Archive for: August, 2008

Grading the Tickets: Part 1 – Educational Background

Aug 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

This is the first installment of a five part series grading the two major party tickets for president on 5 categories: Education, Experience, Foreign Policy, Domestic Policy and Disposition. I will use an A+ through F grading scale. Educational background is a good place to start as it gives a view into the early adulthood of a candidate by offering an indication of what intellectual ability, work ethic, and judgment a given candidate possesses.

Presidential Nominees: Senator John McCain vs. Senator Barack Obama

Senator John McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958. He finished 894th out of 899 classmates. McCain was a legacy as his father and grandfather both went to Annapolis and were both Admirals in the Navy.
Grade B His class rank was poor, but the Naval Academy is a tough school and graduating is impressive so he avoids a B-.

Senator Barak Obama graduated from Columbia University in New York with a major in political science in 1983 after spending his first two years of college at Occidental University in CA. Obama enrolled at Harvard Law School in 1988 and graduated in 1991 magna cum laude. He served as the editor of the Harvard Law Review (one of the top spots at one of the nation’s top law schools).
Grade A+ Columbia is an Ivy League School. Graduating from Harvard Law magna cum laude and being editor of the Harvard Law Review probably deserves an A++, but the grading scale changes for no candidate.

Vice Presidential Nominees: Senator Joe Biden vs. Governor Sarah Palin

Senator Joe Biden graduated in 1965 from the University of Delaware double majoring in history and political science. Biden then graduated from Syracuse University’s school of law in 1968.
Grade A- Nothing overly flashy here, but a double major and a JD are impressive and make Biden quite educated relative to the rest of the nation.

Governor Sarah Palin graduated from the University of Idaho with a BA in journalism and a minor in political science.
Grade C 28% of U.S. citizens have bachelor’s degrees; therefore she is more formally educated than 72% of the population. Still, it does not appear that she went through an intellectual crucible at this stage of her life either.

Average GPA – Democrats 4.0 (4.33 for Obama + 3.67 for Biden) Republicans 2.5 (McCain 3.0 + Palin 2.0)

Formal education is not everything, but on category 1 the Democratic Ticket grabs an early lead. Having a President and Vice President who combine for zero advanced degrees is not the most reassuring thing I have contemplated.

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The Most Powerful Words From the Democratic National Convention

Aug 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

It is truly amazing what words can do. They can inspire us to great heights or scare us into strangling our own better angels. I guess that’s why speeches given by politicians are so important. They really only get one or two chances to get their message out.

Which brings me to the Democratic National Convention. Well, all conventions, really. Imagine what they’d be like without the fiery speeches packed with biting one-liners and inspirational messages.

Let’s think back together on the speeches given by the Democratic big names: the Clintons, Joe Biden, Barack Obama. They all delivered powerful words for the party when it meant the most. What follows here, are what I considered to be some of the best lines (not just one-liners, though there were plenty of those) from the Democratic National Convention.

Hillary Clinton, much to her credit, besides trying to unify the party, delivered some of the best lines I’ve ever heard in a convention speech.

“No way, no how, no McCain!” This one is certainly the most memorable from her speech. It was so smart and biting that many newspapers used it as the headline to their articles the next morning as a way to encapsulate the essence of her speech. It was also perhaps the simplest “go screw yourself” said in the nicest possible way to her Senate colleague and friend, John McCain.

“To my supporters, my champions—my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits.” What a great plain-folk line. Honest, earnest, funny. With one popular culture reference, Hillary managed to show not only appreciation to, but sisterhood with, her supporters. And should things not go well for Barack Obama in November, Hillary just kept her base in tact for 2012.

“I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?” Certainly the most sobering line of her entire speech. This was not only a gracious attempt to unite her supporters with the Obama camp, but also a difficult but necessary admonition to her PUMAs. Essentially, it allowed her to question her supporters’ sanity for possibly voting for McCain without coming straight out and asking them if they were crazy.

And on that path to freedom, Harriett Tubman had one piece of advice:
If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If they’re shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

The rally cry for the party! Hillary knows November will be difficult for Obama, what with many in this country still “uncomfortable” (read: trying to confront and work out their own racist leanings) with Obama. The allusion to Tubman and slaves running for freedom is the perfect choice of metaphor. And the message—keep going!—how simple, how powerful, especially that last line.

And if we’re talking about powerful, emotive speeches, there’s no way we can forget about former president, Bill Clinton.

People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power. Bill had a lot of good ideas in his speech, mostly in the form of denouncements of the Bush Administration’s handling of nearly everything from domestic to foreign policy in the last eight years. But this one line here really summed up the core of his message. Truly, under Bush, America has moved away from setting the shining example for the world to bullying the world into submission. Personally, this was one of the three best lines of the entire convention.

Pennsylvania Senator, Bob Casey, little known outside of the northeast addressed the convention with a so-so speech. However, he did manage to throw out a fantastic line while doing his duty to the party by continuing to link McCain to Bush.

John McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time. That’s not a maverick, that’s a sidekick. Perfect. What else needs to be said? Casey just turned McCain’s “maverick” moniker on its head while attaching him to Bush’s hip. This paints McCain as Bush’s “Tonto.”

Let’s talk about perennial presidential canidate, Dennis Kucinich, the representative from Ohio. This man is from the left most segment of the party and he’s not ashamed to say so. In fact, he calls shame on those who aren’t!

“Wake up, America!” The single, best “red meat” line…or rather, BLUE meat line of the convention. It is absolutely the message that needed to be delivered to those who are on the fence. Best of all, besides poking the undecideds in the heart, he also forcibly pokes those remaining Bush apologists straight in the eye.

I’ve always known of and respected Senator Joe Biden. But the more I see of him, the more I’m beginning to like him and admire him. Watch him at campaign events. He is absolutely loving every last second of it. The man is totally comfortable in his skin and exudes a genuineness not found in many politicians. This is probably why the party had him deliver the domestic/economic message of the night. As you read through, you’ll notice Biden doesn’t have many zingers. But he does talk directly to people’s hearts.

Almost every single night — almost every single night, I take the train home to Wilmington, Delaware, sometimes very late. As I sit there in my seat and I look out that window, I see those flickering lights of the homes that pass by, I can almost hear the conversation they’re having at their kitchen tables after they put their kids to bed.

He takes the train…he looks at the blurs of light whizzing by…he knows there are real families with real people who have real problems inside…the kitchen table… Pure genius; pure heart; pure blue collar appeal. This gets straight to the subject of “are you better off now than you were eight years ago?” Exactly what the Democrats needed to put out there. Let’s hope they continue to punch away at this message.

You know, folks, that’s the America that George Bush has left us. And that’s the America we’ll continue to get if George — excuse me, if John McCain is elected president of the United States of America. Freudian slip. Freudian slip.

Yes, only I don’t believe it was a slip at all…nice pivot and drive, Mr. Biden!

“Folks, remember when the world used to trust us, when they looked to us for leadership? With Barack Obama as our president, they’ll look at us again, they’ll trust us again, and we’ll be able to lead again.”

Ah…and the appeal to the intellectual, cosmopolitan wing of the Demcratic party. I dare say that though the Clintons may have delivered more memorable speeches, Biden delivered the most broad-themed, most versatile speech of all the convention.

And of course, this column can’t end without looking at a couple of lines delivered by the orator-nominee himself, Barack Obama.

“I don’t think Senator McCain doesn’t care; he just doesn’t know. It’s not that he doesn’t care; he just doesn’t get it.” Ok, admittedly, not the exact phrasing of his thoughts, but essentially, this is what it gets cut down to. Nice parallelism. Great way to paint McCain as out of touch and “cold-hearted” without coming out and blatantly attacking him as “he could care less about you.

”We are a better country than this.” Simple, clear and direct. This is an English teacher’s wet dream… The message is certainly there. But this serves two great purposes. First, it is the absolute indictment of the Bush Administration and their “trickle down, funnel up” mentality, practiced mercilessly over the past eight years. This not only covers domestic/economic issues, but also their foreign policy malpractice. This is a subtle but poignant reminder to voters that Bush now has to fly into foreign countries in the middle of the night in order to avoid the throngs of protesters wherever he lands.

Secondly, it is a simple but passionate way to inspire us to the higher purpose, the grander vision of America.

Indeed, Mr. Obama, we are a better country than our puerile, petulant example of the past eight years. Someone’s finally come right out and said it to the American people.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me proud to be a Democrat.

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Kerry: Palin is Almost Insulting to Clinton Supporters

Aug 31 2008 Published by under Featured News

John Kerry was on ABC’s This Week program where he pointed out that John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin is more likely to insult Hillary Clinton supporters than it is to attract them.

Kerry was asked if he was worried that the Palin pick would draw Clinton supporters to McCain. “How stupid do they think the Clinton supporters are for heaven sakes? Do they think Clinton supporters only supported Hillary because she is a woman? For heaven sakes, they supported Hillary because of all the things that she has fought for, because she fights for healthcare which John McCain doesn’t support. She fights for children and children’s health care, which John McCain voted against. She fights for a windfall profit tax on the oil companies, which John McCain opposes. I mean for heaven sakes, the people who supported Hillary Clinton are not going to be seduced just because John McCain has picked a woman. They are going to look at what she supports.”

Kerry said that the selection is almost an insult to Clinton supporters, “The fact that she doesn’t support the notion that climate change is manmade. She’s back there with the flat earth caucus. I don’t see how those women are going to be fooled into believing. I think it is almost insulting to the Hillary supporters that they believe that they would support somebody that is against everything that they believe in.”

He said that McCain is a prisoner of the right wing, “John McCain wanted to choose Tom Ridge. He wanted to choose Joe Lieberman. He wanted to choose another candidate, but you know what, Rush Limbaugh and the right wing vetoed it, and John McCain was forced to come back and pick a sort of Cheneyeske social conservative who is going to satisfy the base. What John McCain has proven with this choice is that John McCain is a prisoner of the right wing, and not a maverick.”

It is my own opinion that if McCain was free to make his own choice, it would have been Lieberman or Ridge. It would never have been a little known governor who he has only met twice in his life. This pick was made only to try to peel Clinton supporters away from Obama. The reason why Obama didn’t pick a woman was because by picking a woman other than Clinton, you risk insulting her base, and I think that is exactly what McCain has done.

This choice does help McCain with his base, but the Republican base is not big enough to win the election on its own. This was a pick that was not based on ability to govern, but political calculus. The buzz in the mainstream has already worn off of this story, so I have grave doubts that McCain is going to see a big running mate bounce in the polls. What the pick did certainly do is open up a whole new line of questioning about experience and judgment that didn’t exist before.

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Obama: Biden Can be President on Day One

Aug 30 2008 Published by under Featured News

Barack Obama and Joe Biden gave their first joint interview which will air on 60 Minutes tomorrow night. While Obama went out of his way to say nice things about John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin, he also contrasted her with Biden’s experience and readiness to be commander in chief.

Obama listed three reasons why he chose Biden,” Let me tell you the reason I picked Joe Biden. Number one– he can step in and become president. And I don’t think anybody has any doubt about that. Number two is that if I’m in the room making the kinds of tough decisions that the next president’s going to have to make both on domestic policy and on international policy, then I want the counsel and advice of somebody who’s not going to agree with me a 100 percent of time. In fact, somebody what’s independent enough that can push back and give me different perspectives and make sure that I’m catching any blind spots that I have. And Joe Biden doesn’t bite his tongue. Number three– is somebody who I know in his heart cares about the American people and the American dream, and is willing to fight for them as hard as he can. And Joe Biden fit that bill.”

The Democrat called Palin an up and comer, “Well, I– I don’t know Governor Palin I have not met her before. I had a brief conversation with her– after she was selected to congratulate her and– and wish her luck. But, not too much luck on the campaign trail. And– she seems to have a compelling life story. Obviously, she’s– a fine– mother and– a up and coming public servant.”

He also guessed that she subscribes to McCain’s agenda, “So, it– it’s too early for me to gauge– what kind of running mate she’ll be. My sense is that she subscribes to John McCain’s agenda. And ultimately, this is going to be about where I want to take, the country and where Joe Biden wants to take the country, and where John McCain and his running mate want to take the country.”

It is odd how this race has turned in a day. It is now Obama making the experience argument, while John McCain is trying to sell himself as an agent of change. Hillary Clinton tried to drop the experience argument and become the agent of change, and we all remember how well that worked out. I don’t understand this because McCain had made great progress with the experience argument, so why would he abandon it by selecting Palin?

Republicans can try to avoid the subject, but it is difficult to feel comfortable with a 72 year old man as president, when his running mate is a national political novice. McCain’s choice of running mate did a better job of raising the age and judgment questions than Obama ever could. It is the correct strategy not to attack Palin, but to raise the contrast between her and Joe Biden in terms of experience. I think that John McCain has made Barack Obama’s job a whole lot easier.

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Obama Camp and Democrats: Palin Choice is Political Panic

Aug 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

The Obama campaign wasted little time pouncing on John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin as inexperienced, in bed with Big Oil, and committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. Democrats called the choice political panic.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said, “Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same.”

Rep. Rahm Emanuel called the choice political panic, “Is this really who the Republican Party wants to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency? Given Sarah Palin’s lack of experience on every front and on nearly every issue, this Vice Presidential pick doesn’t show judgement: it shows political panic.”

Rep. Jim Clyburn compared Palin to Dan Quayle, “I do believe that McCain has to do something to reshuffle the cards, shake up the establishment, do something unexpected and Governor Palin has all the kinds of things that McCain might see as a way to shake things up. I think (her selection) would be something similar to Dan Quayle. Dan Quayle proved to be sort of an embarrassment as a campaigner. Being thrust on a national stage like that could be very tough. Now Mondale tried to shake things up by going with Geraldine Ferraro she proved to be a disaster as a running mate. And as a campaigner, she was absolutely awful. And so I just think that it is very risky for McCain to do this, but it may be all he has left.”

This selection does have a degree of desperation to it, and listening to Palin speak it is clear that she is very, very, green. I don’t think this is going to work. If this is a ploy to lure Clinton voters, it is going to fail. I think it was a bad idea to make this pick on his 72nd birthday. Palin’s relative youth and inexperience highlight, just how damn old McCain is. The more I think about it, this pick was driven more by a desire to get McCain some media attention., and a cheap play for Hillary voters. I don’t think the Democrats have anything to worry about with Sarah Palin.

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Is Sarah Palin Ready to be President?

Aug 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

Now that word is out about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin being selected to be John McCain’s VP, the Obama campaign has gone to work. They released a statement on the selection:

“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same.”

Additionally, a Democratic operative not associated with the Obama camp has already offered a clever quip to describe Palin which could really catch fire and work against Palin and McCain:

“Geraldine Quayle.”

Those are a couple of damn good opening salvos!

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Sarah Palin: A High Risk/Reward Pick for McCain

Aug 29 2008 Published by under Featured News

Contrary to cable news network reports, Sarah Palin’s name has been floating around for weeks as a dark horse running mate possibility. The upside is that she brings youth, gender, and conservative credentials to the ticket. The downside is that this pick was based on a political calculation that if it backfires will doom his campaign.

In all honesty McCain did not have many options, so he went with the shock value pick. Palin is a popular pro-life pro-gun Republican in Alaska, but she has only been a governor for two years. To put this into context, she has even less experience than Barack Obama. The upside of picking a 44 year old is that she brings youth and freshness to a ticket that quite frankly has a tendency to look and act stale.

I wonder how the McCain camp is going to balance their primary argument that Obama lacks experience with a running mate that has no national experience. Another possible negative to picking someone so young is that it highlights McCain’s age. I don’t think that Democrats should be mocking this pick, but it does reek of desperation on the part of McCain. I do think that McCain made this pick as play for more media coverage, and I am not sure if will work.

I’m also not sure that this pick will work. If they are looking to court women or exploit any perceived Obama/Clinton divide, they need to understand that women don’t vote based strictly on gender. However,she is a choice that will rally the base, a hard core down the line conservative. McCain has had a problem energizing this base, and Palin should get them excited.

You can count me in the camp that thought Rob Portman would be a better pick, but the advantage to Palin is that she has no connection to the Bush administration. McCain now gets a clean start. Instead of picking Mitt Romney, who, to put it politely, he has a stormy relationship with. McCain has gone with a fresh face. S

She won’t likely bring any states to McCain, but this pick is symbolic. The reward here is that she could allow McCain to redefine his campaign. The risk is that she actually costs McCain votes with the voters who won’t support a woman, and those who could view the selection as overly contrived. Personally, I am reserving judgment until we see Palin on the campaign trail.

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Obama : The Making of a President

Aug 28 2008 Published by under Featured News

There were two purposes to Barack Obama’s acceptance speech tonight at Invesco Field. First, Obama laid out his vision for the future, and secondly, he explained why he believes that John McCain should not be president. This night will be remembered as the night that Obama showed the character of a president.

“We meet at one of those defining moments – a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more. Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach. These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush. America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this,” Obama said.

“Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land – enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.””

Then he launched into John McCain, “Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we’ll also hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need. But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.”

Obama painted McCain as out of touch, “The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives – on health care and education and the economy – Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made “great progress” under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors – the man who wrote his economic plan – was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a “mental recession,” and that we’ve become, and I quote, “a nation of whiners.””

“A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know,” Obama continued.

He claimed that McCain doesn’t get it, “Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn’t know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement? It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care. It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.”

The Democratic candidate called McCain’s economic policy what it really is, “For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy – give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is – you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps – even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own. Well it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.”

Obama explained his vision of the role of government, “Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work. That’s the promise of America – the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper. That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now.”

He also confronted the patriotism issue, “But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism. The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – they have served the United States of America. So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.”

Obama included a very Reagan like mention of America’s promise, “Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend. That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.”

Obama listed 29 policy proposals and took 19 shots at McCain. This speech put the idea of a soft vague Obama away, and showed that this general election is going to be a brawl. He did a fantastic job balancing the attacks with laying out his vision for America. Obama was strong, forceful, and definitely looked presidential. The rhetoric of hope and change has been advanced to define what has to change, and why we hope. The speech didn’t have a catch phrase that will go down in history, but it showed why there is really only one candidate in this race who is fit to be president, and that candidate is Barack Obama.

Full text of Obama’s remarks

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Pawlenty Is Frontrunner to be McCain’s VP

Aug 28 2008 Published by under Featured News

There are new developments in the John McCain “veepstakes” this afternoon. Many sources, including the National Review blog and “The Hotline,” part of the National Journal’s Daily Briefing on Politics, are naming Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty as McCain’s selection.

The National Review made their claim on Monday, saying pretty definitively that Pawlenty had gotten the greenlight, and their report is now being heavily circulated by other media outlets.

The primary anchor to this proclamation is the fact that “Tim Pawlenty has cancelled his media appearances for the weekend.” Of course, they add later, it is possible that McCain has asked all of his VP choices to clear their weekend schedule so as to not tip off the media snoopers.

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5 Thing to Watch for During Obama’s Denver Speech

Aug 28 2008 Published by under Featured News has an acceptance speech been as watched and anticipated as Barack Obama’s acceptance speech tonight at Invesco Field. With this in mind, here are five things to watch for during Obama’s speech.

1). I Have A Dream Too – It is almost a given that Barack Obama will reference Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech tonight. What you need to look for is how Obama ties himself into this speech. Will he use himself as an example of what Dr. King was talking about 45 years ago, or will he lay out his dream for America? My guess would be the latter, as his wife’s speech on Monday addressed his back story.

2). Change vs Policy – The Obama campaign has said that this speech is going to go a little lighter on the soaring rhetoric of the primary campaign. It is always a risk to go too policy heavy, but it will be interesting to see how he combines his message of hope with clear policy ideas. No matter which path he chooses, you can be certain that he will tie it into a message of change.

3). The Economy – The major subtheme of this entire convention has been the economy. I suspect that Obama is going to appeal to the pocketbooks of the middle class. Obama would be wise to look at Bill Clinton’s 1992 acceptance speech to realize that the main theme of his campaign should be the economy. Obama has a chance tonight to recast himself as the man who can help all of those Americans who are struggling to keep their homes and their jobs. He has a chance to contrast himself with McCain and let the American people know that he “feels their pain.”

4).Attacks vs New Politics – Some, mostly media types, have been upset that this convention has in their view gone easy on McCain, but if Obama breaks out the knives tonight and slices up McCain, he runs the risk of destroying his image as different kind of politician. I expect Obama to contrast himself with McCain tonight, but don’t expect any strong personal attacks. This doesn’t mean that he won’t hit McCain hard. Just don’t expect any below the belt stuff.

5). Looking Presidential – This is Obama’s biggest challenge tonight. He needs to look, appear, and act like he is ready to be president. It can be argued that the biggest reservation that voters have about Obama is that he isn’t ready to be president. Tonight’s speech is his best chance to make a good first impression on the nation. Millions of people will be watching tonight, and many of them will be trying to imagine Obama in the White House. It’s Obama’s job to convince those people that he belongs there.

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