Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama: McCain the 10% change candidate

Barack Obama hit one out of the park last night with his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium. He pretty much covered all the bases that needed to be. I do think that the Democrats pushed it too far in the after show; the fireworks last night were way over the top -- this is a nominating convention, after all, not a victory party; and there are still fighting people in Iraq, a civil war Obama has promised to get America out of.

Multiple issues were discussed but the key promise was Obama's plan to get America off of Middle East oil in ten years. This provides a bit of a loophole for him -- he can still rely on imports from "friendlier" countries like Canada, the UK and Norway but it also opens up the possibility of oil from Venezuela which is acting anything like a friend to America right now.

He was also merciless at McCain, which he had to be. He made fun of his opponent's promise to hunt OBL to the "gates of Hell" when he was unwilling to find him in the caves of Afghanistan. Absolutely right -- I don't believe the Bush Administration nor the senior leadership in the Senate and House at the time (both parties) were ever serious about finding OBL; and the price the world paid was Bali, Mandrid, London and recently almost Toronto.

Still, for me the highlight of the speech came towards the end when he reached out to social conservatives with this:

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. You know, passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. But this, too, is part of America's promise -- the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

Later today, we find out who John McCain's running mate will be. It could be a big surprise, but Obama clearly set the agenda when he defined the underlying issue as change versus experience and that McCain is only a 10 percent change.

The fact is, three times America has faced true and not manufactured crises of confidence -- at the dawn of the Republic when it was still reeling from Shay's Rebellion and no one was sure whether the Constitution drafted in 1787 could actually work; before the Civil War when James Buchanan was so unconcerned about possible Southern secession that he actually had the temerity to say that he was the last President of the United States; and the Great Depression when the formerly compassionate conservative that was Herbert Hoover (he saved New Orleans the last time it was flooded out) suddenly turned around and said that the business of the country was business.

In the first case, America chose the most visible leader of its independence to begin the new era. In the next two, the incumbent party was trounced big time and new ideas allowed to flow through. This is one of those years again, and one can only hope Obama doesn't blow it. He needs to fight back at every attack unlike John Kerry who just let the Swift Boaters do the damage without reacting before it was too late.

Oh, the other thing ... I had to laugh a couple weeks back when James Dobson of "Focus on the Family" asked his listeners to pray for "abundant, torrential" rain so Obama's outdoor show would be ruined. It was clear as a bell last night -- and instead there's a hurricane bound for, surprise surprise, New Orleans. This doesn't mean God is a Democrat, but it also proved He sure as heck ain't a Republican either. Sow the wind, reap the whirwind.

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