unCONVENTIONAL WISDOM - PART ONE (DNC)
MY THOUGHTS ON THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CONVENTION
Barack Obama has been the phenom of the year. His groundbreaking large political rally in Philadelphia was full of peace, good will, and star-quality. I know - I was there. As the (Rev.) Wright and Bill Ayres controversies unfolded and the comments of his wife Michelle offended some, his star quality faltered a bit as Hillary Clinton won most of the late primaries, some by a large margin. Many felt that if the earlier states revoted, Hillary would have been the clear winner. Perhaps this is why Mr. Obama devoted two nights to the Clintons.
As I have noted over the last several national election cycles, Democrats are presented as the answer to all the world's problems. The obligatory attacks on President Bush and John McCain of course ignored the fact that the approval rating of the Democrat-controlled Congress is an abysmal 15%, only HALF as high as President Bush's already poor 30%. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who would become President if something happened to the President and Vice President, was largely ignored, as she has proven to be an empty suit who doesn't even understand the basics of her own Catholic religion. Harry Reid, who leads the Senate has been similarly uninspiring. Certainly, Congress is no great sales team to reassure people that Democrats are the answer to all our problems. Interestingly, Mr. Obama did not emphasize them at all.
Hillary gave a speech that regardless of your political views was that of a pro. While she contradicted most of the nasty things she said about Barack in the primary season, conventions are kiss-and-make-up affairs. Her note of 8 failed years artfully placed all the blame on George W. Bush, ignoring the fact that Democratic Congressional leadership over the last four years has failed more and has shown the nation a Congress out of sync with the people. The dismal approval ratings of existing Democratic leadership were artfully omitted, just like a pro would do. The tangerine pants suit was probably the biggest indication of a lack of judgment which most people will forgive. I have long thought Hillary has over-estimated her experience. She entered the Senate with no ostensible qualifying experience, but then so have a lot of people going into the Senate. Hearing some of our Senators speak, they lack the life experience and judgment of the average person having to work for a living. Nonetheless, Hillary has worked hard in the Senate and gained respect from both sides of the aisle. While HIllary and Barack very closely parallel each other in terms of poor moral positions and corrupt associations (check out Hillary's legendary earmarks for New York while in the Senate), I voted for her opponent Mr. Obama in the primary because of this life experience and seemingly more developed spirituality.
Bill Clinton in his speech smiled broadly as he was doubtless swallowing his pride. I'm not sure many people believed him. After all, his wife had just been ignored for VP and he could no longer prowl his old haunt - the White House. He did what politicians do and people were grateful to him for it. His talk of division ignored the class warfare his party specialized in and the uniting he talked about ignored all the Republicans. After all we are one country.
The playbook of deep division and fear was quite in evidence. In fact, the making fun of seniors and people who disagree with them shows deep hypocrisy within the party. Moses was 80 when he started leading Israel. I believe most people would agree that he was successful. Margaret Thatcher had no foreign policy experience when she began to lead England. I am likewise tired of the mantras of the RNC about Barack's thin resume. One can learn if they are a fast study and a truly open person. I am not put off by Barack's experience types. I am put off by his poor associations, his misjudgment on the war, his lack of economic understanding, and his abysmal and indefensible positions on the moral issues.
Joe Biden has the biggest whites I have ever seen with a dazzling smile. He had a compelling personal story, though it was hard to reconcile his response to bullies when he voted against the rather uncontroversial FIRST Gulf War. Perhaps McCain's ad of Joe Biden dissing Barack Obama was too much in the background of my brain, but it was disingenuous for Joe to say the opposite once he got the nod. This man ran for President multiple times and never polled well. His plagiarism scandal (twice, both in law school and as a candidate) and his multiple racially insulting comments killed him off before. Like a Phoenix from the ashes, he has reemerged. It was distressing no doubt to many Obama fans to see a hard establishment inside-the-beltway guy partnered with their hero. Do change and no-change cancel each other out? Biden claimed to be close friends with John McCain. Yet despite prior glowing comments, he engaged in ad hominem attacks. Differences in policy are one thing. but personal viciousness does not play well in Peoria. Finally, Joe Biden contradicted Obama on class issues. Barack has admirably tried to move among people of all economic and social "classes". Paul Bagala commented on CNN that Joe Biden talked to the "Ham and Cheese" people. This is a barely veiled put-down of blue collar people, some of the best folks around. This Democratic strategist put into words what I have found - racial and economic attitudes of liberals are no better than conservatives and often worse. This is becoming less of a well-kept secret. CNN's pundits also portray those who are pro-life and those who are cautious about sex education and those with the temerity to actually believe the history of earth as taught in the Bible as right wing lunatics. Yet HONEST polls repeatedly show that a huge number of Americans (whether a majority or not is quite debatable but is beside the point) believe the cultures of immorality, wanton abortion and inherently atheistic evolution are wrong. We will see what the numbers really are in November, as too many Christians have muddled worldviews and have compromised what they do believe themselves.
I honestly thought Michelle's speech was the best of the bunch. I know the dismissive remarks about her acting like June Cleaver, but so help me I really liked what she had to say. It was real, and it confirmed my good feelings about the Obama family. Yes, she spoke her mind, and I believe that to her it was the first time she was proud of her country. I know personally that many highly accomplished Black people have a bittersweet experience, and the failure of the conservative talk show people to understand that gap in the American experience indicates we still have a long ways to go.
Mario Cuomo issued a stem-winder speech in 1984's DNCC. Barack Obama wowed the crowd in 2004 (I'm not sure which 2002 speech Hillary Clinton was talking about - I believe she meant the 2004 one). In fact, some might feel Obama's 2004 speech was better than this year's. The promises are all there in all the speeches and I have heard many in my lifetime. The template is the same. All needs are promised to be met by government programs while most people (in this speech's case 95%) would pay fewer taxes. Ostensibly all this would magically be done without increasing the deficit which is also pilloried. Barack must have conveniently forgotten he wants the tax cuts to expire, which affects 50% of Americans, and the proposed FICA limit increase would hurt many entrepreneurs of all races. These are drastic tax increases and they ignore the fact MOST people work for small businesses. The economic ramifications could be known by anyone not sleeping through an Economics 101 course, so perhaps that was what happened if Barack actually studied economics. More to the point, we have been down that road before. The War on Poverty and the Great Society achieved neither. MORE of the poor benefit when there are good jobs and a good entrepreneurial climate rather than give-aways or make-work. Minority businesses prosper when they compete in the open market as opposed to getting non-competitive set-asides. The huge growth in minority businesses tied into E-Bay and other companies have given more and more people more money than they dreamt of.
The statement of being one's brother's keeper is obviously true. We are. Problem is that Obama's brother lives on under $1 per month in Kenya. Charity starts at home. Despite astounding financial prosperity, the Obamas only started giving anything of consequence to charitable causes when that information would become public. Al Gore's tax returns showed a paltry $274 donation to charity when he was running, so this has been true of other candidates as well. Many Americans are sick and tired of essentially self-absorbed people lecturing them who do not practice what they preach. Dick Cheney is perceived as a mean Republican. but his family's charitable contributions beat them all proportionally. The anger we saw at the convention is also not the way most people view life. Even those without a lot of this world's goods can smile and laugh and be thankful. The fact is that conservatives are more happy than liberals. People who wait for marriage to have sex have happier marriages. Why is that? People in socialist countries are NOT all happy. Countries with "universal health care" often lag in delivering critical care of innovating solutions. Funny that almost all breakthroughs come through our "broken system". To be sure deep reform is needed, but we don't have to start over. We don't need more graphic sex education and even more accommodations to immorality, If that worked, Hollywood would be happiest place in the world. The world is desperately looking for universal approval of their rebellion against God.
Obama ignored the fact McCain was joking at Saddleback when he talked about $5 million being rich (which McCain ironically predicted would be misconstrued). Obama castigated Mr. Cain for voting with his party 90% of the time, but Barack voted with his party an astounding 97% of the time. So who is crossing the aisle more? The simple fact is that Barack has almost no record of bipartisanship. The Dems were pressing for McCain to pick Joe Lieberman but they didn't pick them themselves. Silly. The criticism of Katrina totally ignored the fact the first two lines of defense at the city and state levels were controlled by Democrats who failed miserably. FEMA should have been demonized but the blame should be evenly distributed. Despite Nagin's huge failures and demonstrated incompetence, he was reelected. There was no call from Democrats to deny him another chance. Blind partisanship is no "change we can believe in".
While a potential expanded war in Afghanistan will surely cost big dollars and lives (remember Russia lost there), and Obama's sole comments on the military were limited to loyalty to the soldiers, one wonders how this would work with the draconian decreases to the defense budget he has advocated but which was conspicuously absent from the speech. Likewise, how would Afghanistan feel if he pulled out of Iraq prematurely? Since Obama voted against the surge, how sure could a country be that he would stick it out even if things got tough and the polls were against him? Regardless of President Bush's shortcomings, and believe me there are MANY, he has shown the character to stick to what is right regardless of the polls and the political consequences. Mr. Obama simply did not address the critical issues in this dangerous world including Israel in his speech.
The dismal picture of the country is a favorite pastime of Democrats. While the economic factors have improved as a whole, I know first-hand the economic funk. It is deeply distressing when costs rise, income falls, and home prices fall. While the situation is deeply troubling, it has happened before. Obama's rehash of Jimmy Carter's policies with some even more risky strategies could lead to the same disastrous economy that was far worse for more people than the current one (I was there). The facts are that unemployment is far less than it was back in that day. Fewer people work at the minimum wage, and the computer has opened up extra income opportunities to millions of Americans. A host of people are really doing very well. Despite the economy, I am an optimist, and do not see how raising taxes and having more wasteful government programs will really help - history shows it hurts. The RNC has angered many by its own heavy spending and deficits, so we will see next week how believable anything they say is.