Thanks, I needed that. “That” being the pitch perfect opening night of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte. There were 2 extraordinary speeches and another that may have launched a 2016 Vice-President’s profile. We saw Harry Reid as a tough guy (who knew?), a video address from “looking great at almost 88” former President, Jimmy Carter and an overall euphoria that the Democratic Party hasn’t experienced since the halcyon days of the 2007 and early 2008 Barack Obama era.
There was only one downer. One of the most magnificent speeches I’ve ever heard – period – missed Network prime time. I refer to the stem-winder oration by Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick. I’ve been waiting for years for somebody to lay it on the line. To call out the Republicans and their heartless policies. He didn’t spare the Democratic Namby-Pamby musings of “let’s not rile up the opposition” forces either. I loved his line, “It’s time for Democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe.” Patrick did exactly that in an unwavering style that left no question that he meant business. If you didn’t hear the speech, look it up on the Internet.
The other extraordinary address was Michelle Obama’s moving family tribute and vocal love letter to her husband, Barack. It was a passionate and spiritual homage to her man and her loved ones, most especially daughters, Sasha and Malia. There’s never been a First Lady speech to equal this one and like Patrick, she had the delegates super-glued to her every word, mesmerized.
Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, a former amateur boxer, came out swinging in demanding that Mitt Romney release his tax returns. He revisited the point repeatedly during his speech. I thought former Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland had the funniest line of the proceedings when he observed that, “If Mitt was Santa Claus, he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”
Democrats were definitely not running away from the issues of abortion and contraception. On the subject of birth control, a young woman, Maria Ciano, talked about how “they” (Republicans) want to put insurance companies in charge of my health care. She was followed by the feisty head of NARAL, Nancy Keenan, who made the points of a woman not being forced to have an ultrasound against her will and how we (women) believe rape is rape and how there is no room for politicians on the subject, especially those politicians who don’t know how women’s bodies work”, a direct slap at Missouri Representative, Todd Akin, infamous for his ‘legitimate’ rape comment and how a woman’s body would prevent her from becoming pregnant after such a rape.
Tammy Duckworth followed with courage oozing out of every pore. Her walk to the podium was an exemplar for every member of the military who risks life and limb for his or her country. In Tammy’s case it was limb – actually 2 limbs that she lost when a rocket-propelled grenade landed in her LAP while she was co-piloting a Blackhawk Helicopter, north of Baghdad. She walked with a prosthetic right leg and a prosthetic left leg with great dignity and not a sliver of self-consciousness. After recovering from her wounds, she went on to head the State of Illinois Veteran’s Affairs Department, before moving on to assume a position with the same department in Washington.
Stacy Lihn was one of 2 speakers whose ‘real life’ stories put a face to legislation the Republicans want to kill. Her daughter was born with a congenital heart condition. Three operations were required to ensure the child’s survival. Two have already happened. Obamacare guarantees that insurance companies can impose no lifetime financial limits on care. Mrs. Lihn pointed out that a third operation is imminent. She told the delegates that if Obamacare is repealed, then there was no way she and her husband could afford the surgery. Romney and Ryan couldn’t care less about the Lihn’s daughter’s potentially deadly predicament as they are leading the Republican charge to repeal ‘Obamacare’.
Rahm Emanuel, former Obama Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor, praised the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed by the Democrats before the wing-nuts in Congress in 2010. Emanuel talked of the Act being responsible for an additional 4 ½ million jobs after the Obama administration inherited job losses of 800,000 per month. These are the kind of Bush stats that the American public needs to know.
Lilly Ledbetter, for whom the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was named, was one of my favorites. The straight-up no-nonsense Alabama Belle was just the kind of lady to take on the male power structure. She gave her background as the Manager of a tire store in Alabama and how men in her position had been paid considerably more for the same work. The courts found against her plea for justice, not to mention Republican legislators. She hung in there for 10 years before the Act was passed. She pointed out there is still a long way to go as women are paid 77 cents to the male dollar for the same job. Various fact-checking sites have challenged the 77 cent number claiming the number is actually 81, maybe even 82 cents. WOW! What’s her problem?
I didn’t quite know what to make of Keynote Speaker, Julian Castro. He didn’t get me at ‘hello’. He’s a pleasant and obviously bright young guy. The start of his speech was way too boilerplate. I didn’t get the personal connection that I did with Michelle. But somewhere in the speech, the tenor changed. Maybe it was his line that you “can’t be pro-business if you’re not pro-education.” After that his true personality came forth. He gave an anecdote about Romney visiting an Ohio college where a student wanted to know where the money would come from to start a business. Romney’s response – “Borrow it from your parents.” Romney defined.
The picture of Castro’s 3-year-old daughter looking at the monitor and repeatedly fluffing her hair while daddy talked glowingly of her was a priceless portrait of little daughters that every parent could relate to.
I ended up being a fan. I could readily see why he appealed to voters of all stripes. Being Latino, he doesn’t ‘scare’ anybody. He’s one of us. I do believe he’ll get serious consideration for VP in 2016 depending on the racial and demographic circumstances. I’d grade his Keynote address as sincere and effective and vastly superior to his Republican counterpart, Christie. What else can you ask for?
Opening night of the Democratic Convention was spectacular. There’s lots of pressure on the remaining party ‘stars’. For today (Wednesday), you know prime time (10-11:00) speakers Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Warren won’t disappoint. Earlier, Barney Frank will be fun and cutting and Sandra Fluke is also making an appearance. The Democratic speaker’s slate is heavy with Latino’s and Hispanics and there are sure to be some great efforts among their number.
Can’t wait for the next session.