- If Tammy Baldwin’s speech seemed dull, it was probably because it was not aimed at the country in general. The heavy focus she gave to Wisconsin shows that the purpose of her speech was to make sure that Paul Ryan’s presence on the Republican ticket does not cause the Democrats to lose Wisconsin for the first time since 1984.
- Michelle Obama did a better job than Ann Romney, because she gave a heartfelt and articulate speech without any nonsense about how she was not there to talk about politics. My favorite line was when she said, “if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.” Brilliant and courageous. After this convention, people really need to stop accusing the Democratic Party of being unpatriotic. Michelle Obama said point blank that America was the greatest country in the world, people chanted “U.S.A.” constantly, and we heard the Pledge of Allegiance.
- I know that chronologically, this portion should be at the end of my blog post, but I did not want to end it on a negative. I was disappointed that the Democratic Party felt the need to bring in homophobic Archbishop Timothy Dolan to deliver a prayer at the end of the convention. Still, the Democratic Party of 2012 is extremely supportive of civil rights. I understand that no political party will ever be perfect on this issue, so while I believe the Democrats were wrong to bring in Dolan, I am not going to spend too much time stewing about it.
- Ah, Bill Clinton. In addition to being probably the longest speech at the convention, Clinton’s speech was also probably the toughest for me to evaluate objectively. I have never been a big Bill Clinton fan. It’s hard for me to look at a guy who helped give us “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act and have a lot of admiration, especially when he was talking about “one man, one woman” while getting frisky with an intern. As a side note, if I wanted to get a reference for Bill Clinton’s hypocrisy on other “family values” issues, all I would have to do would be dial Joycelyn Elders. I understand that Clinton has been involved in pro-gay marriage activism post-presidency, but he could have been a lot more effective achieving equal rights if he had pushed the matter while serving as president. Plus, if Bill Clinton told me that the Sun was out, I would have to go check. All of that said, Slick Willie brought the house down. He was articulate but not professorial. It was clear that he had either researched the facts very well or done a great job making things up. Because Bill Clinton has a degree of popularity that crosses political lines, his support for President Obama may well be a good way of attracting moderate, undecided voters. And because Clinton gets a lot of credit for overhauling welfare, he was in a good position to defend President Obama against charges that he is turning the program back into an entitlement. Now for my critiques. Last week, I predicted that we would be forced to endure tripe at both conventions about how great the Founding Fathers supposedly were, and sadly, I was correct. Bill Clinton praised both the founders in general and George Washington specifically. As I mentioned in my last post, this whole habit of conveniently overlooking the fact that American slavery from 1787 to 1865 was brought to us in part by the Founding Fathers is really quite insulting to slaves, abolitionists, and anyone else who has ever been denied equal rights or stood up for equal rights. I get that Clinton probably did not mean it that way, but that’s how it inevitably comes across. I also find it interesting that, at a convention where Mitt Romney was lambasted for outsourcing, Bill Clinton delivered one of the main speeches. Remind me again, who was it that signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that encouraged companies to fire American workers and relocate to Canada and Mexico? Oh yes, that was Bill Clinton.
- John Lewis is an older guy, but unlike Ted Strickland and Bill Clinton, he represents the new Democratic Party. (Yes, I am aware that Bill Clinton was called a “New Democrat,” but that label does not work unless you think the Democratic Party started in 1964.) The Georgia Congressman did a great job reminding us that neither electing a black president nor achieving equal rights for gay people at some time in the future would be possible were it not for the efforts of people like him. Honestly, I think Lewis should have given the main event speech Wednesday instead of Bill Clinton, but we can’t get everything we want, I suppose.
- I give Zach Wahls two thumbs up for his speech. Hearing him talk about how his two mothers deserve all the same rights as everyone else is incredibly moving, and if it were up to me, would be shown in every classroom. Republicans should take note of Wahls’ story about being disgusted when, as a 12 year old, he watched the 2004 Republican Convention and saw the candidates engaging in gay bashing. I don’t know how many other political parties are so bigoted that even a 12 year old knows enough to find them rancid. My one criticism of the speech relates to when he said, “Now, supporting a view of marriage as between a man and woman isn’t radical. For many people, it’s a matter of faith. We respect that.” We shouldn’t respect that, like we shouldn’t respect people who see supporting slavery, racial segregation, or the Holocaust as a matter of faith. Acting like the people who believe that marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples have a valid point undermines the moral high ground of the Gay Rights Movement and the fact that there really is no good argument for the idea that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Overall, though, Wahls’ speech was superb. He really helped personalize gay rights issues and laid out the importance of this election to the cause. Plus, it was fun seeing a fellow Unitarian Universalist speak.
- And finally, the main event of the last night. A lot of people were not very impressed with President Obama’s speech, but I thought he did a great job. I remember watching his acceptance speech four years ago, when he opposed gay marriage, and, while supporting him over McCain, feeling fairly unenthusiastic towards the possibility of him being president. I can assure you that I do not feel this way anymore. I am proud to have him as my president. I was reminded of this when he explicitly referenced his support for gay marriage and his pride in helping end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I am going to be voting for the first time in a presidential election this November, and I am thrilled that the first presidential candidate I get to vote for will be Barack Obama.