have the stomach to fight a Presidential campaign, Obama is nothing more than a "celebrity," Obama is "unpatriotic" or doesn't put his "country first," Obama is a lightweight, Obama doesn't have the experience (or "the stuff") to be President, Obama has no real plan (both this speech and the recent New York Times Magazine article on Obama's economic plans should put that one to rest), Obama is a "socialist," Obama will raise your taxes ("your" referring to the majority of Americans, the middle class), and that Democrats are "soft" on terrorism. After tonight, I honestly don't think any of these will fly anymore (as Bill Clinton would say, "that dog won't hunt") with the American people, or at least all but the most jaded, cynical, hard-core, neo-conservative, right wing Republicans like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Howie.

Barack Obama stood up to all of this, and called it what it was -- BULLSHIT -- although he said it more gently than that. But the message was clear, as was its meaning.

Of the last eight years, he had a one word summary:
Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land - enough!
Of John McCain's public relations campaign to portray himself as a "maverick":

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

On the overall GOP ideology of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency:

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

On Obama's supposed "celebrity":

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

Obama went on to outline more than two dozen specific policies he will try to put into place when he becomes President. I will not post them here. There is literally not enough space, nor do I have the time (nor, with these new technologies, is it even necessary -- you can listen to his speech yourself) for me to go into that much detail.

But I just wanted to point out that there was literally not one single McCain campaign issue (McCain's campaign so far has been frighteningly short of serious issues) that Barack Obama did not both address and defuse. If I were a Republican, or their nominee for President, I'd be worried -- because all my ammunition is spent.

Oh, and I see this headline from FOX as I'm finishing up this post:

Gustav May Postpone Dates of Republican National Convention
Forecasters warn it's 'too soon to tell'

God does indeed sometimes move in mysterious ways...

No comments: