Some of the folks in our newsroom disagree with me, but I didn’t think last night’s wrap-up of the Democrats’ convention was as strong as it could have been. President Obama’s address, while good, wasn’t one of his best. And Joe Biden went on far, far, far too long.
That said, there were plenty of strong moments, and if the Democrats follow through, they could provide a powerful response to the Romney-Ryan attacks that are coming. For instance:
Elizabeth Warren’s “We’re Americans. We celebrate success. We just don’t want the system to be rigged.”
John Kerry’s important zingers, including: 1) that Mitt Romney to the contrary, rising oceans and the health of the planet are important — and that concern about them is consistent with Biblical teachings; and 2) his focus on Romney and Ryan as an “inexperienced foreign-policy team.”
Joe Biden’s analysis of Mitt Romney’s “let Detroit go bankrupt” comment: “I don’t think he’s a bad man…. I don’t think he understood,” because he was viewing Detroit from a “Bain” perspective.
And from Barack Obama:
“Climate change is not a hoax.”
“I will not let the oil companies write this country’s energy plan.”
“I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their mortgage deduction to provide tax cuts.”
“No Americans should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of the insurance industry.”
And his emphasis on citizenship and community, on shared obligation, was crucial.
I think Obama did a good job spelling out the differences between the two parties, and between the Obama-Biden beliefs and those of Romney-Ryan.
Obama wasn’t specific about what he would do if he’s re-elected, and that will draw criticism, particularly because Democrats have been ridiculing Mitt Romney for his vagueness. But as I wrote earlier this week, I think we know what Romney would do based on what he has said. Obama made it clear last night that he has no grandiose plans for a second term, no rabbit-in-a-hat way to create jobs faster. He’ll stay the course and trust that over the next four years, we’ll continue to claw our way back up.
That’s a realistic plan, I think. Unlike the Republicans’ plans, it’s not dramatic. But as Bill Clinton said earlier this week, no president could have gotten us back to economic health in four years.
In an interview during the PBS airing of last night’s speeches, Virginia’s Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, had this assessment: “The speeches are nice; the conventions are nice. But after them, we’ll have high unemployment, high gas prices….”
“The president didn’t create the problem,” said McDonnell. “He’s just made it worse.”
A lot will hang on whether most voters agree with McDonnell or with the speakers at the Democrats’ convention in Charlotte.