As I watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention, I briefly left the direct coverage on C-SPAN for channels with commentary when I tired of hearing from convention speakers about “reproductive rights” – as if they are somehow threatened. Running across the bottom of the Fox screen was the news: the national debt had just reached $16 trillion. Hey, what about the rights of “born children” not to be saddled with this?
I’m glad I was at C-SPAN at 6 p.m. though, when Newark mayor Cory Booker was speaking as the co-chairman of the Democratic Platform Committee. I don’t remember what he said, but loved the way he said it: with passion and conviction. Maybe he had to make up for his earlier public criticism of other Democrats’ attack on entrepreneurs, the “you didn’t build it” political mistake of last month.
Our governor, Deval Patrick, gave a passionate speech, too, obviously geared toward making a lasting impression on delegates more than helping the incumbent president: I’ll bet these two will be going head-to-head in 2016 in the Democratic primary.
If they are, I’ll do what I did for Al Gore in his 1988 primary against Mike Dukakis; sent him articles about Willie Horton, which Gore used before George Bush did. Here, Mayor Booker: news items about the Massachusetts Probation Department scandals, the Chelsea Housing Authority scandal, the misuse of funds intended fo
r special-needs children, the use of EBT cards for purchasing tattoos, jewelry, and making bail on drug deals. And have you heard about the Massachusetts convicted murderer who was given a sex-change operation at taxpayer expense? Gov. Patrick didn’t mention any of these things happening on his watch in his speech attacking Mitt Romney’s governorship.
Of course, Corey Booker may also have a problem explaining how God got kicked off the platform to which he referred in his great speech. It seems that the far-left extremists of his party insisted on taking out two things that had been in the platform in the past: a reference to “God-given” potential, and to Jerusalem being the proper capital of Israel.
The Republican platform has been under attack, with the outrageous implication that all candidates, delegates, and Republicans in general agree with the extreme plank on abortion; so the Democratic platform became fair play. Fearing that all Democrats would be called anti-God and anti-Israel, cooler heads, some say Obama’s itself, asked that the platform be amended to return God and Jerusalem.
I wasn’t watching at the time, but Chip Ford called me, laughing, to tell me that the Democrats had just booed God. The moderator had tried and failed three times to pass the amendment: Twice the delegates voted “Nay,” on the next vote there seemed to be a tie. When the frustrated moderator just declared the required two-thirds vote passed, the delegates booed. You can see this political mistake at realclearpolitics.com.
Of course, the Republicans have made mistakes too, which were featured in the other good speech of the convention. Bill Clinton did what I’d hoped Romney would do: address real issues one by one. Unfortunately for Republicans, the issues Clinton chose were the ones on which they haven’t been completely truthful: the accusation about Obama easing work requirements for welfare; the accusation, matching Democrats’ against them, that someone is cutting Medicare now.
Of course, it was odd to see Bill Clinton as the Democrats’ advocate for telling the truth. He had more authority with his attached lecture about getting along and working together, using the example of his projects with the Bushes after they all left office.
I thought Elizabeth Warren’s speech was also good, for its visible audience. If you’re going to be an angry liberal, then do it with conviction, advocating for government as the power behind all good things. I must admit her anger against those bonuses for bailed-out Big Business executives hit a chord with me, too.
Nothing else worked very well: certainly not Barney Frank’s blaming the Republicans for the “worse economy in 30 years”, as if no one remembers the role he played in preventing the Bush administration from reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Other speakers’ sudden interest in small business and the military got old very fast: They were obviously just playing defense off the Republican’s convention attack on Warren and Obama’s “you didn’t build that”, and emphasizing the odd oversight of Romney not mentioning our troops.
The strangest thing: When speakers finally got past their own stories and support for “reproductive rights” and mentioned Barack Obama, it was jarring; my first thought was, who? Nothing that was being said to praise the president seemed to apply to his first term in office – nor did his “same-ol’ speech” when he gave it.
I’d heard all the liberal talking points before, so I read the day’s comics. In “Prickly City”, young Carmen is at the Democratic convention, talking to delegates who are wearing T-shirts saying “HOPE TAKES TIME.” One tells her, “I still believe ... I have to believe, if I don’t, what’s left!?” Carmen: “Common sense. Rational thought. Reality.” And the delegates boo her.
Boo the little Hispanic conservative, boo God and Jerusalem, and I still haven’t heard a viable plan to deal with the national debt. That’s the reality we face, without real change.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a regular contributor to the opinion pages.