Last night, I listened to two very different speeches: the first, John McCain's speech in New Orleans, was chilling. Chilling because he was patronizing, arrogant and calm. He twisted Obama's theme of "Change" to a dark, shadow usage of it, in order to instill fear. Even in his opening remarks, congratulating Obama and Clinton, his congratulations were dismissive, as though they are just petulant children who should be patted on their heads and ignored.
Obama has impressed many Americans with his eloquence and his spirited campaign. Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received. As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach.Why do I find this dismissive? Because it doesn't speak to issues. It struck me that McCain was saying that they both gave it the old college try, isn't that cute?
Then he launched into his attack on "change," saying
The wrong change looks not to the future but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again. I have a few years on my opponent, so I am surprised that a young man has bought in to so many failed ideas.As he continued, I thought for a minute he'd channelled Ronald Reagan and his attack on "big govimint". Oh, wait, he did:
Like others before him, he seems to think government is the answer to every problem; that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us. That type of change doesn't trust Americans to know what is right or what is in their own best interests. It's the attitude of politicians who are sure of themselves but have little faith in the wisdom, decency and common sense of free people. That attitude created the unresponsive bureaucracies of big government in the first place. And that's not change we can believe in.
Dismissive. We live in a "representative democracy" which means by definition that we elect our officials to represent us. That is the type of government we have. So McCain's dismissive attack on "change we can believe in" is based upon disinformation and innuendo. What does he really want? Anarchy? The way the Bush Administration has ignored existing government agencies and plunged forth, depleting all our resources, is the end result of the "small government" that McCain and his ilk like. Secret governments, with the Big Daddy making decisions for us all. This is NOT "leadership we can believe in" which is apparently McCain's new campaign slogan.
The other speech, delivered with passion and committment, belonged to Barack Obama. Yesterday, Obama clinched the Democratic Nomination for President - a Chicagoan who happens to be African-American. A Chicagoan who makes me believe that we can make a real difference. A Chicagoan who listens to people, and who is known in Chicago as someone who builds bridges and makes coalitions that work (not unlike Senator Edward M. Kennedy has done in his 40 years in the Senate.) I am not going to quote it here, nor am I going to put up the streaming video - lots of other bloggers have done so already.
Obama's ability to fire up a crowd is amazing. He makes me feel I can do more to heal America. He has inspired young people. He has inspired people who had become so jaded and tired that they no longer paid attention. He has done the very thing John F. Kennedy did in his Inaugural Address, when Kennedy said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." He has asked us to commit to a better way of doing things.
McCain is the one who presents old and tired ideas. He's the "father who knows best" and we're the uninformed children. Obama trusts Americans to work for the greater good. He will end our involvement in Iraq - a war we should never have waged. He will probably make Hillary Clinton the point person to get Health Care for all Americans. He will re-instate environmental protections. He will encourage us, the citizens, to do our patriotic duty and ask the hard questions. And to act.
History was made last night. Let's help make history again in November.