Monday, August 25, 2008

The Gavel Comes Down

The gavel comes down on the first night of the convention at 3:00 PM Denver time. The agenda is crowded; more than fifty presenters will offer speeches, songs and videos, ranging from Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter to Mike Fisher and Cheryl Fisher of Beech Grove, Indiana, who hosted Barack Obama for lunch earlier this year.
Several Republicans will step up to the podium tonight, including former Iowa congressman Jim Leach, who recently retired as director of Harvard’s Institute for Politics. I had a chance to talk with him and E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post last night. Leach, who wears a red sweater even in August, contrasted the current adventurism of Bush and Cheney with the sense of restraint that prevailed during Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency. He pointed out that Eisenhower deployed the 101st Airborne only once in his eight years—and that was to Little Rock, Arkansas when nine black students enrolled at Central High School.
The headliner tonight is Michelle Obama. Most Americans have yet to learn just how compelling a speaker she is. Her “raising the bar” speech in Wilmington, in which she compared the struggles of her upbringing and family life to those of American families everywhere, is still one of the best I’ve heard this year. I expect a similar focus tonight, as the campaign continues with its kitchen table theme. Those who tune in will learn that Barack and Michelle Obama didn't come from privileged backgrounds, but worked hard in school and the community to get where they are in life. The point, of course, is not that they worked hard for what they accomplished, but that, with higher prices, lower wages and less job security, it's getting harder for families to do what they did.

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12:34 PM, August 25, 2008  

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