Reflections on the 2008 DNC

I was so excited about Palin yesterday that I didn’t comment on the Democratic National Convention. Here are some points:

1. It had some really moving videos. I liked the one about Michelle Obama, in which her mom said that Michelle’s dad lives on through her. That actually moved me to tears! My only qualm was with its narration of Barack pursuing Michelle. He finally won her over by taking her out for ice cream. How climactic! Oh well. I guess real life isn’t as exciting as the movies.

2. The video on Ted Kennedy was all right, too. His wife is kind of cute. I don’t think he’s evil.  What he did at Chappaquiddick may have been questionable, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that haunts him to this day. Maybe that’s why he goes out of his way to be unselfish now–to fight for policies that help the poor and the vulnerable (according to his ideology).

3. Michelle’s speech and the Obama family moment had its effect. I liked it when Michelle said, “He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father’s love.” I can picture Barack, driving the car from the hospital and looking back every few minutes. And their kids are cute, you have to admit that!

4. I think Joe Biden talked too much. Isn’t the VP nominee supposed to give one speech? He gave at least two.

5. I don’t remember much that Bill Clinton said. I just remember that Michelle Obama looked a little tense when he spoke–like she was applauding just to be polite. Maybe that’s because he said the day before that Obama is “Candidate X,” who agrees with him on everything yet can’t deliver on anything.

6. Hillary’s speech had one noteworthy line: “I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?” I hope she sincerely believes that way and isn’t just saying it for show. And her statement challenges me to think beyond myself: there is more to life than my glory.

7. At first, I watched the convention on Fox, but it wasn’t showing too many of the speeches. That’s why I switched to C-Span: It just puts the camera on the podium and leaves it there! One speech I wish I heard was that of Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa. From what I could hear, he appeared to give a learned narration of American history, as he mentioned such Republican notables as Everett Dirksen, who cooperated with Lyndon Johnson on the Civil Rights Act. I just read the speech, and it now strikes me as the usual Democratic Party rhetoric (e.g., “we attacked a country that didn’t attack us”), but it’s still quite eloquent (see here).

8. The convention was trying to showcase a lot of Republicans who are planning to vote for Obama this year. To be honest, the part of the convention that impacted me most was not the speeches of John Kerry, Hillary, Bill, Biden, and Al Gore. It was the speeches of the ordinary people. There was the pet store owner, who worked two jobs and yet couldn’t afford health insurance. There was Debbie, a Republican woman from the midwest, whose husband had open-heart surgery and was laid off from his job, meaning they had crushing medical bills. There was Barney Smith, a Republican whose manufacturing job was outsourced. His notable line was that he was looking for a leader who looked out for Barney Smith, not Smith Barney. As he exited the podium, the crowd chanted “Barney! Barney!”

I wonder how many Republicans are leaving the GOP for the Democratic Party. As early as 1964, the Democrats could find Republicans who criticized their own party. I saw a video of a Johnson ad, in which a “thoughtful” Republican expressed concern about how extreme Goldwater was.

But what’s interesting about recent times is the high profile conservatives who dislike Bush. Jude Wanniski was one of the founders of supply-side economics, yet he actually endorsed John Kerry in 2004. Arthur Laffer of “Laffer curve” fame supported Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Richard Viguerie, a huge figure of the New Right of the 1970’s and 1980’s, has written a book that’s critical of Bush. Other Bush-critics are conservatives from Ronald Reagan’s Treasury Department: Paul Craig Roberts and Bruce Bartlett. Is there an unprecedented exodus from the GOP?

Also, I was struck by how the ordinary people looked to Obama as a Messiah figure, who would save them from all of their problems. Many of us think that things would be all right if we could get the right man in office. It would be nice if a President Obama had the courage and political skills to take on the special interests and reform the American health care system. Time will tell if that’s the case. As far as outsourcing is concerned, I wonder what we can do to correct that. Can we turn back the clock? Should we embrace protectionism? That will only lead to high prices and a lack of competition.

9. There was a veteran from the Iraq War, who was criticizing John McCain’s plan to give veterans a card as an alternative to the current VA health care system. She also didn’t like his plan to privatize the VA hospitals. But she herself wasn’t satisfied with how the government handles it, with all its bureaucracy and inefficiency and red tape. What’s wrong with pursuing a different route?

10. And last but not least, Obama’s speech. Some are comparing him to Lincoln, and the list of pundits doing this includes Pat Buchanan and Dick Morris. Others counter that his speech was angry, typical of the politics of attack, and laden with the same old Obama cliches. Personally, I liked it when he said that his grandmother poured herself into him, and that she is his hero. That reminds me of what people in my own family have done for me.

Also, I didn’t think that he was too hard on McCain. He acknowledged McCain’s public service, but he said that the Republican nominee doesn’t “get it.” Democrats disagree with Republicans. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out.

But I thought that he distorted parts of McCain’s record. He said that McCain’s education plan won’t help families pay for college, and that McCain fails to offer a penny of tax relief to a hundred million people. Actually, McCain says that he supports increasing Pell grants and Stafford loans for students, as well as lowering taxes for those making under $150,000 a year (see here).

But Obama at least gave some details about his own policies. Most of the convention wasn’t about solutions, but about problems. And, no, chanting “Yes we can!” to Stevie Wonder doesn’t count as a solution!

One more thing: I saw Jin from Lost in the audience! I wonder if the Republicans will have any celebrities. I read that the Governator won’t show up, since he’s in a budget battle in California. But his wife was at the Democratic one. Too bad Britney Spears can’t sing at the Republican convention. She’s a Republican, yet the religious right doesn’t like her.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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