Saturday, September 8, 2012

Political the left...

Here we go.  Last week I gave you my top line take away from the RNC this week it was on to the DNC.  

There are a few overall things I want to touch on before I go on to the individual speeches. First off I was amused as what I have always felt is a difference in the parties was on display from the start. The main speeches of each convention were held between 7-8 Pacific time. This was to capture them during as much prime time coast to coast coverage as possible. And with the exception of Condoleezza Rice's speech starting early one night and the final night going a little long the Republicans held to this time slot. So I tune in on Tuesday and it's 7, then 7:10, then 7:20 and finally the first prime time speaker starts. Democrats have never ever seemed as organized as Republicans. It's part of why I have never considered registering as one even though my social values line up with them. I've always felt like they were too busy trying to make sure every voice was being heard to actually get shit done. 

The second thing is that I believe there is an advantage to going second. Between the fact that President Obama is running a re-election instead of an election and going after the RNC I think the DNC was able to tailor their message a little more. We spent a lot less time being introduced to President Obama than we did Governor Romney. There were some over arching themes of who he was through the eyes of people closest to him. But this seemed more in response to the RNC painting a picture of him that the democrats didn't feel was accurate. But there wasn't as much of the "He's a nice guy" theme that we saw the week before.  And by going after the RNC was over they were able to see what seemed to work for the RNC and what didn't and adjust on the fly.  Which takes me to the speeches.

The first night we got the Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro. He was a very dynamic speaker and didn't fall in to the same pattern that we saw with Governor Christie the week before. Instead of it seeming like a 2016 bid for Mayor Castro it really was a speech for President Obama. He gave his story. Which we hear variations of all the time. Immigrant parents, hard work, better life for their children. For a country that gets awfully freaked out about the number of immigrants who want to come here we still love a good moved here for a better life story don't we? Mayor Castro also started laying out the groundwork for the themes of the week. Strong middle class. We were going to see this hit time and time again. That we need a strong middle class. That people need to be able to see the possibility of reaching the middle class and the ability to stay there or move beyond.  And he talked about specific differences between the candidates. And here again was a difference we would see all week. He talked about specific programs instead of general themes. I think the democrats read a lot about how unimpressed people were about the talk of "hard choices, tough times" with no specifics that came out of the RNC and decided to get more specific. No numbers as of yet, but at least we were hearing about actual differences. I liked him, though I could just see future Glenn Beck shows featuring the Obama/Castro signs from the audience and his unique take on them.....

The next speaker was Michelle Obama. Again, she has an advantage over Ann Romney in that we didn't need her to tell us who her husband is, we already know. So instead she could talk about what she and Dr. Biden have been doing as First and Second Lady. She could talk about what the past four years have been like. She also gave one hell of a speech. Now you all know I wasn't as impressed with Mrs. Romney as I had expected to be and part of that was the hype surrounding her. I've heard Mrs. Obama speak before and I was expecting a good speech and she delivered. Now here is where I have to give the wry look and the commentary about after the speech. She spoke about her life, her children's lives and about the President. She talked about what it was like when they met, (yes the just folks angle that we all must hear about) and the choices that were made. She also stressed the strong middle class and the healthcare debate. It was a smart, strong, energizing speech and when she finished the crowd went wild. The week before when Ann Romney spoke they cut back to the NBC commentators who gushed all over themselves how wonderful she was, how great the speech was, how much of an asset she was to Mitt Romney and when Michelle Obama finished? The same group thanked us for watching and signed off. Typical Left Wing Biased Media.... (insert wry look here)

Okay on to the next night. Again with the Left Wing Biased Media on NBC which chose to show the opening night of the NFL instead of the DNC. Anyway...after a channel switch and the wait time for the start of the speeches we got Elizabeth Warren. I like Elizabeth Warren. I've been listening to her speak for years on the financial crisis and I think she was done wrong by the Obama administration. But she isn't a dynamic speaker. She's the college professor that you hang on every word she says and then you crack your books and want to learn more. She's the smart friend that we all wish we had. But she's not super energizing. She's the red meat we all say we want then find out it's harder to eat than the cotton candy we are used to. All that being said I really enjoyed her talk but it wasn't what the crowd was there for and I think they were all relieved that she only made them think about hard things for about 10 minutes. I would have liked to listen to her for longer but it wasn't the right venue for what she delivers. However....

Bill Clinton. Now here is what the crowd had been waiting for. Not only the type of speaker he is but for the man himself. And he went out and did a tight 20 minutes sticking completely to his notes...okay you know he didn't. I actually made a note in my phone when he was done so I wouldn't get the time wrong. He was scheduled to talk for 28 minutes and instead went on for 48. But the crowd wasn't complaining. They ate up everything he dished out. Myself included. And here, for the first time, we actually got hard numbers. I started to take notes to check up on them but stopped when I realized that there were lots of people who were doing it already and I could just double check their work in the morning. So I just sat back and listened. I loved when he said that we just needed to do the math. I use this line all of the time. Math is math is math. It's one of the things I liked about being an accountant. I love cross footing. It's when all of your columns come up with the same answer. It's when the math is right and it works.  And, folks, the math is not working right now.

He then touched on Ryan's speech from the week before and used what is one of my favorite lines of their convention when discussing the $716 billion in Medicare changes, "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did."  He also went on to speak about needing a strong middle class and bandied about more numbers on job creation and growth. The thing that amazed me was even though he went off script his facts checked out. Now this doesn't mean that they weren't spun and polished and cherry picked and all of the things that made them a little iffy in my book but the difference was I think they were spun and polished and cherry picked but they weren't flat out lies like the week before when I was yelling at Ryan. Yes, by all means make your party look good, but when you have to go on to say that your campaign isn't going to be dictated by fact checkers? Basically admitting that spin to win is fine even if you are lying? It's just not right. Well after speaking the crowd went nuts. Cheering for him like crazy and then they went over the top when President Obama took the stage as well and they hugged it out. These two have a complicated history and Clinton touched on it during his speech and the newscasters talked about it ad nauseam before he took the stage but right then, during that hug? While the crowd was screaming? You wouldn't have known. 

On to the next night. Since Clinton took Biden's spot on Wednesday we were going to get both the VP and the P on the final night. Due to some weather issues their big showy outdoor packed stadium/firecracker finale wasn't going to happen and we heard a lot about that. Which again, makes me a little sad. Shouldn't we care more about the context of the speeches? About the character of the person making them than if there will be fireworks? But on to the speeches. I have to admit I love when Joe Biden takes the stage. I've always liked the man but I always like that element of ...what will he say? that he brings to the table. Because you never know. Brent commented that reading about him he is one of those guys that is always on. I said if he weren't a politician he would have made a good Ad Man. He just wants you to like him and like what he is telling you.  

I thought his speech was very good. It was free of any overt Bidenisms. And when he spoke of the military? Well I'm sorry but you just had to tear up. Four years ago Biden brought the foreign policy experience to the ticket that Obama was lacking and the democrats made a point to stress this during this convention. And not just with Biden but with the entire ticket. Much was made over Romney leaving out mention of Afghanistan during his speech the week before. But I thought it was just as interesting to watch the Democrats mention the troops and war and foreign policy over and over again. It was interesting to see the shift between the two parties, traditionally the Republicans are heavy hitters in this area and the Democrats are not, so to watch the shift this year was interesting. But back to Biden. When he speaks and gets emotional you believe he is feeling it. Or at least I do. It doesn't seem planned, it doesn't seem like he is putting on a face he wants you to see, he is just who he is. His speech wasn't a barn burner but it was emotionally satisfying. I think a concentrated effort was made to reign himself in a little after the shackle speech a few weeks ago. It was solid. 

Then on to the man of the hour. I've read a lot of mixed reviews over this speech. But isn't that the way of Obama? When I hear him speak I think, strong and intelligent while other people I know think condescending and arrogant. I think smart they think snob. I see reserved they see aloof. Where you finish is all about where you are starting. I think part of the issue for the people that were disappointed is that he isn't as dynamic a speaker as former President Clinton is, and he wasn't as energetic as he was four years ago. Personally I liked the tonal shift he came out with this time. Four years ago he was all about Hope and Change and the optimism that was overflowing from him in to the crowd and then well...reality set in. 

I know the Republicans hate HATE to hear this and think it's a cop out but the economy he inherited as president was bad. BAD. And it was about to get worse. And you can say all you want that it wasn't Bush's fault because he wasn't president anymore and I will roll my eyes at you all I want. Because that's not fair. I think Bush the elder was a decent president. I think when you look back at the economic crash that pushed him out of office you will see that it wasn't his fault. It was the patron saint of the Republican party Reagan's fault. It was his wonky economic policies that caused the issues that Bush had to try and fix. And he got a really good start on it when he was pushed out of office by Clinton who then got a lot of credit for the recovery. See how that works? It's all tied together. You don't walk in to office with a clean slate on day one. You walk in with the mess or the benefit that the guy before you left. 

And Obama was left with a mess. And I think the President we saw speak on Thursday was a reflection of what that does to a person. I think he came across as more solid, as more realistic, as flat out more presidential than he did four years earlier. So though he didn't light up the room with the momentum to DO SOMETHING BIG! He cast the glow of we can still do this. We have it in us to be strong, to make changes, to do the hard work that needs done and here is what it will entail. He spoke in more generalities that I would have liked but in more specifics than we usually get so that was nice. Again, I think the going second part helped here, he was able to address some of what was said at the RNC and to speak to his own points. He cast the clear division between what the theme of the DNC had been, either going forward with the plans he has been setting in place or going back to what we had four years ago. The same policies that put us here. It was a solid speech. It was calm and strong and as I said, presidential.

Now it could be my own bias is too strong, Obama wasn't the guy for me in 2008. I watched him skeptically. I didn't think it was his time, so maybe I just liked this speech more than that one because I like the man better this time around. But I think it was more that it played to what I want from a candidate. I don't want to hear how nice you are, I want to hear about what you are going to do as president. And I completely understand that the sitting president has a huge advantage over the challenger because only one of those men really knows what being president means. 

So what did I think overall? I think the main difference that I saw in the speeches is that the democrats they chose to speak really believe Obama is going to win while the republicans were split between wanting me to know that Romney is a really nice guy and jump starting their campaigns for the next cycle. I think that was as telling as anything else that came out of the conventions. It was a different feeling. The speeches on the RNC side were "I did" while on the the DNC it was more "the President did." I thought that the RNC did an excellent job in getting their, "Mitt is a really good guy" message out there and not as good of a job at getting concrete idea on what they will do out there. I also, as I've mentioned, hated the Ryan speech and the blow back that facts are for liberals message they seem to be hitting. Facts are facts. Math is math. Lies are lies. Now give me something real and true or hush. I will give you the spin, up to a point, meaning I will say that even if it's true it's still spun but if you flat out lie to me? I have nothing for you there.

And now we have two more months. Two months of hard campaigning (thank goodness I don't live in a swing state) we have the debates and we have the hard push. It should be an interesting ride to the finish and at this point the race is too close to call. 


1 comment:

  1. Ryan makes my skin crawl. That's all I have to say about it ;)