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July 30, 2004


DNC Day 4: Return of the Towering Demotrons

Convention Wrap-Up

Amy's Analysis:
Last night Kerry came back to lead the fold of Democratic fans and wacky, crackpot delegates. I was pleased with his speech, although a misjudgement about travel time back from Brooklyn caused me to miss the first bits. Kerry offered a lot of specifics about his policy proposals: number of troops to add to our armed forces, his exact tax plan, the level of coverage and benefits in his healthcare plan, his education plan involving smaller class sizes and higher pay for teachers. It was a typical liberal speech, but was shot through with so many classic images of patriotism (no red states or blue states, only "red white and blue states") that political commentator David Brooks said it was "almost a Republican speech."

One of the most important things Kerry did in this speech was to creatively take the concept of values back for the Democratic party. Almost everybody I talk to who says they like Bush claims that his "values" appeal to them; although Bush's executive behavior has been antisocial and selfish, the very definition of anti-Christian, he still makes people think he shares their values. It will be much harder for the Republicans to use that word as their own exclusive marketing tool now that Kerry has convincingly blown away the idea of Republican values vs. Democratic values.

I thought it was a very successful speech, especially when Kerry's usually unchanging expression became more elastic and animated toward the end. Political commentators on PBS all liked it too. But I was reminded of the fact that people who don't watch this stuff all the time sometimes respond differently to speeches than journalists do; all the PBS guys loved the Kerry daughters' speeches too, which were very sentimental and scripted and predictable, but sweet. My Brooklyn viewing companion however, who had not been watching the DNC much, had only one thing to say about Vanessa's speech: "This blows." As always, politicians have to remember their audience.

Now the really exhaustive campaigning starts. Here's Kerry and Edwards sharing a triumphantly whooping laugh. Go get 'em, fellas!

Emily's Analysis:
Earlier in the convention, Amy and I were considering a DNC drinking game based on the number of times words like "values", "hope", "trust", and "honor" came up. It's a good thing we didn't follow through, since we'd both be in the hospital now.

Overall, I thought the Kerry/Edwards team did an excellent job of staying on message. By keeping the tone positive (including the relentlessly optimistic Edwards asking if everyone was tired of negative campaigning), it will be much harder for Bush to attack the Democrats without looking like a big war-mongering meanie. It was also a clever manuever to put the more "Republican" type speeches in the prime-time coverage, and give the delegates what they want from the Al Sharptons at times when pretty much only journalists and invested Democrats were watching.

Like Amy said, it's hard to know how the average person who does not compulsively watch CNN will respond to the convention. Will they think the 9/11 references were heavy-handed? Will they think "oh man, enough already about your military service, Kerry - what else do you have for us?" Or was it just what the undecided voter needed?

Congratulations, Democrats - now let's keep that momentum going!

categories: Politics
posted by amy at 9:55 AM | #