Better Late than Never

It’s been a pretty hectic time since last week’s Democratic National Convention finished. Of course, there was the Barack Obama speech as well as John McCain’s choice of a running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. I wrote out my thoughts on those issues while spending some quality time on a Denver-Madison, Wisconsin flight after spending endless hours trapped in the puddle-jumper end of DIA; I know these stories are old news, but I think it’s still worth posting:

Obama Speech: Mission Accomplished, But Not Much More

From my seat in what’s normally the south end zone of Mile-High Stadium I could tell that the sellout crowd on hand for Barack Obama’s speech accepting the nomination would have stood and cheered so long as they got a glimpse of the Senator. Obama could have stood at the podium reading from his autobiography, or told them why John Elway sucked as a quarterback (which he does, but that’s a different matter), the crowd was with him. So that’s why he didn’t need to speak in an earth-shattering way – he didn’t need to reach the heights he did in his post-primary speech from New Hampshire, or at the DNC four years ago. But he did have to deliver more specifics to a campaign that had so far frustrated some undecided and even Democratic voters with its vague “Change” and “Hope” messages, and he did just that.

From last night: “So let me spell out exactly what change would mean if I am President. Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas… I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow. I will cut taxes for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class. And for the sake of our economy, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.”

I think for a lot of people, those kinds of messages were needed. Sure, he didn’t lay out every step for getting the nation off of oil, but he didn’t have to – there’s no need to go all policy wonk on 75,000 people and a massive TV audience. But he did have to give examples of goals he will set for his presidency that are more substantive than “Change we can believe in.” Don’t  get me wrong, Barack Obama delivered a good speech last night, but not because of any soaring oration or rhetorical skill. In 20 or 30 years, few people will remember direct quotes from this speech, but they will be able to say they saw a politician attract 75,000 people, who waited in lines that took hours, to watch him speak. What people will remember in 10 weeks, the Obama campaign hopes, is that this was a substantive discussion of goals by a candidate for President – and when they go to the polls on November 4th, that’s more important.

McCain Chooses Woman… Oh, Sorry, Sarah Palin

About 12 hours after Barack Obama took the stage at Mile-High Stadium last night, John McCain announced his pick for Vice-President: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. I should preface this by saying that because I’ve been in the Denver airport all day (thanks, United!) I haven’t been able to see much news about the announcement. But clearly, this is a move to win over disillusioned Clinton supporters still not attracted to Barack Obama, but I don’t know if it’s a pick that will pan out well. One of McCain’s main arguments against Barack Obama is his lack of experience, but Palin’s time in government is made up of her time as Alaska Governor, and before that as mayor of a 6,900-person town (which I think counts as a major metropolis in Alaska).

Palin’s gender played a big part in McCain’s choice of his nominee, and it allows someone like Joe Biden to really turn the tables on the experience argument. Biden has already come out as the attack dog in this campaign, and the Vice Presidential debates probably won’t be a fun experience for Palin. I haven’t had time to really research Palin (I didn’t even include her in my top picks for a Republican VP), but I can’t really tell why she was picked if, as the McCain campaign has said, gender played no part in the process. I can tell that she enjoys her firearms, though (as shown by a picture of her peering down the scope of an AK-47, pointed at the camera) – how long until that photo appears with “John McCain’s Vice President will Blow You Away” in a MoveOn.org ad?

In a campaign built on experience and military judgment, I don’t know if they want the Governor of the most sparsely populated state in the union a heartbeat (and let’s face it, some group on the left will make John McCain’s age and Sarah Palin’s experience an issue) running the country as Commander in Chief. Perhaps some more research will help me understand the picking of Sarah Palin more, but as for right now, I don’t think John McCain made a great decision.  

UPDATED: It would appear as if the McCain choice was successful in its timing, effectively stunting an Obama bounce for a short time. Politico first wrote that the bounce was smaller than many had expected (probably because of a lack of post-game coverage by networks the day after because of the Palin pick), but yesterday came out with a Gallup poll saying Obama had reached the 50% mark for the first time in the campaign.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: