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Obama’s convention speech: the missing passage

Obama, 2012 DNCPresident Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday laid out his and Democrats’ ideals, goals and approach well, defining anew night-vs.-day differences wth Mitt Romney and today’s radical-conservative Republicans.

Like nearly all acceptance speeches of recent decades, Obama’s was devoid of specifics – an omission noticed and not appreciated by a group of middle-class commenters assembled by PBS’ News Hour Friday for a discussion.

Had they participated in the News Hour discussion, Obama’s political advisers would surely have explained that laying out detailed plans invites Republicans to launch an offensive of lies and distortions about them. Just like the “death panel” lies about health care reform, and recently, the lie that Obamacare will shunt $7 billion from Medicare to the president’s pet projects. So, had detailed plans been included in the acceptance speech, Obama and other Democrats would’ve had to spend the final weeks of their campaigns defending against those lies, at considerable cost in time, money and energy.

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What we missed in Obama’s speech was a brand-strengthening appeal that could help break the partisan straitjacket that has weakened his hand and efforts to create jobs throughout his presidency.

So, we wrote the following in response to a fine post on Obama’s speech at Tom Harper’s Who Hijacked Our Country blog. In it we add a passage we wish the president had included.

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Those speeches are excellent. (Jennifer) Granholm blew me away. If more Dems had her fight and spirit, Romney might as well outsource himself.

There was something strangely missing from Obama’s speech, and the others too. Dems usually fail to do a good job on this, and the tradition continues.

“I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. . .”

Obama should’ve added:

. . . I will tell you that getting things done, like increasing demand, creating jobs, bolstering business and thereby growing an economy stuck in a deep jobs recession requires cooperation in Congress. We know what needs doing and how to do it. But Congress is all about numbers — having the votes to get the job done. Unfortunately, two years ago some voters decided to sit the midterm election out, and others decided to vote for so-called tea party extremists whose slash-and-burn, cut-spending, shrink-government ways compounded Republicans’ policy of no cooperation and no compromise. The result is a slower and weaker recovery than 20 million jobless Americans need and that all Americans deserve.

As I said, getting things done in Congress is a matter of who has the votes. I need a team in Congress willing to work with me to kick recovery into high gear and put all those jobless Americans back to work. Republicans and their tea-party component have made it clear they will only work against rapid, effective measures to recover our economy, for selfish political reasons.

So, America, if you will vote the obstructionists out of Congress this November and replace them with progressive Democrats who will work with my administration to get the job done, you’ll see a faster, stronger, more-complete recovery. You will see the additional stimulus needed to boost demand, create jobs and shore up revenues at all levels of government. You will see an economy moving and growing again, with the added benefits of teachers back in classrooms and badly needed infrastructure improvements being made that will serve us all for decades to come. You’ll also see, at long last, the wealthiest Americans paying a fairer share of the tax burden to help make these things happen.

Register, if you haven’t already, and vote, and get your family, friends and neighbors to vote also. Vote to send me a team in Congress to get this job done, and we will get this job done, sooner and better, and to everyone’s ultimate advantage.

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This passage is a deliberately partisan call to action — appropriate for a Democratic convention speech. It doesn’t get into fine details, but it does include a clear, credible and definite action plan for moving forward.

It’s intended to promote unity of purpose and action among Democrats. It’s also an appeal to others who support the president or simply want no part of Romney and his No. 2., Rep. Paul Ryan, and more years of trickle-down, borrow-and-spend economic policy to benefit the rich at the expense of the rest.

There’s still time. We hope Obama will say more along these lines in his campaign speeches, and that Democratic candidates down the ticket will do likewise between now and election day.

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14 Comments

  1. jeri 2.0 says:

    Excellent post, SW. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Pinterest but I’ve posted and been seeing other political posts saying this exact thing: Obama can’t do a damn thing for us by himself. We’ve got to give him a Congress that will act like adults and who actually care about getting the economy back on its feet. He also can’t stop individual state officials from passing regressive legislation – those people need to be voted out of office as soon as possible.

    I just hope this isn’t a matter of Obama still thinking he can work with Republicans to get things done in a bipartisan manner. The speech you outlined would have been labeled ‘divisive,’ but that’s exactly what we need to be at this point. Those who would see this country become a corporate or theocratic oligarchy need to be identified and ignored.

  2. Demeur says:

    The real issue of getting things done won’t be on the presidential level (elections) but what happens to the house and senate races. If nothing changes there then it’ll be four more years of gridlock. But then there’s the slow burn economic meltdown coming in the next few months from Europe. Add to that the next round of budget debates. Remember if nothing is done by December then automatic cuts will follow including a large cut to the military. I’m sure the republicans will be up in arms about that. Not looking like a Merry Christmas this year unless something drastic happens in November. We shall see.

  3. Tom Harper says:

    Thanks for the mention. That’s an excellent addition to Obama’s speech. This is exactly what he needs to start pointing out, as clearly and bluntly as necessary.

  4. S.W. Anderson says:

    Jeri, Obama or any president’s ability to wring cooperation out of Congress is at low ebb now and would be even if Republicans weren’t lockstep-marching, thoroughly selfish SOB’s. The problem is the deficit and lack of revenues. He’s got no carrots. Obama does have a big stick, but so far he’s shied away from using it. If Harry Truman was president now, Boehner and McConnell would have to wear asbestos suits to work — and that’s no exaggeration.

    Demeur, if voters make the Republican/tea party/empty suit mistake this time, they’re going to feel the pain faster and much more intensely than after 2000 and 2004. We’ll just have to see.

    Tom, thanks. Please forgive my muffing your blog name. I had distractions. I corrected it in the post.

  5. Whatever you did worked. Glad to read your blog again. Thanks. My ISP (Internet Service Provider?) is People.Net if that helps. I switched from Firefox to Chrome and that was when the problem started again. I get about 1 spam comment per day but Blogger catches it.

  6. T. Paine says:

    Great addition to the speech that should have been given by the quasi-conservative Romney. After all, we don’t want to return to the failed policies of the past. (The past three and a half years, that is!)

  7. Shaw Kenawe says:

    “The real issue of getting things done won’t be on the presidential level (elections) but what happens to the house and senate races.”

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Here in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren has just pulled even with Scott Brown. He had been leading her by 5 points. This is a better way for her to go into the debates. She needs to be supported in every way we can help her. Money and calls, and I’m doing it.

    Go Elizabeth!

  8. Jolly Roger says:

    I see T. Pain has managed to get the doctors to release him. That’s a shame. I presume he lives in a state where a Klanbagger Governor has slashed mental health services?

  9. T. Paine says:

    Yes Jolly Roger. I came back simply because I missed your witty and charming repertoire where anyone that is not an avowed progressive is assumed to be a racist, greedy, war-monger by you.

    Although Anderson and I will seldom agree on politics, I find some of his thoughts and writing to be very interesting. He made some rather astute observations on my blog, in which I found myself agreeing. So while my return annoys you, I really decided to check back in on Oh!Pinion because of Mr. Anderson. The fact that my Klanbagger governor made my release from the mental ward possible so that I could tick you off accordingly is merely a side benefit, sir. Cheers!

  10. S.W. Anderson says:

    Blog Fodder, always good news when something I try works. Again, sorry you got locked out; it wasn’t personal or intentional.

    Paine, I don’t know how you can call Romney a quasi conservative, or anything else politically. He’s got more sides than a geodesic dome and more positions than the Kama Sutra. His positions are like trains in a busy commuter terminal: if you don’t like the one that’s here now, hold on because another will be along in no time. If you don’t think Romney is conservative enough, just tell him. He’ll be glad to be more conservative just for you — at least until he runs into someone who wants him to be more moderate. Then he’ll be more moderate. And so on, until the end of the day when he doesn’t know what he should be from dizziness, and no one else knows what tomorrow will bring.

    But don’t worry, because Romney says he’ll stand by what he said, whatever it was. And he will, right up until he won’t. 😉

    Shaw, The Bay State and the country deserve a smart, thoroughly honest and decent reformer, which Warren is in spades, in the Senate. The last thing the country and Senate need is another financial industry hireling with a prefab agenda.

    J.R., you guessed wrong. Paine’s governor is among the most liberal in the country.

    Paine, I salute your good humor in a classy response.

  11. T. Paine says:

    Anderson, this may be a red letter day. I agree with you yet again regarding your evaluation of Romney, hence my fears with him being the “conservative candidate”. Indeed I am unsure what I will be getting with a Romney presidency. The really scary thing though is that I am fairly certain what I will get with a second term for President Obama.

    By the way, I have lived in Utah for the past dozen years. You are, consequently, mistaken about my governor. He is indeed fairly conservative and a good man accordingly. (Not to imply that you must be a conservative to be a good man, but it does help sometimes.) 🙂

    Cheers!

    1. S.W. Anderson says:

      OK, I stand corrected. For some reason I thought you were in California.

  12. Dave Dubya says:

    It’s a good thing we have Obama the proven moderate willing to compromise, for better and for worse. A party of no compromise is how tyranny begins.

    1. S.W. Anderson says:

      A party of no compromise should be how the end of that party begins.