Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Tale of Three Speeches

George Washington was the only president who did not have to clean up after the previous administration

The Old Warrior: Senator McCain spoke from Kenner, Louisiana and praised Hillary Clinton for her courage and tenacity and for breaking barriers that would open doors for his daughters. He was less gracious toward Barack Obama, noting that “Pundits and party elders” selected him as the nominee. The good senator sounded like a Hillary Clinton Super Delegate.

The Republican candidate tried to distance himself from the current administration and borrowed from the Obama’s campaign theme of change. He agreed that change was necessary but qualified the need as “the right change.” The candidate was grandfatherly and almost wistful as he discussed American history and touched on recurring themes of education, economy, health care and technology. And oh yes, national safety, although the Senator continued to try to distance himself from Mr. Bush by saying he disagreed about the Iraq war strategy.

The meat of Senator McCain’s speech attacked Senator Obama and his positions on energy (stating that Obama was aligned with Bush/Cheney. Huh?), the economy, trade, and national security. He concludes his speech by stating that the kind of change the country needs is the cooperative spirit and common purpose shown after 9/11.

Senator McCain seems a nice enough man. The green background might have been symbolic. The crowd sounded like one from the Retirement and Alzheimer’s center down the street. I almost fell asleep so I looked up the transcript online to be sure to not misquote. I get the feeling that John doesn’t really want to be president. He kind of backed into the nomination and doesn’t really know how to get out. Besides, Cindy will look good as first lady so he’ll do his obligatory speeches and take lots of naps and if elected will probably do a fair job.

So close but no cigar: The stage was set for Senator Clinton to make her concession speech. She’d fought a good battle, continued to use phantom statistics to boost her claim of a populous victory, and maintained a loyal and vocal group of supporters in New York. She began by erroneously stating that South Dakota, rather than Montana, was the last primary then congratulated Senator Obama on the race he’d run – not won. She continued to pat herself on the back for groundbreaking women’s opportunities (never mentioning the huge minority groundbreaking). She implied that she would be the strongest candidate to be commander–in-chief. Wait a minute. Didn’t the party just select its candidate who was not her? She then announced her victory. Huh? Memo to the Clintons: YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED.

She continued to extol her own virtues even admitting that it was she who “sounded the alarm on the mortgage crisis well over a year ago.” The Senator continued her speech outlining her virtues and victories one by one and telling how so many people had done so much for her. Oh yes, she mentioned the party once. But she used the word “I” 62 times and “me” or “my” 28 times.

When the Senator was growing up she learned self discipline, tenacity, and drive. As she grew and observed the political world she learned to slant the facts, ignore those that did not suit her, and play to the people whether it included a shot and a beer or aligning with her audience. During her campaign she learned a lot about becoming a politician. Three lessons that were lost on her, however, were humility, grace, and when to leave the room.

Democratic nominee toots Toot’s horn: The third speech of the night was given by the presidential nominee of the Democratic party. Senator Barack Obama started his speech by paying tribute to the grandmother who reared him and “...made me what I am today.” She lives in Hawaii and he affectionately calls her by the Hawaiian word for grandma, “Toot.”

The Senator was clearly the most presidential of the three speakers, as he did his obligatory thank you to all who helped, then congratulated and praised Senator Clinton for her campaign and for breaking ground for those women who will follow her path. He was much more gracious toward her than she to him, stating it was an honor to compete with her.

The Senator then made what might have been the most profound campaign statement of the night, “We honor the service of John McCain, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.” He then disputed many of the points made by Senator McCain. He spent the bulk of the rest of his speech outlining point-by-point the changes that are needed in this country. That’s politics. Both men will be running in the fall to become our next president.

His “touché” moment came in response to Senator McCain’s chiding him for not spending more time in Iraq. Senator Obama stated that if Senator spent more time in inner city schools, including those in New Orleans (where McCain spoke),he’d understand that drastic changes are needed. His speech ended with the echoing of the theme, “This is the moment.”

The pundits do not know where Hillary will land. Perhaps the Clintons don’t either. It seems they just can’t give up the spotlight. Perhaps Hillary has something to offer and will do so. But this writer looks forward to watching the presidential campaign unfold sans Hillary.

A little blogging music Maestro... “Heat of the Moment” by Asia.

Dr. Forgot

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