I only saw Senator Kerry, Lt. Gen. Kennedy, Rep. Chet Edwards and the Spielberg/Hanks video, Beau Biden and Joe Biden, so my remarks are limited to that alone. Disclaimer: I do vote Republican, support President Bush, and am voting for McCain.
1. Senator Kerry did his best to completely derail the Obama campaign. He remarked (I hope I’m remembering this correctly) about the need for change and not just sitting around for long-terms in the Senate, and one had to wonder if this comment was based on experience.
The case he made for Senator Obama relied mainly on the service of Senator Obama’s ancestors, and the shots at Republicans and Rove as fear-mongerers who question the patriotism of their opponents rang hollow given the lack of specifics: he could have brought up the flag-pin issue or any number of issues and taken time to refute the charge. Instead, the one time he sounded credible and specific involved the word “swift-boating.” Hmm.
He did bring up the idea that serving your country in more peaceful, not just martial ways, was critical. That alone was a great idea and I wish he had expanded on it; it is absolutely necessary for the Democratic party to demonstrate how their vision for America builds America. Senator Obama’s patriotism may not be questionable, but quite a few think there are many who vote Democrat that wouldn’t mind burning the flag in front of veterans.
Finally, instead of articulating a positive case for Senator Obama’s vision, he spent most of the time pronouncing Senator McCain wrong, and asserting Senator Obama to be no less than prescient on a host of issues. Not good by Kerry: anyone looking into what Obama actually said at the time of any given issue is going to find a ton of contradictions. And by declaring Senator Obama a “friend” of Georgia when Sen. McCain has been most vocal against Russia, he must make most voters following that issue wonder how stupid he thinks they are.
2. Lt. Gen. Kennedy made the worst of all logical errors. She asserted that she was proud of those whom had served under her for various reasons, and that she was also proud of Senator Obama. Only – I’m adding to her argument here, it wasn’t clear how she was arguing her competence to judge. She just kinda asserted “I’m a general, I know what works, here’s Senator Obama, he works,” except without saying any of that. She then went on to talk about Senator Obama’s ancestors and their military service.
3. Rep. Chet Edwards and the Spielberg/Hanks video were the Democrats at their best. Quite honestly, even though the primary appeal was emotional, this is about as good as politics gets even in a deliberative sense.
The argument was that Senator McCain favors policies that would keep money away from veterans. The story he then told was of a veteran with both his legs blown off who had an infant son. The obvious need to address this issue made the room such you could hear a pin drop.
The video shown had plenty of military expressing their pride and their concerns about the military itself and the work done through it. It was generic enough that it could have been shown at the Republican convention, but it was tasteful and moving and sobering. It added to the weight of the question about the use of force – if using force falls disproportionately on one segment of the population, do we want someone willing to go to war more readily, or someone more eager to keep the peace?
4. And then came Senator Biden, after his son gave a vigorous, glowing tribute to him, to toot his own horn about how wonderful he was, how wonderful his son was, how wonderful his Mom and Dad were, how middle class families in America are struggling because nothing has gone right the past 8 years, how he understands being middle class (he sees them from the train, no joke) and having a family, how Democrats are devoted to the family. Nary a word about reproductive rights or gay marriage or how more regulation and more taxes choke small businesses or any of that; I’m not saying Senator Biden doesn’t represent middle class families, but there’s something screwy when the other party is just wrong on everything and only gives tax breaks to the rich. It doesn’t seem plausible that 50% of America could consider voting for that party when all it wants to do is kill Iraqis and give corporations money, and Senator Biden didn’t help his case by being a complete “attack dog.” Senator McCain was accused of being “more of the same” repeatedly, while Senator Obama brought “change.” I got tired of hearing this and felt it was just shrill, meant to make me think, if I already blamed Bush for everything, that I should blame everyone else who doesn’t believe in “change” and “hope” alone for everything too.
5. After Senator Biden, Senator Obama appeared briefly, and what a contrast to the dour old people before. He was lively and smiling and seemed genuinely warm. He had everyone give a big round of applause to everyone who came before, and said that they were going to use Mile High Stadium for his speech because they wanted to be as inclusive as possible. He didn’t seem egotistical or arrogant at all, he seemed welcoming and positive.
It might be the case that Senator Obama has become wholly independent of the Democratic party in a deep sense. He needed things like Kos and the Netroots to get started, but once he got started, it became his show. The GOP should really just get some candidates to run for Congress everywhere and not concede any race a Democrat is in. There might not be any Obama coattails; he may well be a singular phenomenon.