Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNC Day 2: Kucinich's Foresight and Bubba's Tears

One of the more energetic portions of Day 2 came in the form of 5'7" Dennis Kucinich, who had a rousing speech with the phrase "Wake up America" repeated numerous times. Kucinich is one of those members of the Democratic Party who has proven his foresight to be unbelievable. Take his political downfall as mayor of Cleveland in the late 70s: Kucinich refused to sell the publicly-owned electricity company and the big banks in the Cleveland area put the squeeze on him and the city by removing their backings for Cleveland's loans. Kucinich refused to bow to this pressure and the city defaulted. He was run out of town and considered a huge failure. As it turned out, Kucinich was right and had actually saved the city about $195 million from 1985 to 1995, after it was determined that Cleveland's default was caused by political motives, not strictly economic ones. Kucinich has also had the foresight to vote against the Constitution-violating Patriot Act and against the Iraq War. Kucinich is no fortune teller, but he has a knack for knowing which present actions (or inactions) will negatively affect the future.

Kucinich's speech was essentially a daming indictment against the current administration and its numerous failed policies. Some excellent points that he made were the fact that Congress and the President somehow found money to bomb bridges in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, but could not even take care of the bridges and infrastructure at home (clearly referring to the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis last year). Kucinich pointed out that the Republicans and the Neo-Cons skillfully played on Americans' post-9/11 fears, leading us to Iraq and beginning to beat the war drum for Iran. I wish Kucinich's speech was closer to prime time, as I am sure a lot of people missed it.

As for the prime time speech, it was pretty much what I expected. What I did not expect and was very surprised to see was William Jefferson Clinton shedding a tear or two as his wife hit the stage. It reminded me of another Democratic politician who teared up over his wife while I was trying to figure out, are those tears on Clinton's face or is it snowing inside the DNC? As Clinton's speech began I could tell that it would be a run-of-the-mill deal. The only part that I thought was sincere was when she said that she was a proud supporter of Barack Obama in the first two minutes (and that's only because she perked up a bit). Beyond that, though, it seemed like Hillary phoned this one in. She went on about herself - 35 years in "the trenches" (probably not a good idea to compare oneself to a soldier during wartime), which made me wonder if she was setting the groundwork for 2012 (but that's probably my own cynicism and skepticism of 21st century Clintonian politics).

I did like that she injected humor into the speech, as it took some of the edge and pressure off of the whole affair (my favorite was Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants Suit). Her allusion to the invisible American I thought needed some elaboration, especially given that Nixon used it as part of his presidential campaign (and Southern Strategy) in 1972 in the form of the "silent majority." While I feel a little bad for her because this speech is under a very intense media microscope, she (and Bill) brought it on herself with her primary campaign.

In my opinion, I would have liked to see Kucinich's speech and Hillary's speech switch timeslots. Kucinich did not stand up on the podium and talk about his time "in the trenches" and all of that. He laid out the past 8 years quite nicely and succinctly, and did it with passion and energy. Hillary stood at the podium and delivered a speech that, if you cut out the 4-5 references to Obama, could have been any one of her campaign speeches. We'll see how Bubba and Biden do tonight. Peace.

Photos - Dennis Kucinich pumping up the crowd at the DNC (Wise Politics), Hillary Clinton at the DNC (PBS), The stage at the DNC (NECN)

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