July 27, 2004

The Democratic Convention: Night 1 Recap

by Jeremy Blachman

I didn't actually see any of the convention coverage last night. But blessed with the New York Times full-text of the convention speeches, I can relive it this morning, and pass along the highlights, as I see them.

Al Gore:

"Iím going to be candid with you... sheep... especially my beloved partner in life... BeBe Winans...."

OK, I know, stringing together non-sequiters with ellipses is a cheap joke, and is only marginally amusing. What you really want is sharp, incisive political commentary. Sorry. But I can at least try to excerpt the meat of the speech and insert some semi-coherent comments in italics.

"I sincerely ask those watching at home tonight who supported President Bush four years ago" Um, are any of those people actually watching? Their convention is still a month away... "did you really get what you expected from the candidate you voted for? Is our country more united today? Or more divided? Has the promise of compassionate conservatism been fulfilled? Or do those words now ring hollow?

"By the way, I know about the bad economy. I was the first one laid off." I don't think that's a very satisfying one-liner. On the surface, maybe it gets a laugh. But think about it. The former Vice President did not have too much trouble finding a new gig after he lost the election -- he taught at Columbia, he gets paid to give speeches... and he wasn't really laid off, his term was over. I'm taking it too literally, but it's just a silly throwaway comment that, to me, sounds a little bit callous to the people actually laid off. Al Gore doesn't know about the bad economy. Al Gore is doing just fine.

"Are you troubled by the erosion of Americaís most basic civil liberties? Are you worried that our environmental laws are being weakened and dismantled to allow vast increases in pollution that are contributing to a global climate crisis?" I love the way he uses the word "erosion" in the question just preceding the environmental one. He's priming the audience to think about the environment. I seriously bet that was intentional. Beautiful work, Al Gore Speechwriters.

Jimmy Carter:

I've got nothing much to say about this one, except that one line gave me pause: "When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven, in Vietnam, that he will not hesitate to act." My question is whether John Kerry's behavior in Vietnam really says as much about how he will act as commander-in-chief as people may want to ascribe to it. I don't know. And I don't say this to make any statement about John Kerry -- but is someone's military service thirty years ago a good indicator of how they would use the military as President now? Maybe it is. But it's not obvious to me that it most certainly would be.

Hillary Clinton:

"[T]onight I have the pleasure of introducing the last great Democratic president..." Yes, I know what she means. "Last" = "most recent" here. But on first read, I saw it as "last" as in "there will be no more afterwards." I'm sure that wasn't the intent. But did anyone else read or hear it that way too?

"He will create good jobs, not lose them." Someone, and I wish I could remember who (it may have been a law professor, actually -- but I really can't remember at all), once told me that I should flinch whenever I read something like that. So I flinched, and I will present the argument I was told (in other words, don't blame me if this is poorly reasoned... I'm stealing it). How can a President create a job? He can strive to put policies in place and hope that businesses are able to flourish and grow and add new jobs, but the only job the President can create is "assistant to the President."

"But being a senator from New York, I saw firsthand -- (cheers, applause)" Yay, firsthand! Not secondhand! Firsthand! Wheeee!

"I've been saying for many months now John Kerry is a serious man for a serious job in a serious time in our country's history." Seriously?

And, finally, Bill Clinton:

"Not a single American on September the 12th, 2001 cared who won the next presidential election." Is that really true? Might there have been one? Maybe even his wife?

"They chose to protect my tax cut while cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of their job- training programs, 100,000 working families out of their child-care assistance, and worst of all, while cutting 300,000 poor children out of their after-school programs when we know it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble, in school learning, going to college and having a good life!" After-school programs enable children to *have a good life*? I'm all for after-school programs, but I'm inclined to think that may be a stretch.

His speech looks pretty good. That's all I've got.

July 27, 2004 11:31 AM | TrackBack

As I mentioned in my blog...yes I did get what I expected when I voted four years ago...Al is opening up the Democratic convention instead of closing it...

Posted by: Jennifer at July 27, 2004 12:05 PM
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