Note: Like last week, I am catching the last night of speeches a bit late; I may have a later update about some of the earlier speeches, but so far Vice President Biden’s speech seems to have summarized a number of points that have come up with some of the other speeches, especially last night.
11:10 pm Cardinal Timothy Dolan gives the closing benediction at the Democratic National Convention as well! His benediction is certainly similar to the one he offered at the Republican National Convention; clearly I spoke too soon of his partisanship. A Liberal Ironist by definition can do without benedictions, and likes 1 quality and 1 quality alone about them: As Edmund Burke, who would probably not call himself a Conservative in the contemporary American strain, once said, there ought to be 1 place and 1 time a week where people of different trades, parties and parts of town come together to focus their attention on something that is not contemporary. As it happens, a god is an easier object of such repose for such a large audience than any substantive intellectual or aesthetic concept.
11:05 pm: The speech is ended. Confetti falls but there are no balloons; the speech was originally supposed to be held in a large outdoor stadium but there was concern about rain. Some Republicans alleged that the closing night speech was moved indoors because Democratic Convention-planners realized they couldn’t fill it this time; that’s bunk. There was actually a lengthy ticket backlog, and many Democratic campaign volunteers and contributors now will have to be compensated with another appearance by the President later in the campaign; for now, a lot of Democratic Party money was saved on balloons this year.
11:02 pm: The rhetorical flourish is upon us. In case you have forgotten, Barack Obama is Church of Christ.
10:55 pm: The reforms of the past few years–getting the banks out of the student loan business, the Affordable Care Act, the repeal of the failed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays in the military–were possible because people turned out to support the Obama Campaign and the Democrats in 2008. He gets a big applause for taking just a moment to reflect on the fact that he did become President. He breaks through the chant of “4 more years! 4 more years!” to say that this means everything has become very real. He is responsible for managing wars. He can see the people he campaigned and now governs to help, and he gets the news those times when they don’t get the help they need.
10:54 pm: President Obama invites Americans to think of politics as being about a common cause and shared values rather than about “what’s in it for me.”
At 10:53 pm, President Obama settled an old score: Government is not part of the problem.
10:48 pm: The President acknowledges that “No party has a monopoly on wisdom,” and calls for Republicans and Democrats to work together on deficit reduction in the wake of his Bowles-Simpson Deficit Commission. I was happy to hear him say he won’t punish middle class families trying to pay-down a house or send their children to school to give millionaires another tax cut–a perverse and harmful tax proposal that often goes by the clever euphemism “lowering the rates and broadening the base.” I didn’t think he would give up the mortgage interest deduction or the child tax credit to pay for tax rate cuts for the rich, but I was glad to hear him say it; this was the time and the place to say it.
10:42 pm: President Obama talks about ending the Iraq War, taking the fight to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and the pending drawdown from Afghanistan in 2014. “A new tower rises in the New York skyline,” he adds, always focusing on what we’re building.
10:39 pm: President Obama scolds Governor Romney for joking about the President’s concerns about global warming during his own Convention acceptance speech. Good; for Governor Romney to joke about global warming after saying during his party’s primaries that he is well-aware it is real, and in this year of extreme and widespread drought and with new studies tracking the surprising speed with which sea levels rise, what we need is leaders who will be serious with the public when matters are serious.
10:37 pm: The President summarizes the fuel efficiency, renewable energy and domestic energy development achievements of his 1st term. It’s an impressive record–more impressive than one would think possible if they hadn’t heard it.
10:35 pm: President Obama assures us that our problems are manageable, but that they still require shared sacrifice, cooperation between different interests and bold policy experimentation. “I may offer a harder road, but it leads to a better place…I’m asking you to rally.”
10:32 pm: “At their convention down in Tampa last week, our Republican friends were happy to tell you everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t want to tell you what they were going to do about it. They want your vote, but they don’t want to tell you their plan. Is the economy in trouble? Try a tax cut. The deficit too high? Try another? Have a cold? Take 2 tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call me in the morning…”
10:30 pm: President Obama tells us that it’s been a long time since we faced such a momentous choice of President in November. Sure, the choice must seem momentous to him when he’s in the race himself, but he casts the choice as essentially one in which our social safety net and even the basic bargain for our middle class is at stake. Most Americans already seem to believe it; the evidence mounts around us.
10:28 pm: “If you’re sick of hearing me ‘approve this message,’ believe me–so am I.”
10:27 pm: “The first time I spoke in front of this Convention, in 2004, I was a younger man.” He reminds us that he spoke of hope, not miracles, hope in the face of numerous challenges and grim days.
10:26 pm: The Obamas’ daughters, Sacha and Malia, have to go to school tomorrow. Wow.
10:24 pm: The stagecraft of the past 3 nights has worked. We’ve all seen our President many times before, but having Barack Obama walk out on the stage now after all these speeches, endorsements and reflections on the past 3 1/2 remarkable years really does feel like a “big reveal.”
10:18 pm: No matter how many times the Democratic Convention mentions President Obama’s saving of the American car industry, I won’t get tired of hearing it. No matter how many times President Obama’s willingness to stand up for Progressive policies even when they might be unpopular, I won’t get tired of hearing it, particularly not when he’s running against a man like Mitt Romney, who everyone expects to tell us what he thinks we’ll like to hear.
10:11 pm: I like Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)’s reminiscence about his request that then-Senate candidate Obama give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, about his introduction to then-Senator Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and his introduction to President Obama as he seeks re-election now. Senator Durbin is a serious Progressive; I like the message this Convention is sending in opening prime time 2 days ago with a retrospective on Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and leading in to President Obama’s Convention acceptance speech with Senator Durbin. The point is that the Democratic Party does stand for something–improvement in the lives of working Americans–and the leading lights of that cause have long-since accepted Barack Obama as their leader.
10:08 pm: The Vice President’s exeunt to Earth, Wind and Fire was nice. The speech itself seemed a bit like a retread of what we have heard already–though I may want to review it later.
9:57 pm: The Vice President identifies what is probably just about the worst recent Republican economic proposal (aside from all the other ones): Territorial corporate income taxes. Governor Romney has embraced Governor Perry’s idea from the Republican Presidential Primary to exempt corporations’ foreign profits from the corporate income tax so they are inclined to repatriate their profits; this would incentivize US corporations shifting more of their business overseas. It’s hard to understand how this point is lost on Republicans, but rather than reduce or even eliminate corporate income taxes, they talk of keeping the capital gains tax rate low. So: Making it easier for corporations to do business in this country isn’t as big of a priority as giving the rich more money to invest, and making it easier for those corporations to do business overseas. It’s almost like the economy isn’t their foremost concern.
9:53 pm: “Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive!” The Vice President comes out with what seems to be his favorite campaign line. This speech does come close to hero-worship, but the comprehensive review of President Obama’s administrative record looks pretty heroic from here.