Democratic National Convention – First Night

I watched some of the opening night coverage of the the Democratic National Convention, but I have to confess to channel surfing: Andy Griffith – the one where Opie is accused of burning down Jubal Foster’s barn – Kate and Jon plus 8 and Monday Night Football. I had mile high expectations for opening night in Denver, but it came off as little more than a high school football rally compared to opening night at Beijing. Ok, the comparison is unfair, but it also seems unfair or unfortunate that the Democratic Convention had to follow such an extravaganza as the Summer Olympic Games.

There were some dramatic and compelling moments, to borrow David Gergen’s word. The Carter tribute documented former President Carter’s humanitarian work and featured a segment on the failed Bush administration relief response to the victims of Hurricane Katina. We are left with the impression that the Democrats under Barak Obama would have had a much more effective and compassionate response. After Carter’s ringing video endorsement of Barak Obama, I was left wondering why he did not address the crowd. CNN pundits offered that given his controversial criticisms of Israel, he was not allowed to speak or perhaps he simply declined the opportunity. The brilliant tribute film to Senator Kennedy, produced by Ken Burns, a Bay State native and Hampshire College graduate, highlighted his legislative achievements and his love of sailing. The metaphor of Kennedy being a leader who is not afraid of sailing against the wind was repeated. Battling brain cancer, it was not known whether the Senator would be able to attend the convention, let alone speak. Fortunately, he had the strength to speak and gave another rousing oration bringing many to tears.

Michelle Obama’s introduction film, narrated in part by her mother, who has a sweet grandmotherly tone, was tremendous, on par with President Clinton’s ’92 introduction video where he was shown as a young man shaking President John F. Kennedy’s hand. It was that good. The film effectively highlighted her working class roots and debunked the myth of her as a child of privilege. In fact, we learn that she was a first generation college graduate. We learn of her commitment to her community where she has truly given back. We also learn of the positive influence of her father, who worked in a water treatment plant for 30 years and the support she received from both her mother and “little” brother. Clearly, she was portrayed as having strong family values and ties to the community. Her academic accomplishments were deemphasized, though they are impressive – Princeton and Harvard. After her compelling address which was delivered in a relaxed, natural style, we are left with the feeling that she would be a great First Lady.

Sandwiched in between President Carter and Senator Kennedy’s tributes came the speech of Representative Leach, who crossed party lines to support Obama. I agree with CNN and PBS commentators who argued that it was perhaps written by Leach himself and not an Obama speech writer and that it was not the kind of oration that made much of a impact. I have a long attention span, and I did find the address interesting and historic, but simply too long, and yes, I channeled surfed here – I believe San Diego scored a touchdown.

And what about the music? I thought I heard Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow and Still the One. Surely the Democrats can find some new theme music.

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One Response

  1. Funny, I thought about the Beijing Olympics too, maybe it’s because the stunning opening ceremony is still fresh in memory heh.

    I’ve got to agree with you on the point though, even if it’s not an exactly fair comparison I found the opening of the DNC really lacked the bang and verbal fireworks I was hoping for. A half empty Pepsi Center didn’t help either.

    Ted and Michelle managed to salvage it for me though, now if they could only pull it together and speak with one voice…

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