This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!
Friday, 29 August 2008
Democratic Convention Day Four - Barack Obama and the Promise of America
Barack Obama talked about the "Promise of America" last night in the most important speech of his career so far.
Accepting the Democratic nomination for president in an outdoor stadium of 80,000 people, Obama carefully interwove soaring flights of rhetoric and oratory with detailed policy proposals and a workmanlike approach to the job at hand.
He stuck to his message of change and linked his candidacy for the presidency with what he referred to as the promise of America. It was fitting that it was 45 years to the day that Dr. King had made his famous speech after the march on Washington.
It was a departure from previous speeches, in which Obama has often veered off into abstract concepts of change and hope. These themes were still there but Obama offered as well specific policy proposals which should help to minimise Republican attacks that he is messianic and/or full of hot air.
He proposed a new tax code and the elimination of capital gains tax for companies that invested at home rather than outsourced abroad.
He pledged to reduce tax for 95% of middle class Americans.
He offered to end the American dependence on oil from the Middle East within ten years.
He said he would carefully look at nuclear power and push forward with a renewables revolution.
He pledged policies on education and health care and said he would do everything in his power to enforce equal pay for women.
He also tackled the contentious issues of abortion, gun control, immigration and gay rights, sounding every bit like the kind of President Americans have been crying out for.
People who criticise him for not producing specifics now need to shut up.
He also repeatedly attacked John McCain and the Republicans throughout the speech - for me, the best part.
He opened up a strong line of attack in which he dealt with the issue of 'experience' head on. He made it about judgement and temperament, thereby subtly questioning McCain's suitability for the job.
Like Bill Clinton on Wednesday night, Obama suggested that experience was one thing but judgement was quite different and McCain had neither the temperament nor the judgement to become President. He reminded us that McCain had voted with Bush over 90% of the time and we should not be ready to accept only a 10% chance of change.
In one of the best criticisms of McCain, Obama also pointed to McCain's world view and subtly reminded us of his opponent's age: "We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past."
He also told voters about his own life story, rebutting charges from the Republican camp that he is nothing more than a vacuous celebrity.
I think Obama judged the whole thing brilliantly. He was quite right to tone the rhetoric down and concentrate on some of the more bread and butter issues. The setting, lights and music also looked perfect and getting individual voters to introduce him (I particularly liked the Hispanic teacher) gave the whole thing a more real, earthy quality which should play well. There are now 67 days to go until the General Election.
Finally last night Obama introduced himself to the American public. If they are anything like me, they will like what they see.