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Posts Tagged ‘DNC’

Democrats Grow a Backbone

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

John Kerry, Deval Patrick, and Other DNC Highlights

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My message is this—it is time for Democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe. Quit waiting—quit waiting, quit waiting for pundits or polls or super PACs to tell us who the next president or senator or congressman will be. We are Americans. We shape our own future. —Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

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Before the energetic and well-run Democratic National Convention recedes into the mists of time, overtaken by the 24-hour news cycles and flocks of tweets and counter-tweets, we wanted to point to a few moments from the big show that we think are worth remembering. In these speeches (and there were many others we missed) are some inspiring messages we hope will be carried and used on the way to reelecting President Obama. They’ll also prove useful in the struggles that are sure to continue after the election.

We were delighted with the courageous, fiesty tone in this convention. This time around the Dems weren’t inoffensively “playing it safe” as they so often do. In Charlotte the DNC was facing issues head-on, taking a stand for what we believe in, with such passionate and sharp-focused speakers as Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Warren.  As Charles M. Blow observed, “The Democrats came to the party ready for a fight” (“The Defiant Ones,” NYT 9/6/12).

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John Kerry’s Heavy Artillery

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“So here’s the choice in 2012. Mitt Romney: out of touch at home, out of his depth abroad and out of the mainstream. Or Barack Obama: a president who is giving new life and truth to America’s indispensable role in the world . . .”

“We’ve all learned Mitt Romney doesn’t know much about foreign policy. But he has all ‘neocon advisors’ who know all the wrong things about foreign policy. He would rely on them—after all, he’s the great outsourcer.”

Senator John Kerry was given a prominent speaking position Thursday night, and several days later is still featured on the front page of the convention web site (“Showing a fire indicative of a man resolute in his beliefs . . .”). “Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off than he was four years ago.” Kerry used heavy artillery against Mitt Romney on foreign policy, for saying Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe” and for not even mentioning the war in Afghanistan in his RNC acceptance speech. • Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton has made it known that she will be stepping down from the State Department after the election. We hope that Senator Kerry’s prime-time address, with a relatively generous allotment of time, is a sign that the 2004 presidential candidate and chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is at the top of the president’s list to replace Hillary. We wish he had been this tough in 2004!

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Video tribute to Edward Kennedy

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See also:

David Corn, “A Tale of Two Conventions.” The nation is deeply divided, but the gatherings in Charlotte and Tampa show how starkly dissimilar the Democratic and Republican visions of the American experience are.

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Forward: Four More Years for Mr. President

Friday, September 7th, 2012

“When you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation.”

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“. . . the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change. You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who’ll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can’t limit her coverage. You did that . . .

If you turn away now—if you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible, well, change will not happen . . .

I ask you tonight for your vote. If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election. . . . if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November.”

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Last night in Charlotte, confidently but with some humility and acknowledgment of shortcomings, President Barack Obama asked the American people for more time to continue the job, and we strongly agree he should be reelected.

His accomplishments—domestic and foreign, social and economic—are impressive, especially considering the implacable opposition of the Republicans in Congress, in state legislatures, and the Tea Party and conservative PACs and media around the nation. Despite his repeated efforts to work with them—despite his concessions in the stimulus and health care reform bills, for example—Republicans have spurned him and have given him maybe a total of three votes. He has kept his promises and he has kept his cool—almost a superhuman cool, in fact. He has earned our votes for another term. Did you know that under Obama’s presidency, even in these difficult economic conditions, more jobs have been created (4+ million) than during the previous president’s entire eight years?

And, this has to be said, the alternative is too horrifying to contemplate, but the more you think about it, the more seriously we should take the prospect of a Romney-Ryan administration: a recipe for disaster of every description, social and economic and diplomatic; backward thinking; callous disregard of the middle class and the poor; attention only to the needs of the already wealthy and powerful. (Do we really want an administration whose campaign pollster says, at an RNC breakfast sponsored by ABC News and Yahoo News, “We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers”?)

Although this blog has sometimes been critical of President Obama—not so much for having the wrong policies but for not pushing hard enough for his good policies—we enthusiastically urge our readers and everyone else, too, not only to vote for Obama-Biden 2012 but to actively work for their reelection. As in 2004 and 2008, we will be joining volunteers en route to get out the vote in Pennsylvania, a state whose urban voters are likely to be disenfranchised in large numbers by restrictive new legislation making it more difficult to vote, thanks to a Republican-controlled state legislature and a Republican governor.

Please sign up with Obama-Biden today, or contact your local Democratic Party headquarters, and help with the campaign. You can make phone calls from home, help to contact voters in swing states, write letters to the editors of your local papers, and more! Two months. Let’s keep the good man on the job.

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Also, check out Daily Kos’s “Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: A passionate defense of one term, a vision forward for a second one” for a sampling of newspapers’ responses around the U.S.A.

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The Big Hug

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

 Clinton Wows Dems, Urges 2nd Term for Obama

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In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s reelection . . . went something like this: “We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”

Listen to me now. No president, no president—not me, not any of my predecessors—no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.

Folks, whether the American people believe what I just said or not may be the whole election. I just want you to know that I believe it. With all my heart, I believe it.

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For 45 minutes last night in Charlotte, Bill Clinton explained in plain language why Barack Obama should be reelected—what he has accomplished against nearly impossible odds—and why the Republican attacks against Obama and the Democrats are not to be believed. Following strong speeches by women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Warren, Clinton drew sharp, clear distinctions between the Democrats and the GOP: “We believe ‘we’re all in this together’ is a better philosophy than ‘you’re on your own.'”

In what Talking Points Memo calls an “explano-smackdown,” Clinton methodically took head-on and demolished the GOP’s main lines of attack on President Obama. He set the record straight on the Recovery Act (stimulus); the Affordable Care Act; the so-called $716 million “robbing” of Medicare; the auto industry restructuring; job creation; the smear that Obama is weakening work requirements in the welfare reform bill; and the federal debt. As Slate’s John Dickerson notes, “Clinton’s speech had several parts: an answer to the question ‘Are you better off?,’ a shaming of the modern GOP with the example set by past Republican presidents, and a deeper attempt to tie Obama’s policies to bedrock American values, a job Michelle Obama had begun the night before.”

Charles Blow of the New York Times observes, “the masterful Bill Clinton wrapped the evening up as only he could: delivering a wonky speech with the passion of a southern preacher and keeping the crowd rapt the whole way through.” Clinton also answered quite convincingly, repeatedly, the question “Are we better off now than we were four years ago?” One of our favorite comments was a tweet by Ben Greenman, an editor at The New Yorker, posted on DailyKos: “Bill Clinton should be the Secretary of Explaining Things.”

There were so many lines to love in Bill Clinton’s speech last night. And his were not the sniping personal-attack zingers that swarmed like mosquitoes in Tampa—they delighted because they were true, based in fact. And he had facts by the handful (transcript here).

The Quotable Explainer in Chief

We are here to nominate a president . . . I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside.

We Democrats, we think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to work their way into it, with a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. You see, we believe that “We’re all in this together” is a far better philosophy than “You’re on your own.”

So who’s right? Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans: twenty-four million. Democrats: forty-two. [confirmed by PolitiFact]

Now, . . . there’s a reason for this. It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics. Why? Because poverty, discrimination, and ignorance restrict growth.

What works in the real world is cooperation, business and government, foundations and universities. Ask the mayors who are here. Los Angeles is getting green and Chicago is getting an infrastructure bank because Republicans and Democrats are working together to get it. They didn’t check their brains at the door. They didn’t stop disagreeing. But their purpose was to get something done.

Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the president for allegedly “robbing Medicare” of $716 billion. That’s the same attack they leveled against the Congress in 2010, and they got a lot of votes on it. But it’s not true. Now, when Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as, quote, “the biggest, coldest power play,” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, because that $716 billion is exactly to the dollar the same amount of Medicare savings that he has in his own budget! You got to give one thing: It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did. . . .

In 2010, as the president’s recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around. The Recovery Act saved or created millions of jobs and cut taxes—let me say this again—cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. And in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4.5 million private-sector jobs. We could have done better, but last year the Republicans blocked the president’s job plan, costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here’s another job score. President Obama: plus 4.5 million. Congressional Republicans: zero. . . .

We all know that Governor Romney opposed the plan to save G.M. and Chrysler. So here’s another job score. Are you listening in Michigan and Ohio and across the country? Here—here’s another job score. Obama: 250,000. Romney: zero.

 

Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.

Don’t you ever forget, when you hear them talking about this, that Republican economic policies quadrupled the national debt before I took office, in the 12 years before I took office . . . and doubled the debt in the eight years after I left, because it defied arithmetic.

We simply can’t afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle-down.

My fellow Americans, all of us in this grand hall and everybody watching at home, when we vote in this election, we’ll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in. If you want a winner-take- all, you’re-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we’re-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

If you want—if you want America—if you want every American to vote and you think it is wrong to change voting procedures [applause] just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority, and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama.

“For the last five minutes of the speech, everyone in the auditorium stood to let his words fall on their faces,” writes Slate’s John Dickerson. And, as Clinton ended his remarks to joyous applause, from within the Time Warner Cable Arena and beyond (didn’t we hear shouts of “four more hours!”?), Barack Obama walked onstage. Clinton gave a slight bow as the president approached, and they embraced, then turned to face the energized crowd, partners joined in a common cause for a stronger, more perfect union.

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We have been yearning and starving for years to hear this kind of spirited and hard-hitting defense of Democratic priorities and this president’s efforts. It’s not as though Obama has not spoken up for himself—he just hasn’t done it enough, and not with the warmth and good cheer and mastery of the podium that Bill Clinton brings. And, too, it makes a difference when the defense and the case for Four More Years is coming from a popular two-term president of a more-than-successful economy who also endured obstructionism and even impeachment from the opposition party. There is a hard-earned authoritativeness in Clinton’s voice, and the people were lovin’ it. We just pray that millions of independents and those elusive white male voters remember the Better Times of the late 1990s and vote as directed by the Big Dog.

Clinton’s arguments were all the more persuasive, observes The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, because Clinton and Obama are not personally close. Everyone knows this. But their “fraught history,” he says,

“makes [Clinton] the ideal spokesman to appeal to those skeptical former Obama voters that his campaign is trying to win back. . . .  it was exactly their lack of personal chemistry and failure to become ‘close friends’ that gave Clinton’s speech its lift. A subtext of the address was that, just like Bill Clinton, wavering voters need not love Obama to understand that he’s a better choice than Romney. When the two Presidents came together and hugged after the speech was (finally) over, the distance between them made their embrace all the more powerful.”

For more about the warming relationship between Obama and Clinton, read Ryan Lizza’s “Let’s Be Friends” (New Yorker 9/10/12).

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