Thursday, September 06, 2012

The first two days of the DNC

I haven't watched the entire Democratic convention, just the prime-time portions. Even then there have been long portions that I did not pay attention so this is just a general impression. On the other hand, I was watching CSPAN instead of commercial coverage so I saw the actual convention instead of talking heads.

Michele Obama was clearly the best speaker on Tuesday night. She described her husband as someone who makes the hard choices instead of leaving them for others. Why isn't this guy on the ticket? He would be a big improvement over Obama.

This was probably Clinton's last big political speech so he made the best of it. It seemed like he was never going to stop talking. At one point he brought up the factoid that more jobs have been created under Democratic presidents than under Republicans. He is justified in bringing this up since half of the gains in the Democrat column were under his administration. On the other hand, using the same methodology, Obama has only create 300,000 jobs instead of the 4.2 million that his campaign likes to claim. Regardless, it is a stretch to call for reelecting Obama because we had large job growth under Clinton.

At one point Clinton talked about cooperation between the parties being important. Was he giving this as a reason for reelecting Obama or as an excuse for why Obama has failed?

The Democrats love to say that Romney plans to give tax breaks to multimillionaires while raising taxes on everyone else. This comes from a study by the Tax Policy Institute. They have backed away from this conclusion. They point out that Romney has only given generalities so they made some assumptions about what deductions would have to be cut to stay revenue-neutral. By those standards, Romney falls short. There is nothing in Romney's plan that calls for a tax increase and his campaign complains that the Tax Policy Institute does not take into account the stimulus effects of flattening the tax code. After spending the last week accusing Ryan of lying, the Democrats are playing pretty loose with the facts.

Outside of that, most Democrats are avoiding the fact-checkers by making statements to outrageous that no one bothers to check them. Former Ohio governor Strickland said that Romney was Santa Claus he would "fire the reindeer and outsource the elves."

Elizabeth Warren was given a plum spot leading in to Clinton. There was some speculation that she would deliver a speech comparable to the one Obama gave in 2004. Nope. What she said was disjointed and partisan. This speech may not even help her senate run.

Wednesday got of to a terrible start when it came out that their platform had dropped all references to "God" and to Jerusalem being the capitol of Israel. The Democrats are insisting that this was an oversight. Hah! Last month it was treated as a gaff when Romney referred to Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. When asked where the capitol is, the Obama administration refused to answer. The text was probably removed at that time. The Democrats' real feeling were shown by the difficulty they had in getting enough votes to put the text back in. If it had been an oversight then it would have been a formality to put it back in. Instead it took three votes before they had enough votes. Even then there were boos.

Obama planned on accepting his nomination in a stadium as he had four years ago. At the last minute this was moved to the convention hall. There had been reports that the Democrats were having problems filling the (rather small) stadium and were resorting to busing people in. Was the change really because of the weather (current forecast, cloudy) or because they were not going to be able to fill the stadium? It does not matter which is true. The fact that there is any question shows the drop in enthusiasm from four years ago.

There were two striking differences between the Republican and Democratic conventions. The first was the tone. The Democrats were much angrier than the Republicans. From the tone of the speeches you would think that Romney was the incumbent and Obama the challenger. The Republicans were trying to appeal to moderates and undecided. The Democrats seemed to be aiming their speeches at the party faithful. Can you convince an undecided voter by claiming that Romney is un-American for having some foreign bank accounts?

The other difference is which party is forward-facing. The Republicans allowed several party stars to give prime-time speeches. These are the guys who will be running in 2016 or 2020 and the Republicans let them introduce themselves to America. The Democrats featured activists and former presidents. I cannot imagine any of their speakers making a serious run for president. I have trouble picturing most of them on the stage at the last several Democratic conventions. This enforces the impression that the Democrats, not the Republicans, have abandoned the middle and are becoming increasingly more radical.

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