CLOSING CONVENTION COMMENTS….Apologies for the late de-briefing on the final night of the Convention. When I finally got to a computer in the wee hours of Friday morning, our server was down, and it was still down when I got up to drive back to D.C. Now, after a fun drive through weekend traffic down I-95, I have a few closing comments to offer and then a longer post specifically on Kerry’s speech. In no particular order:
I stand by my concern about potential problems with Cleland’s introduction of Kerry, but as it turns out, the former Georgia senator did a fine, fine job and set just the right tone for Kerry’s entrance. The Bush/Cheney campaign may continue to take hits at Kerry’s military service, but they do so at their peril with Cleland and the Band of Brothers onstage with Kerry. There simply is no more stark contrast to Bush in his flight suit than the figure of Max Cleland, triple amputee and proud veteran.
If you didn’t know much about the history of Boston or the founding of the United States before the Democratic Convention, you certainly heard enough history lessons throughout four days of speeches to pass a U.S. History AP Test. I’m an admitted history geek and even I was getting tired of references to “238 years ago…”, “Boston Tea Party…”, “Boston Massacre…”, and so on. But I have to admit that the emphasis on Boston colonial history was a brilliant way to counter all of the GOP rhetoric about the Convention being held in “liberal Boston.” To listen to Ed Gillespie and Marc Racicot, you’d think the Convention was in Berkeley. But it’s hard to knock the birthplace of the Revolution.
Throughout the four days of the Convention, I don’t think there was a single time when the words “stem cell” were uttered without being followed by applause and cheers. If you remember back to three years ago next week ? when Bush gave a primetime Oval Office address announcing his executive order regarding federal stem cell policy ? both Republicans and Democrats alike thought that stem cell would be a wedge issue that would cut Republicans’ way. It turns out that it is indeed a wedge issue, but not in the way that the GOP had hoped. Stem cell isn’t a partisan issue. It’s an issue that pits hard-core pro-lifers against basically everyone else, particularly those who know someone with Alzheimers or Parkinsons or another potentially cureable disease.
Larry Summers may have been stuck with the rest of us on the first floor of the FleetCenter after the Boston P.D. (citing overcrowding) closed off access around 8pm on Thursday, but the original Clinton Treasury Secretary ? Robert Rubin ? had one of the best seats in the house, right next to Teresa Heinz Kerry. That wasn’t an accident. I doubt many Americans recognize Rubin on sight, but I have no doubt that the helpful television commentators pointed him out and the implication of his presence in such a prominent spot couldn’t have been lost on many. Remember this guy? The one who shepherded our economy through the boom years of the ’90s? Wouldn’t you like to see him running the economy again? Maybe as Treasury Secretary again, or even Chairman of the Federal Reserve? Sure you do.
In fact, that subtle theme ran throughout the evening. Look at the line-up of speakers: Max Cleland ? future Secretary of Veteran Affairs; Wesley Clark ? future Secretary of Defense or State; Joe Biden ? future National Security Advisor or Secretary of State. You know them, you trust them, and you sure as heck like them better than Rumsfeld and Cheney and Ashcroft. That’s what the Kerry/Edwards campaign is hoping.