30 July 2004

What was said, Part 1

I missed all of the first-hand experiences of the DNC--busy working, being depressed, and drinking (in random order). But that's why media-on-demand exists: I can review them at my leisure. So, let's look at the transcripts of Obama, Clinton, Gore, and Kerry. Thanks to The Centrifuge for helping dig up the sources in real time.

Barack Obama

Transcript on CNN

I had my doubts. Everyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing about the speech, saying that it reinvigorated a national pride long squelched by pessimism or realism, and I expected it to be nice and fourth-of-July-fireworks-y but little else. Well, it was pretty good. As written, it held up as a very strong and well-balanced speech with the passion of grandiose assertions (there's not a liberal America and a conservative America there is the United States of America) eloquently told.

It spoke to the liberal and spoke our thoughts as we'd hoped to express them. Doing so, I think his message may be lost or left behind for all others. Last night, I was speaking with two more conservative, though moderately so, friends about politics et al. (this was the drinking part of what I was busy with). Their prime concern, and I can't say that they're unusual, is that the government lessen their tax burden.

Here's the thing:

My least concern at the end of the day is the taxes I owe. I certainly don't want government wasting my money, but that's one thing, and I live a very comfortable life. The extra $500-a-year tax break plus or minus depending on the candidate in office has less effect on my appreciation of their work than other aspects. Obama expressed those other aspects (emphasis mine):

If there's a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.

If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent.

If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief -- it is that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper -- that makes this country work.

These are tied to and prefaced with an earlier statement:

John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we are all connected as one people.

And there's the difference. Conservatives don't want their fellow man to drag them down. Liberals don't want a life where their fellow man is down.

There are many more good quotes in the transcript, and they've already been quoted, with greater political acumen, by all of those people that told me what liberating vibrancy his speech had. If you can connect to it, you should go read it yourself. I had to see for myself.

Bill Clinton

Transcript on DNC site Audio on NPR

Clinton had an hilarious few paragraphs pushing people to vote for Bush--but first, of course, presenting the consequences of that choice. If you think it’s good policy to pay for my tax cut with the Social Security checks of working men and women, and borrowed money from China, vote for them. If not, John Kerry's your man. Hehe. He played the aged Jew in a Mel Brooks movie, as if saying "Go on! Do what you feel is best ... thought I should DIE first..." Maybe I was always just a sucker for his humor.

The many moments of self-deprecation were well-timed and not too many. He slyly (slickly, shall we say?) talked about finally getting into the tax bracket where he's benefited by Republican principles. He talked about avoiding the service (along with Bush and Cheney) and that John Kerry volunteered for service. And he opened with self-deprecating praise for his wife (I am honored to share the podium with my Senator, though I think I should be introducing her...).

And Clinton like Obama had some quality, memorable quotes to snap you to attention: Strength and wisdom are not conflicting values—they go hand in hand. Wow. Who comes up with these? And this: We Americans must choose for President one of two strong men who both love our country, but who have very different worldviews. Although I would be remiss (and no one likes to be remiss) if I didn't include one of the stinkers:

He took tough positions on tough problems. John Kerry knows who he is and where he’s going. He has the experience, the character, the ideas and the values to be a great President.

Damn. And he was doing so well. Ahh, but they were few, and were maybe put in there as meta-deprecation.

Overall it felt that there was maybe 20% hyperbole and fluff. These figures might not be accurate, but the point is that the far majority of his skillful presentation was blemished by some scripted obviousness. Maybe the obviousness would be less obvious with those less skilled (a less-than-genius phrase in a Bach cantata is criminal), but it thinned out his message. At least in print it did. Still: a good read.

Al Gore

Transcript on CNN

[looks reasonable, but...]

John Kerry

Transcript on CNN, Part 1

Transcript on CNN, Part 2

Transcript on CNN, Part 3

Transcript on CNN, Part 4

Transcript on CNN, Part 5

Transcript on CNN, Part 6

[Six parts?!? OK, we'll do these two on another entry...]

[ posted by sstrader on 30 July 2004 at 11:45:58 AM in Politics ]