July 28, 2004

DNC day 2 thoughts

Beyond the phenomenal Barack Obama, the second day of the DNC was pretty lackluster. Ted Kennedy gave a windy speech that I certainly didn’t pay attention too. I understand the desire to honor Teddy. He has managed to survive the ravages of time and self-inflicted wounds to turn himself into an old lion of the Senate, as well as one of the few old-school liberals. The convention is also on his turf. The Democrats had to give him a slot. They’re just lucky no one was paying attention.

Hey, Howard Dean, will you just go away?

Ron Reagan had an impossible task: a speech on an emotional, yet absurdly technical issue. He did fairly well. It was watchable, and there were moments that you could see the old man up there. He does the little head tilt thing.

Teresa Heinz Kerry’s speech was pretty awful: Boring, preachy, and overly long. When did first ladies become so damned important? Did everyone vote for Roslyn Carter and not tell me? I tune into these damned conventions (beyond the neurotic compulsion) to see where the party is and what it stands for. Are Teresa Kerry and Laura Bush really the best choice for that? Don’t give me crap about “humanizing” Kerry. Everyone should realize by now that those few who actually run for this office are essentially inhuman, dealing with insane pressure, stress and intrusion into their lives. I don’t care if Bush likes dogs (well, actually I do, the plight of abandoned animals is very important to me) or that Kerry likes to kayak or fly-fish. I would have no problem whatsoever with Presidential spouses fading back into the shadows.

Now to the Big Deal: There is something essentially thrilling (especially to us wonk types) to hear a new fusion of American politics. That is what Barack Obama did last night. I did not notice the specifics until I listed to the speech again, and checked out Andrew Sullivan’s posts on the subject, but this was a fusion of essentially conservative values (personal freedom and responsibility) with a traditionally liberal social conscience. If the name weren’t taken already, this would be “compassionate conservatism”. Perhaps “responsible liberalism” would be more appropriate. Add to that exciting fusion his undeniably American background (son of a Kenyan immigrant and Kansas farm girl), polished speaking style and willingness to confront scary issues, and you have the Next Big Thing in politics.

To use a sports metaphor, this was Albert Pujols. Do you remember when he came up? The Cardinals were excited about him, but trying hard to keep him concealed, fully expecting him to spend at least a half-season in the minors. Baseball people, both old-school scouts and modern-day SABR types were excited, too. Pujols had a good spring, and he broke camp with the Cards. Pujols faced high, but not excessive expectations. He did not meet them, he did not exceed them; Albert Pujols destroyed his expectations.

That is what Obama did last night. If you’re a politically connected person, you’ve heard of Barack Obama before last night, regardless of your party affiliation. Maybe it is because you’ve read blogs or websites. Maybe someone you knew heard him speak, and gave you a nudge, “You really need to hear this guy.” Whatever it was, you would have heard the name. Last night he came out with a thrilling, magnetic speech, topping everyone on the card so far, even Bill Clinton. He destroyed expectations. Now, he has a lot more of them. I don’t know what happens to him from here. I sincerely hope, as an American, that he doesn’t sell out, or get fat. Last night on Larry King, David Gergen said he’d be the first African American President. He may be right. A Democrat’s dream: Kerry/Edwards win in ’04 and ’08, and Edwards/Obama in 2012

Posted by Frinklin at July 28, 2004 06:02 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?