Sunday, August 31, 2008

Notes from the Convention

1.  Michelle's speech:  Don't tell my wife, but I think I'm in love with Michelle Obama. Seriously, she gave a phenomenal speech and I think set a new mark for what a First Spouse should be - passionate in her beliefs, compassionate and smart, smart, smart.  Makes me think that maybe she should get a Senate seat in 2016 and then run for president in 2020.  

2. The network television coverage, at least on NBC, revealed a distressing miscomprehension of the full historical meaning of this week's proceedings.  I'm not just talking about the endless riffing on the divided party meme.  While watching Michelle Obama speech, I was shocked to see that easily 3/4 of the reaction shots were of African-American delegates, when only about 24% of the delegates are black.  Why did that bother me?  Because it sent a message that the nomination of Barack Obama is something that's only meaningful to and for black people.  No, it's meaningful to all of us.  That a politically viable African-American is getting nominated to be president is obviously a huge deal, something that should be embraced by everyone (something even McCain acknowledged) But, the thing that's so magical about Obama, given our country's history is Obama's ability to transcend race in inspiring and giving hope to people of all races.  This is one of the reasons why Obama, as I've said before is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime candidate who has the potential and the leadership skills to transform politics and reinvigorate this nation.   It was narrow-minded and just plain wrong for the NBC television director to have chosen a disproportionate number of reaction shots of Africans rather than portraying the full diversity of Democratic delegates who are genuinely excited and inspired by the nomination of Barack Obama

3. Hillary and even Bill have largely redeemed themselves in my view (full redemption will, however, require fundraising and enthusiastic and frequent campaigning on behalf of the Obama/Biden ticket).  And, with the media buying into idea that Sarah Palin will help attract disaffected Hillary voters, it's even more important for Hillary to counter that argument and be the one to call Sarah Palin unqualified and McCain unqualified for exercising the poor judgment to choose her.  

4.  The acceptance speech: not by any means my favorite Obama speech.  I love the soaring and inspiring rhetoric of his early-Primary era stump speech, not to mention the 2004 keynote speech or the Dr. King birthday speech.  But those speeches will be back, starting on Inauguration Day.  For this point in the campaign, with some of McCain's attacks having gained some traction, this was the speech Obama needed to make.  It the was the perfect mix of aspiration, recognition of the historic moment, recitation of policy changes he will make, justification for change and, yes, direct, hard-hitting and well-deserved attacks on McCain.

5.  Two other speeches not shown on the network feeds but worthing watching a first or even second time:  John Kerry's foreign policy speech from Wednesday night and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's speech from Tuesday.  I don't like him as much as his friend, Montana Senator Jon Tester, but Schweitzer is quite the populist character.  He wears blue jeans in his day-to-day work as governor and takes his Border Collie everywhere.  I'm not sure exactly what it is yet, but he definitely has a future at the national level.  If you didn't see the speech last week, check it out here.  

6.  All-in-all the week a huge success for Obama.  Everything, including the reconciliation with the Clintons, was executed perfectly.  It's too bad that McCain's cynical VP selection did have the effect of cutting short some of the excitement left by Obama after his speech.  But, that unveiling can't take away the fact that the Democratic Convention saw the highest television ratings of any political convention ever,  22.4 million average viewership, with 38.3 million for the acceptance speech itself.  Even before Gustav started to cut short the Republican Convention (in some ways, to their advantage) it's hard to see how the Republicans come even close to pulling of a show like this.  

1 comment:

Christopher said...

I think Kerry's speech was the best of the convention. Where was that guy 4 years ago?