"Here are my 2 pet peeves about the conventional side of conventions.
"1) Nearly every speech ends with the disturbing phrase, "God Bless
America". The Christian right has succeeded in making this phrase almost
mandatory for politicians. Smacks of a self-centered, superior America that's
forgotten about the separation of church and state, and the rest of the
"2) Nearly every speech makes reference to Obama's amazing accomplishments
in spite of being 'raised by a single mother'! As a child of a single parent
and a single parent myself I'm soooo tired of politicians distorting and
perpetuating the myth."
Over the past week, during the Denver convention, the New York Times has tucked some relevant but less visible "color" articles in the first section which I only got to see when I had time to sit down and read through five days worth of the print edition. For example, this was tucked into the front page last Monday:
"Obama has received overwhelming support from black voters, many
of whom believe he will help bridge the nation’s racial divide. But
even as they cheer him on, some black scholars, bloggers and others who
closely follow the race worry that Mr. Obama’s historic achievements
might make it harder to rally support for policies intended to combat
racial discrimination, racial inequities and urban poverty.
fear that growing numbers of white voters and policy makers will decide
that eradicating racial discrimination and ensuring equal opportunity
have largely been done."
Only fiction has a beginning, middle, and end. However, what has to end is the myth (rampant on both sides of the "racial divide") that blacks can't make it on their own. In that sense, a man like Obama who is no more black than white, no more white than black, and way more capable, intelligent, and educated than most of us, is both a hope and a warning. The warning is that we'd better grow up and realize that the divisiveness we've gotten so used to indulging in will bury our prospects as a nation -- economically, socially, and as members of a larger international community.
Then there was a nice sidebar about Caroline Kennedy's part in searching for a running mate. (The online version of the article differs slightly from the original in the print edition.) In the report, she said she couldn't give out details of the process but she could talk about the way in which it was done.
"She said Mr. Obama cast a wide net. 'His goals and values were
really clear from the way he approached it. He wanted somebody who was
an independent thinker.'
"They presented the information to Mr.
Obama in a handful of private sessions, Ms. Kennedy said, and she
watched Mr. Obama work his way to selecting Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. She said the search showed her another side of Mr. Obama.
"'I’ve campaigned with him and seen him in large settings,' Ms. Kennedy
said, 'but to see the way he asked questions, listened, brought people
together, with his leadership style and the kind of judgments he was
making, really made me think he was even better than I thought he was.'"
Finally, a fascinating piece about the frequency of the use of certain words -- freedom(s), healthcare, terrorism/terrorist(s) and a dozen or so more -- in the 2008 convention as distinct from the 2004 convention. This article/graphic doesn't reappear in any part of the New York Times' online edition, only in the 8/29 print edition.
In 2004, speakers talked about our "freedom(s)" more than three times as much as in 2008 while "change" has gone up from a rating of 11 to a rating of 84 in 2008. Is freedom less important to us?
"Terrorism/terrorist(s)" were used three times as often in 2004 as this year. "Healthcare" has gone down by about 20% in 2008. So has "courage." "Strong" and "strength" have been cut in half since '04.
"Speakers have hammered home Barack Obama's 'change' theme,using the word about ten times as often as they did in 2004. Also, unlike 2004, when the Kerry campaign sought to avoid direct attacks on the president at the convention, the speakers have regularly been mentioning John McCain by name. Speakers in 2004 practiced 'the art of the implicit slam,' a veteran Democratic speechwriter said then...
"Also on the upswing: more mentions of the economy, Iran, and Iraq.
"Words less frequently used: freedom, Sept. 11, and terrorism."
Gail Collins is a New York Times columnist, former member of the editorial board, and author of a worthwhile book (recommended): America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines. So she's hardly someone who begrudges her fellow woman an exciting and prestigious new job. But she casts a wicked eye on John McCain's vice presidential choice.
"He was looking for someone who was well prepared to fight against
international Islamic extremism, the transcendent issue of our time.
And in the end he decided that in good conscience, he was not going to
settle for anyone who had not been commander of a state national guard
for at least a year and a half. He put down his foot!
obvious choice was Palin, the governor of Alaska, whose guard stands as
our last best defense against possible attack by the resurgent Russian
menace across the Bering Strait.
"Also a woman, but that’s totally beside the point."
Palin does have her good points. She is better than Mitt Romney.
"There’s a lot we don’t know yet about Palin, and I am personally
looking forward to deconstructing her role in the Matanuska Maid Dairy
closing crisis. But at first glance, she doesn’t seem much less
qualified than Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota who most people
thought was the most likely pick. Unlike Joe Lieberman, Palin is a
member of the same party as the presidential candidate. And unlike Mitt
Romney, she has never gone on vacation with the family dog strapped to
the roof of the car."
Bottom line: will Palin cause women to leave the Democratic party in droves? Probably not. "The idea that women are going to race off to vote for any candidate
with the same internal plumbing is both offensive and historically
And please, please, don't equate her with Hillary Clinton.
"This year, Hillary Clinton took things to a whole new level. She
didn’t run for president as a symbol but as the best-prepared candidate
in the Democratic pack. Whether you liked her or not, she convinced the
nation that women could be qualified to both run the country and be
commander in chief. That was an enormous breakthrough, and Palin’s
nomination feels, in comparison, like a step back.
"If she’s only
on the ticket to try to get disaffected Clinton supporters to cross
over, it’s a bad choice. Joe Biden may already be practicing his
drop-dead line for the vice-presidential debate: 'I know Hillary
Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine, and governor, you’re no