Laughter and Democracy
August 27, 2008
Well, I haven’t stumbled upon any ideas of note today, but I had an absolutely terrific gluten-free lunch at Coors Field courtesy of Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. One of the other guests, Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live, graced us with a stand-up routine that was simply priceless.
I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks. As I walked out of Coors Field, I realized my soul was lighter. It was the first time all week I had laughed.
I needed that. So does democracy.
A New Search
August 27, 2008
Having come up short in my search for ideas yesterday. I’m going on a different search today. I’m going to search for food.
First stop, a luncheon reception sponsored by Senator Christopher Dodd.
If I run into any ideas I’ll let you know.
August 27, 2008
My email box this morning has communicated to me that there has been a disturbance in the force. My praise of Hillary’s speech melted more than a few circuits and preconceptions around the world.
What will melt more circuits is that on another level the speech was even more profound than I had time and energy to share last night. Uncovering its depth will help me explain the challenge facing Biden tonight, Obama tomorrow, and the party coming out of Denver.
On its face it was the definitive endorsement speech of Obama. She said all the right things in all the right ways. As she was giving it I was brought back to the best moments of women’s gymnastics at the Olympics. She nailed every line the way every gold medal Olympic gymnast nailed their landing. She was completely and totally at the top of her game, it was a gold medal performance.
Yet politically it was brilliantly shrewd. She didn’t do the one thing the Obama campaign desperately wanted her to do. Concede and call off the floor vote tonight. The Obama camp desperately wants to get a unanimous vote today so as to give the impression that the party is coming out of Denver united. The fact that it won’t be united is not the point. The purpose of this convention (and I expect next week’s as well) is to sell a candidate and a message.
One aspect of the brilliance of the speech was that she did everything she needed to do for Obama, but not the one thing Obama wanted her to do.
Another aspect of the speech’s political genius is that she set her agenda for the party. It was not, “Change we Can Believe In.” It was Hillary’s agenda for the party. If you read her speech you will see that in the middle she explained for several minutes precisely what HER campaign was about and then she said it is for these reasons that she supports Barack Obama. If Michelle Obama defined her husband as an American on Monday, Hillary Clinton defined the mission of the Democratic Party last night. In essence she said, “I support Obama because he will do what I set out to do.”
Insofar as one aspect of excellence in Politics is shrewdness, last night was a perfect 10 in that category as well. That is why I walked out of the Pepsi Center feeling as if I had seen a master performance, because I have not witness anything in this campaign so politically shrewd and brilliant.
And this brings us to McCain’s prayer and the challenge facing Biden, Obama, and the party.
If last night had been Hillary’s acceptance of the Vice-Presidential nomination, I believe it would have ensured Obama’s election.
But it wasn’t. When the good feelings of the speech wear off and when people enter the Pepsi Center tonight, it is Joe Biden who will give his acceptance speech, following Bill Clinton who I expect to be equally shrewd.
Unless Biden elevates his game to a whole new level, those who are watching tonight will come away with a sense of what they could have had in Hillary.
Then Obama has to deliver on Thursday night. In my judgment the campaign has unwisely set him up to disappoint. Instead of doing the acceptance in the “humble” confines of the Pepsi Center as Presidential nominees do, they are using a 75,000 seat football stadium that has a special stage constructed which is over the top in terms of visual image and elevates him above the people to which he is speaking. Moreover, he is doing it on the Anniversary of “MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He is going to have pull off the speech of his life without creating the impression that he is being inaugurated or that he is a political messiah. The Obama campaign has put him in the dangerous position of overreach on Thursday night. That is unnecessary.
Then, when the campaign leaves Denver Friday, Bill and Hillary will be in the background. It will be Obama and Biden front and center.
I’m not saying Obama and Biden can’t win in November, I am saying that Obama has charted a course that will require the American people decide they prefer him to John McCain. It will be largely one on one, and if McCain chooses a female VP of excellence, the spectre of not choosing Hillary will haunt Obama all the more.
I’m not saying I’d want the Clinton’s living in my house, but they would have brought Obama to the White House.
Now he’s going to have win the keys, in essence, by himself. Which will be a much more difficult task.
John McCain has a prayer and everyone out here knows it.
If last night’s speech was the Vice-Presidential acceptance speech there would have been a disturbance in the Republican force unlike we have seen since 1992.
August 27, 2008
Several readers noticed that after filing several blogs in real time from the convention this evening, I suddenly stopped. This is due to the fact that while I had a media credential, I didn’t possess one of a pay grade that allowed me internet access.
So I borrowed Bloomberg’s internet connection until they decided they wanted it.
Another day, another lesson in how to do conventions right.
If I had access to the net all evening, here are some random musings I jotted down:
1) We found out that John McCain and George Bush are best friends. No fewer than 8 speakers said so. I wonder if anyone has told George Bush?
2) The Democrats are more progressive than I thought. They build aerobics into their convention routine. There is apparently a rule that every 10 minutes people stand up, stretch, and vent. This rule, however, does not apply to the press.
3) The word ‘change’ was used tonight 2,347,412 times. You can ‘believe’ (in) it.
4) I take back what I said about lack of ideas at the DNC. PA Governor Ed Rendell listed no fewer than 65 things that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will do in the next 10 years, including: eliminating all budget deficits, solving the entitlement dilemma, helping all of us get hybrid cars, eliminating the importation of all foreign oil, feeding the world, and keeping taxes low by asking the oil companies to function as a charity. (I didn’t quite make out the fine print)
5) If Warren Buffet can make the case that John Edwards ought to be served a class action suit on behalf of all the people who contributed to his campaign without him fully disclosing that he was behaving in a manner that would disqualify him to be President, how can Hillary Clinton not push her nomination to a floor vote today when the mere switch of uncommitted superdelegates could provide her the nomination?
That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow, John McCain’s prayer life.
Note To PR and Media Department. I actually took pictures today with the digital camera. Unfortunately, since there is no 2 year old living in this home, I will have to wait until tomorrow morning to find one to show me how to download them onto the blog.
Hillary Came Through
August 27, 2008
Tonight Hillary took my breath away and in so doing touched my soul.
Her speech was worth the price of admission to this entire convention (and it is a hefty price).
I was moved so profoundly, that as I walked out of the Pepsi Center, I felt as though I had been to a concert of such artistic excellence that my soul was touched in way that will leave me forever changed.
But this is politics. How can I explain such a thing?
First off, it was good to be in the Pepsi Center and mingle with the elite of the Democratic party. There is an energy present in the center that completely changes the dynamic of the event. It is not possible for me to report how it went over on TV, I can only share what it was like for me to be there.
Second, As Charles Dickens said in beginning of the Christmas Carol, “there is something that must be understood.” In this case, we must not underestimate the tension between the Obama camp and the Clinton camp. It exists at the highest levels and it exists at the delegate level and I don’t know if it can be healed.
Third, from virtually every perspective, up until Hillary’s speech, tonight was a dud. I was there when it started at 3 p.m. MDT and I stayed until 10:30 p.m. and I listened to what seemed like 60 speeches of various types. Everything about the evening was so scripted, so technically perfect, so on message, that it lacked both authenticity and depth.
Moreover, the quality of the entire package leading to Hillary was so poor, that part of me wondered if the Obama camp hadn’t designed the evening so as to punish Hillary by doing everything it could to ensure that as few people as possible were still watching when Hillary came on. Last night had several crescendo’s, tonight had none, until the very end.
Additionally, I don’t know how the Democrats could have done a worse job scripting an evening celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment for women’s suffrage. This was a softball the Democrats should have easily hit out of the park. Yet they struck out. Having the most boring male speakers in the party back to back for 2 hours in prime time is not an approach that would have dawned on me.
And as the evening crawled forward, the political side of myself was constantly asking, “Is this what the Obama team wanted? Is this her punishment for pushing her candidacy to a conclusion with the floor vote tomorrow?”
I was feeling punished. I can only imagine America felt the same way.
And then came the first moment of fascination in this convention. Hillary wasn’t going to play along with the farce that Obama has already been nominated. She was injecting unscripted drama into a convention devoid of it and we all wondered what she would say?
Chelsea came out, and introduced her Mom without even using her name. It was almost as if she was saying, “this woman who needs no introduction is what you could have had.”
Hillary followed by giving the best speech I ever heard her give. From the first line she put everyone at ease by fully and completely endorsing Barack Obama. She didn’t just do it, she did it with an elegance and grace and depth and poise that was absolutely riveting. The entire speech I was constantly filled with the sense she couldn’t do this any better and then she would, right to the end.
She endorsed Obama and she did it not just better than anyone imagined, but better than I have ever witnessed. Everyone knows how badly she wanted this convention to be hers. That made the performance all the more impressive and moving.
I came into the day looking for ideas, and I was quickly persuaded that if I was looking for ideas I had come to the wrong place, and I was disappointed. Deeply. But at the end of the day, I received a great gift, I saw someone concede with grace, and leaving all partisanship aside, it was done so well, I was moved in the deepest part of my soul.
But that is only part of the story.
Tonight was also an answer to the prayers of John McCain. We will explore that in a posting tomorrow morning.
August 26, 2008
I just enjoyed a gluten-free dinner.
Well, it wasn’t free, but the Denver blood-sugar free-fall has been arrested.
My Gluten-free plank for the Democratic Party platform was denied, but I did get a form to fill out that I can submit to the Rules Committee for 2012. I’m glad we’ve got a bunch of work-study students.
This is an idea whose time has come.
Now to find out where John McCain stands on the issue.
But that will have to wait. Dennis Kucinich is speaking. Really loud.
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