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Thoughts on Obama’s Speech

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 11:04 pm - August 28, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Politics,Obama Watch

I just watched Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination with a friend from the Illinois Senator’s party. He agreed with my evaluation that the normally eloquent speaker was not “as smooth” as he normally is, but asked that I add that his style tonight “in now way detracted from” his support for his party’s nominee.

Obama seemed angry and almost never smiled. This speech lacked the cadences of a typical Obama speech. Of his addresses that I have seen, this was one of the worst. He seemed at times to rush it, sticking on some words while eating others.

UPDATE: Just scanning the commentary at the Corner. I’m not the only one who thought he sounded angry. Mark Hemingway writes, “There’s a fine line between indignant and angry, and Obama is swerving back and forth all over it.” And like me, Kathleen Parker is “missing the soaring rhetoric.

More later, off to dinner with that good and kind Democrat. But, well, I don’t think of him as a Democrat, but as a friend.

UP-UPDATE: If Obama’s campaign is trusting in the power of the candidate’s oratory, he didn’t deliver tonight.

UP-UP-UPDATE: As I was preparing to leave for dinner, I did catch Juan Williams’ commentary on Fox and pretty much agree with him. The speech was more “prose than poetry.” It lacked catch phrases, no memorable lines. It as a “laundry list” which was not quite satisfying. He didn’t play to the emotion of the crowd.

I would add that Obama’s boilerplate about change and a new kind of politics was just that, boilerplate. Sounded tired. We’d heard that so many times before. Kind of ironic, I guess, about the line about a new kind of politics sounding old. And a discourse on change sounding very much the same.

UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: No surprise here: Media Cheers Obama Speech. More UP-DATES below the jump. (more…)

Greek Temple in Denver: Site of Pan-Obamania Festival

One reporter describied the backdrop for Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver as resembling the Parthenon, “the ancient Greek temple of the goddess Athena.”  Given that the Greek goddess is the subject of my neglected dissertation and my interest in politics, I find myself uniquely qualified to write about this.  

Others have weighed it, noting how this set was “built by the same cheesy set team that put together Britney Spears’ last tour.” So the set reinforces that he’s no ordinary politician, but a celebrity instead.  And like most celebrities having delusions of being more than just an actor playing a part a singer entertaining a crowd.

Now, does he style himself some kind of deity worthy of the adoration enjoyed by the owl-eyed goddess?

I mean, there are parallels between our political conventions and the Panathenaia, the great celebration in classical Athens honoring the city’s patroness.  Each were held every four years, with a variety of events held over a period of several days, with one great culminating event.  For our political conventions, it’s the nominee’s acceptance speech.  For the Athenians, it was the presentation of the peplos to Athena.

And what is a peplos, you ask?  It was the garment Greek women wore in those days.  But, this was no ordinary peplos.  Nine months before the Panathenaia, the arrhephoroi, young girls between the ages of seven and eleven, began weaving the robe.  Later, other women, the ergastinai, would take over the production of the garment, yet with the continued assistance of the younger girls.*

I wonder if we could compare the ergastinai to some of Obama’s female supporters one of whom said today that his visit to a women’s luncheon today “was like the clouds parted and the sun was shining in.”  


What will Obama say about gays tonight?

I’ve long believed that the government should remain neutral on gay issues, neither discriminating against us nor offering us preferential treatment.  To that end, I won’t be upset should John McCain, in his acceptance speech next week, fail to address our community.

Gay activists, however, insist politicians reach out to us and identify us by name.  So, I was wondering, how will they react should, in his convention speech tonight, Barack Obama, their party’s nominee not specifically reference gays?

The draft Democratic platform failed to mention gays or lesbians specifically.  The final draft still does not address our community by name, but was tweaked to include this language:

We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits and protections.

Emphasis added.

Gay activists have praised the platform while noting the omission of the “g” word.

I wonder if gay activists will be as effusive in their praise should Obama be similarly silent tonight. My prediction: they will. Because for them, it’s not so much about promoting gay people as it is about electing Democrats.

UPDATE: Watching the speech now, he mentioned us, saying that while there are differences on same-sex marriage, we should agree that our “gay and lesbian brothers and sisters” should be allowed to visit a loved one in the hospital.

UP-UPDATE:  Patrick Range McDonald thinks that for gays, Obama’s speech was quite historic.  Read the whole thing.

Obama: Trusting in the Power of his Own Oratory?

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 5:25 pm - August 28, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Politics,Obama Watch

As Barack Obama prepares to accept the Democratic presidential nomination tonight, he should hope that the speeches of his rival for that position and her husband have helped assuaged her supporters’ concerns of about his candidacy. It seems he himself did little to reach out to them in the nearly three months between Hillary’s withdrawal from the race and this week’s convention.

Shortly after the McCain campaign released ad featuring a woman elected as a delegate for Hillary Clinton who nows backs his bid for the White House, I read:

After Clinton conceded the race, [Debra] Bartoshevich said she could not support Obama and threw her support to McCain. The state party stripped her of her status as a delegate last month.
McCain seized on her story, meeting with Bartoshevich for coffee when he campaigned in Racine last month.

A shrewd move on McCain’s part. I wondered why, unlike his Republican rival, Obama made no effort to reach out to this Democrat to attempt to persuade her to support her party’s nominee. Wondered indeed if he made any effort to meet with any of her delegates — or to otherwise sit down with rank-and-file Hillary supporters. (A few google searches turned up nothing.)

Perhaps he thinks he can solve anything with the power of his oratory and the force of his personality. As if speeches alone can address the concerns voters have about the the Democratic nominee and his associates.

And here’s the ad, yet another Hillary supporter coming out for John McCain:


Off to St. Paul?

When I traveled cross-country last fall, a close friend who lives in our nation’s capital observed that one of the great challenges in my life has been the tension between my interest in politics and my passion for literature (or, as I would put it, in myths, movies, novels or poems).

Well, because of family travels this summer, I’ve not had as much time to focus on that latter passion as I would like, particularly at it involves my graduate studies.  I have fallen behind (way behind) on research for my dissertation.

Were it not for that, I would definitely be headed to St. Paul for the GOP Convention next week.  

But, with encouragement from other bloggers and one pundit, I’m now on the fence again.  It would be great to see a political convention up close — and to meet so many bloggers whom I read and with whom I have corresponded.  

I’ll let you know if I should go.  If you plan on attending, please let me know.  Maybe we could arrange a cocktail hour for GayPatriot readers.

ADDENDUM: Should I go, it will be in a weird capacity, both as an advocate and a journalist, an advocate because I favor John McCain’s election as president and a journalist, because if I go, I’ll be covering it for this blog.

Biden: Clueless on World Affairs

In his speech last night, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden opened up his ticket not only to attacks on his party’s presidential nominee’s weakness on foreign policy but also to charges that he is (yet again) misrepresenting the historical record.

It seems sometimes when Democrats criticize the president’s foreign policy, they’re recycling talking points from 2005 or 2006.  Or maybe it’s just that they can’t think up new arguments to respond to changing circumstances.

Biden claimed that “our country is less secure and more isolated than at any time in recent history.”  

As the numerous terrorist attacks on US targets during (and immediately after) the Clinton Administration show, that’s hardly the case.  If the Democrat thinks we’re more isolated, he obviously hasn’t been following the election returns in foreign lands over the past three years.

Since German voters rejected Gerhard Schroeder in September 2005, we’ve seen anti-Bush governments voted out in Canada and France while a pro-American Prime Minister, once defeated, has been returned to office in Italy.  And until his reelection earlier this year, that man, Silvio Berluscon had (in 2006) been the only pro-American leader voted out of office in a major industrialized nation since Bush’s reelection in 2004.

In short, Biden’s comment shows how clueless he is in the field where he is supposed to be an expert.  The only reason we’re perceived as isolated in foreign affairs is because the media dwelled on the very public opposition then-French President Jacques Chirac and then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made to U.S. plans to liberate Iraq, something Biden then supported.

And just as Biden has switched his views on that liberation in response to shifting public opinion, so too did those nations switch their governments in response to public opinion.  Both nations are now led by governments more favorably disposed to the United States of America and with whom the incumbent president has a good working relationship.

On Mass-Produced Signs at Political Conventions

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:25 pm - August 28, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Politics,American History

Last night, while watching coverage of the Democratic Convention, I noticed how yet again, the organizers were passing around signs featuring the name of the current speaker, then it was those vertical signs with “Biden.”  The night before it had been signs with “Hillary,” and the night before that “Michelle.”

I recall the first political conventions I watched on TV when you looked out into the audience and saw a great variety of signs, some mass-produced, others handmade.

In recent years, there seems to have been a focus (in both parties) on making sure everyone in the audience is waving the exact same sign.  Looks fake to me, almost like a rally in a Communist country when such things existed in mass quantities (Communist countries that is).

When the entire audience is waving the same sign, they all look like automatons. Makes the convention look more like a media stunt rather than a rally of delegates enthusiastic about their candidate and eager to rally ’round him in the coming campaign.

Now it just looks like they’re extras on a movie set who will move on to some other project as soon as the media leaves town.

The Biggest Blunders of the Obama Campaign

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 12:34 pm - August 28, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Politics

Last night was clearly a good night for the Democrats.  Bill Clinton was in his element and (from the portions I saw of his remarks) delivered a very effective speech.  

I watched all of Biden’s speech (rebroadcast on FoxNews just before midnight my time) and thought the first half was moving and powerful, but the second half seemed mean and focused only on attacking John McCain.  I’m not the first to say it, but will join those who thought it as poor form* for him to call the presumptive Republican nominee his friend, then to question his judgment on foreign policy.

So that brings me to the list of the Obama Campaign’s biggest blunders.  I’ll start with that:

  1. Biden questioning McCain’s foreign policy judgment, opens Democrats up to variety of GOP broadsides next week in St. Paul.
  2. Obama’s delivering a campaign-style speech on foreign soil.
  3. Handling Hillary.  He should have included her in his running mate deliberations.  And reached out to her more often in the days between the last primary and this week’s convention.
  4. Running the ad attempting to distance himself from Bill Ayers and attacking conservatives raising the issue.  All this does is draw more attention to the Illinois Democrat’s connection with the avowed terrorist.
  5. Holding his acceptance speech at Invesco Field.  Again raises the issue of his arrogance and sense of self-importance while the Greek Temple setting opens him to further mockery (more on that anon, I hope).  Even senior Democrats think this is a “high-risk endeavor.

These blunders won’t necessarily sink his campaign. A good speech tonight could help offset some of them as could a strong fall campaign. Or similar blunders from the McCain camp.

UPDATE:  Via Reader Peter Hughes, I learn of another blunder.  According to Dick Morris, the Democrats are concentrating their fire on the wrong man: “They are so anxious to run against Bush, their animosity is so pent up, that they persist in running against a man who is not seeking a third term.”  As Glenn Reynolds would say, “Read the whole thing!”

*UP-UPDATE: In this vein, Victor David Hanson writes:

I think his personal attack on his former friend McCain’s judgment and character was a terrible mistake-it only invites comparison of Biden’s ethical meltdowns with made-up bios, plagiarism, and unethical interrogations of Supreme Court nominees with McCain’s past service; and, more importantly, will take the gloves off in the race, and earn candid like appraisals of Barack Obama and Biden.

On Liberal Intolerance of Gay Conservatives

Check out these interesting critiques of liberal intolerance towards gay conservatives from two perhaps more liberal-minded blogs:

[M]any intolerant gay liberals really don’t care so much about how gay Republicans feel about “issues utterly unrelated to gay rights,” except to assume unfairly that their motivation is probably selfish (i.e., lower taxes) rather than not (i.e., national security, foreign policy, etc.).

The real source of their trouble is their singular focus on gay civil rights as an issue that ought to trump every other, so much so that they bear real feelings of betrayal and outright hatred for any one of “our own” who support politicians or even political parties on the other side of that issue. (No doubt that singular focus is easier when they just so happen to agree with Democrats on most every other issue.) […]

The problem with the witch hunt at Manhunt, to slightly restate Jamie’s point, is too many on the gay left who believe that because of how the parties stand on gay rights, to be gay and Republican is a betrayal not to be tolerated, especially if you support individual politicians like McCain who have a rotten gay rights record.
Chris Crain

[C]ampaign rhetoric and partisan posturing aside, Obama is not perfect and McCain is not a homophobe…

Does our community have room for, as example, my gay African-American Democratic friend who is concerned that Barack Obama does not have adequate experience or maturity for this position? Is there a place for my gay Republican friend who thinks that McCain is a move in the right direction by the Republican Party and who wants to vote to support this improvement? What about women who believe that Hillary Clinton was treated grossly unfair by DNC operatives?

Or are gay activist correct in demanding that those who do not give unqualified support for the Democratic Party candidate are traitors and should be reviled and punished?
– Timothy Kincaid, Box Turtle Bulletin

Most of the comments responding to these posts are about what I expect, but both Crain and Kincaid demonstrate a remarkable understanding of gay conservatives and our concerns that I for one find to be refreshing.

— John (Average Gay Joe)

I miss the old Hillary…

Posted by Average Gay Joe at 6:43 am - August 28, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Elections,2008 Presidential Politics

Which is really weird to say. Yet, the beauty of this lil’ gem from the Democrat primaries is that her comments apply not only to Obama, but also his running mate Joe Biden:

Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That’s, I think, a very simple proposition. And you know — you know, lifting whole passages from someone else’s speeches is not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox.

— Hillary Clinton (2/21/08)

I foresee a new ad from the McCain Campaign utilizing this slogan: “Obama & Biden: Change you can Xerox”!

— John (Average Gay Joe)