DNC Day 4: The Promise

Give this to the Democrats – even if message control is sometimes a challenge, they sure know how to make a convention eventful. The day at Invesco Field was already like no other event I had ever attended before Obama spoke – standing in line from 10 A.M., I saw enthusiasm and excitement about democracy from such an enormous group of people (80,000), and the most special part about the night was that these 80,000 really were a diverse cross-section of the United States. Unlike just about every other event of the week, one did not need to be wealthy and/or powerful to get in and see the speech. And it was reflected well in the speeches immediately preceding Barack Obama’s, by working-class Americans who have fallen on hard times in the last eight years. Other notable early speeches included that of Al Gore (decent, but he spoke very quickly), Bill Richardson (great reception from the crowd), and a performance from Will.I.Am (awesome).

The main event, and the speech everyone was waiting for, however, was Obama’s, and for good reason. With the “open convention” and the anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, the event was billed as a historic and landmark event. Obama could have given a purely soaring and intellectual speech similar to his discussions of race and national politics in previous instances, but he wisely realized that different times call for different approaches. Many voters are questioning where the “meat” behind his economic plans is, and thus, today he told voters “exactly what change would mean if I am president.” He then delved into specifics of reforming the tax code, eliminating capital gains for small businesses, tax cuts for the poor and middle class, tax hikes for the top 5%, and eliminating dependence on foreign oil. His hope, which seemed to be achieved, was that any voter watching would have a fairly clear understanding of how he would approach economic issues by the end of the speech.

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He also delved into specifics on energy policy, foreign policy, and made sure to highlight the McCain-Bush connections for all they were worth. He came out tough and hardened, challenging that “If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that’s a debate I’m ready to have.” Many have worried about Obama being a soft president, or relenting on his principles – after a week of Illinois delegation meetings, followed by this speech, I’m definitely convinced that a spine of steel is pretty much a necessary trait for anyone to succeed in Illinois politics.

Obama touched on a theme that is also one of Ashwin Madia’s favored lines of speaking, and that he had not discussed in a while. Madia is at his best when he speaks about “redefining patriotism,” and how patriotism is not merely “bumping your hands on your chest and waving a flag.” Madia is one of what I think of as the “Obama generation” of politicians who is inspired by a candidate who has the guts to say, “I’ve got news for you John McCain: We all put our country first.”

But when it came time to finish the speech, Obama returned to what he does best, and that was to inspire and motivate the listeners to work together for a better purpose. He discussed America’s promise, a subject that holds a special appeal to anyone who has immigrated, or whose parents have immigrated, to this country.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.
That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

When Obama spoke to the crowd about America’s promise, he was certainly speaking to people such as my parents, who, young in India, saw and knew that only in America was there “that better place around the bend,” and who knew that their kids could do things in this country that they could do nowhere else. He was talking about the American Dream that has allowed our community to come here, flourish, and create a unique home. And he knows that this “American promise,” which has been the foundation for our flourishing and strong community, is eroding and must be restored and rebuilt.

Whether you agree with him or not, one of the most unique elements of Obama’s candidacy is that he knows our story, that of the American Dream, in a way few candidates for higher office ever have. As his biographical video played, he accepted the nomination, and then invoked King’s speech and dream at the conclusion, many of the young and old in the crowd who had never thought a man with his name, appearance, and background could be in this position had tears in their eyes.

27 thoughts on “DNC Day 4: The Promise

  1. koun re ye picture kheencha ? horrible, horrible comp. black man in center of black frame, vertically centered, horizontally centered, torso chopped off in exactly the wrong position. pliss to reframe pic and post

  2. Whatever the outcome of this election, and whether Obama is the best candidate or not, last night came across as the Beijing Olympics opening/closing ceremonies – executed very well. McCain must be feeling like Seb Coe and the London Olympics Committee – faced with the tall task of matching at least the spectacle of the Democratic convention. They must be hoping the Republican convention is not like London’s slightly embarrassing preview — a damp squib double decker bus act.

    John Legend and will.i.am were terrific.

  3. It was an unforgettable event. My parents grew up during Jim Crow…no joke. My parents never they would live to see a black man nominated for any party for President. My mother was clapping and cheering along with the crowd on television. As I saw my mother watch Obama speak to the audience, I saw a tear welling up, in the corner of her eye…a very moving, humbling moment.

  4. My parents never they would live to see a black man nominated for any party for President

    Looks like Geraldine Ferrao was right all along.

    M. Nam

  5. I have never felt so hopeful about American politics as I did last night watching Obama.

    He was pragmatic and inspirational. I feel like he “gets it.” He understands that the heart of being America is not maintaining status quo, but progression towards high ideals.

    Critics have labeled him too idealistic and as a person who promises more than can be delivered. Thomas Jefferson, a southern slave owner, penned the phrase, “All men are created equal.” The heart of this country is enmeshed in the human ability to transcend our own limitations and to believe that we can achieve the seemingly impossible.

    America is about and always has been about envisioning a perfection that seems beyond the grasps of pragmatic reality. Can we be better than we are? Can we achieve ideals that we deem out of our grasp in our current reality? Yes, I believe, WE CAN.

  6. Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend. That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours – a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans…

    I came here a few years ago in the midst of another Presidential campaign. This is the first time I have heard a candidate voice my thoughts. This man knows me, even if I do not know him. This is in the finest traditions of the Democratic Party as some old timers from India who came to the US pre-1963 have told me.

  7. Breaking news: Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin is McCain VP Pick.

    This changes everything.

    Initially I had thought McCain would not pick up more than 10% of PUMA votes from Obama. Now, it could very well be the other way around.

    M. Nam

  8. This changes everything.

    Keep telling yourself that and maybe it will come true.

    Seriously Moornam, I get that you think you’re trying to rain on the parade, but it won’t work. I get that you are more concerned about your own welfare than that of the country, which is understandable and even justifiable. but people like you have been running the country for the last 8 years and the rest of us, who actually believe that better things are possible and that equality is worth fighting for, we’ve had enough.

    Go home and count your money, and get ready for a landslide on November 4.

  9. MoorNam Thank you so much for that. Perhaps you should start posting as The Voice of Doom. Kidding, don’t get mad.

  10. Let’s be candid for a moment.

    Obama is about the future… that’s where all his accomplishments lie. He’s got a paper thin resume in policy, legislative accomplishments and executive leadership. His Senate seat election was due to a campaign embezzler imploding (Carol Mosley Braun) and a bitter divorce sex scandal (Ryan).

    Obama answered his critics last night — he appeared Presidential, strong and mature. He gave specifics. A compelling and powerful persona emanated from him. Obama has strong convictions and with a Democratic congress in both houses, he will be well-positioned to deliver on his legislative agenda.

    George Bush after 8 years remains a bumbling rambling ignoramus. Obama made it clear, he can lead this country effectively in the right direction. My only regret is Hillary Clinton should have been selected VP. With her, they would have emphatically stomped on McBush.

  11. His Senate seat election was due to a campaign embezzler imploding (Carol Mosley Braun) and a bitter divorce sex scandal (Ryan).

    Actually the Ryan sex scandal divorce was not the first such incident that the 2004 Obama campaign profited from. His rival for the Democratic party nomination Blair Hull’s campaign was brought down by some behind the scenes machinations by the Obama campaign, publicizing Blair’s divorce papers:

    From the New York Times:

    “As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull’s second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had “worked aggressively behind the scenes� to push the story.”Link
  12. 12 · v.v. va.araiya said

    He’s got a paper thin resume in policy, legislative accomplishments and executive leadership

    in contrast to his opponent’s thick resume that is full of incompetence, ignorance, indolence, and insouciance.

  13. 14 · jyotsana: in contrast to his opponent’s thick resume that is full of incompetence, ignorance, indolence, and insouciance.

    Would you please not rain on the joy of the $20 I won by betting on Sarah Palin as my No.3 guess (I had picked her after Condi and Ridge)!! by making completely unprovoked provocative statements. Just bask in the warmth of the Obama speech for now, and prepare for the coming winter.

  14. I thought the speech was crap. An insulting revisionist history of the last eight years (“let a city drown”) with a chicken-little view of our economic situation (3.3 growth in 2nd quarter).

    Obama touched on a theme that is also one of Ashwin Madia’s favored lines of speaking, and that he had not discussed in a while. Madia is at his best when he speaks about “redefining patriotism,” and how patriotism is not merely “bumping your hands on your chest and waving a flag.” Madia is one of what I think of as the “Obama generation” of politicians who is inspired by a candidate who has the guts to say, “I’ve got news for you John McCain: We all put our country first.”

    You do know, all the fuss, was because he went out of his way to make a special point that wearing a flag pin was just for some kind of fake patriotism by ignorant rubes? As if the vast majority of voters are too stupid to understand the difference between wearing a pin and true patriotism. Then of course, as soon as he had to defend his 20-year membership in a black supremacist church which espouses INSANE ideas like the the US deserved 9/11 and that the govt engineered AIDS to kill black people, did he rush to give speeches drowning in flags. Yesterday what was on his lapel – but a flag pin.But I guess, it’s not from political expediency or false patriotism when the Obamessiah does it.

    Beyond that, John McCain has NEVER questioned Obama’s patriotism. He has questioned his decision-making skills and choices of associates.

  15. It’s also for him constantly doing this like comparing America and other democracies overthrowing a dictator like Saddam Hussein to a dictator like Putin trying to overthrow a democratically-elected govt in Georgia. This kind of absurd rhetoric just to win points in a political contest does not help our country on the world stage.

  16. YesWeCan barfs: Moornam, I get that you are more concerned about your own welfare than that of the country, which is understandable and even justifiable

    Get your high horse nose off the nether regions of my body, and smell some coffee. Stop making personal allegations that make you look like a dim-witted fool.

    get ready for a landslide on November 4.

    I hope you’re right. The world is going to be very rough place in the coming years. Most likely Iran will go nuclear, and start supplying rogues like Venezuela with nuclear weapons. The financial system as we have known for the last thirty years will come to an end with a thud. Pakistan and Afghanistan will look like the same country.

    With all this, I don’t want McCain to get elected and take the blame for the mess. There’s always 2012.

    vaariya: >>My only regret is Hillary Clinton should have been selected VP. With her, they would have emphatically stomped on McBush.

    If Obama needs Hillary, then why the hell is HE the nominee?!! If nominated, she would not have needed him.

    M. Nam

  17. 8 · MoorNam said

    Breaking news: Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin is McCain VP Pick.

    Check out her Pre-Gubernatorial Political Experience. I can see how Biden could just demolish her in the VP debates. Now if it was Lizzy Dole, or perhaps, Kay Bailey Hutchinson that wouldn’t be so easily said. Either could have a more significant swing on the PUMAs (and cougars, and lynxes). I would actually say that once it sinks in that Sarah Palin could be just that heartbeat away from the Presidency if McCain were to win, there might well be a Republican PUMA effect.

    Also, I hope I’m not the only one here old enough to remember that the Democrats ran Geraldine Ferraro on the ticket 24 years ago – in 1984. Mondale still lost every state except his own, Minnesota.

  18. Breaking news: Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin is McCain VP Pick. This changes everything. Initially I had thought McCain would not pick up more than 10% of PUMA votes from Obama. Now, it could very well be the other way around.

    Werd. McCain just won the election =(.

  19. 4 · MoorNam said

    >>My parents never they would live to see a black man nominated for any party for President Looks like Geraldine Ferrao was right all along. M. Nam

    As if Geraldine had to sit in the back of bus when she was a teenager, but I digress.

  20. bleh in 16 wrote: “chicken-little view of our economic situation (3.3 growth in 2nd quarter)”

    Um, really, that’s your retort? The 3.3% growth in GDP was almost entirely due to exports thanks to your cheapo dollar, both of which are turning the other way now and so cannot continue to fuel growth. Also, inflation is high, incomes are dropping, and spending is flat. Just how does that translate to a strong economy?

  21. which espouses INSANE ideas like the the US deserved 9/11

    Actually he was quoting a white scholar who made the point that american foreign policy led to 9/11. Respected scholars have written books saying the same thing. Read Chalmers Johnson’s “Blowback” for example. Compare that to the prominent Republican pastors Falwell and Robertson who claimed that 9/11 was God’s punishment on America for tolerating abortion and homosexuality! Anyone who thinks for himself can see that the Republican Party is totally in thrall of INSANE pastors :)

    America and other democracies overthrowing a dictator like Saddam Hussein

    When are you going to start thinking for yourself bleh? America under Bush propped up a dictator in Pakistan, groveled before arab Sheiks and Kings in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and called them “allies” while at the same time claiming to be fighting wars to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan! That is as hypocritical as you can get.

  22. He’s got a paper thin resume in policy, legislative accomplishments and executive leadership

    Firstly, this argument is effectively neutralized by McCain’s selection of Palin as his running mate.

    Secondly, history tells us that some of the worst presidents were also the most experienced while the greatest american president Abraham Lincoln had a resume remarkably similar to Obama’s, as Al Gore pointed out yesterday:

    http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/feature/2008/08/28/gore/index.html

    “A century and a half ago, when America faced our greatest trial, the end of one era gave way to the birth of another. The candidate who emerged victorious in that election is now regarded by most historians as our greatest president. Before he entered the White House, Abraham Lincoln’s experience in elective office consisted of eight years in his state legislature … and one term in Congress — during which he showed the courage and wisdom to oppose the invasion of another country that was popular when it started but later condemned by history. The experience Lincoln’s supporters valued most in that race was his powerful ability to inspire hope in the future at a time of impasse. He was known chiefly as a clear thinker and a great orator … In 2008, once again, we find ourselves at the end of an era with a mandate from history to launch another new beginning. And once again, we have a candidate whose experience perfectly matches an extraordinary moment of transition.”

  23. 21 · Huey said

    Looks like Geraldine Ferrao was right all along.

    the problem with ferraro’s comments were they were half-truths; and half-truths are lies too. Of course Obama benefited from being black in some quarters. but thats b/c its such a disadvantage being black in the first place. to conclude, as ferror did, that the net result is he’s “lucky” to be black is to decontextualize the good will his race brings him to the point of absurdity.

    Did jfk benefit from being catholic? with some, sure. did catholics vote for him largely b/c he’s Catholic? i assume so. but the major reason he could generate such favoritism is b/c he’s starting out with an unfair disadvantage to begin with.

    and ferrrao’s comments were mde in a political campaign, meant to hurt obama, though its unclear why hillary isn’t equally as lucky, perhaps more-so since demographics allow her to explicitly play identity politics while obama could not. in fact, this was a concerted effort to get obama to play the race card, since ferroro knew it was a losing card. He declined, smartly, but allowed surrogates to call her out and ferraor jumped at the opportunity, responding that they are only attacking her b/c she’s white, doubling down on her bet.

    its a clever race baiting strategy b/c it has enough truth lurking in it to make it plausible. some do benefit from an AA mentality, like clarence thomas or arguably palin. but these individuals were appointed to their current position, and like rush’s comment about the liberal media and donovan mcnabb, when a small elite makes a decision it is entirely possible a disadvantaged minority may benefit unfairly. but obama was in a election where huge swaths of voters would not choose him b/c of his race and presumed religion. ferror’s bizarre theory of black privilege makes no sense in this context.

    ferraro’s strategy almost directly parallels bill clinton’s own odyssey during the primary, culminating in his accusation that obama played the race card on him. i don’t think its a coincidence that ferroro was never asked to resign from the campaign. It was part of hillary’s final hail mary attempt to seize the nom: divide among race, gender (ferraro also calle him sexist), religion, and throw in a little electioneering (mich and fl, not to mentio the earlier nv caucus lawsuit). came close to working.