01 September 2008

Thoughts about the Democratic Convention 2008

The Democratic National Convention was a tantalizing political festival. It was well-directed and the number one impression that will probably linger longest in people’s minds is the atmosphere of unity among the delegates and attendees. The party made a real attempt to present a united front. There was no sudden coup d’etat by the Clintonistas, as some deluded Hillary backers had feared (read: hoped). Both Bill and Hillary nicely towed the party line.

And yet, for those who are willing to look below the surface, what was most important about the convention was how partisan its organization was. While Democrats united, the message of unity among all Americans, stressed by Obama in his acceptance speech among others, was nothing but a façade. Party politics prevailed even in decisions to reshuffle speeches. Gov. Ted Strickland (Ohio) suddenly spoke at prime time, pushing out Mark Warner (former governor of Virginia). Guess what? Strickland’s fervent anti-Republican speech played much better with the party brass than Warner’s concilliatory speech calling for bipartisanship.

Obama’s speech was good, as always. Tone and delivery never failed. It was not a brilliant speech, however. While some glimpses of content were revealed, the speech remained chockful of meaningless clichés. And again, Obama tried to coast on his abstract message of hope and the glowing image of his own bipartisan resumé—which does not exist. All the fancy words about reasonable common ground on abortion, for instance, are nothing but fancy words, coming from the most fervently pro-abortion senator currently serving in Congress. He is ready to debate John McCain on any of these issues, the senator claims. So why has he turned down 10 invitations to debate him so far?

Adding Joe Biden to the ticket was an interesting move. For one it really bolstered the left-wing message of his campaign, considering that Senator Biden is the third-most liberal serving senator (Mr. Obama is number 1 on that list). Senator Biden is primarily a foreign-policy expert, suggesting that Obama wants to make foreign policy his number one campaign theme. No worries for McCain there, as he is much Mr. Obama’s superior on that front. Obama still denies the surge made any difference.

After the convention, Obama received his expected bounce in the polls. But the 15-point lead that was circulated by among others the McCain campaign has so far not materialized. RealClearPolitics reports an average of only 4.5 percentage points advantage for Obama. That seems to suggest that people are really getting tired of Obama and weren't swayed by the propaganda campaign in Denver.

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