I, like many of you, forced myself to sit through nearly all four long days of the Democratic Convention; albeit with my trusty mute button ever ready for protection from long-winded attempts at oratory and worn-out pop-music ditties. And, as political conventions go, it was mostly a snore-fest. But every now and then, I was roused from my somnambulant state -- induced no doubt by the dulcet tones of Jimmy Carter and Al Gore -- by themes and remarks that left me bewildered.
Watching the pre-packaged, saccharine videos that introduced the major players and listening to the live comments from relatives of same made me wonder: what in heaven's name is the point of all this? On the one hand, we were treated to a bevy of images of the young Michelle Obama being raised in a loving, close-knit family, while her husband's video was a bittersweet tale evoking a young boy stung by the desertion of his father.
The impression I got from these videos was that although they came from these two different backgrounds, through education and hard work they managed to attain what used to be called the "American dream"; a splendid home for their two adorable daughters and an income of $4.2 million last year. But maddeningly, when he took the platform to accept his party's nomination to lead a nation of which he said, "in no other country on earth is my story even possible," he charged that this dream has died. I'm so confused.
WHICH IS IT? Is this a country where a single mom could raise a son who could go on to attend Columbia and Harvard, or have the programs and conditions that propelled Obama and his wife to fame and fortune changed in some way? In his acceptance speech he said:
For over two decades, he [John McCain] has subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy -- give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is, you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.
But it was in the "decade of greed" that he and his wife flourished; two minority students garnering four Ivy League degrees between them in the 1980s. If "the dream" could survive the horrors of the Reagan years, surely it is still attainable now. Yet, listening to Obama, the answer is that it can only revive if he and his party "take back America." Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't they controlled both chambers of Congress for the past two years?
I was further confused -- though I really shouldn't be -- that despite all his talk of "change," Obama adheres to the same old liberal game plan that seems to suggest that, once Americans achieve their dreams of success through hard work and entrepreneurship, they then become the enemy. After all, if we are to despise corporate America and only cut taxes for small businesses, what happens when they succeed and become big businesses? If we should over-tax the rich, even until death, why in the world would anyone aspire to wealth? Liberals give me a headache.
ANOTHER THING THAT confounded me: Do the Democrats think that their whole audience is comprised of history-challenged dolts? It seems so. If not, why oh why did they keep invoking Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the modern Republican Party? I mean, the media and our school system have done a great job erasing the fact that it was Southern Democrats who nearly scuttled the Civil Rights Act, but Abraham Lincoln? Color me confused.
Speaking of dolts, imagine how in the world someone who picked Joe Biden as a running mate can possibly be caught on the national stage saying, "For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result."
And how, after penning such witty and timely barbs as "eight is enough," could his speech writers have allowed the following to escape Obama's mouth: "If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from"?
It took almost a week for Barack Obama and the Democrats to deliver their mangled message of hope and change to the American public; whatever it was. But it took John McCain only two words: Sarah Palin.
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