The Democratic National Convention is over and it’s time to sum up a few things, just as I did one week ago at the end of the RNC. I started with Clint Eastwood then; allow me to offer you another Hollywood star. And there were plenty to choose from, a lot of them women to boot. Eva Longoria, who’s very actively involved in President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, appeared to deliver one of the convention’s most memorable lines: “The Eva Longoria who used to work at Wendy’s flipping burgers needed a tax break, but the Eva Longoria who works on movie sets does not”. A far cry from Gabrielle Solis.
The DNC had many awe-inspiring moments. John Kerry forcefully challenging the Romney-Ryan ticket on foreign policy. Michelle Obama. Gabrielle Giffords. And then there was President Bill Clinton. The man who once made me interested in politics as a teenager showed his fellow party members – and the world – that he still matters with a 50-minute speech that was jam-packed with information (most of it true as well!) and yet completely spellbinding. I kept trying to go to bed, but couldn’t turn off the TV set. And it was amazing to follow my Twitter feed and notice how all the cranky pundits just kept love-bombing the guy. One of them, don’t remember which one, also wrote to counter any complaints about the sheer length of the speech that you don’t invite Bruce Springsteen and expect him to play a short set. The man who once called Obama “the greatest fairy tale” and was expected to make sly digs at the President certainly showed everyone that this is how you make a speech at a political convention that matters. Neither PolitiFact nor FactCheck found much to complain about, except for a few exaggerations and some cherry-picking among facts. Compare that with Romney and Ryan’s speeches that had outright lies.
He came out to the tune of U2:s “City of Blinding Lights” (a classic safe bet in these circumstances) and ended his speech to the tune of Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” (a newcomer). Barack Obama is certainly being sold by his PR team as a regular, beer-guzzling, rock-lovin’ guy. If that’s what whets the appetite of independent-voting men, so be it. Obama’s speech came on the heels of Clinton’s knock-out and suffered in comparison. That was expected. There is after all an “enthusiasm gap”, which annoys the hell out of me. I was thrilled to see Obama elected four years ago, but worried about people’s unreasonable expectations. Now that those have sunk to realistic levels, this new situation is still being compared to 2008, which is also unreasonable. All you need to do is look at the achievements of this administration and you will realize that it needs four more years to finish what’s been started. The option is a new administration that will make the middle class pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, go back to a Cold War mindset that will make the U.S. a lot less respected around the world and roll back rights for women and minorities. All of this was made clear in Obama’s speech, and he delivered it well… although the passion wasn’t fully obvious until the final moments.
As for the fact-checking, Obama made more exaggerations and misrepresentations of Romney-Ryan’s positions than Clinton, but no huge mistakes. FactCheck offers a list, and so does PolitiFact (which is kinder to Obama).
One last thought on these two political conventions. The Republicans made a decent effort. But it is genuinely impressive to note the difference between the past and the present/future: The Democrats’ arena and stage was filled with women, gays and people of color. And I can’t help but note how the Party of the People are proud to present three presidents while the Grand Old Party have to make do without the troubled history of Bush 41 and 43.