Sunday, August 31, 2008

Democratic Families in Denver

When the Democratic Convention in Denver began, I surfed between MSNBC and CNN, but by Tuesday I had to switch to C-SPAN, to get away from the knee-jerk superficiality of the commentators, Republicans presented as somebody’s idea of two-sides to every story, and last but not least the hired character assassins. Then Thursday afternoon, only hours before Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, my satellite system stopped working, as it does every time it rains, except Thursday was the first sunny day in two weeks. DirecTV is going to send somebody out to fix their equipment next Monday, if I agree to pay them $79 for the repair. So I watched Barack Obama’s acceptance speech on my computer.

Everybody knew this was going to be historic, the first time ever a major U.S. political party has nominated for President a person born in Hawaii. All things considered, I thought the high points of the convention were the political families, the Kennedys, the Clintons, the Bidens, and the Obamas.

Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, despite serious illness, heroically appeared at the convention to give the Obama nomination the stamp of approval from the Democratic party’s long-time most admired family. Television cameras on Kennedy nieces Caroline and Maria spotted them among those for whom there was not a dry eye in the house, aware that this might well be Ted Kennedy’s last hurrah, at the very least the twilight of a long political career, such as was taken from his brothers and us.

Hillary Clinton told the convention, “I'm here tonight as a proud mother, as a proud a proud senator from New York...a proud American...and a proud supporter of Barack Obama.” She did not want “to see another Republican in the White House squander our promise of a country that really fulfills the hopes of our people…no way, no how, no McCain. Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our President.” Sen. Clinton’s name was placed in nomination along with Sen. Obama’s, but when the roll call of the states came to New York, she personally rose to ask the convention to declare Obama the nominee by unanimous consent.

Former President Bill Clinton demonstrated his unmatched political skills and ability to connect. ”Last night, Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she is going to do everything she can to elect Barack Obama. That makes two of us. Actually, that makes 18 million of us. Because, like Hillary, I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November. And here’s why,“ he explained. “I have the privilege of speaking here, thanks to you, from a perspective that no other American Democrat, except President Carter, can offer. Everything I learned in my eight years as President, and in the work I have done since in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job. And in his first Presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he hit it out of the park. Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world. Barack Obama is ready to honor the oath, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States. My fellow Democrats, 16 years ago, you gave me the profound honor to lead our party to victory and to lead our nation to a new era of peace and broadly shared prosperity. Together, we prevailed in a hard campaign in which Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be commander-in-chief. Sound familiar? It didn't work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it will not work in 2008, because Barack Obama is on the right side of history. Barack Obama will lead us away from the division and fear of the last eight years back to unity and hope. So if, like me, you believe America must always be a place called Hope, then join Hillary and Chelsea and me in making Barack Obama the next President of the United States.”

Then there was the excitement and pride of the families of Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Joseph Biden, III, Attorney General of the State of Delaware, introduced his father, the Vice Presidential nominee. Sen. Biden kissed his son Beau, who is a Captain in the Army National Guard, scheduled for deployment to Iraq this year. Beau told of his mother’s death in a car crash, his father’s dedication as a single dad, and then how they all “married our new mom.”

Nonetheless, Barack Obama’s beautiful and brilliant wife Michelle, and their two unselfconsciously impish daughters always steal the show.

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter

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