I’ll admit, I didn’t watch a whole lot of the Republican National Convention. I had good reason though: as a resident of New Orleans, I was in the middle of an evacuation. As the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was approaching and I myself was getting nervous about a potential evacuation as the hurricane track kept shifting closer and closer to New Orleans, I became less and less interested in what the GOP had to say. Mind you it was hard pressing past the stories that Rush Limbaugh had gotten on his radio show conspiring that President Obama had somehow manipulated the weather forecast so that Republicans in Tampa would be concerned about the hurricane hitting Tampa.
Nevertheless, as I was driving on the open road, evacuating to Birmingham, Alabama first and eventually driving all the way back home to Chicago, I did catch bits and pieces of the prime time speeches and I heard much talk about what these speeches did for the Romney/Ryan party ticket. But, I missed the me-note speech by NJ Gov. Chris Christie and speech that VP candidate Paul Ryan gave with more holes a sieve. And yes, I even missed Mitt Romney’s speech.
Oddly enough, I caught Clint Eastwood’s speech.
I was driving some where around Chicago and snapped on the radio to hear Clint Eastwood mid-dialogue with, what sounded like himself. It wasn’t until later that I put two and two together to figure out what he was really doing. True to form, Eastwood’s “empty chair” stole the thunder from the GOP convention along with Paul Ryan’s flat out falsifications—one of which was his marathon running time of all things.
Yes, being a bleeding heart liberal (let’s go with the term progressive), I did pay more attention to the Democratic National Convention. But being safely back in New Orleans aided in that process I’ll admit. But, to be fair, I missed Michelle Obama’s speech—I think someone actually dropped by my house that night. I endured Clinton’s hour long speech and I did a late night at work and turned on CSPAN online to catch Obama’s speech the last night.
To compare the two is normal and fair, but I think it does speak to the vast differences in the campaigns. Due to the blatant errors, which amount to lies, that came from Paul Ryan’s speech has introduced the phrase “fact-checkers” into an almost daily loop on any cable news outlet. Compared to the soaring rhetoric of Obama and Clinton, Romney’s speech was vastly overshadowed by the “empty chair” motif which went over like a lead balloon in every circle not already identified as conservative or a part of the GOP base.
Here’s what bothered me: neither side took the convention as an opportunity to spell out what they plan to do if elected in November. As a registered voter, this bothered me. Both parties attempted to pull at the emotional heartstrings of the respective constituencies in an attempt to…to…to do—something, I guess. The GOP took the out of context quote from Obama of “you didn’t build that” and co-opted it into “we built that/it.” Again, it only reached as far as the base. I think it was short-sighted and they focused far too much of their convention on what I thought was a rather lame concept. The Democrats on the other hand reached back to the 2008 playbook and through Clinton and Obama’s speeches respectively began to sell this idea that “hope” and “change” is reason enough to vote for Obama again.
Comparatively, we all know which model won in 2008.
This isn’t to say it’s a shoe-in for this year. It most certainly is not with an unemployment rate that refuses to budge, and an economy that is not nearly as strong as it once was 15 years ago either. What I thought was interesting from the Clinton and Obama speeches was that they were asking the base, and Obama as a sitting president, asking the nation, to normalize the economic situation to a certain point. Those two were asking us as citizens to deal with what we have, make do and just hope that things get better; our hope just has a better shot of coming to fruition if we elect the Obama/Biden ticket.
That’s all well and good, but I’m just hoping Obama has some policies he’s ready to discuss come the debates in October just because I’d feel better about things. We all remember the American Jobs Act, which of course, sounded good, but we see what Congress did with that.
Oddly enough, there is no power granted under the Constitution that grants the president the power that would effectively make a real difference on the economy, yet we expect him to do something about it.
To use the most overly used phrase of the last two years, at the end of the day…we’re all still American, we all are citizens and we all, for the most part, are entitled to the same rights as our neighbor, I just hope whoever wins has enough wherewithal to keep those rights. To quote a famous preacher, while yet in the pulpit:
“It’s gotten to be that you can’t tell the difference between a donkey and an elephant, because sh*t comes out of both of them.”