Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2008 DNC Tuesday

Updated: The Jackals won. Bases loaded, bottom of the 13th, a wild pitch let in a run. Final score: Sussex Skyhawks 6, New Jersey Jackals 7.

I've changed the post title from "DNC Tuesday" to "2008 DNC Tuesday" just in case I want to write about the 2012 DNC. I've also added a comma between "getting" and "had" in the sentence that begins "I imagine her long narrative". And I've fixed my mental typo by changing "self-composed" to "self-possessed" in the antepenultimate sentence.

Finally, I thought Hillary Clinton's orange pantsuit looked fine.

I was at a New Jersey Jackals baseball game (still tied when I left after 11 innings) last night, so I taped the CSPAN coverage of the Democratic National Convention from about 6:15pm EDT on. (I did tape Monday’s coverage but haven’t yet watched any of it. I plan to watch Michelle Obama’s speech at least.)

I watched the Tuesday night coverage this morning by giving each speaker roughly 60 seconds to catch my attention before fast forwarding to the next. Kathleen Sebelius held me for about 2 minutes but after that I didn’t find anything new in her message and wasn’t swept up by her rhetoric.

The speaker who did hold me for all of his speech was Deval Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts. His personal story was compelling, he gave it an “only in America” nod, and he tied it into what we could hope for from the Democrats and an Obama Presidency. Furthermore, his delivery was excellent.

Montana’s Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer followed Patrick. I found him difficult to watch - too fidgety on stage - but I made it through his description of how he selected a Republican as his Lieutenant Governor because he believed he could achieve more working with the Republicans than against them. After listening to what they’d accomplished during his time as governor - lowered taxes, more energy production, more money for schools - I was wondering if I could just vote for him for President.

As for Hillary Rodham Clinton, it is impossible for me to imagine any way in which she could have done a better job convincing her supporters to vote for Barack Obama. I imagine her long narrative of what she believed in, why she ran, and the people she met along the way who deserved better than they were getting, had all her supporters on the verge of storming the stage to demand she be the nominee (and had the Obama people biting their nails). Then she asked her supporters: were you in this campaign for me or were you in this campaign for the people who need us, for the ideals we both believe in? If it was for the people and the ideals, then you have to vote for Barack Obama. Brilliant and unanswerable.

She also did an excellent job - rhetorically and substantively - outlining why McCain was unacceptable. Her reference to Michelle Obama as a great first lady was beyond classy and her praise of Joe Biden and his wife was fabulous. Her invocation of the long, long struggle of the suffragettes was perfect and her working back around to the story of Harriet Tubman urging those fleeing to freedom to never give up was inspired. This part of her speech was classic get out the vote, fire up the troops tub-thumping oratory.

Most of all, I liked her reference to the fact that we Democrats know how to do this because look how well we did with President Clinton and the Democrats. That was very powerful stuff given the feeling in some quarters that the Clinton Presidency hadn’t been given its due by the Obama campaign. And her looking forward to we Democrats doing just as well under President Obama and the Democrats was a generous gift.

I cried, Bill cried, Michelle clapped, Biden was the most enthusiastic applauder in the hall. This speech was a stem-winder in the original sense of being first-rate, powerful, persuasive, effective, and impassioned. All in all, as I said, I can’t imagine how she - or anyone - could have done a better job.

Will it work to convince her supporters to back Obama? I think it will. I was not a Clinton supporter and I’ve never understood why anyone would vote for Obama but even I found myself thinking that maybe he wouldn’t be such a bad choice after all. Pretty powerful stuff.

On a less political note, I’m simply going to have to admit that I don’t understand the Clintons’ marriage. It was crystal clear during the speech that Bill was unbelievably proud of Hillary and at one point when the cameras focused on him he was whispering, “I love you” over and over again. It’s not a marriage that would work for me but it works for them. And based on what I’ve seen of Chelsea Clinton, they’ve managed to raise quite an intelligent, self-composed daughter. They must be doing something right.

I can’t wait for Bill’s speech tomorrow.

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