July 28, 2004
DNC, Day Two: America's New Boyfriend +
Emily's Day 2 Highlight:
Day 2 of the Convention was a bit more low-key than the first, with many of the same themes we've heard so far: the John Adams/John Kennedy/John Kerry comparison, unity (as Ted Kennedy so succinctly put it, "We need a unitah, not a dividah"), responsibility, and hope.
It also brought up a question on many citizens' minds: who comes up with each speaker's intro music? I've noticed over the past two days that while some choices are obvious, others are....well, let me offer these examples:
Jimmy Carter, "Georgia on my Mind"
Hillary Rodham Clinton, "New York State of Mind"
Richard Gephardt, "Kansas City"
Tom Daschle, "Mr. Big Stuff"
Many speakers also highlighted the idea of the American Dream, most notably about-to-be-Senator Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan, and Teresa Heinz Kerry, who grew up in East Africa. Despite usually energetic and powerful speakers such as Heinz-Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and a strangely subdued Howard Dean, we have chosen Obama's speech as the Day 2 Highlight. His keynote address was succinct, powerful, and reminded us that part of living the American Dream is taking responsibility for our country:
"John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people. If theres a child on the south side of Chicago who cant read, that matters to me, even if its not my child. If theres a senior citizen somewhere who cant pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if its not my grandmother. If theres an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. Its that fundamental beliefI am my brothers keeper, I am my sisters keeperthat makes this country work."
And he ended on a particularly rousing note, that there is a place in America for everyone:
"John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. Im not talking about blind optimism herethe almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just dont talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, Im talking about something more substantial. Its the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworkers son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too."
Full transcript here.
Congratulations Barack Obama, on being selected Amy's Robot Highlight of Day 2!
Amy's Day 2 Overview:
Much of last night's installment of the DNC was a real test of political will. About 90 seconds into Ted Kennedy's speech about how totally freaking patriotic and American the city of Boston is, I reverted to my 17 year-old self and thought "I wish I was into politics, but it's all just so boring. And I have lots of Siouxsie and the Banshees tapes to listen to instead." Teddy, you're a wonderful Senator, but you and all 8 of your great-grandparents who walked up those damn Golden Steps on their way from Ireland into America, suck the living soul right out of political involvement when you give one of your plodding speeches.
But the big news is Barack Obama, our new national crush. On the PBS commentary after his speech, Richard Norton Smith called him "transcendent." Delegates were crying. Even some of the delegates in giant comedy Uncle Sam hats covered with red white and blue sequins were crying. The New York Times is smitten. My own father answered the phone when I called for a post-speech reaction saying, "Did you hear that amazing speech?!" I hope the network failure to cover last night's events didn't keep you all from seeing Obama--he was magnificent. Here's some further background on his life and career from the News Hour on PBS.
Then after the speech, some people talked about how they think he could be the first black President. David Brooks said how much he liked him, then compared him to Tiger Woods. Then I smacked myself on the forehead. Didn't Barack Obama just say that his father is from Kenya and his mother is a white woman from Kansas? Doesn't that make him no more "black" than he is "white"? Especially since he was raised almost entirely by his mother? Why not also compare him to Halle Berry, David? I know, I know, race is defined not only by your actual family background by also by the way the world responds to you and classifies you. If people look at Barack Obama and think he's black and react to him accordingly, then he's black. Except that he's also white. Robert Rodriguez has been talking and writing about this stuff for years now, OK? Sometimes, we cannot be classified and accurately described by a single racial identity. Calling Barack Obama "black" is just not the whole story, and it might make his mom mad.
The good news is that there is still no Republican opponent facing Obama for the seat in the U.S. Senate (even Mike Ditka wouldn't run against him,) and now the whole world loves him so fiercely that he's almost certain to win the November election. Thank you, Jack Ryan, for being such a sleazeball with Seven of Nine.